The “Three Hour Tour”

June 9, 2018

Summer 2016 passed by us.  While I was off travelling for work and weddings, John realized that with the engine out of commission we had no hope to leave that year.  We knew that our choice of date was just a way to get our plan moving forward so we weren’t completely attached to the calendar.  We took a breath.  There was no huge rush anymore.  We could spend  time doing more both on the boat and the house.  The rental of our home would be our primary source of income while we were away and there were still major projects to complete.  It would also give us time to get to know the boat, and spend the summer close to home on Lake Ontario.  If nothing else, this news would make my mother incredibly happy.  We settled in for what turned out to be our *first* postponement.

When late September rolled around though we were getting a bit nervous.  The engine was being worked on but still hadn’t been completed.  Fall in Ontario had arrived and the weather was becoming unpredictable. We needed to find a place to pull out of the water for the winter.  The great people at Bristol Marina offered us a discounted rate for storing her for the season but any storage facility inside of the Greater Toronto Area would be too expensive even with the discount.  We really needed to get the boat to Jordan Station.

By mid October, I had once again spoken with Kelly, the manager at Beacon Harborside, who was a rock during this whole process.  We had paid for an entire season there that we hadn’t used and he had cleared it with the owners that we could just transfer the funds to be used for winter storage.  But Beacon’s haul out date had already passed a couple days earlier and if we were going to make it down, we would need to do so quickly to still get a weather window.  He assured me though that we would always have a place with them.  We would just need to hire the crane operator to make a special trip to haul us out and de-mast us.

We were trying to determine if the engine could possibly be done in time for the transit when we received the call from Bristol.  The engine was operational and she was ready to go.  But as luck would have it, I had seriously injured my shoulder a couple days prior and it was frozen in place while causing agonizing amounts of pain.  John would have to find someone to take my place for our very first trip on the boat.  I was far too hopped up on pain medication to be of any use.

Our friend Gar stepped in but we had to unfortunately work with his schedule which meant it wasn’t the best weather day we could have picked.  We were out of options though and on October 22nd, 2016, my brother and I set out early in the morning with the guys to drop them off at the boat.  Armed with touques and Tim Horton’s coffee, they were off.  As the boat pulled out of dock, I could hear Gar start whistling the Gilligan’s Island theme song.

Damnit, Gar.  Thanks for that foreshadowing again…

My brother George and I followed them along the shoreline until we lost sight of them, then headed back home.  It wasn’t until I got the call from Kelly that afternoon that I knew something had gone wrong:
“Hi Michelle, are we expecting you at the marina today?”  I told him that John and Gar should be there any moment… “You have a double mast, right?”  Oh boy.  I knew what was coming next… “So we noticed a boat out there in trouble and it has two masts.  Do you have a phone number for the guys?  We just want to make sure it’s them.  Looks like the Coast Guard is on their way out to them.”  As soon as he said it, I laughed.  Of course the coast guard was going to get them.  Of course they needed rescuing on our first time out.  Of course something else was going to go wrong.  That damn engine.

As soon as I hung up with Kelly, the phone rang and a very stressed out sounding John was talking to me.  His first words were simply:

We’re alive.  We didn’t sink the boat.

By the time the Coast guard got to them though, they were past the entry point for Jordan Station so they had to be towed to Port Dalhousie Marina where they managed to find safe harbour.  Kelly amazingly went out to pick them up and bring them back to our car that we had dropped off the night before at the marina.  John got home and filled me in on the details.  The engine had cut out completely 9 km from Jordan Station and wouldn’t restart.  They were bouncing around like crazy, 100 metres from shore, and it was all they could do to keep her off the rocks.  John instructed Gar on how to use the VHF for a Mayday call and then they just tried to hold course on 1.2m waves with 40-50km winds until the “nice boys” from the Coast Guard arrived.

Turns out it was only a clogged fuel filter that made the engine stop dead, but we had some good take aways from the experience.  One, it confirmed to John that he knew better but obviously had to learn the lesson the hard way… Mother Nature does not abide by our schedules – we always will be on her schedule from now on.  Two, it showed him how well the boat handled in bad weather and that if he had any doubts before that we may have chosen the wrong boat, he didn’t have any doubts now.  We definitely had the boat for us.  He also admitted that he was somewhat glad I wasn’t able to make it on our first time out just for the worry that I might have turned around once we got back to land and never gotten back on the boat after experiencing what they did as a first time outing.  He may or may not have been right.  Good thing we’ll never know.



Michelle Kauntz
Wild Blue Yonder

Seems you've found us. I'm one half of the charming and somewhat frustrating duo that is John & Michelle. (I'm Michelle) We once had this one-day idea that we wanted to sail around the world. We made a five year plan. After ten years of talking and two years of prepping and postponing, we are finally underway. Feel free to follow us and live vicariously though our pratfalls and adventures as we take our almost-as-old-as-John Bayfield 40 Cutter Ketch out of the safety of Lake Ontario and out into the world. On a shoestring budget. With two fiercely independent people. In basically 300-ish square feet of living space and with not a heck of a lot of sailing experience (yet) ...This is going to be fun...

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