August 17th, 2018 – Eighteen hours on the water from our somewhat successful stopover at Escuminac to Prince Edward Island.
The first nine hours were done overnight with bumpy, metre-ish high swell. It wasn’t the most comfortable ride and John had to overshoot our original charted turn by about three hours (though he said it felt like forever) so we could ride with the waves instead of having them consistently on our beam. Thanks to John’s spontaneous navigational decision, we cut our original time calculated down by a full hour.
The last nine hours of the crossing had us playing an intense game of Frogger, minus the crocodiles, with the thousands of lobster traps and fishing boats in the Northumberland Strait. Look away for even a moment to take a sip of coffee, and you had inadvertently run over a set of buoys and ropes that you prayed didn’t get caught in the boat’s propeller. Thankfully it only happened once – running over them that is; nothing got caught up in our prop, and the buoys just eventually popped back up behind us.
We tied up at Silver Fox Yacht/Curling Club in Summerside PEI, which seemed like an oasis: an actual dock, drinkable water, shore power, hot showers, great wifi, helpful staff, and an affordable patio restaurant that boasted the best hamburgers and shoestring fries. After our stressful experiences the previous few days, Summerside felt like a five-star holiday. Even the club’s washing machine completely flooding the lounge with my first load of laundry stuck inside, couldn’t dampen my contentment with our new found luxury and convenience.
What did dampen us down though was the rain that arrived the next morning, afternoon, and evening. So. Much. Rain. John braved the weather to go get us spare engine filters and scrub down the boat while I trudged on sidewalks flooded several inches deep with water to grab some provisions at the Summerside Farmers Market a few blocks away. With us clean, the boat clean, and fresh food purchased, we cocooned ourselves inside the boat and attempted to catch, stop, or just make note of all of the leaks that kept cropping up. The sound of the rain pelting the boat for the entire day joined the chorus of gulls, creaking dock lines, and 90’s top hits wafting in from some faraway speaker. We were definitely back in civilization.
By the time the clouds lifted, almost a half foot of rain had fallen (five inches exactly) and the precipitation that made it into the boat had mostly been safely collected into Tupperware and cups. Noticing the large puddle in my berth that evening however, triggered an encore of the stress from the previous week. I was not a happy camper. Leaks throughout the cabin I can handle, but having a wet bed was enough to throw me into a bout of frustration that just couldn’t be rationalized. And believe me, John tried.
The next day though more than made up for the rain and incessant leaks. After John and I hiked 5 kilometres round trip to the nearest laundromat with all of our (incredibly heavy) clothes, sheets, and towels that had desperately needed to be cleaned (or simply dried), we got to kick back with our incredible friends Steve and Kris, and their son, T, who drove up to visit us from their home in Meadowbank. It was a perfect blue sky day to sit on a patio with good food, a glass of wine/beer, and catch up with a couple of my dearest friends.
Steve and Kris were kind enough to be our mail drop for the last several weeks, so we were also greeted with a few letters and packages; the most important of which was – FINALLY – the long awaited control panel for our fridge. But here we now were part in hand, 49 days later, and it somehow didn’t surprise us one bit that when John replaced our old panel with the new one, that the fridge still did not work.
But NovaKool, the incredible company who manufactured our marine refrigerator, quickly responded to our message and with customer service that has surpassed anything we’ve seen so far, offered to ship us an entire new unit to the marina. Absolutely amazing. The worst part of course was that we would have to remain in our luxurious little sanctuary for a while longer… it was truly a hard life.
John and I spent most of our days working on the boat, and wandering around town to get parts to work on the boat… After a week of being docked in Summerside, we realized that this was the longest we had stayed put in one place and I was beginning to feel as if I had itchy feet. We just weren’t used to being still anymore. So as we awaited the shipment of our new unit, we met some of the other interesting sailors and staff at the club, spent time thinking up a better mousetrap (installing padding and sound proofing) for the fridge compressor for when it arrived, published a couple more blogs in my eternal attempt to catch up, and generally restocked the boat.
The new fridge unit was due to arrive on the morning of our tenth day in Summerside – so John was busy prepping for its arrival the day before so it could be easily installed. I, however, spent that Sunday being social – Steve picked me up to give me a tour of his perfect little corner of PEI. It was a good arrangement: I wouldn’t be in John’s way as the boat would inevitably be transformed into a workshop, and I’d be whisked to photographable places and have a tour of Steve & Kris’ beautiful home instead. And I would be fed. Life just wasn’t going to get any better.
Our first stop on the tour was to The Handpie Company in Albany PEI for breakfast. If you’re ever on the island, go. Just go. It is absolutely delicious and the people there (especially Sarah!) are fabulous. I wish I knew at the time that I would be craving a handpie from them almost every day since. Not that we could have done much about it, our boat doesn’t have a freezer…
Steve then drove me to Canoe Cove at high tide. Red sandstone cliffs and water that displayed the same colour due to the shallow waters. On the top of the cliffs is a beautiful resident-run park.
We were stalling as we waited for the grocery store to open… on Sundays, Nova Scotia grocery chains only open at noon. So what could be better than to stop for a pre-lunch ice cream at Cow’s Creamery? Um, nothing. Nothing could possibly be better. Except, it would have been nice to have Kris with us; she was with her parents who were visiting, and her kids, awaiting our arrival with groceries at the house. So with a scoop of Gooey Money and Wowie Cowie, we headed off to the Atlantic Superstore to get the ingredients for lunch, which Steve, my incredible friend of over 25 years, and the finest Cordon Bleu Chef, would be making. Did I mention that this day was perfect?
With groceries in hand, we arrived at the house on the hill. Kris and Steve moved to Prince Edward Island earlier in the year and managed to find a stunning spot to call home. It was an absolute honour and joy to be able to visit with them and their family for the day, tour their gorgeous home, and eat a delectable home-cooked meal.
Steve had to make his way to an event that night just around the corner from our yacht club, so he dropped me off and I went to check on John, who had been working on the boat all day and who, no surprise, was definitely still in a state of being in-progress. The problem with living on a boat really comes down to space… you can’t properly live in it AND work on it at the same time. One will always demand precedence. It didn’t take long though to straighten the boat up somewhat, but without being able to access the galley (as preparation for the fridge’s arrival had the area well blocked), John and I opted for dinner at the club’s restaurant instead.
Bright and shiny, Monday morning, the new refrigeration unit arrived from British Columbia. Fingers crossed that what seemed might be the never ending Fridge Saga hopefully had now finally come to a close. John worked hard all afternoon installing it and we sincerely hoped that we now had a reliable, working unit and could finally stop having to buy ice. Since our fridge decided to bite the dust on day six of our journey, it had taken 58 days over 4 provinces, undyingly phenomenal customer service at NovaKool, one massively incompetent courier (don’t ever use UPS), and approximately 93 bags of ice, to get to where we were. I’d never been more happy to hear a fridge compressor hum.
After 11 days, lots of great times spent with wonderful friends (thank you Steve & Kris for everything!), several delicious Silver Fox Hamburgers (named after the marina, not for the animal), and work done on the boat (namely A WORKING FRIDGE), we departed to make our way towards Halifax. Silver Fox Marina/Sunnyside Yacht Club was a great place to stay… and I am grateful to all the lovely people we met here who helped us settle in and get fixed up.