Category Archives: Sailing

Albacore – Out the Door

Recent blog traffic suggests there are people out there interested in my Albacore restoration project so I thought I’d better post sooner than later that – pardon the pun – the wind has sort of gone out of my sails on this one.

I’m not sure which was the mistake – buying a project boat in the first place or moving up to keelboat lessons last year. Having now experienced both dinghy and keelboat sailing, keelboats rule! Had I simply stuck to dinghies, I might have completed the restoration by now and be frantic to get mobile enough (hip surgery) to be on the water. But no. So she will soon be looking for a new home with a more appreciative owner.

And as much as I’d like to jump into a keelboat of my own, this is not the year for it as I likely won’t have decent sea-legs for sailing till at least July. Perhaps some crewing opportunities will appear after that??

Switching gears to powerboats, we recently upgraded from a fishing boat to a bow-rider! I’ve only seen photos so far but I think I may soon be mobile enough for a trip to the lake* and a maiden voyage. The new boat, with a full windscreen, canopy and zip-on-and-off side panels, should make the trips to and from the island much better on rough days. Or any days really – she’s fiberglass instead of aluminum, beamier and about two feet longer (18’-something …) The seating is higher on the comfort scale and the swim platform, ladder and bigger motor mean skiing or wakeboarding is an option … not likely for me, but you never know …

So goodbye Albacore, hello bow-rider, with sweet dreams of a keelboat in a few years’ time!

*The lake is Big Rideau, where we have just over two acres of property on a 25-acre island – alas, no cottage, just a very modest sleeping cabin (OK, shed, really), however, the beauty and tranquility of the setting, the stellar view, clear water and weed-free swimming are all that really matter! The boat ride from marina-to-island is about five kilometers (three miles).

The Amazing Adventure of Alessandro di Benedetto

Last year, after decades of delay, I did something I’ve always wanted to do – I started down the path of becoming a sailor. Better late than never, but those dinghy lessons only served to reinforce my regret at not having started years ago. I love it!

While researching various aspects of sailing, I inadvertently stumbled onto blogs by solo circumnavigators and enjoyed following the journeys of teens Mike Perham, Jessica Watson and Abby Sunderland (I was too late to follow Zac Sunderland).

The recreation of Bligh’s journey by the crazy and recently successful crew onboard the open Talisker Bounty boat was fun to follow too.

The most captivating journey, for me, however, has been that of solo circumnavigator Alessandro di Benedetto, a Franco-Italian who set sail some months ago from southern France.

Alessandro is now just days away from completing his round-the-world adventure. He’s stayed pretty far beneath the media radar, perhaps overshadowed by the younger crop of solo sailors or maybe due to the fact that his website updates are short and infrequent compared to the longer, almost-daily blogs of the others.

But this guy is sailing a boat that’s a mere 21 feet long!
He catches tuna, grows salad greens on the deck of his tiny boat, and even managed to bake bread out there one day!!
He was dismasted just before rounding Cape Horn, yet salvaged enough of the mast to jury-rig the boat and managed to sail up the coast of South America and across the Atlantic that way!!!

This guy deserves a little more attention and applause!

To see more about his journey and catch the last days of it, see his website

Renovation, Restoration, Sailing & Garden Salvation

Blogging slipped off my radar in recent months so it’s catch-up time …

Some major things happenings in the last while (apart from the day job, which has been INSANELY busy!) are –

Keelboat sailing lessons – now complete
Front hall renovations – almost complete
Albacore sailboat restoration – just begun

The keelboat lessons, somewhat inspired by the sea-faring voyages of Mike Perham, Jessica Watson, the Bounty Boat and the much-overlooked Alessandro di Benedetto (still out there), were a lot of fun! Though now inflamed with a burning desire to rush off and buy a keelboat, this is not the right time, however, I’ve still managed to spend countless hours looking on-line at boats ads and I’m convinced a nice little 26-footer is in my future. In the meantime, I’ll hone my sailing skills in the Albacore (a 16-foot dinghy) … as soon as she’s seaworthy again.

The front hall reno started as a straightforward tiling project, then grew. I’m very pleased with the (almost) finished results and somewhat proud of my new-found skills at tile-laying, bamboo flooring and crown moulding installation!

And then there’s the Albacore …

I knew when I bought her last summer she was a bit of a project boat – I just didn’t realize how much!

Our one-and-only sail last summer highlighted two things; one, I still have a lot to learn about sailing (having only started last year) and, second, there was more to do on the boat than first thought – and hard to know where to begin. Without a garage, the boat ended up parked for the winter in an inaccessible location that meant her restoration was on hold till spring. Spring came and went with too many other demands on our time and so, now back home in the driveway, the boat remained untouched.

I was also just a little daunted by what to do and how to begin but I finally took the plunge a few weeks ago and got started. The next post will be all about the Albacore so check back to see the beginning transformation. Now that I’ve begun, it doesn’t seem so bad – sort of the way it is with most things, the hardest part is getting started …

When life gets too busy, something gets relegated to the back seat and, sadly, it was the garden. I bought two tomato plants (I had grown my own seedlings last year) and then left them sitting in their tiny pots for weeks … finally planting them only last weekend!!

Those two poor tomato plants looked so pathetically lonely in their 4 x 4 raised bed but then I remembered the pack of scarlet runner beans I bought years ago. I found it, along with a pack of nasturtium seeds, and shoved some of each into the ground. And guess what? Bean plants, now about 4 inches high after just 8 days and the nasturtiums are poking up too! I may just salvage something out of this growing season!!

So stay tuned – more on boat restoration, home renovation and garden salvation to follow …