Travel with Larry and Betty button

We moved from Kamloops, BC to Vancouver Island in September 2009. Our home is located in the foothills of the Beaufort Mountain Range in the tiny Village of Cumberland. We are west of the town of Courtenay and the seashore community of Comox. All three communities form part of the Comox Valley.

Although, it seemed the only natural thing to do was to buy a sail boat, we are still shocked that we went through with it.

It all started last May when we were camping with friends, Dennis and Fran Hunt out at Kitty Coleman campground north of Courtenay. The campground is located overlooking Georgia Strait. There were quite a few fishing boats and sail boats out on the water. "Gee, wouldn't it be nice to be out there in our own boat?"

We spent July and August camping in different seaside camping grounds with some of our grandsons. The thought of owning a sail boat got stronger and stronger. By the middle of August we were checking the "Yachts for Sale" ads.

The first boat we looked at was a sleek 32ft sloop,"the Irish Mist". It was moored in Comox. It was a beautiful boat, very well maintained and showed pride of ownership. The only drawback was, it had a narrow beam. The living quarters down below were very cramped, only suitable for one couple. We knew that if we were going to invest in a sail boat we would want to share the fun and adventure with family and friends so the "Irish Mist" would not suit us.

This photo shows what a Bayfield 32 ft sloop looks like.

We kept searching the ads. At the end of August we drove up to the Discovery Marina at Campbell River to look at another sail boat. The 35ft Erickson, "Mr. Toad" was a nice sailboat but when we spoke to the so called owner, he did not seem to know too much about the boat. His responses to our questions made us a little nervous and suspicious so we did not bother to make an offer.

This photo shows the Erickson 35 "Mr. Toad".

In early September, we were in Victoria to attend a wedding reception and decided to check out some boats for sale at a Sidney marina. Larry saw a boat that he thought would be suitable for us. A 1985 North Sea, it was a motor sailor and built in Richmond, BC. We put an offer on the "My Way". Our offer was accepted. Three days later we proceeded with the protocol of arranging vessel and mechanical surveys. What an eye-opener. It made us realize that first impressions are not always the best impression. The vessel surveyor found so many things wrong with "My Way" that he took us aside and basically told us we were about to buy a bunch of headaches. We canceled our offer. Gee, maybe trying to buy a boat is not such a good idea after all! I need to caution, anyone in the market to purchase a new boat, be sure to pay the extra dollars to have the boat surveyed before taking possession. It follows along the same protocol as having a home inspection.

So, now we are back to square one. It is now September 10th and we are getting ready to head south for the winter. Perhaps we should put this boat buying on hold until the spring of 2011. We were still in Sidney signing off our offer for "My Way" at the Yacht Sales office when Larry asked the manager if they had anything else for sale. Of course, they did! A 37.5ft Hunter just came on the market. Wow, what a beautiful boat. I fell in love with it on first sight. The layout was perfect. We thought about it all the way back to Cumberland. We put an offer on it but our offer got turned down. In hindsight, we were pleased it got turned down as we really were not all that comfortable with the length. That's it! We were not going to look at any more boats until spring. We got back into the busy chore of getting the truck and 5th wheel ready to head to our spot in Yuma, Arizona.

We left Cumberland on September 30, 2010. The plan was to spend a few days visiting family and friends in the Vancouver area before heading for Kamloops to do some work on our home up there before we had to cross into the USA on October 12. Well, we still shake our heads when we reflect back on the events on what happened while we were in Vancouver.

We had our truck and 5th wheel parked in my daughter's drive way at the farm in Delta, BC. We had been there a few days. The weather was dreary nearly every day. Anyway, on the Tuesday, October 5, Larry thought he might like to go for a drive down to Granville Island. We borrowed my daughter, Shelly's , van and away we went. Well, there just happened to be a yacht sales office on the island at False Creek. We poked around a few boats and there we saw her...the "John B". It is a 34 foot Hunter with almost the same layout as the 37.5 foot Hunter sail boat we saw in Sidney. It was just perfect for us. We asked for a spec sheet and went back to the farm to think it over. The bottom line is we both loved the boat and knew the Hunter boats do not stay on the market very long. Later in the day we called Speciality Yachts to put an offer in. Our offer was accepted. The rest of the week was busy going back and forth to Granville Island to finalize the contract. It is a 1998 Hunter but the previous owner was an older gentleman who did not take the boat out too often. He basically used it to entertain guests at his yacht club. It only had 750 hours on the engine.

Then the fun began......we had a mechanical survey and a vessel survey done on the boat on Friday October 8, 2010. The boat needed some mechanical work done. The vessel surveyor also found a few things that needed to be repaired. We definitely had to leave for Kamloops that weekend and be on our way south. So we ended up leaving a certified cheque at the yacht sales office and told them that we will not pay for any of the repairs but if the owner pays to have these done we will buy the boat.

We were so pleased when we called Specialty Yachts from Boise, Idaho a few days later. We ended up having to pay an additional $1,000.00 to have everything repaired to our standards. The owner and Specialty Yachts paid for the rest. The repairs were done at Granville Island. Previous to heading south we were fortunate in obtaining a moorage spot at the Ladysmith Marina on Vancouver Island. We did not think finding moorage would be all that difficult. Comox has a 5 year waiting list, Campbell River had a two year waiting list and the Deep Bay Marina never returned our calls...we grabbed the spot in Ladysmith although it is almost 1.5 hours from our home in Cumberland.

When the repairs were completed we hired a skipper to sail her over to Ladysmith for us. Also, while it was being repaired in Vancouver, we had the name changed from "John B." to 'BeeJay" a spin off of my initials BJ (Betty Jean).

BeeJay in Ladysmith Marina over the winter.

We had a couple medical appointments so we had to return to BC in mid November. We left Yuma on Tuesday, November 16 and were in our driveway at 6PM on Friday November 19. There was a bad weather front going through. We just made it home in time to load our camper onto our truck before the snow fell the next day. And was it ever cold. The drop in temperature did not stop us from heading down to Ladysmith on Sunday, November 21 to check out our new baby. We had packed some warm clothing and bundles of blankets and enough food to last us a couple days.

There were a few things Larry wanted to do to the boat before we put her away for the winter. We made sure the dock lines were secure enough to handle winter storms. We arranged to have a lady sew up a storm cover for the boat and made arrangements for a man to check on our boat for the rest of the winter while we are in Yuma. We ended up spending three nights on the boat. We were snug and dry in side but it sure was cold and windy outside. On Tuesday, the clouds had lifted and the sun came out but it was still fairly cold. The marina did not have a fuel dock and Larry did not want to leave the boat over the winter without a full fuel tank. We decided to brave the cold weather and took the boat across the bay to the fuel dock at Page Point. That is when we realized that I was going to have a bit of difficulty getting on and off the boat.

This photo shows the new winter cover at Ladysmith.

The boat has a walk out transom with a swim grid at the back. When we back into our dock I can step on and off the boat using the dropped down step to the swim problem. BUT, if we are docked parallel to the dock, I just cannot seem to stretch my legs high enough to climb over the side. I ended up climbing up onto Larry's knee, sitting on the deck and then in a kneeling position to pull myself upright using the stanchion ...what an ordeal....totally unladylike. I sure ached all over after doing that a few times.

We enjoyed our three night stay on the boat. We put her to bed for the winter and then headed back down to Yuma in our truck and camper.

We thought about her all winter and spent many hours dreaming about where we would take her. We are so fortunate to have such fantastic cruising grounds close by; the best in the world.

It was while we were in Yuma that we received a call from the Discovery Marina in Campbell River. They informed us that they had a spot for our boat if we were interested. We were happy as Campbell River is only 40 minutes from our home and the marina is close to everything we would need. A food market, liquor store, ship chandlery as well as several restaurants are all within easy walking distance to the marina. The spot in Campbell River was available on March 1, 2011. Our rent in Ladysmith was paid up to May 1, 2011. We certainly did not mind paying double rent for two months just to have our boat close by.

We returned home from Yuma on April 8, 2011. We drove straight to the boat and spent the first night on her. We just loved her.

I had to spend several days getting our 2010 Income taxes filed so we were unable to get back down to the boat until April 18. We had planned to sail her from Ladysmith to Campbell River that week.

Coming next... moving the BeeJay to Campbell River

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