Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Monday, October 9, 2017

Bay of the Benjamins - Home is Where the Anchor Drops

Home is where the anchor drops...
View from Seapickle of Bay of the Benjamins
Messy morning view inside Seapickle
We had an amazing first night of our North Channel trip in the quintessential North Channel harbor - Bay of the Benjamins. A bonfire on shore with Paul (Orca) and friends completed the perfect evening in the perfect anchorage. We hadn't had much sleep the night before, so Friday was an early night for us, and we were excited to start the morning and our vacation!

Boat mornings are typically about the same every day no matter where we are.  RJ wakes us up, first whoever is sleeping in the bunk with him, with a head bump and "mama!" or "dada!" as if he's just so delighted to see us there! (awww) We try to sneak in some more sleep by cuddling with him (doesn't work), so we then start a movie in the bunk and hope he'll stay occupied while we get a little more shut eye.  Ben, who usually sleeps up in the v-berth which we call the "apartment" now, starts coffee on the swim platform in our propane coffee maker.  While we wait for coffee, it's usually books and cars and snacks to keep RJ busy while we try to wake up.  We love our big boat breakfasts, but this trip we prepared a lot in advance, so we were able to heat up some breakfast burritos that we brought with us (frozen).

If we're going to leave an anchorage to find a new spot, we typically have breakfast and coffee then clean up and get ready to move on.  That part can take awhile, so we usually will start gathering in our lines and pulling anchor around 11 or 11:30am.  This seems to be about the usual time for most other boats as well, although the sailboats sometimes leave right at dawn if they're going a further distance.  For us though, we planned on staying within the Benjamin Island Group (Benjamins, Fox, Croker), so we pulled out around 11:30am to start looking for the next spot.

11:30 is also right about naptime, and babies sleep really well while the boat is underway, so we try to time our movement with the time RJ might fall asleep.  I'll get him settled down below (aka I bribe him with snacks and/or Blaze and the Monster Machines), and try to help Ben with getting the lines in and anchor up.  Usually I'll have to go and lay down with him, but he'll fall asleep once the boat gets moving and I can make my escape.  Sometimes it takes longer than usual though, and Ben is stuck navigating and finding the next spot himself... which is what happened next...

Bedhead and breakfast
Playtime in the Captain's seat

Leaving "our spot" for anchorages unknown...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Seapickle and Toddler take on the North Channel - 2017 Edition

Oh... Captain RJ's mama and dada were there too!
Thursday, July 20 2017 -  RJ and I spent the day getting packed and doing some last minute shopping, packing the boat, making sandwiches and snacks for the overnight drive... and poor Ben worked all day! We always have the best of intentions to leave the house right after Ben gets home from work, and it never quite works out. :-)  We didn't stress this year though, and just focused on making sure we had everything we needed and left when we were ready... which turned out to be 10pm.  That's what vacation (especially boat vacations) are all about right?  No stress and go with the flow.  That is definitely one lesson we've learned from years of boat traveling.

The 559 mile drive, according to my gps, should take 9 hours and 9 minutes. That time is not toddler or boat trailering driving time. At all. To be fair, we did also squeeze a 2 hour nap in there at 3am, but our total time in the car was 16 HOURS. SIXTEEN. HOURS. With an 18 month old. Ok ok, that makes it sound much worse than it was. He actually did amazing, mostly thanks to a new dvd player for the car, Blaze and the Monster Machines and Minions. And snacks. Lots of snacks. Movies and snacks. That's my best advice. :-)

The start of the overnight drive
Our super awesome toddler traveling buddy
Rest stop snack and walk
This is going to be our annual rest stop photo
Rest stop breakfast and a Seapickle in the background
The bridge that used to (and sometimes still does) terrify us.
We FINALLY arrived in Spanish, Ontario to launch the boat and store our truck and trailer for the 2 weeks we planned to be in the North Channel.  This was our 4th year launching at Spanish, and we've really grown comfortable with the facilities and launch.  They can always squeeze you in at a slip if you arrive and conditions are too rough to head out into the North Channel, or you arrive too late (we've experienced both of those.) This year though we arrived at a pretty decent time at around 3 in the afternoon. It doesn't get dark in the North Channel until around 10:30pm, so that left us plenty of time to move the things we packed in the truck into the boat, get the truck and trailer secured, attempt to put the boat back together (it was wrecked inside) and be on our way!  

RJ and his 75th snack of the day in our travel wrecked Seapickle
Launching a Seapickle in Spanish, Ontario
And we're off!! (Ben will have to talk about the dinghy setup in a later post)
Where to Captain RJ?
At 6:30pm Friday we arrived at the Bay of the Benjamins, for the 2nd year in a row as our first stop! Ben had made plans (over Instagram) months prior to meet our friend Paul aboard Orca in the Benjamins, so it was nice to have a plan and a friend to help us get settled for the first night.  As an added bonus, a large group of boaters in the anchorage were having a bonfire on shore and Paul even picked us up for the bonfire.  I brought more snacks, and RJ allowed us about 20 minutes of relaxation time before we were headed back to the boat for the night.  (Toddler after 16 hour drive, bonfire, and "ski slope" rocks are not the greatest combination)  We were feeling a little nervous about the next couple weeks on the boat with the RJ, and hoping we weren't too ambitious in our plans!  Only time would tell, and we hoped we'd all get settled in during the next few days aboard.
Our spot in the Bay of the Benjamins... and the infamous runaway dinghy from the last post

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Start of The Adventure...


sleep deprived after driving all night, and with a toddler who loves to throw things off the boat...

Thursday, July 20, 2017

16 Days With a Toddler on a Boat...Will We Live to Tell the Tale?


Ben and I with Ben's dad outside Andropolis Cottages in Sturgeon Bay - 2008

Neither Ben nor I grew up on boats, but Ben did have the experience of traveling to the same cabin on the lake in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin every summer as a kid.  His memories of fishing, swimming, playing with other kid visitors (many of whom also visited every summer), and most of all his memories of family time made a lasting impression and are cherished still today.  I was lucky enough to also go along with the family once Ben and I started dating in 2006 and later were married.  When we thought about having kids, we knew we wanted to create the same type of memories for our own family.


Cruising the North Channel with a Baby

Dana and RJ anchored in the North Channel in 2016

Fast forward 5 years after marriage... RJ was a newborn and we were planning our summer adventure aboard Seapickle.  We had cruised the North Channel three summers before, and were hooked.  By this point we were MUCH more comfortable navigating and finding anchorages, so it just seemed natural to go back again with a baby aboard.  He was 6 months old when we left for our 16 day trip in 2016 (read all about it here), and while it had its challenges, we were committed to making the North Channel the place RJ looked forward to every summer.

We meet many people every summer in the North Channel who have cruised it many times, but it is less common to meet someone who grew up cruising there with their parents, and even less common to meet another cruising family with a baby or toddler aboard!  We set out every year hoping to make new friends and hear of others' adventures, but now that RJ is along with us we also make it a priority to try to meet other "kid boats" whenever possible.  I  can't think of better childhood memories than the ones we're making together with RJ on our boat. :-)

Then that Baby Turned into a Toddler

Captain RJ at the helm - 17 months old
 2017 boating season came around and our sweet baby was now a toddler.  And that toddler liked to climb... everything.  And that toddler could not sit still for a second.  What was this 16 day living on a boat trip going to bring?  To be honest, we were pretty nervous.  I was researching what kinds of toys to bring along to keep him occupied, what kind of safety measures we needed to keep him safe while anchoring, and who else has done this kind of thing?  (I didn't have much luck finding answers to any of those questions in my online research)

RJ trying out his climbing skills aboard Seapickle at our marina
As our trip grew closer, I started collecting and putting away toys to bring on the trip.  I "borrowed" some from my parents and kept them hidden, to bring out a few days or weeks into the trip in case of emergency.  I couldn't find any information about boating trips with toddlers, but I was able to gather information from blogs I found about camping and hiking with toddlers to help put together medical and emergency kits.  In the end though, boating with a toddler is a lot like living at home with a toddler... we just happen to be floating on water and toys can be thrown overboard.

2017 North Channel Boating Trip


Ready to go on our 2016 trip
Our 2017 16 day cruise starts tonight after work, which means I better finish packing and mentally preparing for an overnight drive to Spanish, Ontario where we will launch the boat.  Wish us luck, and we will be back to post about our adventures soon!

Monday, July 17, 2017

North Channel Trip 2017 Coming Up!



Wow! A whole year passed and I'm still finishing up blog posts from our 2016 trip! While it's fresh in my memory, I'm going to get our 2017 trip posted (just got home last weekend), then come back to finish 2016. Stay tuned! - Dana

Friday, July 7, 2017

Beautiful Day with Friends in Marianne Cove, Baie Fine


Seapickle headed into Marianne Cove
Day 9: Saturday, June 23, 2016
Left Covered Portage Cove - Destination Marianne Cove, Baie Fine to meet Orca

Captain RJ starting his morning off
We started the morning like every morning on the boat with RJ this trip... with some playtime on the v-berth while mom and dad drink their coffee!  Looking back from this year with RJ, last summer was sooooooo much easier before he was mobile!  He would happily play in the v-berth for quite awhile, and we didn't have to worry about him throwing himself (or our keys) off the boat.

This morning we checked in with Orca, who said that Marianne Cove was nearly empty.  We'd been there before, and loved it (and met some of our favorite people!), so we were excited to return.  The last time we were there we had our eye on a particular spot we saw another boat pull into, and were able to secure it this time.

Ben tying us to shore

Looking out into Marianne Cove (looking Northeast I think!)

Taking the paddleboard for a spin into Baie Fine
Later on in the evening, after spending the day playing on the paddleboard, we joined the crews of Orca and Ray of Light for dinner and drinks.  We meet some of the nicest people on our trips, and look forward to all the new friends we make every summer!  Captain RJ fits right in with the group and doesn't even seem to think it's out of the ordinary to hop aboard someone else's boat for dinner :-)   He's a very social little guy, and we love to see him comfortable playing with others he just met (and letting them feed him haha).  I hope he grows up to think it IS normal to make fast friends and feel comfortable anywhere, and the boating community is wonderful for that.  In our "land" life, we probably wouldn't think to go for dinner at someone's house we met an hour prior.  In our "boat" life, that's the highlight of the day!  

Relaxing aboard Orca and letting someone else take care of the RJ

Boat buddies