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

Cruising to Marianne Cove, Baie Fine, North Channel

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Trip Back to Covered Portage from Killarney... the Scenic Route

First time heading into Georgian Bay, from Killarney
Day 8: Friday June 22, 2016

Left Killarney Mountain Lodge, entered Georgian Bay and headed East to Collins Inlet, then through to Mill Lake, then back through Collins Inlet, back through Georgian Bay, back through Killarney... to 3 miles away from where we started in Covered Portage Cove. Whew! 

Winds were building as we left Killarney, but we thought we would find plenty of protection in Mill Lake, since it appeared to be pretty tucked away inland.  It was a beautiful cruise through Collins Inlet, but we didn't find protection in Mill Lake.  It was VERY windy, and although we tried anchoring a couple different locations, we just weren't satisfied with the protection.  

We loved cruising through Collins Inlet. It was well worth the trip
Beautiful cruise through Collins Inlet
Mill Lake, Collins Inlet
Captain RJ woke up from his nap and decided he didn't like the looks of Mill Lake
We decided to head back out to Collins Inlet to see if we could find a place to tuck in.  We found a great location right near the entrance, but it seemed everyone else had the same idea and there wasn't much room available.  So we thought next we'd check out Thomas Bay... but with waves and wind building, we were a little hesitant to attempt the rocky entrance.  So... back to Covered Portage Cove we went!  We had experience with a strong west wind there, and knew the perfect location to tuck in for protection.  Now we just had to hope it would be open!

Luckily, our favorite protected spot was open!
Once in Covered Portage Cove's outer harbor, we were able to back into a spot close to the rocks that was totally blocked from the wind.  We'd been here before, so it's always comforting to know an area is safe and free of rocks.

So although we took a really long route to get there (but not more than a few hours), we were back anchored in one of our favorite spots!  Now all we had to do was relax and enjoy the rest of the day :-)  

Out on the stand up paddleboard

Catch of the day ;-) 
Captain RJ enjoying a swim
Lantern-side dinner for 2