Nov 28, 2013

New Competition

Seems Jen is getting the bug now :-)  Check out her blog.  Warning, there will be ton's of cat pictures.

Oct 18, 2013

Meech Lake

A few shots from last week.  Jen and I visited the old Wilson Carbide Mill near Meech lake up in Gatineau Park.

Jun 27, 2013

Retirement Planning - a light bulb went off

"Things I think" category :-)    I've been doing the "things I capture" piece very good but thought I would start with a bit more discussion on what's going on in my life and the stuff I see around me.

Late last year I did a post ( ) where I talked about retirement and Ecuador.   Looking back at it now I can see where I was trying to convince myself, as much as the readers, that this was the life for me.   Retire after 35 years, move to a place with perfect weather and live cheaply and very comfortably for the rest of my life.   I watched blogs (that are in my links on the side of this blog) and I continued to research, but there was a few little nagging things that over time became bigger and bigger issues.    The prime one being the language, do I really want to learn a new language?  I don't want to be a gringo who only speaks english, I get pissed when I see people who live in Canada for many years and make no effort to learn english for french, why would I go to another country and do the same? 

For me there are some issues with how animals are treated and little things like people pissing in the streets treated as normal.  Just my issues.   Now with the giving asylum to so called "whistle blowers" like Snowden and Assange  I just don't have the respect for the country.   A shame because it looks like a great place.   In the end I think I would still love it there, and it might not be completely off the table, but the light bulb went off the other day as to what I should be doing - boating!

When I lived in Bermuda I was first introduced to the boating lifestyle by my good friends Doug and Carolyn.  They had a lovely 27' Albin named Veebyes.   They have since put the boating life style on hold for the RV lifestyle traveling around the US and Canada.   Their adventures can be found here - Triangle Drifters    They would have myself and my ex-wife out onto their boat for day trips on a regular basis.  It was nice, sitting back for the day, relaxing and taking it easy, a nice BBQ for supper and they would put us ashore come dark.   A wonderful day.  I even looked at getting into it while we were on the island but it wasn't cost effective and we would only be there for under 3 years so it was quickly abandoned.

For the past 15 years that I have been living in the Ottawa region, I have spent much of that time paddling on the Rideau River.    I paddle and I look at the boats and the people who are cruising and they look so relaxed and having fun.   Particularly those who are out every night or  those just slowly cruising along at 5 knots.  I'd go out for a very early morning paddle and watch these people enjoying a quiet cup of coffee in the early mornings on the deck and I think "oh, now that's the life".    I don't like the cottage thing as you gotta drive hours to get to anything that we could afford in this region and then your stuck at one site for eternity.  You get a bad neighbour, your stuck.   With a boat, you just slip off from the lock station, or pull up the anchor and the problem is gone.  Most boats are much cheaper then a cottage and easy to have them located anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours from the house.

Just over two weeks ago, one of the guys who I work with (Rick) dropped by my office before leaving on a 1 year trial retirement.   He's taking a years leave without pay and they are going to try the boating lifestyle full time.   I believe the plan is for them to spend the summer in the Kingston region, then take the inner coastal waterway down to Florida and hop over to the Bahamas and then return next spring.   If they enjoy it and its cost effective, he'll pull the plug and be officially retired.   What a great plan.  His adventures can be found here - Living Life at 7 Knots (what a great blog name)

He and I talked for a couple of hours about his experiences with buying a boat, the Rideau Canal, the St Lawrence and the 1000 Island and Kingston and it really got me thinking about how much I enjoyed the bit of boating I've done, the potential cost effectiveness and how that might be a good retirement plan for myself.   So started the research.

One thing I learned very early on from Doug and again from Rick was to try and avoid gas engines at all costs and go diesel.   I knew it was a buyers market ever since the economic crash in the states a few years ago and I was pleasantly surprised at how cheap boats are.  The hitch?  They are all gas powered - DOH!   You can easily pick up a few year old SeaRay for under 40k.  But there are a ton of them for sale and the gas prices would be insane.   I got thinking, I really don't want a "go fast" boat.  I just wanna putt putt along and smell the roses, what about trawlers or tugs?  They are usually diesel.  Oh, not as many of those for sale and the prices are double that of the gas powered.   hmmmmmm...

So what do I need?  a 34 footer?  a 25?  trailer or not? diesel or gas?  resale value?  availability?   To many questions.   Back to starting from scratch.   I started to read blogs and watching discussion forums, what are people talking about?    Didn't take long to come across several interesting options - Nordics, Rangers, North Pacific's and Rosborough's.  All are either tugs or trawlers, some can be hauled around on trailers and all are considered economical and great cruisers.  They also retain their value, but that mean higher prices.   Right off the bat it jumped out at me that the prices on the the first 3 brands were going to be out of my range for quite a few years thanks to my ex-wife and her lawyer foolishness (that post is coming soon - I feel I can speak openly about it now and people should know about the crap people go through).   But then I came across this boat called the Rosborough RF-246 affectionately known as a "Rossi" by their zealous owners.

My planning thoughts are to get one of the smaller boats as I don't need to live on the thing.  I want something to spend weekends and a week or so at a time during the summer months.  Something good for the Rideau Canal system but ok for a run to Kingston through the 1000 island or out onto the Ottawa river.    Buy this boat and run it till retirement as a way to see if it's a lifestyle I want and if so, sell it at retirement and move up to a live aboard 34 footer - I really like the Nordic 34 :-) 

First look at it and it doesn't jump up at you with European speed lines or ultra modern designs.   You go WTF is that ugly thing?   That's a Nova Scotia fishing/work boat.   Yup, it kinda is.   As I looked at it more and more the more I loved the styling and the look.    I emailed the company for shits and giggles just to see the pricing, knowing all along that I'd be looking on the used market.  Here is the brochure, click the image for a bigger view.

Sure enough, I priced a new one up with all the options that I would like and way out of my price range.  It was funny when I got to a final price tag delivered, taxes, licensed and ready to go.   How the hell does anyone buy anything new when the used market is such a buyers market?    The company told me they are sold out of the 2013 line and the earliest I could get a new boat would be Sept and it would be a 2014 model line.  Someone out there has money.

I started looking at the used market and joined a yahoo group that discusses Rossi's.   What happened on the first day?  A guy from Ottawa lists a Rossi for sale that sits in the 1000 Island.  WTF?   It's a 2004, has all the options I would want and located exactly where I need it.   Price wasn't to bad either, less then half of what a new one would cost.

I had to take my fingers off the keyboard and stop looking at it.   I just can't afford it right now saddled with all the divorce debt, college education for my kids, child support and spousal but man what an opportunity.   But for the next 2 years I just have to back off and get back on my feet.  Right now I can't even afford a trip to Bermuda to see my best friends so  - NO BOAT!  :-)

Then spent some time learning the "real cost of owning a boat".   It's like owning a house, you gotta be prepared.   With a boat you have insurance, dockage fees, gas, winter storage, shrink wrapping, lock charges, licensing, maintenance, bottom paint, pumping charges etc etc.... the list goes on and on.   I worked out all the numbers and I gotta say, the Rossi is one of the most efficient and cost effective boats I can find.   No woodwork on the outside, which adds to it's ugly duckling look, but outside of cleaning fiberglass and cleats it's a lot less cleanup.    The inside is laid out like a small RV, with a kitchen, dinette, a head (no shower) and a V-birth for sleeping.    Views are good due to windows all around and sliding doors right beside the helm so you can quickly jump out for docking and other things.   A very well thought out boat.

You can get the boat in diesel but turns out this boat can be even more efficient running outboard gas engines.  Reports indicate less then 2 gallons per hour @ 7 knots.   That is amazing!   Even less at 5 knots and lower, which is my speed.  Most of the used boats I have looked at have either single or dual outboards or inboard diesels.  Each configuration works well for my needs.

Now I need to be patient.  I really can't afford this right now.  But working the numbers of after some debt payoff, end of child support and end of education costs, I'll be in the ballpark easily.

After retirement, even moving up to a live aboard becomes even more economical.  No mortgage (replaced with a boat payment) and living a simple lifestyle makes this as economical or less so then staying at home.   As long as you don't bomb up and down the waterways at Mach 2 burning gas like it's the 1970's it can be a very economical way to live and see the sites.   Many older folks run boats and as long as your health is good it's a very easy lifestyle.   I'll be retired at 55 and this is a good way for me to leave "the business" behind.   Come winters slowly head south on the boat and back up to the waterways I love so much in the summer.

Compared to Ecuador I have to say I feel a lot more comfortable with this idea but I'm always subject to change haha.  Jen laughs at me and thinks that I'm looking at this too soon since my retirement is 8 year away.  But my thoughts are that you can't start thinking about it too soon.  It comes fast, I have 27 years done already, and I need to be prepared.  I could keep working but if I have something to go to that I love, why would I?   One thing the divorce has taught me is "how much money do I need to be happy?"   Turns out, not much.   She gets most of my money that I work my ass off for and if I continue to work, she just continues to collect.  Once I'm eligible for retirement, why should I work when I have a passion to go towards?   I think Jen would like this lifestyle as well, but like me, she would need to live it as well and only time will tell.

For now, clean up the debts and continue to research and when the time is right and the opportunity of a good clean boat comes up, jump!

A great article on getting a Rossi -

Jun 16, 2013

Nicholson's Locks and Merrickville

Two posts in one day, I'm on a roll!

Jen and I had planned to go canoeing yesterday but the winds were looking a bit high but it was just too nice of a day to waste.   We grabbed the cameras and headed out to the Nickolson's Locks and Merrickville for the day.   We were rewarded big time!!!   Can't wait to see Jen's work as she was playing with her macro lens, maybe she will give me a few pics to post???  hint hint :-)

Upper Nicholson's with the unique swing bridge in the middle of the lock.

Fast running water at the dam.

The Andrewsville Bridge was apparently saved from the wrecking ball!

Spotted an Osprey nest with a chick inside.  At the extreme end of my lens and cropped so apologies for the blurriness.  Someday when I'm rich and famous I need a BIG BIG BIG bird lens!  lol

My pretty partner!!!

I'm a sucker for the cranks haha

Someday I will have a boat on the Rideau!

We then moved down to Merrickville to the ruins.

Tardis Graveyard?

Merrickville Lock