My good friend Roland has been into sailing since... well, since I first came to know him in the early 2000s. During that time, he's owned a little sailing craft named Indigo. Indigo is a Tanzer 7.5 (24.5ft) keelboat. Stationed out of the Treasure Island Marina near Kingston, Ontario, Roland has gone on many adventures with his trusty little craft - including some long journeys - one all the way up to his hometown of Bruce Mines at the upper end of Lake Huron - a 1200+ kilometre journey.
While Roland and wife Stephanie have indeed enjoyed the trusty little Indigo, the time had finally come to move on to something a little more commodious. The Tanzer has a somewhat cramped interior, with a small v-berth cabin at front and a main cabin that is mostly just two long benches. The head (bathroom) is a small stall in the opening to the v-berth cabin, with only a curtain for privacy. While fine for a day or overnight outing, the whole setup can seem pretty claustrophobic for longer journeys.
After years of on-and-off searching and deciding, Roland and Stephanie finally decided to pull the trigger, and upgrade Indigo to something larger. They settled on a Catalina 34 cruising yacht. With nearly ten extra feet and nearly 50% more width, this was going to be a big upgrade.
They eventually settled on a nearly-pristine example of a Catalina 34 Mark I, located in the town of Penetanguishene, Ontario, on the shores of Georgian Bay (Lake Huron). After some reconnaissance outings by Roland, the deal was made - their sailboat upgrade was going to be a reality. The name of their new palace on the water? Simply Blue.
Purchasing Simply Blue was indeed a big step... but a nearly equally large step remained: the transport to a new home, at Treasure Island Marina, near Kingston. There were three choices: sail all the way around, via the Great Lake Seaway system, from Penetanguishene to Kingston; or, bring the craft through the Trent-Severn waterway (which would be entirely via motor - no sailing possible); or, rent a hauling firm and truck Simply Blue overland.
All options were considered, and a combination of cost savings and a dash of sailing joie de vivre won out. Option one would be pursued - a long, long 1300+ kilometre sailing journey, across Georgian Bay, down Lake Huron, down the rivers to Lake Erie, up Lake Erie, through the Welland Canal, across Lake Ontario, and finally back to Kingston. Roland estimated fourteen days in total - at a minimum.
The New Blue
Sailing a 34-foot craft for two weeks is not really something that can reasonably done with only a single person. Roland, therefore, needed a crew of a least two, perhaps three if possible. The most important position - that of Captain - was filled by Roland himself. With the type of day job Roland has, long multi-week blocks of time are possible for him. Stephanie, however, was currently unavailable, and suitable friends or acquaintances were hard to secure. Suddenly disappearing for 2+ weeks straight is not something most people can do at a moment's notice.
Fortunately, Roland lucked out. I was in between jobs, and had no particular plans for most of the days in June of 2016. In addition to helping him out, I figured the outing would be an interesting experience. I therefore offered my services as First Officer.
The schedule worked thusly: for the first several days (at the end of May), Roland would be assisted by his brother Rudy. Then, at the beginning of June, I was set to travel down and meet Roland - at whatever location he was projected to be at - in order to join up and accompany him for the rest of the journey.