Ken Goodings and Lynn Kaak moved aboard their Niagara 35, moored in Toronto Harbour, in the fall of 2003, after “selling up” and committing to the liveaboard life. With reports from Ken and Lynn, we shall follow their adjustment to this lifestyle and their continuing adventures
The 5 Year Plan
“Uh, Ken, we’re going to have to sleep on the boat tonight. That was our bed going down the street on that trailer to Ottawa, with most the rest of the furniture.”
So began our life as liveaboards.
Many people who decide that they are going to do some longer term cruising will work with a “five year plan”. We have a dock neighbour who admits to being in the fifteenth year of his five-year plan. Somehow, we have seemed to skip one phase in all of this – and that would be some of the planning.
I’ve known for a while that I wanted to try life on a boat, whereas Ken had always figured he would be a “dirt person” and a recreational sailor. There was certainly very little thought about long term, serious cruising. When we began living together, Ken and I discussed the possibilities, and then decided that it was something we wanted to try “Some day”.
Personal issues took precedence initially, but the realization that we weren’t getting younger pushed us to start the research phase of the project. We agreed that we would first live on the boat while continuing to work in Toronto for a while to save money – no point in paying apartment rent and making boat payments at the same time. What better way could there be to see if one could stand the close confines of the cruising life on a boat than by actually living on one full time?
We decided on our vessel of choice through a great deal of investigation and research on both ocean-going coastal and “Blue water” sailboats.
It was to be a Canadian made Niagara 35 Mark I, built on the shores of our own Lake Ontario by Hinterhoeler .
The next step was to find one in good shape that we could afford. The Internet is a wonderful way to look for boats, as is talking to brokers. We chose not to commission a broker, because we thought we were just going to be in the next phase of our research in August 2003, which was seeing what the market had to offer.
Well, I may make it sound more democratic than it was – I woke Ken up one morning while we were on vacation with the news that I had rented a car and made an appointment that day to look at a boat which was 160 km away on Georgian Bay.
For three days we looked at a few Niagara 35s in small port communities along Georgian Bay, enjoying a couple of lovely bed & breakfasts establishments at day’s end. We had seen Niagara 35s in every condition; from run down and worn out to a real “gold plater!” Returning to Toronto we now had a much better sense of what to look for in our chosen boat, and what we might have to pay.
Closer to home in Port Credit, a Niagara 35 was listed by a well-established brokerage in Niagara on the Lake. We arranged to look at her and met the broker at the club where this particular boat was moored. Not bad, but there were a few things we weren’t too excited about. Since we were at the sailing club, we decided to wander the docks and look at some other Niagara 35s that were moored there (a summer habit of ours by this time).
We met one Niagara owner, who graciously invited us aboard. He and his boat had done some serious ocean cruising, and it had all of the nautical toys including wind vane steering.
We looked at another Niagara 35, and the skipper was aboard with his family. After chatting for a while, we admitted that we were actively interested in purchasing that exact Niagara model. Interestingly enough, he admitted that he had been thinking of getting a different boat, as the below decks layout wasn’t ideal for his family of five, but that they loved the boat otherwise.
After 30 seconds of private discussion with Ken, and with a lump in my throat, I made him an offer. “I’ll sleep on it.” He said.
We said our goodbyes and left the sailing club for home on foot. We were still walking an hour later when he called our cell phone, saying that they were interested in our offer. Hurriedly we grabbed a cab back to the club and went out for a test sail.
Wait a second… did we just actually put an offer on a boat, and then have it accepted?? Of course the deal was arranged pending the marine survey results and our ability to get proper financing.
This was now the middle of August. We had several recommendations for surveyors, and then actually hired one who lived at that club to do the work. “Our boat” surveyed well! The engine space and bilges were described as clean enough in which to eat.
Hmm, part one down. With no small amount of effort, we got our boat financing as well. We arranged to close the deal on September 1 – coincidently Ken’s birthday (that gift will never be bettered!).
Our landlady had been given notice for our apartment for October 1, so we had a little bit of time to get things organized. Unfortunately, September is also a very busy time for both of us at work – so make that a very little bit of time.
We had to empty our whole apartment! Many cruisers choose to store furniture and keepsakes in rented storage lockers. We decided to keep on board only what we were going to require for year-round living, and not keep a pile of “land-stuff” hoarded away in an expensive rental locker.
We sold much of the furniture to a relative, and so that was made easier. The rest of the “stuff” that we didn’t want to keep was sold in a garage sale or returned to immediate family.
Ken and I took a long hard look at our wardrobes. We halved our clothing supplies, and then halved them again. Some seasonal and formal clothing is stored a cupboard in my office at work. Everything else is on board. We take full advantage of the fact that we can often wear the same sizes of clothing. Long sleeved shirts, golf and T-shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts, jeans, summer shorts and socks are somewhat interchangeable.
Ken still has some interesting organizational challenges ahead of him. He still has 5 heavy toolboxes full of tools, and 3 boxes of ham radio gear. I’m sure that he will find a way do his part to reduce some of this deadweight aboard; after all, the hull’s boot stripe is now under water at the stern. Could we assume that the great weight of these extra tools has some thing to do with that?
For Ken and I, our defining moment of first becoming liveaboards began with the comprehension that we had just disposed of the complete contents of the apartment, and that our furniture was on its’ way out of town.
There was only one final decision to be made that night; we could move immediately onto our new boat, or spend an uncomfortable night on a bare apartment floor.
Lynn Kaak Silverheels III – You can catch up with Lynn and Ken’s blog at – The Voyages of Silverheels III
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