There’s an old adage that goes something like, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making plans”.
Our primary reason for coming to Halifax was to get a bimini made for our sailboat. The plan was to pull into Seamasters, a marine service yard in Bedford basin on Wednesday morning, get a bimini designed and manufactured, and be on our way before the weekend. A bimini covers the cockpit and protect sailors from the elements so you don’t bake in the sun or get drenched when it rains. A full enclosure is an extension of this and essentially turns your cockpit into a cabin protecting you from rain, drizzle and fog (RDF). We had contemplated the full enclosure but decided it wasn’t suitable in the Caribbean climate where you would probably cook under all that glass.
Having made our way through Halifax Harbour very slowly, we made arrangements to spend the first night on a mooring ball at the Dartmouth Yacht club, a nice vibrant club with a small clubhouse and fuel dock, located just around the corner from Seamasters. At 7:30 am, the next morning, they sent over an employee to guide us through the channel to their shop. It is a shallow channel that is inclined to low water depths when the tides are low (more on this later).
We had been communicating for several weeks with the canvas designer at Seamasters. He came aboard when we arrived and we began to develop a plan for the bimini. His idea for the design and our vision didn’t jive, so I found some pics online to illustrate what we wanted. It’s so much easier to understand what someone wants when you show them a pic. Once we’d settled on a design, he was pretty excited because this design was something he hadn’t done before but he was fully confident he could pull it off. We also discussed the timeline for our project. And thats when we encountered obstacle #1. Our stern requires a span of 24 feet rail and the standard size used by Seamaster is 20 feet. This meant a special order from Hamilton, Ontario. The delivery date for the rails was set for Friday. Looks like we were here until next week.
That was OK because Al had also been considering getting AIS installed on the boat and he figured he’d get a quote while waiting for the bimini. He also thought the batteries should be tested because the levels were very low lately and he wasn’t sure they would survive the full year. If you own a boat you probably see where this is going because once you start on one project, there is a tendency for a multitude of others to pop up. Its like renovating an older home; you replace the floor and everything else looks dated so you slowly begin to change other elements to catch up.
We decided to go with the AIS installation and ordered batteries as well. Al and I began to tackle some other jobs, such as the malfunctioning navigation lights and the rub rail that needed caulking. Al managed to fix the issue with the navigation lights, after determining that the wire had broken off inside the rail. The bowsprit had to be removed and new wires pulled through. The AIS installation also took longer than expected but we finally got it working. Lorne, the electrical wizard who worked with us was awesome and helped Al out with many aspects of the electrical work. We also stripped the teak coating from the rails so Al could caulk the next day. I tackled cleaning the boat, pulling up panels that were screwed on to give Ingomar a through cleaning.
We had also ordered a wheel cover which was completed on Friday afternoon and installed; the results were promising, good craftsmanship and detail to the work. Unfortunately the rails did not arrive on Friday but were expected on Monday morning so our departure date was pushed ahead yet again. We decided that a weekend away from the dock was in order, so we set sail on Saturday morning and headed towards the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Club which is conveniently located near The Binnacle, the best boat chandlery in Atlantic Canada.
We had a lovely sail up the harbour and into the arm where the RNSYC is located. There were boats everywhere, and the sailing school was in full gear that morning. The weather in Halifax has been incredible with only one rainy day since we arrived, otherwise it has been hot and sunny. We tied up to the dock, filled out the forms, did some laundry, fueled up and headed into the club for a bite. As we were waiting for lunch to arrive, a member came up and introduced himself, asking if we were from Newfoundland. Turns out Greg is also from Newfoundland but had moved away long ago. After talking a little, we determined that I had worked with his brother at the University. It really is a small world.
Greg had just returned from a 19 day sail down the coast of Maine and offered to lend us his sailing guide and offer any advice he could. He also drove us to the Binnacle and offered to drive us anywhere else we needed to go. We invited him back to Ingomar for a brew and we had a great chat about his trip and what Maine had to offer boaters. Once again, the people we encounter on our excursions are one of the best aspects of this trip.
We spent an absolutely beautiful and relaxing evening surrounded by boats and moonlight while hanging out on a mooring. We cracked a bottle of champagne to celebrate our 4th anniversary which wasn’t until next week, but the setting was so lovely! The next morning I did some laundry and Al did a bit of tinkering on the boat. We met Greg for lunch and he had kindly put together a list of notes that we could use should we decide to take a route down the Maine coast.
We’d put aside some of our time this week to plan a route for when we leave Halifax. Its looking more like we will head for Cape Cod and explore the Newport area with a trip into New York! Very excited about this! Greg said that the Maine coast is exceptional and there’s loads of great restaurants and anchorages but he also mentioned that many of the bays look as if someone threw smarties over the ocean. There’s that many lobster buoys there!
After lunch we headed over to Halifax harbour for the day. Unfortunately we didn’t make a reservation so all the spaces on the harbourfront were full. We headed back to Dartmouth Yacht club and waited until the tide rose enough to return to Seamasters to get our work completed.
Monday morning we got up early and were pretty excited about finally getting the bimini job completed. I had a bunch of things to do in the city, so I headed out for the day and Al stayed on board. Around noon he called me with news of a major hiccup. Remember the designer who was so excited about our challenging bimini? He had decided to go independent and would be leaving the enterprise. Hello Obstacle #2. Whatever transpired between him and the company, his severance was immediate and we were left in the lurch. Our plans floated out the window.
Although I don’t think Seamasters handled the situation well, we finally had a discussion that evening with a manager who assured us they could still get the job completed. It would however mean we were here until Friday and sadly, there were no guarantees that the new bimini would be exactly what we wanted. Ugh, but what do you do? We decided to give them the chance to complete the job but if it was not satisfactory we would not be obliged to take it. We are currently waiting on the final product and it will be delivered before we leave the dock tomorrow afternoon. Fingers crossed. It was an unfortunate situation but I will say the rest of the work Seamasters undertook was well done.
So what have we been doing with all of our time? Work, work, work. This is our completed list:
Navigation light wire reconnected
New wheel cover made and installed
AIS installed and DSC working
New battery bank installed
Installed a Galvanic isolator to regulate the current throughout the boat
Scraped and caulked the rub rail
Handle repaired on locker
Cleaned the boat under floors etc.
Installed/uninstalled a Rogue Wave (more on this later)
Sump pump fixed
Doors and hinges tightened
Bimini – who knows???
Filbert has had mixed emotions on the past 10 days. On the plus side he’s enjoyed being on the dock and having the opportunity to go, on leash, for walks. Unfortunately its been busy on the boat and a little noisy at times. I purchased a tunnel before we left, because cats like privacy and this thing is collapsible, and therefor meets all criteria for making it on board. He’s been sleeping in it constantly and loves to play in it as well. Catnip and treats have been generous as well.
Al says he is beat! and wants to get off the dock and resume the relaxation aspect of this trip soon! Filbert and I fully concur and our plan is to leave the dock at 3 pm tomorrow at high tide. Oh yeah, thats another thing about our stay at Seamasters. The area where we are docked is shallow, as I mentioned before, and with the low tides we’ve been resting on the bottom more than we would have liked.
On the bright side we got a lot of work completed and the boat is looking beautiful. Today is our anniversary for real, so we’re going to do something fun and plan our great escape! Or maybe not so much plan as just put it out there for the universe 🙂