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
“Snick” – Trapped inside?
The sound barely penetrated my consciousness. Lying in a warm berth in the pre-dawn darkness of a January morning, I was still only half awake. Had I only imagined it? What was that long-familiar sound?
Many Canadians have becoming interested in getting into boats. Perhaps this is due to the warmer summers that we’ve been experiencing. The good attendance at the Toronto Boat Show in January reflects this increase in interest, even in the depths of a Canadian winter.
My 7:30am alarm went off, and on came the radio with the morning news. Arising to sort out my clothes and switch on the coffeemaker, how could I know that I was soon to develop an interest in getting out of boats?
An hour later, the bright morning sun had begun to warm the deck and cockpit of the boat. The solar greenhouse of clear plastic, which completely covers us all winter, was doing its job. On sunny weekends, we can work out in the cockpit in tee shirts, even with a cold wind howling outside our temporary shelter.
It was time to catch the streetcar to work. Gathering up my shoulder bag and keys, I made my way up the boat’s companion ladder to open the folding teak door.
Boaters are trusting souls. We have to be. Some live-aboards never lock their boats. That’s the kind of community that many of us would love to go back to. A few boats have strong locks and intruder alert systems, which can sound an alarm or send an Internet “distress” signal to their owners at work.
We have a padlock. It’s a trusty old Dudley school padlock. It’s almost identical to the one on my old high school locker. These locks are a throwback to the ‘60s. Almost everyone can remember that unique sound that they make when the lock is closed.
You might have guessed the rest. Lynn had left for work much earlier that morning. As an athletic therapist, she had to attend to our players at a Ryerson hockey team practice. Why are hockey practices always scheduled in the wee hours of a winter morning? She had quietly gotten out of bed, foregoing breakfast and coffee, and slipped out of the boat. Lynn was on autopilot. Lynn was trying to function without coffee. Lynn had locked me inside!
I now needed to get out of boating, or certainly, out of the boat.
Houses have back doors; condos and apartments often do not. Sailboats don’t usually have back doors, but we do have deck hatches. These are hinged metal-framed lexan windows in a boat’s ceiling. Smaller hatches are meant for ventilation, while larger ones are also useful for stuffing sails down into the cabin. They can also provide a way to exit the boat in an emergency, such as when sinking of if there is a fire. My exit requirements were not exactly in the emergency category, but I was expected to show up for work that morning.
Clambering up onto the varnished teak table in the saloon, I released the levers on the main hatch, emerging into the light like a butterfly exiting its cocoon. While carefully climbing out onto the deck, which was covered with coiled lines, hoses, cushions and other summertime items, I skillfully avoided stepping into a plastic bucket while spearing myself in the neck with the bunny ears TV antenna hanging overhead.
Lynn’s reaction and laughter was long and loud over my cellular that morning as I lined up for the streetcar. I didn’t detect even a hint of contrition in her voice.
Last week Lynn again left the boat for a very early work assignment. I listened for the padlock as she exited the boat.
No “Snick” did I hear.
“All is well,” I thought, and fell back asleep for an hour or so until my alarm. After dressing, cereal and coffee, I gathered up my shoulder bag, keys. After closing the companionway doors, I locked the Dudley.
Picking up two bags of recycling and garbage, I flipped the latch on the solar cover’s wooden door and pushed. Nothing. Had the latch mechanism broken? Nope. The door had somehow become blocked from outside.
It’s quite windy down on the lake during the winter. It’s often so windy that our boats are often tossed back and forth like the “Zipper” rides at fall fair.
One winter we clocked a 47-knot wind gust, that’s more than 87 Kilometers per hour! Many winter boaters tie their greenhouse enclosure doors closed with rope. Being a bit more inventive, we rely on a pivoting piece of wood to secure the door from flying open when we are away.
I located a long thin screwdriver, and poked it through a pre-made hole in the clear plastic. This same little hole had been necessary a week or so previously when Judith next door had returned our broom to the cockpit. She had diligently latched the door shut from the outside while Lynn and I were inside napping. In less than a moment I was able to rotate the wooden latch and the door was open.
On the way to work I made a stop at a fine espresso shop to buy Lynn a good morning cup of latté. “This is your just punishment.” I joked. I made her guess the reason for the unexpected treat.
Once again, Lynn’s reaction and laughter was long and loud that morning.
Once again I hadn’t detected even a hint of contrition in her voice.
Not even a “Snick”
Lynn Kaak Silverheels III – You can catch up with Lynn and Ken’s blog at – The Voyages of Silverheels III
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