You Can’t Afford the Cheap Stuff

You can’t afford the cheap stuff” or at least that’s what Bryan has been telling me for as long as I’ve known him. This post solidifies that sometimes less is not more. It was written last weekend while I was attempting to stay warm in the Jeep until Bryan was ready for my help.


I’m sitting here at the marina in Beaverton watching as snow and ice are being brushed off of Azura’s tarp or what remains of it. There are holes in the tarp reminiscent of Swiss cheese so Bry and I have come up here to address the problem.

blustery day
a blustery day

When I say that Bryan ignored his own  rule and cheaped out on a tarp I mean that he bought the mid-grade one that came in at just over $100.00 from a local auto supply company. Our son Tobias and he put it on just over a month ago one damp and windy Saturday. Then, last week he went back up to remove the batteries that he forgot last time and saw that the cover was in pretty rough shape. High winds in early November had damaged our cover and several others in the marina. It was a good thing Bryan decided to be fastidious and checked because some water had made its way into the v berth through the hatch that needs restoration.

Epic tarp fail!

He brought back the damp cushions and then we made plans to come back up today and redo the cover. Bryan picked up a second tarp but this time around he bought a heavier grade one. That said, at 3 am I woke up, like I often do, with a brilliant idea! We should go with something even stronger—the super heavy duty sort designed for covering hay bales. They have great tie downs and they are designed to withstand quite a bit.

As soon as Princess Auto opened this morning we make the exchange with a cost around $230.00. 18′ x 48′ will be plenty big enough. We also grab some more rope before heading North. The drive here and back takes a total of six hours so a full day is pretty much necessary.

stanchion tears
stanchion tears

In a few moments he will be underneath the old tarp detaching the stanchions and safety lines so they don’t abrade the cover and cause holes in yet another tarp. That’s where I come in. This new tarp is very weighty and the winds are gusting right now. There is also a good 5 cm of snow on the ground which is starting to melt.

While I’ve been waiting I decided to walk down to the marina office and grab the other keys for the companionway. The fellow manning the shop tells me that he surveys everything after every heavy snowfall and will call us if he sees anything at all concerning. That certainly adds some peace of mind although we will still pop up to visit Azura from time to time. From what he is saying, the former owner has been quite vigilant about keeping Azura well covered too. It does show.

Well it is time for me to assist Bryan with this behemoth sheet of poly. Off I go!”

More than two hours later we had completed the job. To save time we simply tarped over the damaged tarp being sure that none of the grommets would touch the hull. One of the spots where the tarp had ripped was where the makeshift wood frame was positioned at the top. We didn’t have time or tools to change the construction so I suggested that Bryan take the cockpit cushions, which we are replacing anyway, and use them to pad the ends of the two boards. He climbed in the cockpit under the old tarp and put them in place. Being an industrial grade hay bale tarp meant it was quite heavy for the two of us but we used the wind to our advantage by working with the gusts to get the tarp up and over the sailboat. We now have a much more secure setup that will hopefully hold until Spring.  Next year we may consider a custom made cover or shrink wrapping.

Here are some more photos (click to enlarge)…

hole from frame
hole from the frame
torn tarp edge
better holds
better holds






The Start of a Cerulean Adventure

the Azura
the Azura

I’ve always dreamed of sailing and, much to my surprise, so has Bryan. He had been looking at vintage sailboats for quite some time. I have to wonder if our walks along the harbour at Tobermory this summer had anything to do with that. When he finally approached me about buying one, he was equally shocked that this was something I was dreaming of too. We looked at several more sailboats together but most needed extensive restoration. We saw everything from stripped and destroyed interiors to overflowing bilges and deck delamination. The reality is that Bryan has a fairly high-paced career so a full-project wasn’t a good idea if we ever wanted to get out on the water. Pretty much every vessel was a sloop and I suggested that perhaps we consider a ketch. I prefer the style of a classic ketch anyway. however Bryan wasn’t so easily convinced. Eventually I won him over and  one particular sailboat caught our eye—a Classic 31 Grampian built in 1967.

We went to check out the sailboat which was up on Lake Simcoe. To make a long story short, we are now the proud owners of the Azura. We’ve decided to keep her name because it suits her and I’m all about how her name is a play on those gorgeous cerulean blues of the sky and water. She has been outfitted for ocean travel and has been to the Bahamas or BVIs on more than one occasion. One day we hope to travel the Intercoastal Waterway out to the Atlantic and down to the Caribbean but we will need to become more experienced before that happens.

For now Azura will stay on the hard at Lake Simcoe and in April 2017 our beautiful old boat will be transported overland to Port Dalhousie for the 2017 sailing season. We aren’t sure that this will be a permanent home but the people there were very welcoming. We’ve already met a man named Vic—a seasoned sailor who is quite the character and is going to be our port side neighbour. He already offered Bryan sailing lessons. There is a gorgeous trail not too far from the pier where I can do my long runs along the lakeshore before we set sail on Saturday mornings and a lovely park with an antique carousel that I can take Kaia to while Daddy works on the sailboat. Toronto is directly across the water and about a 4-hour sail depending on conditions. We had considered docking somewhere along the shores of Georgian Bay but we’d rather spend the time sailing instead of driving. That and there is much work to be done so being closer allows us to go for an evening here and there. Perhaps in a few years we will consider a spot near Midland or somewhere else in that region.

I want to thank Shaun & Julia Sailing, Joshua Scudds, and Nena at Port Dalhousie Pier Marina for taking the time to answer so many of our questions.

This photo is courtesy of Azura’s former owner, Renee L.