Last summer, I tied the knot with a Captain, and I don’t mean a clove hitch. We wed in one of his favorite places: on the bow of his Nordhavn 40, while docked in the urban marina of my hometown, Thunder Bay, Ontario, on Lake Superior. Needless to say, I married into a lifestyle— of which I was baptized by the cold spray of the largest freshwater lake in the world, as we cruised from early spring to late autumn while living aboard our motor vessel. Though it sounds romantic, in reality, residing on a boat full-time is more like camping than a stay at a luxury resort. Yachting requires a certain degree of roughing it. Over the course of our adventure, I learned making the most of full-time boat residency, like most things, takes practice. Here’s a handful of tips to ease your transition from land-dweller to sea creature, so you can reap the most out of live aboard life.
Cruising life is rife with contradictions. One night, you’re the lone boat anchored in a bay, only the moon to keep you company. The next, you’re sandwiched between vessels in a marina like sardines on buttered rye bread, able to peer into your neighbor’s galley from your cockpit. While this latter setting could serve as the premise for a Rear Window reboot—called Stern Porthole, in which a spry deckhand inadvertently witnesses the murder of a yacht-owner millionaire— to an introvert this situation is already sufficiently terrifying. No Hitchcockian homicide necessary.
It’s late August and we find ourselves in Lake Huron’s North Channel. When we ran into some “Loopers” (i.e., cruisers on a route that circles down the rivers of heartland America from Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico, then up the East Coast and back to the Great Lakes via the Erie Canal), I asked them what part of the Great Loop they were most looking forward to. They said the North Channel. Everyone says the North Channel. The North Channel is famous.
Since July 2nd, we’ve been underway! Here’s a quick update on our progress so far. Hopefully I remember all our stops!
“You have twins?” My husband, Kory, leans over our stern, shooting the shit with a fellow boater on the dock.
The man nods.
I light up. “Really? What age?”
“No, honey,” Kory corrects with a laugh, “Twin engines.”
Reposting a humor essay in celebration of July 1st, Canada Day!
I’m Canadian, lived here my whole life, but I can’t remember the words to our national anthem. The lyrics aren’t forgotten, per se, just temporarily misplaced. I can mangle my way through the anthem at a hockey game, memory cued by the collective consciousness, confidence aided by Molson Canadian. But if unaccompanied, I’m lost. I take a shortcut at the prelude— “O Canada/ Our home and native land/ True patriot love/ in all Our Son’s command”— a left at the gas station near the scarecrow that resembles Don Cherry, to arrive circuitously at the conclusion, “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.” I’m missing the middle. I know there’s something about glowing hearts, our free land (ironic given only billionaires can own in Vancouver or Toronto), and maybe a part about Celine Dion, but I can’t string the words together without taking creative license.
“Get me off of this island!” said many desperate characters. Every character on LOST. The rich couple on Gilligan’s Island. The volleyball on Castaway. And me.
We’re on Week Three of Drummond Island. It’s a neat place, sure. There’s plenty of campsites and RV parks. There’s a Marina or two. There’s a few restaurants, an IGA, and an ice cream store. There is, however, not much else. Oh, and the shower water smells like Sulphur, i.e., rotten eggs, which kind of defeats the purpose of washing oneself.
Camping isn’t all that bad. It’s an excuse, after all, to indulge in two of my favourite pastimes: reading for hours on end, and, not brushing my hair. Combing, blow-drying, and styling aren’t high on my priority list. Not now, not ever. In elementary school, my best friend, Leah, casually mentioned, as we preened in the bathroom mirrors of Balsam Street School, “Tamara and I made a list of the prettiest girls in our class. You could be right up there, in the top five, at least. If you combed your hair.” Her intervention didn’t succeed.
Going Nomad: The Good, Bad & Ugly
Two weeks into our nomadic life— our house in Calgary listed for sale; our camper packed with our cat, dog, and almost everything we own; our mission: to retrieve our boat, a Nordhavn 40, from winter storage and cruise the world— and it’s already been a roller coaster ride.