Posted by: Dawna Bate | September 26, 2017

Old Dog, New Tricks

Hazel on boatWe own a Basset Hound named Hazel, who will be 12 at Christmas. We got her when she was 12 weeks old, so we’ve known her for a while. There’s a few things we didn’t know about Bassets that we have learned over the years. The top 3 things I would say that were surprises for us are:

  1. Some Bassets shed. When reading about the breed, most sites mentioned that Bassets are non-shedders. They either lied or were sorely mistaken. Our dog sheds a small animal. Every day. During non-shedding season.  During shedding season, she creates her own little herd of guinea-pig-like hair balls. Every day.
  2. Some Bassets drool. When reading about the breed, most sites mentioned that not all Bassets drool. I never thought to cross-reference those with the sites that thought that this breed didn’t shed. Wrong. Bassets drool. They take great pride in drooling. They make an art of it. That artwork can be found all over the place. On the floors. On the walls. Down our pant legs. Hazel is a master. Or mistress, as the case may be.
  3. Bassets cannot swim. We’ve only tested this on one animal and hadn’t read this on any website before the field test took place. We took Hazel down to our first sailboat years ago. Thought “dog – water – perfect combination”. Put her life jacket on. Put her in the water when we went for a swim. From my perspective, it looked like she was going to drown David in her panic to get out of the water. He didn’t drown. Neither did she. We put her back on the boat. Never to be put in the water again.

Because of these three make-me-a-perfect-choice-for-a-pet qualities, combined with Hazel’s over-the-top excitement when in a car, that one near-drowning visit was her last visit to the boat. Serenity or Second Wind. We’d manage day trips to the marina, timed to leave after her morning walk and to arrive home for her afternoon walk, similar to a work day. Which meant that our time at the boat was minimal. And overnighters were scarce. Unless we relied on the good graces of our daughter and son-in-law to take her overnight for us.

Last year, David and I took early retirement with the plan to take Second Wind down to the Caribbean for the winter. Because of some health issues (discussed in more detail in my blog dedicated to that –, we didn’t go south last year. But we did still take early retirement so we decided to spend most of the summer on the boat. We spent about 3 weeks each month (July, August and September) enjoying marina life, with the other week spent at home for doctors’ appointments and catching up with visits and laundry. Because of that, we had to get Hazel used to being on the boat.

Since the first trip down to the boat was such a huge disaster, we needed advice. This wasn’t just because of the near-drowning, but because Hazel was restless and couldn’t settle down. She paced. She whined. She stressed. Us and her. So when we approached it for a second try, we asked the advice of friends at the marina whose dog was very comfortable. We asked if they had any tricks that they used when they got Chloe used to being on Amazed. Their advice was to get Hazel used to hanging out at the boat. Don’t do anything else. Just hang out. Read. Watch TV. Don’t try to go out for a sail. Don’t do a lot of anything. Get her used to the space and the movement and the area. So we did. And it worked like a charm. We spent July just hanging.

Hazel quickly staked her claim on the salon bench seat. (Did I mention that she sheds? A lot? Did I mention that she also drools? A lot?) It wasn’t long before that bench sheet was covered with her drool and her hair, meaning that she’d moved in and was planning to stay.

She quickly made friends with others at the dock. Other people that is. Hazel’s always been more interested in meeting people than she has been in meeting other canines. She took great pleasure in visiting the gazebo close to our dock to see who was hanging around and who was willing to give her a belly rub. She’d happily lounge there for hours on end while we visited. Although I think that she always believed that the visit was for her benefit and she allowed us to tag along.

After a few weeks, she seemed quite at home. So we tried doing more. More movement on the boat to do chores. This got her used to the rocking on the water. Trips out on the lake during fairly calm times. She’d be strapped into her life jacket and attached to the arch for the bimini (the canvas covering over the cockpit). She wasn’t happy when I would move her from “her” seat (as evidenced by more drool and hair) to the other side of the cockpit so she would be out from underfoot while we docked.

This year, her second season on the boat, she was a seasoned pro. On each trip, she waited impatiently beside the car while we unpacked and put on her life jacket. She’d happily trot down the dock, looking to see who was available to visit. She’d head right past our boat to the gazebo to say hello to anyone who happened to be hanging around. She had also figured out how to help us get her onto the boat (we lift her by the handle on the life jacket while she lifts with her chin on the edge of the boat – it’s a well-timed well-balanced endeavour.) She seems to be happier at the boat, spending hours laying in the cockpit and enjoying the fresh air. Hazel likes her second home.

It seems that you really can teach an old dog new tricks.



Posted by: Dawna Bate | July 20, 2017

Keeping My Balance

IMG_1501Every season, it takes me a while to remember how to keep my balance on a moving boat. That’s an extra challenge when the boat can move in three directions – up and down; left and right; back and forth – all at the same time. Over the winter, my muscle memory, my inner ears and my brain forget what it is like to adjust to all of that movement. So at the beginning of the season, I look a bit like a drunken sailor, swaying from side to side as I move from one spot to another, and grabbing for support from whatever is close at hand. Believe me – no alcohol is consumed in the performing of these acrobatics.

Last year, that balance seemed easier to develop. That’s probably because we spent almost three months living on the boat. We were here for most of July, August, and September with the occasional trip back to dry land for doctors’ appointments, laundry and catching up with friends and family.

On the boat, I was balanced. I was feeling agile. I was acclimated. And back on land, I was woozy, off balance and clumsy. That’s called land sickness or mal de débarquement. I felt it no matter what I was doing, but it was worst in the shower. The whole bathroom felt like it was floating in very rocky seas and I would have to wash my hair with one hand while the other hand was touching the wall, to give me stability and a steady reference. After we came back from the three months on the boat, it took me a few weeks to totally adjust to land life again.

This year, it seems to be taking me longer to adjust to the boat movement. It could be because we aren’t spending as much extended time on the boat this year. We usually spend a day or two – our longest stay has been five days. Just long enough to start to get used to the motion and then we’re back on land, adjusting our inner ears again. It could be because I have a slight inner ear problem. It could be because this year has been incredibly windy and rocky. There have been some crazy wind storms this year. At least once, winds were clocked at 48 knots. That’s almost 90 kph. Today, we had 26 knots when we checked. That’s 48 kph. Then it got windier but I wasn’t going to go out in the driving rain to check again. Let’s just say – I was having problems keeping my balance and I was sitting down.

I’m looking forward to when we can spend more time on the boat. To when my body can adjust and I don’t have to focus on how to move and how to balance. Until then, I’ll be watching my steps and taking it easy. And making sure I have something to grab – just in case.


[Check out my other blog Second Thoughts. Here’s a link to the companion post “Finding My Balance“.

Posted by: Dawna Bate | July 6, 2017

Launching and Relaunching

IMG_3200I’ve been away from this blog for a while. A lot longer than I realized. A combination of craziness at work, health problem overload and winter doldrums made me feel disinterested and down. I realize now that those moments are the times I need to immerse myself in what I like to do the most. When I can’t sail, I need to be writing.

Our season this year got off to a slow start. The miserable spring(?) weather delayed launching. The additional work that we had to do in order to prepare for our planned trip to the Bahamas also delayed launching. You can’t strip old anti-fouling paint and apply new stuff when it is raining. And boy – did it rain this spring. Record high water levels on the Great Lakes. Many marinas unable to launch boats and lots without electricity. Toronto Island closed because of the high waters.

We finally launched a month ago – June 6. And with that launch, I’ve decided I need to relaunch this blog. I’ve missed it. The last several years have been filled with busyness – and not the good kind. Working too much. Being in jobs that didn’t light our fires. Being tired and unmotivated. We did manage to get in some good sailing on some of those years. I’ll bring people up to date on some of the things we did and go back to post historical stories. I’ll be better at being consistent. I promise.

We decided to retire last year. June 30, 2016. Just over a year ago. More about that later. Our plans. Our revised plans. Our newer plans. Those stories will come as well.

But for now, I’ll say – we’re back in the water and I’m back here. I always hold my breath on launch day. So much stress as our 14,000 pound (empty) boat gets hoisted into the travel lift and wheeled over to the launch dock. More holding of breath as it is lowered and we check for leaks. Then that final exhale as we determine that everything is fine and we can take Second Wind over to her home slip.

I’ve been holding my breath as I’ve been trying to find energy for relaunching this blog, too. So much stress dealing with other things. More holding of breath as I find the time and sit at the keyboard to get things going again. Today, I can exhale.


Posted by: Dawna Bate | February 23, 2013

Talking Like a Sailor – Level 1

Unlike what some people will think, this is not about the swear words that some associate with sailors. After we bought our first sailboat, I quickly learned that there are a lot of terms used in boating that make no sense to landlubbers. Here’s an introductory list.


Landlubber – a person unfamiliar with the sea or seamanship.
Captain – the person lawfully in charge of the vessel. I’m very happy to let David be the captain, as he has more knowledge than me.
First mate – the second in command. On the boat, that is me. At home, that is my husband because the dog thinks she is the captain there.
Crew – the workers on a boat. On our boat, I’m the first mate and crew as I will do what the captain asks.


Boat DiagramEast, West, North and South are the same on a boat as on land. That’s not what I meant by directions. Those don’t change. The sun will always rise in the east and set in the west.
Bow – the front of the boat. It is pronounced to rhyme with cow.
Stern – the rear of the boat. It doesn’t rhyme with cow. It does rhyme with turn.
Port – the left side of the boat, when facing the bow. I remember this because port has 4 letters and so does left. Thank goodness I can spell!
Starboard – the right side of the boat, when facing the bow. Right has 5 letters; starboard doesn’t. It is easier to remember port = left.
Fore – towards to bow of the ship.
Aft – towards the stern of the ship.

Parts of the Boat

Boat Side ViewMast The tall pole that supports the sails. Our mast is 55′ tall. There are lines (see below) and electrical wiring that goes up the mast, so if there is ever a problem with them, someone will have to go up 55′ to fix things. Apparently, that’s going to be me. (As a comparison, an average tall telephone pole is approximately 60′. I’m feeling a little dizzy, now.)
Main sail – The large sail attached to the mainmast (the tallest mast, if the boat has more than one). Some sailboats have only one sail; ours has two.
Jib – The smaller second sail.
Boom – The horizontal bar that holds the main sail out to catch the wind. When turning the boat, the boom can come across the deck quickly and if you aren’t careful, you’ll get hit in the head. Boom!
Hull – The floatation part of the boat, or the outer covering of a seed. Think about sunflower seeds. Those float, too.
Rudder – The moveable piece at the back (oops – stern) that is in the water and controls the direction of the boat. If the rudder is moved towards the port side of the boat, the boat will move aport.
Keel – The centre part of the hull, under water, that provides balast and stability to the boat. The depth of the keel will determine the shallowest water you can sail in.
Lines – The ropes used to control the sails – to raise and lower them and move them around. Lines have different names, depending on their purpose. We’ll wait for an intermediate or advanced course for those terms. (Yes, I know what you are thinking and you are right. I’ll wait for another time because I have to learn them first.)
Deck – The top part of the boat, where one would sunbathe or walk.
Cockpit – The seating area of the boat, where one would control the steering. Unlike an airplane’s cockpit, a sailboat’s cockpit is at the stern of the boat.

Inside the Boat

This is the part that confuses me the most. Why can’t these rooms be called the same thing as in a house?
Galley – The kitchen. We’re fortunate to have a full galley – with a sink, a small fridge, a small freezer, range with oven and two elements and, when in dock, a microwave.
Salon – The seating area, which could also include the eating area.
Head – The toilet. I know why they call it this but I just can’t bring myself to use the term. (It is because on old sailing ships, it was located at the front of the boat – overhanging the bow – at the head of the boat.) I’m so thankful that I don’t have to hang over the bow when I need to use the head.
Berth The sleeping area. Our boat has two berths that sleep two people in each. We can also fold down the galley table to sleep two more. And another salon seat could sleep a seventh, although that person would need to be pretty slender and not move much while sleeping. Ideally, if you come to stay with us, you’ll want the fore cabin, which has a door and some privacy. The aft cabin has a door and privacy as well, but you can’t use it because it is ours.

I’ve been practicing these terms so I can sound like a sailor. I still feel like a landlubber at times. For those of you wondering – yes – this feels just like learning a second language. Except that I am still living in my birth country and these words (so people claim) are in English.

Posted by: Dawna Bate | January 20, 2013

The Beginning of the Countdown

This weekend marks the beginning of the countdown. For the past several years, we have spent a day each January with good friends touring The Toronto International Boat Show. At first, it was a place to dream and imagine. Now it is a place to shop – slowly ticking items off the list of things we need to make our dream come true. This year, we checked off davits. A few years ago, I had no idea what those were and there we were today: comparing different companies, discussing pros and cons, deciding on what kind of mounting plates we should use.

Every trip to the boat show has been the beginning of the countdown for me. Until we hit this weekend each year, fall and winter are just seasons that get in the way of sailing. Our trip to the show means that we start looking forward to when we can get Second Wind back in the water again. It means that there is hope for warmer weather ahead. It means that our dream is one season closer to becoming a reality.

Today, we are 12 weeks away from when we can first launch, if the weather is good. Insurance says that we have to wait until April 15 at the earliest to put the boat back in the water. I use that as my target date. For David, 12 weeks feels like forever. For me, I know how quickly 12 weeks can go – and how many things are happening between now and then. Whether time drags for us or flies by in a flash, we both know that in about 12 weeks, we’ll be installing davits.

An example of a dinghy on davits

An example of a dinghy on davits

Davits are metal arms with pulleys and ropes that are used to hoist and store items. The pair we bought will be mounted on the back of the boat (we would call that the stern) to hold our inflatable dinghy. The advantage of using the davits is two-fold: (1) We don’t have to drag the dinghy behind us when we are sailing and want to take it with us and (2) it is up, out of the way, and more secure so it won’t ‘accidentally’ drift off and be found by someone else. (Yes, by that, I mean stolen.)

Some days, it feels like forever before we can live our dream. I have to look at it from a different perspective – and think about how far we have come in this journey.

The davits will hoist our dinghy and make it more secure. Getting one more item off our list hoists my spirits – and keeps the dream secure. T minus 12 … and counting.

Posted by: Dawna Bate | November 11, 2012

On the Hard Decisions


I haven’t posted for quite a while. Part of that is being too busy to write anything. In all honesty, most of it is trying to avoid what has been happening. I’m not a fan of this time of year. Even less so since we’ve been sailing. Fall brings with it the end of our season and a list of decisions that make it hard to avoid the inevitable.

“On the hard” means that the boat has been pulled out of the water and is sitting on land. This makes it sound so simple, but there is a lot involved in pulling a boat out for the season. Fourteen thousand pounds of boat is a big responsibility. It takes a lot of care on the marina’s part (since we pay them to do this and they know how careful they need to be) and a lot of holding one’s breath on my part (hoping that all goes well).

And “on the hard” is where poor Second Wind is sitting now. Here’s some of the decisions we had to make in September.

  • Do we continue with our jobs or just run away to the Caribbean earlier than planned? (Yes, we’re still in Waterloo, still working, still dreaming.)
  • When do we want the boat taken out? (September is less expensive. Last year we hauled out early and then had a gorgeous October and November. Not that we can sail in November, because insurance says we have to be out by October 14.)
  • Do we store Second Wind in the locked yard or in the parking lot? During the winter, the whole parking lot of the marina becomes a storage lot for boats. Boats come from all over Lake Ontario for storage. From Niagara-on-the-Lake, Toronto, Port Credit, Burlington.
  • Do we get Second Wind shrink wrapped again? This involves yards and yards of heavy plastic, wrapped around the boat and then heated to shrink the plastic for a tighter fit. Last year we did this, but found that there wasn’t a lot of protection from dirt and water. And there is a lot of plastic to garbage in the spring, which we aren’t too happy about. We decided this year to buy a permanent, multi-piece cover that we can reuse each year. David just picked up the cover yesterday and we won’t be able to put it on for a couple of weeks. Hopefully, we won’t get much (any!) snow until then.
  • Why do we live and work in this part of the world when neither of us like winter? Oh yeah – we have a boat to pay for. (We ask ourselves this question a lot. I won’t post it here more than once. I mean in this issue.)
  • Do we winterize the boat ourselves or pay someone to do it? Since last year was our first winter with the boat, we paid someone to do it. Paid them a lot. Thankfully, David is very good at figuring these things out, so he’s tackled it this year. Draining the water, adding anti-freeze, disconnecting the batteries, changing the oil and filter in the engine. I’m thankful that he can figure this stuff out. I can carry in cushions and take down the canvas (bimini and dodger) around the cabin. That’s about as much use as I can be.

Now we settle in for a long winter. Hopefully, it will be a mild one. This winter will find us reading more manuals, learning more about the boat, learning more about sailing. I plan to organize the photos I took this summer into albums. We’ve already started our winter plans. David has taken a head maintenance course (more on that later) and will be taking a splicing course as well. So much to learn.

Second Wind is on the hard. I’m already planning for next season and things that we’ll do next year. There are a lot of decisions to be made this winter. I think those ones will be easier.

Posted by: Dawna Bate | August 28, 2012

Out and About

Our lives have always been pretty ordinary. We have always been happy staying at home, not having too much going on except for our hobbies and our family and friends. Grocery shopping on Thursdays, laundry on Fridays. We used to joke when our daughter was younger because she would go for a sleep-over at a friend’s or a grandparent’s house and we would still do laundry on Friday nights. We tend to be home bodies and don’t get out and about that much. And we’re fine with that.

One summer Sunday in 2006, we did manage to get out on a boating date with our friends Jeff and Heather. The plan was to drive down to St. Catharines, launch their powerboat at the Dalhousie Yacht Club and motor up to Niagara-on-the-Lake. The only problem was that when we got there, it was raining. One place that you do not want to be is in a boat on the water in the rain. (I’ve learned that lightening can travel 50 miles across the surface of the clouds!)

While standing in the rain at the yacht club trying to decide if it was us or the clouds who were going to clear out of there, we visited the marina just up the road. This one had all sorts of boats “on the hard”, meaning they were out of the water and on large steel storage racks. Most of the boats were for sale and that prompted the “what if” game again. What if we owned this huge powerboat? – We wouldn’t be able to afford to put gas in it. What if we owned this beat up junker? – It probably wouldn’t float. What about this one – named Heather? Was that a good omen? Although this particular Heather looked to be in pretty rough condition. Wait a minute. What if we owned this 25′ Catalina sailboat? Out and About was its name. – Little gas, it looks like it would float, and it didn’t look like it was in too bad a shape. Suddenly, our “what if we owned this” was transforming into a “what if we really owned this”.

This is the photo used in the sales flyer when we were buying the boat

The clouds moved out, we headed out and Out and About was left behind. The boat that is, and not the thought of owning her. David and I started getting more serious about the idea. We went down the next Sunday and looked at her again. (You know you’re in trouble when you refer to a mode of transportation as ‘her’.) We found a ladder and climbed up to take a look inside. We wrote down the name of the broker selling her. And we actually called him to ask about the price.On one visit, we bailed water out of the interior cabin. (You know you’re in trouble when you start cleaning up a boat that doesn’t belong to you.) Should we have been worried that there was water inside the boat and she wasn’t even in the water?

From speaking with the broker, we found out that this poor boat had a sad history. She had an owner that really liked to sail. Unfortunately he died suddenly while still quite young. His widow had the boat hauled out and stored. And there she (Out and About, that is) sat for three years hoping someone else would be interested in her. (You know you’re in trouble when you start personifying a boat.)

After three or four visits, talking to the broker several times, having a survey done (similar to a house inspection – thankfully, we found out that the hull was sound and wouldn’t leak and the water that we bailed was caused by improper storage), trying several times to give people money and get the ownership papers, she was ours. We owned Out and About.

Now what were we going to do? Had we lost our minds? Just how much trouble were we really in?

Posted by: Dawna Bate | August 11, 2012

Where it Began

In the words of Neil Diamond’s song Sweet Caroline, I can’t begin to knowing. I have no idea where it began. My attachment to water, that is. I don’t mean the type you drink, although I’m pretty attached to that as well.

I was born in the middle of the country – gateway to the west – Winnipeg Manitoba – and grew up in very land-locked towns and cities. Mom and Dad were both uncomfortable around water, and my siblings and I didn’t have a lot of exposure to it. Our parents made sure we could swim – not by teaching us but by making sure we had swimming lessons. For that I am grateful. But that’s a different kind of water as well. Swimming pool water just isn’t the same as nature’s water.

Vacations were also land-locked. Camping, mostly. I don’t remember camping near water. I remember Northern Ontario (although not the exact location) and Indiana Sand Dunes. I remember the year we lived in North Carolina going to Cape Hatteras for a family vacation. Walking the beach for hours — for so long that my father’s feet were sunburned so badly that he had to lay in bed for days. I was seven. Time was a mystery to me, so I remember feeling that it was a long time, but I have no concept as to how long it was. What is memorable from this is that I remember walking beside the water, but not being in the water.

The other thing that I remember about that trip to the Atlantic coast was feeling as if I belonged. Some unknown force was pulling me to the water. My soul was at peace and I felt like I had found my place.

Since then, every trip that I’ve taken that has been near water has had the same effect on me. Day trips to Toronto Harbour. Weekend trips to a former boyfriend’s cottage. Week-long vacations to the Caribbean. It is a feeling of completeness and coming home. Especially when I get to the ocean. When I get near the ocean. When I can first smell it. Even before I can see it, I feel it.

It isn’t just a feeling of belonging when I am there, but also a feeling of longing when I leave.

And this is where it begins – “It” being the sailing adventures we are having and “we” being my husband David and I. This blog is to chronicle and document our adventures on our sail boat, a 2008 Hunter 36 we named Second Wind.


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