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Saturday, 23 March 2013

Beware of the Force

Have you ever had that feeling? The one that leaves you convinced that there's a force greater than anything earthly. A force that's got a plan for you, and it's going keep you ON the plan no matter what?

I'm reminded of the movie Truman as a great example. It's a story of a young boy adopted by a Hollywood production company. The story of Truman's life is set out in soap opera fashion, for the world to see. But Truman is none the wiser that he is part of a reality series, and every detail of his life is planned by the producers, and captured in a studio.

For us, we first began to suspect a greater force at work on our 'plan' during the labour day weekend 2012. We had trekked to Ottawa for business/recreation weekend. I had a new rep to train on the Friday. Then two days taking in the ByWard Market, and all else that Ottawa had to offer. We also planned to see some boats for sale while in the area. While I could share many stories of our weekend in Ottawa, I'll save them for another story.

We left Ottawa early Sunday morning, with plans to see a 33' C&C in Toronto. It was priced higher than our budget, but we had a sense the seller was anxious to move. Turned out the boat was in poor condition for the price, so our interest was minimal. We decided to take in the scenic drive west along Lakeshore Blvd, stopping at Bronte Harbour, to see what boats might be for sale there. Along the way, we ended up in Port Credit, where there were several brokerages. Being late afternoon, Sunday, all the brokerages were closed, or about to close, but there were several listings posted in front of the brokerages. As we did some 'window shopping', a gentlemen rode past us on a mountain bike. He didn't say a word, but I could sense he wanted to. He circled back twice, and on the second approach he stopped. Being Port Credit, the likeliness of getting robbed was minimal, but not impossible! I'd heard that boating can be expensive! Instead, he posed the question "are you looking for a boat"? I puffed out my chest and proudly answered yes! I dreaded the next question, because I knew our budget was out of whack with most of the boats in this yard. It turned out that our new friend Patrick was very down to earth, and willing to help. We discovered that he was a marine mechanic, who worked for one of the brokers. He began to share what he know of each boat, and offered to show us one that was still in the water. While we chatted, we also learnt that Patrick lived aboard his 41' Hunter, and had been to the east coast, and the Bahamas with it. He told us there were several live aboards in the marina, as well as several more who had left to head south. All in all, he gave us our first personal touch on the viability of this lifestyle. Until now, my idea seemed fantastical, but now it seemed on the fringe of realistic... Sort of. A message from above? Perhaps!

We arrived home thinking of the 'Port Credit experience' as more coincidence than devine intervention. Then came the 'Penetang Experience'.

This time, we had decided to shop the Midland, Penetanguishene area for boats. Our first stop was at Midland Marina. We discovered that they had only power boats listed, but the sales rep recognised we had travelled a fair distance, and didn't want to see us leave empty handed. So he asked around for us, and came up with the name Ewan Campbell We were told that Ewan was the region's top broker of sailboats. He also did a quick Internet search on Yacht World, and advised that Ewan had a 27' Catalina berthed in Midland, for sale. We called Ewan and made arrangements to see that listing later in the day.

While we were killing time, we took a drive over to Penetanguishene, to see Hindson Marine, and what they might have to offer. On route, we discovered a dog park, which provided a welcomed opportunity for the 'monsters' to run. Having a dog park so convenient to a marina instantly made Penetang a leading destination for any eventual home for our boat!

Once at Hindson's, we went to see Jack, of Jack Paddy Marine. We informed him of our search details, and asked what he may have available. As we chatted, his assistant popped into the conversation, by informing us that a Hunter 33 had just come onto the market. Until then a Hunter sailboat was not on our radar, and this one was listed for considerably more than we intended to spend. But it was parked in the back of our minds. Once we discovered that it was listed by Ewan we all agreed if there was any interest, we should follow up with him.

At 3pm, we met Ewan at Bayport Yachting Centre, where he showed us the Catalina 27. It was a clean boat, but small, and very impractical for us and the dogs. Disappointed, we asked about the Hunter 33. It turned out that it was in the marina right beside us, and could be viewed immediately. Not being ones to waste an opportunity to see another boat, we headed over. During the 1 minute drive, Leanne and I reminded each other how out of reach the price tag was, and reinforced the fact this was JUST an exercise in comparisons!

We stepped on the boat, and our discussion was quickly forgotten! This was a clean, spacious boat. It slept 7, and appeared to need little work on the interior. It was a boat we could see ourselves living on, with much happiness. By now, many had warned us to buy the boat that will make us happy, and those words rang in our ears. I've always offered to others, "you can find a way, for anything, if you want it bad enough". Now those words were haunting me.

In reflecting back on the chance discovery of a boat we weren't looking for, we started to seriously wonder if some devine force was guiding us.

Three months later, entering the new year, we had all but forgotten our suspicions of a greater power, when we headed off to the boat show, where I mentioned previously, we discovered a book that would alter our plans considerably. For those who missed that story, after spending four hours touring through the show, we had completed the list of things we came to see. We decided to take one last roam through the aisles, in case we missed anything. That's when we came across the Nautical Mind booth. While I roamed through the many titles, Leanne stumbled onto the book A Sail of Two Idiots. Immediately the clerk approached Leanne and advised that it was a MUST read. Truth is it has been the largest single influence in convincing us that we can execute this adventure. Again, the mind began to wonder about the inner workings of the universe!

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. We travelled to Hamilton, to visit a marina. We've considered living aboard the boat, briefly, before departure. There is a marina in Hamilton that allows year round live aboards. After visiting the marina, we decided to get a bite to eat. We headed to a favourite pub, Emma's Back Porch, in Burlington, where we sat overlooking Lake Ontario. As we stared out on the water, we reflected on what our future holds. While the time we will spend sailing is rather clear, we still wonder what we will do when it's time to get back to work. We're clear we don't want to return to the cold. But how to stay in the Caribbean is less clear. Suddenly Leanne overheard our waitress telling some patrons that she just returned from living in Costa Rica. When the waitress came to check on us, we enquired into the details of her travels. She told us that she and her boyfriend saved up, and packed up. She talked about the ease of which she got a visa, and found work there. She also spoke of how cheap the cost of living was, and how affordable property is. Coast Rica is one destination Leanne frequently dreams of going to. It was incredible to hear such a story of how someone at the tender age of 25, was able to experience such an adventure. Again we wondered about the possibility of divine assistance.

As we move forward in this journey I'm certain we will encounter many more curious sets of circumstance.  We will continue to wonder about the powers of the universe, and our role in it. It is often said that when you want something bad enough you create your own luck. But one can't help but think that sometimes life just seems a little too perfect to be explained by luck alone.

Be it luck, be it a plan of the universe, or be it a plan of the foolish... we now have a clear vision of how we see the plan. We welcome any assistance the universe can offer, as we work to execute the plan!

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