It’s hard to believe, but we’ve been boat people for a year already. This time last year we were boxing up our possessions and organizing movers, cleaners, house showings and goodness knows what else. I’m thankful the stress and anxiety of the move is behind us.
Through the process of re-establishing our lives in a new city, we’ve grown in many ways and have learned valuable lessons. From the mundane, like finding a new grocery store, veterinarian and sushi place, to the more challenging, like meeting new acquaintances and establishing a new social group. Not to mention the 1001 things we’ve learned about boating.
We’ve put our heads together, and these are the three most important lessons that we’ve learned this year:
Be ready for anything. When you’re on the boat, there are quite a few things that could go wrong, so be ready for it to happen. This doesn’t mean live in fear, it means be prepared. One day we were merrily pulling up our anchor when the chain slipped off the windlass, causing all 350 feet of chain and the anchor to free fall to the bottom. All we could do was duck and cover, so that neither of us could be hurt by the flying chain and wait for it to stop. Luckily nobody was hurt, and there was no damage done to the boat, but we are now hyper vigilant when pulling the anchor and take extra precautions to watch that the chain doesn’t slip. Another time we used our generator in the morning, and the same evening it wouldn’t start. The cause was a faulty relay, but we had to go without the generator until we were able to replace the relay. We now keep spares and are better prepared for that scenario.
Know your boat. Each boat is so unique in the way the systems are configured and the way it handles, that it’s important to get to know the boat. Eudora handles winds and currents in a certain way, and it’s taken experience to know what kind of weather we can take her out in. It’s also important to know the odd nuances about the systems. We have two depth sounders, and we know the one is great in shallow water, the other is better in deep water, so we look at the more accurate one in each scenario. There’s also the weird way that the autopilot slips slightly to starboard when we turn on our defrost fan in the pilothouse… No two boats will ever be the same, so you need to get to know your boat.
Communication, trust and patience are a must. For us, boating has taught us how to better communicate. Oftentimes, communication needs to be quick and concise. When Matt is docking, he only wants to know how many feet between us and the dock, not my commentary on the neighboring boat’s new fenders. Equally, Matt knows that I like to know the why behind things, not just the what, and he’s learned to explain why we do something a certain way. We’ve learned to trust each other more deeply. We’ve shown one another that we’re resilient and capable, and that’s strengthened our trust in each other. We each know the other has our best interests in mind, always. As we’re both learning new things, patience is also needed! We have to be able to mess up and have enough patience to try again. We also have to be patient with the weather, with repair work and with ourselves. Sometimes, things don’t happen as quickly as we’d like, and we have to exercise patience.
Aside from the many lessons learned this year, we’ve also made fabulous memories, and our highlights are these:
Our First Journey under the First Narrows Bridge (read about it HERE) | This is when the training wheels came off, so to speak. All of our trips prior to this one were to the relatively safe waters of Indian Arm. This was our first venture into the “open ocean”. This trip proved to us that we had enough knowledge to safely navigate rougher seas, and share the waters with tanker traffic, water taxis and numerous other pleasure crafts. This trip solidified in our minds that we can really do this and gave us the confidence to explore further from home.
Trip to the Gulf Islands (read about it HERE) | The Gulf Islands trip was our first trip away for multiple nights, and the furthest we’ve travelled from our home port. We met up with Matt’s uncle for the first time since the pandemic started, and we saw a new side to boating, which was the friendships, shared meals and drinks, and shore excursions. This was our first real taste of the exploring and adventures that can come with boat life.
Meetup in Port Browning | We met up with fellow Nordhavn owners and spent three fantastic days together at anchor in Port Browning. We explored the town, and enjoyed coffee, cake and fabulous barbecue meals together, sharing the hosting duties back and forth between our two boats. Our boat is the very one that our friends chartered five years previously, and which made them decide to invest in their own Nordhavn – talk about a small world! We’ve created a strong bond that will last for years to come, and we can’t wait for our next catchup over coffee and cake.
This has been a transformative year for us. There have been low points where I’ve wished myself back to my familiar life in Calgary, but there have been so many personal achievements, discoveries, beautiful sights and adventures, that I’m glad we’re on this journey. The possibilities for adventure aboard Eudora are endless!