Sailing Away

Retirement living. Sailing or RVing? The latest estimates suggest that over 1 million people in North America are travelling full-time in RVs, most of whom are likely retired. I could not find a similar estimate for retirees that decide to travel the world on a sailboat. I suspect that it might be a similar number.

Lorraine and I went sailing on Saturday. On this boat, a Hunter 39, the Equinox.

We spent an entire day on Georgian Bay although we did anchor for a few hours at Beausoleil Island. Here are a few shots of this island in northern Ontario.

The weather was mixed. Sun and cloud. Wind gusting up to 40 kph, or roughly 25 mph. Enough to warrant reefing the mainsail.

We were able to hit 8.1 knots, , pretty much the top speed of this sailboat, often leaning in excess of 20 to 30 degrees when hit by the strong gusts of wind.

Much calmer once we anchored.

Rob and Evelyn were our hosts for the day. They run a great ship and you can learn more about their expeditions on their website here.

Rob and I spoke at length about the similarities between sailing and RVing — the mechanical challenges and the time spent in maintenance.

There is an appeal to travelling this way however the living space is really tight. Sailing full-time takes minimalist living quite a bit beyond what Lorraine and I are doing right now. Sailing full-time would also be far more demanding in terms of dealing with the elements.

Fun for a day but not something we would consider doing full-time.

We do follow a number of people that have transitioned to sailing full-time. Some, like Nikki and Jason, went from RVing full-time to life on the water full-time.

For Lorraine and myself, we prefer our land yacht.

Entry and Exit Initiative

Government surveillance. One of the many unfortunate consequences of rapid technological progress. And not just with one government but with many governments.

The Entry and Exit Initiative is a major initiative between Canada and the United States. Information about citizens is shared between the two countries to create data on citizen movements. Entry into the United States will create an exit record in Canada. Entry into Canada will create an exit record in the United States.

What information is recorded?

On entry and exit your first name, middle name, last name, date of birth, nationality, gender, document type, document number and name of country that issued the travel document. Also collected will be the date and time of entry or exit and the port of entry or exit.

The information will be transmitted to both governments.

This is how the Canadian government explains the benefits of the Entry and Exit Initiative:

The Entry/Exit Initiative aligns Canada with its international partners who have or are in the process of implementing entry-exit systems. The initiative will benefit Canadians by strengthening the efficiency and security of the Canada-U.S. shared border.

  • It will enable the CBSA and its federal government partners to:Respond to the outbound movement of known high-risk travellers and their goods prior to their actual departure from Canada by air (i.e., fugitives of justice, registered sex offenders, human/drug smugglers, exporters of illicit goods, etc.);
  • Address time sensitive situations more effectively, such as responding to Amber Alerts and helping find abducted children or runaways;
  • Identify individuals who do not leave Canada at the end of their authorized period of stay (i.e., visa overstays) and provide decision-makers with an accurate picture of an individual’s complete travel history;
  • Focus immigration enforcement activities on persons still in Canada by eliminating wasted time and resources spent on issuing immigration warrants and conducting investigations on individuals who have already left the country;
  • Verify whether applicants for permanent residency or citizenship have complied with residency requirements;
  • Verify travel dates to determine applicable duty and tax exemptions and continued entitlement to social benefit programs;
  • Help prevent the illegal export of controlled, regulated or prohibited goods from Canada.

Canadians are still limited to six months less a day within any 12 month period when travelling to the United States. That does not change. Canadian Snowbirds must be mindful of the substantial presence test to determine whether an 8840, Closer Connections form, should be submitted to the IRS. If a Canadian spends more than four months a year annually in the United States, then the 8840 form needs to be submitted by June 15 to avoid being taxed by the IRS.

Since the Canadian government appears keenly interested in the movements of its citizens to ensure, in part, that we have continued entitlement to social benefit programs (aka health care), I suspect that there will be far more scrutiny in terms of our travel back and forth to the United States.

We are very careful of our days in the United States. Looks like we have little choice now but to be extra careful.

Too Much Weight

Their rigs were too heavy (possibly) to cross the bridge. They ultimately decided to unhook their toads and back their rigs out of a bad situation. And then they give a few lessons learned in this video from You, Me & the RV.

The lessons they learned?

  1. Never trust anybody and their guidance
  2. Don’t do this without your copilot
  3. Ask better questions about where you are going

Trip planning is a pretty fundamental part of driving a larger rig especially when going into rural areas. From what I gather in their video a few things happened to them.

They encountered a bridge with a weight limit. Up for debate is whether the weight limit of 12 tons was a gross weight or an axle weight limit. They should not have been on that road in the first place.

They tried a questionable maneuver to turn their rigs around. The first rig aborted that attempt when it became obvious that the maneuver was not going to be successful.

Although not as clear in the video, as they backed up the dirt road, their copilots drove off and left them. That was a bit surprising to me.

They seemed to be overly reliant on their technology to help them avoid these types of situations. And yet, if you are going to an unfamiliar location, approachable only by dirt roads, it seems prudent to ask better questions before attempting the journey, a point they concede in the video.

And they damaged their coaches. As they came into the property, there was inadequate clearance from the trees.

The important lesson I took from this video? Trip planning. Especially when going into rural areas.

And don’t trust the GPS.

Home Again

It feels like going back in time, doesn’t it? When you return to a place that you considered your home? For many of us, there is more than one place that was a home.

When you are living in a motor coach, home is where you park it.

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.” ― Beryl Markham, West with the Night

During our married lives, we lived in four houses. Two of them in London, Ontario. One near Toronto, Ontario and our last house in Kingston, Ontario.

This was our first house as a married couple. In London, Ontario. We started our family here and we quickly outgrew the place. It was tiny. I think we had maybe 600 square feet of living space on the top two floors plus a little room in the basement.  We lived there for a few years. Not long.

We then made a really big decision. We built our next house. Also in London. For whatever reason, I thought we would be in London for life. I had graduated from Western University in London, I had a successful career in Information Technology at one of Canada’s largest insurers, London Life, in London and we loved the city.

Whisperwood Avenue. Our forever house. Forever being 10 years.

London Life was acquired by Great West Life and we made the difficult decision to leave the city after spending almost 20 years there. At that time, I would have considered London our home.

I joined one of Canada’s largest banks, the Bank of Montreal, in Toronto. We left London. We bought a MacMansion north of the city. This one.

We lived there for 10 years. I never bonded with the place. It never felt like home. I missed London deeply during those 10 years.

Being in the Toronto area, that house is valued at far more money than anyone should ever pay for a house. But we sold it when I decided to become a Chief Information Officer for another Canadian insurance company, Empire Life.

And we moved the family to a beautiful country property on seven acres just north of Kingston, Ontario.

I loved it here. So much nicer than Toronto. Quiet. Peaceful. It always felt like coming back to a vacation retreat. London was no longer missed. In fact, I can hardly remember the years in London now.

Our kids started to leave home to make their own lives as adults during our time in Kingston. Retirement started coming up quickly. Suddenly entire areas of the house emptied. Too big a place for just the two of us. It began to feel like it was holding us captive.

We sold it and moved into our current house. This one.

We went from 7,000 square feet to 450 square feet. Talk about downsizing huh?

We are back in Kingston for the week to catch up with our oldest son and his wife.

Home again?

No.

I never confused a house with a home. Home is where my family is gathered. And home continues to be where my family gathers. It could be with my daughter and her family in their house. It could be with my youngest son in his apartment. Or with my oldest son and his wife in their house. Most of the time it is with my wonderful wife and my golden retriever in our coach.

I wondered whether I would miss Kingston the way that I had missed London back in the day. I don’t. Good to be back but our lives are in a new pattern now.

“Never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour.” The hour that you and I have right now, especially with our loved ones, is the best hour ever.

A house is just a house.

Or a coach.

Rocket Fuel

Rocket fuel. An important source of energy. Apparently not just for rockets. A critical source of energy for owners of Newmar coaches. A vital piece of information that we sadly lacked when we made our pilgrimage to the Newmar factory in Nappanee. A closely held secret, known only to a few Newmar insiders, at least until now. I am passing this along so that all of my Newmar friends don’t carry the same, deep sense of regret that Lorraine and I have experienced, learning about this fuel source after we left Nappanee.

This specific fuel source can only be found in Nappanee. Consider it an upgrade to your Newmar service visit.

We found out this secret, as is often the case, huddled around a campfire. So many secrets about the RV lifestyle are disclosed this way. It is a tradition.

Okay. Not the campfire pictured above. I took that shot a few years back. That one was a real campfire. Made from real wood. Not some artificial campfire, like a propane fire ring. I think that is cheating. Convenient though. I might get one.

Oh yes, rocket fuel, secrets, the inner workings of RV tribes, the attempt by the Newmar illuminati to suppress the newbies from learning about supercharging their Newmar factory experience.

Sorry, I became a bit distracted with the whole wood versus propane thing.

We were huddled with some friends in front of a propane fire last night trying desperately to stay warm in the near arctic temperatures of what passes for late spring in this part of Canada.

As my fingers slowly froze and the frostbite began spreading from the end of my nose to the edges of my ears, I raised a delicate subject.

Ice cream.

I determined, wisely enough, that talking about ice cream was safer than talking about whether global warming was having any impact in this part of Canada. And ice cream is cold.

And then our friends accidentally blurted out the secret. The location of the very best ice cream in the world.

Made with liquid nitrogen.

The finest source of energy for Newmar owners hanging out in Nappanee.

The Rocket Science Ice Cream shop takes a secret set of ingredients, zaps it with liquid nitrogen, and, bang, Houston, we have ice cream! The very, very best ice cream in the world.

We missed out on that experience. Do not repeat our mistake.

We also missed out on Amish Crack. Another closely held secret.