Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Finally - After 10 years of planning The Dream Begins

Oct 2002 Kaija got her buy-out from Telus, signaling the time had come to find our dreamboat and go sailing.

July 2003 we purchased Napanee a Beneteau 50 in St. Vincent. We sailed her to Trinidad for the beginning of her refit. Christmas 2003 she was renamed Kaija’s Song.

June 2004 Gary left Vancouver, arriving in Chagauramas Trinidad to complete stage 1 of the refit process while Kaija put the house up for sale and shipped copious rubber made containers to Trinidad containing way too much ‘stuff’.

Season 1, December 2004 to November 2005

How we got there

Here is a short summary of what happened in our first year out. It was quite the year with many "things" breaking - most were under warranty so that was a good things. We had some great experiences with repair folks and those stories will be added later. But just to give you a snapshot.

We shipped the necessary items that were in our house in Vancouver , by boat, to Trinidad. Of course, you know that there were many books and other things that we will never use. Polar vests, Pacific Northwest rain gear, but they all went. Gary traveled down ahead of Kaija and Doc - who were to follow in a couple of months. Gary started working on the interior of the boat, electronics and all that stuff and receiving the boat load of stuff Kaija sent down.

On Sept 7, 2004 Kaija and Doc board the plane in Vancouver at 9:30 am and leave for Toronto and then to Port of Spain. But while they are in flight, all airports in the southern islands are closed due to Hurricane Ivan. So on landing in Toronto, they have no flight and need to change terminals. If you have never flown through Toronto and had to change terminals - you are lucky. Usually it is a short shuttle ride and that's it, but no - Doc's crate needs to be moved. Air Canada only arranged to have it arrive at one terminal but not to be moved. So, after some time, Kaija is able to get a flatbed dolley from the ground crew and take Doc up to the arrivals level. No help from Air Canada to move Doc, but finally a limo Van comes along and the crate just slides in between the row of seats. Then the short ride to Terminal 3 and the limo driver helps Kaija get Doc off the van and then leaves. The two of them are left standing on the side of the road with no way of moving Doc's crate. Sometime later, Kaija gets help and another flatbed dolley to move Doc inside. Then she finds out the flight is cancelled. No idea when they will be able to fly out. But with the dolley they are able to move around the terminal, get pizza for Doc, and take him out of the crate and go for walks.
Now it is Midnight, and they find out the the flight will go at 6 am and that the new airplane can accomodate Doc's large crate. So phone calls need to be made, emails to be sent, as Doc has to be met by the Trinidadian Vet. All this get co-ordinated, Jessie James in Trinidad has got my messages and has been in touch with Gary and the Vet.
The Vet and the quarantine officers are on stike and only work during business hours, so when Doc's crate, again, will not fit into the van, some fast talking takes place. During the time Gary was waiting for the new arrivals, he spent some time with the quarantine officer and found out that he had recently lost his dog and his wife said that until there is a house for the dog, there will be no new dog.
Guess what happened to Doc's crate??? Yes, the quarantine officer is the proud new owner and is very anxious to get back to the airport to retreive his new dog house, so he allows Jessie to escort us to the boat, and he is dropped off at his house. We continue to Jessie's office where the dinghy is and load Doc in and a few of the suitcases, the rest are left there to be picked up the next morning. Then off we go for about a 30 minute dinghy ride to the boat, which has been anchored in Scotland Bay, a hurricane hole near by.
Doc is quiet in the dinghy, jumps off and into the boat, up the stairs, down the stairs and says, I'm Home.
We stay in Scotland Bay for a couple of days and then move the boat back to Power Boats Ship yard where we complete the work required.
We spend the next couple of months finsihing the work and loading up on provisions for the start of our new life.

We continued working on the boat till Dec 20 when we departed Trinidad heading north past hurricane ravaged Grenada and on to Tobago Keys for Christmas. We all got our sea legs on that trip (sea sick) and as they say… “got that out of our system”.

Lands and Islands we visited

December was a short month, as we left just before Christmas. Our dream was to spend Christmas in the Tabago Cays, part of St Vincent and the Grenadines. We had been there before and loved the place. But what a shock. The bay was full of boats. We had never seen so many boats in this location, but we made the best of it. "Gold Tooth", one of the local fishermen, provided us with great lobster and it was cooked to perfection for us. We had met Gold Tooth on our last visit here and he was still there and providing great service to all.
Then, New Years , was the next stop. Bequia is a small island not to far from the Cays and we decided that was where we would spend New Years. Our friends, Anne and Alan on S/v Freya of Clyde & Sue & Ian on S/v Hoyden were also there. It too was a parking lot of boats. But a great time was had. Some folks even discharges old flares in the midst of all the boats, a little crowded for that sport.

We continue up the chain of Eastern Carib Islands and one by one all the newly installed boat systems broke. Each repair a lesson learned and new friends made. Some of the highlights of Season One, were Tobago Keys, Fran├žois the electrician in Martinique,
Sparky the mechanic in Guadeloupe, the much overlooked Spanish Virgin Islands, Gilligan's Island (south coast of Puerto Rico), Samana (one of Columbus' more remote stops) then San Salvador where we planted a palm tree (seen in the boat pic) in ’92 after our Atlantic crossing re-enactment of Columbus’s’ discovery of America.

Our first American Port of Call was Miami in May 2005. Doc learned about Dolphins and Tarpons and spent hours on the dock ‘fishing’. Kaija left for Finland and Gary and Doc proceeded north toward Beaufort NC. It was on this trip that Doc jumped ship in St. Augustine at midnight to rejoin his dolphin buddy’s met earlier that day. Gary awoke to find him gone and after two intense hours of searching found him busy paddling away and quite exhausted. They reached an agreement that Doc would never again leave the boat without supervision.

Gary and Doc arrived in Beaufort NC July 2, rejoined by Kaija back from Finland and KS went up on the hard to replace a section of the rudder that got left behind in the ICW between Boca Raton and West Palm Beach. During the next few weeks Gary and good buddy Trip completed the redesign of the Master Stateroom, while Kaija refit and recovered all the upholstery. We are pleased to say, that it all turned out beautiful.

During our stay in North Carolina, we weathered three hurricanes, Ophelia, Tammy and Wilma, and two were direct hits. The Good Lord kept the ship and us safe from harm, but we did manage to lose Trips whaler and engine, capsizing at the dock. We enjoyed a wonderful road trip to Louisville Ky, for the National Quartet convention and reunion with members of quartet days of old, also to Fort Knox, and the Grand Ol Opry in Nashville enjoying a wonderful morning service at ChristChurch.

We left North Carolina mid November 2005 beginning Season Two, and so far have survived many a storm and some very very cold nights. We are off to spend Christmas in St. Pete’s, with Gary’s dad and wife Kathleen looking forward to that reunion.

2006 will bring parts & Ports unknown as we head into the western Carib and Panama.

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