Insurance

Let’s talk about insurance for a moment.

In Canada, insuring a motorcoach is a sucker’s game. The only question is just how outrageous some of the insurers will be in attempting to take as much money from you as possible.

Unfortunately we do not have the same competitive environment as exists in the United States and, because the market in Canada is much smaller, we wind up paying the price. Sometimes. It depends on an unusual set of circumstances.

I had posted about the tale of two coaches here. And the remarkable difference in the cost of a policy between the two insurance quotes from the same insurer for two motorcoaches of equivalent value.

Notice any difference?

Yes, we were paying $4,617.26 to insure a Newmar Dutch Star and our friends were paying $1,174.00 to insure their Newmar King Aire. Why? Well, we were given a number of nonsensical reasons: their coach was used and we had purchased new even though the market value of both coaches were equivalent and our coach had been in service for a couple of years.  And our friends had a special group rate (sadly, Lorraine and I do not constitute a special group so no, we would not be given the special group rate).

We renew our policy from this insurer next month. The coach is now a year older.

And guess how much they want to charge us to renew our policy?

SIX THOUSAND, FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS!

No accidents. Perfect, clean driving record with no infractions. Just a massive bump in price because, well, just because. Thank you very much Aviva Canada.

Totally insane. We have a quote from another insurer for $3,300. While not a great deal, it is certainly better than the $4,617 we have been paying and clearly much better than the attempt to rob us of $6,400 on renewal.

Lorraine is checking with a few others and we’ll see if we can get any better pricing.

What a business.

Spring Cleaning

That was the roof of my coach after I had spent 8 or 9 hours washing, drying, detailing and buffing last spring. I think it turned out really well however I should have protected the roof right from when we first took delivery of the coach. I had used Rejex on the body of the coach back then but left the roof unattended. And even though the coach was still relatively new, it was a much bigger job than I expected to get the surface of the roof clean and well protected a year or so after having taken delivery.

The first challenge was how to get up to the roof itself. In the video below, you will see that I used a general purpose ladder to get access topside. With the ladder fully extended, I had to use a couple of interesting moves to swing my body up and over as the ladder was not tall enough. We had checked with Newmar and they told us that there was no issue with putting the ladder against the sidewall of the coach. More than strong enough to support the weight. We used towels at the end of the ladder to protect the finish.

Lorraine helped to bring the supplies up to the roof. I began with a hose, wash and rinse bucket and a lot of towels. Because it was still relatively early in the year, there was a lot of dew. There were quite a few black streaks around the air conditioning units as well. The black streaks were really tough to remove from the roof.

Once the roof was clean, I worked in sections of about 8 feet by 4 feet. I used some spare towels to mark the area. Once applied, I waited for the Rejex to haze, which doesn’t take very long at all, and then buffed out the area. That translated into ten sections to wax and buff. I do own a dual action orbiter however I elected to do the roof the old fashioned way: by hand. I removed my shoes so perhaps I should say by hand and by foot.

Quite the effort. Here is a short video that gives you a bit of sense of the task.

Although I do not have a particular fear of going up on the roof, I have been told that at my age I should just let someone else do the work topside.

When we were at Hearthside Grove in September of last year, we hired a detailer to come out to wash and wax the coach. I had them do the roof as well.

They were able to do in about 45 minutes what it took me over 8 hours to accomplish. They used a premium coating product and told me that it should last the coach until we go south to Florida later this year. The same detailing team from Hearthside heads south for the winter and I will use them again when we are at RiverBend in December.

Spring cleaning is going to come much later this year. Almost mid-April and our temperatures are still hovering around the freezing mark with snow in the forecast.

The Way South

We have now made a few bookings for our trip south. We will be leaving from Sherkston Shores RV Resort — identified as point 2 on the map above. Point 1 is where we are living right now.

The plan is for Lorraine and I to take the coach over to our dealer mid-August. We have a bit of a punch list:

  • Side radiator lower grill guard almost disconnected from body of coach
  • Oasis hot water heater pump failure — this one is a known defect by the manufacturer
  • Full wall slideout uneven — literally rises up a quarter inch or so after slides are deployed — this was not resolved during warranty by the dealer and is still outstanding
  • Full length of Girard Awning Casing on top of passenger side of coach overhangs coach body by about an inch
  • Levelling jack leaking hydraulic fluid (passenger side front)
  • Small puncture in roof membrane requires repair
  • 483 RSB – Recall 17V 420: Driver Passenger Shade
  • 486 TSB – MCD Remote Shade Motor Replacement
  • 488 RSB – Recall 17V 497: Battery Cable May Rub Against Frame (potential fire hazard)
  • 493 PIB – Freightliner Lightbar: instrument panel odometer value may reset and not match the engine ECU odometer value

We also need to get our towing system in place for our new toad. For the towbar we are installing a Blue Ox baseplate, a Blue Ox KarGard, a Blue Ox Towbar, and a Patriot Braking System.

The dealer wants the coach for about a month. We will pick it up from the dealer mid-September and head over to Sherkston Shores and hang out there until the end of October.

We then make three stops over five days on our way down south. Point 3 on the map above will be at Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park. Looks like a nice place. The first drive will be 6 hours on the road not including breaks.

Point 4 on the map is our next stop. We will spend two days at the Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort. I suspect that this will be a stunning place to rest up after a second long day of driving. Roughly 7 hours between Stonewall Jackson and Mountain Falls without including any breaks.

After a two-night layover, we will head over to point 5 on the map above: Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort. Another 6-hour drive without including any breaks.

From there, we take a longer drive over to Myakka River Motorcoach Resort. A little over 8 hours on the road without including any breaks.

And then? A whole month in the sun and warmth.

Why take the drive down so quickly? Well, we want to enjoy as much of our time as possible in the south. 4 relatively long days behind the wheel will be worthwhile once we pull into our site in Florida.

Making Travel Plans

We continue to work on our travel plans for our first trip south.

We have two options under consideration in terms of how we will start the journey.

Our first option is to stay in our condo until the end of October and then take three days to get to Hilton Head Motorcoach Resort for our first brief layover of a couple of nights before making the final leg to Myakka River Motorcoach Resort in Florida. We would pick up our coach from Gan 401 Storage and head south crossing the border at the Thousand Islands.

The trip down to Hilton Head Motorcoach Resort would look something like this:

We have been told that if we take this path down we should make a few changes to our route.

Follow I-81 South to Syracuse and take the 481 Bypass around Syracuse. Then continue on the I-81 South through the rest of New York State, and on into Pennsylvania through Maryland, and West Virginia and on into Virginia.

Just south of Middleton Virginia take the I-66 East (the exit will be marked as Front Royal and will be a left-handed exit off the I-81). Drive I-66 until it is intersected by I-17 South. Then follow I-17 until you connect to I-95.

Google Maps and GPS programs will advise you to head towards I-95 sooner on your trip and they’ll take you closer to Washington DC which can be overcome with traffic. So much better to do this bit of detour through Virginia’s very scenic horse country.

By doing this routing, you will have avoided all of the major traffic for the biggest cities on the US Eastern Seaboard. The only time that there is even the slightest issue with traffic in this by-pass around Washington DC is if you happen to hit during rush hour and then only for a short distance down the I-95 towards Richmond Virginia. If you plan your timing right, then here shouldn’t be any issues at all.

The I-95 will lead you south thru the rest of Virginia. Take the 295 By-Pass around Richmond and continue on the I-95 on thru North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia on into Florida.

Take the 295 By-Pass around Jacksonville. If headed to the Gulf Coast area you can take the I-10 Westbound and connect up to the I-75 for places such as Tampa, Clearwater, Fort Meyers or Naples.

Heading to Orlando take the I-4 just south of Daytona Beach.

Heading further south to Fort Lauderdale, Miami or The Keys, stick with I-95 thru Florida.

This was great advice and we modified our route and planned our two overnight stays to break the 17-hour drive to Hilton Head Motorcoach Resort into more manageable 5 to 6-hour daily drives.

And then came option two.

Rather than staying in our condo until the end of October, we stay until mid-September. We then head over to Sherkston Shores RV Resort, which is very close to the US border by Buffalo, New York, and live in our coach until the end of October.

We then would make our way to Hilton Head by following I-77 and I-79. The trip is shorter and we might be able to get to Hilton Head Motorcoach Resort in two longer days. Or, if we keep to three days driving, we would certainly be less than a 5-hour drive each day.

That option looks like this:

I’ll need to do some more research to see if there are any tips for doing this route. Given we are driving in the first week of November, I wouldn’t anticipate any severe winter weather. I do prefer the border crossing at the Thousand Islands as it is usually pretty quiet.

Homeless in Vancouver?

A recent trend in the city of Vancouver: people living out of RVs on the side of the street.

The Globe and Mail had this to say about the situation in Vancouver:

When you talk to people living in motorhomes, and there are dozens already camped on Vancouver streets, they don’t identify as homeless. Most are proud of their homes, many of which are powered by solar panels and fit in with Vancouver’s green city aspirations. What they don’t like is having to hide and move. Some say they would be happy to pay a modest rent for a safe spot in someone’s leafy backyard.

This, of course, is not a perfect fix. Recreational vehicles should never be considered a permanent replacement for housing. But people on the margins, faced with a dearth of other options, have already innovated by moving into them. It wouldn’t hurt to loosen the rules, so they can leave the industrial parks and live in nice neighbourhoods. And if a state of emergency declaration can help make it happen, let’s consider that too.

Vancouver, Canada now ranks as the world’s sixth most expensive city to buy a condo and the eighth most expensive market in the world for a single family home. Just how bad is it in Vancouver?

This is what 2.4 million dollars will buy you:

Can’t you just get a sense of your money having been well spent on this stunning estate?

I found this story about a couple living out of their RV:

And we live in an RV in Vancouver.

For us, it was both a voluntary and involuntary choice. Voluntary because after a string of horrendous landlords, our most recent one sold our house with no notice and then sent a family member to evict us in 30 days. We’d lived there for nearly 2 years, paid almost $50,000 in rent and had nothing to show for it. The involuntary part of the decision came into play when we couldn’t find an affordable, pet-friendly place to live and I refused to part with my dog.

At times it seems like parts of the world have gone utterly and completely mad.