I really wanted to call my section of the blog Passages. The double meaning appealed to me. It lightly conveyed the weighty concepts of life’s many transitions and one’s passing through its varied stages and places simply and neatly while conveying the sense of a significant journey or undertaking. Rite of Passage etc. All that meaning bundled effortlessly into one little word: passages. All in all it sounded perfect.

Unfortunately, if you Google Winnipeg Free Press and add /passages you come to a similar yet fundamentally different kind of blog (or obituaryblog). So that my family will not prematurely see me in those pages, I have chosen an interim name with the full knowledge that rarely is there such a thing as an interim name whether it is a boat, kid, dog or blog. The temporary has a very good way of becoming perfect permanent.

An Effortful Existence
is thus christened interim

By day 3 out of Toronto it became apparent that the ruling body of Lake Ontario did not want us to leave her fair shores. Lake Ontario has been good to us for 15 years and we have no complaints. She has always seen us safely into all her harbours and has provided a wonderful setting for the first part of our sailing life. But it was time to leave and no amount of fuss she could kick up in terms of contrary wind and waves could divert us.

Strangely she must have been the only one hesitant to see our back side. While everyone has been very enthusiastic about this adventure and has wished us well so many times all remained was for us to actually leave which it seemed, we refused to do. In the weeks preceding our departure I heard the good natured, “I thought you’d already left…” so many times I kept my head down and stayed in the car when there was the possibility of seeing a friend. Enough is enough! we can’t say “Welcome Back!” if you don’t leave.

Back aboard Bojangles Day 3 ended with an oddly prophetic sunset. From our position in far eastern Lake Ontario, the sun set behind Hamilton Harbour and if the camera didn’t capture it I would never ask you to believe it but as I came up the companionway 4 minutes before the sun finally disappeared it appeared that we were headed away from the Statue of Liberty rather than towards it (see picture).
Our first glimpse of Lady Liberty
Day 3 was also our first overnight passage thusly required due to our significant weather delays. Amortize 18 hours over 12 months and you’ll understand why we had to push on.

As I mentioned Lake Ontario brought out her best and continue to kick up some unusually persistent easterlies creating 2 previous days of buck & chuck sailing. In all my years on Lake Ontario rarely do you get it coming and going, especially on a 35, 000 pound boat. Our first boat was 5,000 lbs and while we saw some heavy weather, I dread to think what this sail would be like aboard her.

On any overnight passage there always needs to be someone “on watch”. Sensibly there to guard against a number of conceivable hazards: collision, sail trouble, engine failure. Anything. But most often one stands all night simply to ward off plain bad luck. While we were not hit with any bad luck that night I am sure the bad luck theme will reappear in this blog so the literary minded can consider this foreshadowing.

That night on my first overnight passage I took 3 sleeps. Most sailors would say they took 2 watches: 11 pm-1 am and 3am-5am. Being an optimist I prefer to focus on the positive: I slept from 9pm-11pm, 1am-3am and 5-8am. Add it all up and you got yourself a good night’s sleep.

Right now I have a lot of good things to say about night watches. I can now tell approximate time by the relative position of the Big Dipper as it clocks around the night sky and seeing a fiery moon rise on a silent sea is a startling sight, but that’s not what I took away from my first night watch experience.

Most profoundly I was struck by the difference in my 3 wakings. My first waking for the 11 pm shift: I woke naturally and early at 10:45 bright eyed and raring to go. Yee Haa! The seas had calmed, the tides had turned. Smooth sailing. For my second watch I woke with the alarm, willingly but grudgingly with the sensation that the boat was a cradle being rocked by a big brother who thought if gentle was good then faster was better! The third and final waking was forced. I had slept through the alarm, the boat was cold, the novelty had worn off and the boat was at a wedding doing the Can Can wedged between a short guy and a tall chick and neither had any rhythm.


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