With the boat’s destiny determined. We set off for a marina a little further down in Orillia called Marina Del Ray. It was the only marina within reasonable distance from where we were docked that had the travel lift capacity to haul Carpe Diem out of the water (…probably…).
The marina was only about 10 miles away, but it was through some pretty shallow waters again. Even leaving the Port of Orillia was nerve racking; with our depth finder bouncing all over the place and reading depths of 3-4ft. It was most likely weeds, but you just never know!
The final section of Lake Couchiching on the southern end is referred to as “The Narrows;” as it is very narrow! We made a Sécurité call on both channels 16 and 68 to alert other boats that a long and wide sailboat would be making it’s way southbound through the narrows in short time. But of course, some boaters don’t carry radios and we had a tense little moment coming through a particularly narrow area between a railroad swing bridge and a highway overpass. It was only about 16ft wide in total (we’re 14ft wide) and a power boat wanted to try and make it through with us. We attempted to hail him on the radio to no affect. So, we broke out the air horn and gave him a few blasts to wake him up. He eventually realized what was happening and reversed and idled in the channel outside of the entrance to the gauntlet. Crisis averted!
Lake Simcoe was a little bit better depth wise for us. After about a quarter mile of shallow stuff, the lake opened up to depths of around 25-35ft. It felt good to take the engine up finally and burn out some carbon!
At 2500rpm, we made about 8 knots and arrived at the mouth of Marina Del Ray in short time. Now, the marina we were headed to is set way back into the land area and is only accessible via a very narrow and shallow channel (of course). It was maybe 20 ft wide and at the most 5ft deep (our charts showed 4ft…). You could see the bottom and it was all little river stones. Nevertheless, we kept the engine on the first click and crawled into the channel.
The channel to where the lift well was placed is decently long. Maybe a little less than a quarter mile. We made it through fine, but had to make a tight turn to port to make it down the alley to a dock just beside the lift well for the night.
Just as we rounded the bend, confusion set in. There was another big boat parked right near where they told us to dock just earlier in the day and their dinghy was placed on the only section of open wall. Of course, the phone starts ringing just then and we couldn’t answer it. My dad jokingly said that it was probably the marina (we found out that it was indeed the marina later). The other problem was that the lift well was occupied by the straps on the travel lift, so we couldn’t pull in there either. To top it off, the alley was narrow. Far to narrow for us to just do a y-turn and turn around. Once we made that turn, we were committed; as Carpe Diem doesn’t back well at all.
We spotted what looked like to be a kid mulling around on a bike near the lift well so my dad yelled for him to, “MOVE THE DINGHY!!” The kid looked confused, spun a few circles on his bike and then casually pumped the pedals off in the other direction. My temper and my dads were starting to flare. Neither of us can stand incompetence and/or poor communication; and we have been fraught it the entire trip thus far. Another guy appeared on the dock and told us that we should just “hover.” I tempered my response as much as I could and tried to explain to the man (later found out that he worked at the marina) that sailboats don’t “hover.” We have a single screw and our prop walks us in either direction (port/starboard) depending on which way we’re going.
Heart rate and blood pressures about to boil over, the kid finally returned on his bike and hopped onto the travel lift. He then began the painfully slow process of lowering the slings so that we could pull into the well. As we got closer to the well, I uncovered another problem. The well did not look anywhere near wide enough to accommodate our beam. I yelled to the guy to say, “what’s the width of your well?” He looked confused and then asked me, “do you think your boat is wider than any of the other boats we have here?” I responded, “How am I supposed to know that? YOU WORK HERE! YOU TELL ME!!” There was nothing that we could do, so we just kept coming.
We coasted into the well with inches to spare on either side. Not a fun experience. But, I guess I should have expected it from what we’ve dealt with so far.
With Carpe Diem safely tied up in the well, we began the process of readying her for transport te next morning. The antenna that we had fashioned needed to come down, dinghy motor needed to be stored below, and the bimini frame had to be taken down too so that we made the max height allowance for the trailer on the highway. It didn’t take too long, and by the time that my dad came back from the front office, I was in the cockpit starting to relax.
However, I made a little miscalculation. I shouldn’t have removed the bimini so early; as it was still very hot and sunny outside. So, in the cockpit we sat under the blistering sun. We would have been content sitting there if it weren’t for a few nice neighbor boaters that came over to chat with us and invite us over to their boat area to sit under their pergola.
We gladly accepted their invitation and wandered over with cocktails in hand. Their names were Holly, Heather, and Taylor. Holly was Heather’s mom and Taylor was a granddaughter. Super nice people! The boat is their little summer cottage; as they live in the Toronto area. We ended up spending the entire afternoon chatting with them. They’re the first people that we’ve actually sat down and socialized with at length for almost a month! I was even lucky enough to go out for a ride in the bay with Heather at the helm of their Ski-doo. It felt awesome to go fast again (15-20 knots); as I’ve been accustomed to 2-3 knots for the past few weeks.
After coming back from the jetski ride, we parted ways for dinner. We thought that we had intruded enough, but nevertheless, we got the invite to come back after dinner to relax with them so more; which we gladly agreed to. After dinner was done, we tried to pawn as much of the fresh grocery products that we had bought just the day prior off on them because we didn’t want it to go to waste. It worked out for both parties 🙂
A storm was blowing in so we decided to hop onboard their boat and watch it in canvas-sheltered comfort. There wasn’t much to see other than some heat lightening. With a break in the rain, we made our exit; as we had to be up early to finish a few items on the boat before it was lifted onto the truck. We would see them the next morning though, for Heather had offered to drive us to the bus depot in Barrie savings us a bus and cab ride. SO NICE OF HER! Thank you again, Heather 🙂
The morning came to quickly and we set right to finishing up final details. Our driver, who had arrived the night prior from the Toronto arrive to deliver the trailer and then set back off for Toronto came in ahead of schedule and we waited together for the guys in the marina to come down. The kid on the bike from yesterday turned out to be the owner of the marina (looked younger from the distance) and he came down in one of his golf carts to start up the travel lift.
Carpe Diem made it onto the truck trailer without incident. We even got a chance to investigate our keel. We were happy to see that the damage was minimal. Only a little paint was lost on the port side from our encounter with the rocks in Georgian Bay. Satisfied with her placement, we hopped into the car with Heather and made our way towards Barrie.
The ride to Barrie took about 30 minutes. It’s a decent sized town. I would probably relate it closely to Green Bay, only a little more modernized and centralized. We thanked Heather profusely and made our way to the ticket counter to buy our coach bus tickets from Barrie, ON to New Market, ON where we would pick up the rental car.
I could have closed my eyes anytime through the bus ride and opened them to a view of somewhere in Wisconsin. The landscapes are incredibly similar. Very pretty green pastures and slightly rolling meadows.
Once in New Market, we grabbed our rental (a peppy little brand new Chevy Cruise with a 4 banger turbo) and hit the road for Niagara Falls. It felt odd to be driving a car again; as it’s been about 3 months since I’ve last driven. It’s like riding a bike though. Second nature.
We made great time to Yorkshire, NY where we were going to surprise my grandma with a visit. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to upstate New York in the summer. I’m accustomed to it being around Christmas time. It’s an incredibly beautiful state and drive.
My grandma was incredibly surprised to see us and it was good to see her too. While she wasn’t feeling well, we still we able to go out for dinner and see my dad’s Aunt Beverly at the same time. All in all, it was a good day. I was dead tired though. We got home at around 6pm and I fell face first into my pillow and didn’t rise again until around 7am the next morning.