Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

May 17, 2016

We're Buying a Boat!

The last couple of weeks have been SO exciting...

Marina with Sailboats // Photof by @danslelakehouse
Turquoise and Emerald Green Sailboat | photo by @danslelakehouse
Lake life | photo by @danslelakehouse

Since moving to the lakehouse, Hubby and I have wanted to buy a boat.  We love being on the water, whether we're swimming, canoeing, or just goofing off in our inflatable raft, which may or may not have been designed for children.  We even own a small Fireball sailboat (designed for racing), that we bought for $1000 in our early twenties, but after a hilariously disastrous river sailing catastrophe (which ended with a treacherous hike through the woods - never a good sign when the intended activity was sailing), we lost enthusiasm for sailing.  We really pined for a larger boat to take out onto Lake Superior so we can tool around the islands, go on little camping trips, travel around to different harbors in Canada and the States, and park at marinas for nights when there are fireworks and live music.  If I'm being honest, I just wanted take a boat into town for a grocery run because it would be funny and seems like the thing to do when you live on a lake!  While we feverishly saved for home improvements, though, buying a boat remained one of those "someday" things - until my family's tragedy last May.

What happened sparked a desire in me to make some changes and to be really honest with myself about what I wanted in life and what was important to me.  Hubby and I talked a lot about plans for the future and, while we're still figuring things out, some of our plans, ruminating, and dreams are coming to fruition - among them:  spending more time on the water (away from the internet, phone and TV), exploring Lake Superior.
We're buying a boat!

Sailboat getting launched | photo by @danslelakehouse
Not this one.
Originally we wanted a powerboat, largely because that's what everyone on our bay has, but the cost of fuel (and the idea of consuming so much fuel, when we already drive a diesel-guzzling Ram 2500) made us a little nauseous.  Instead, we started warming up to sailboats again (we don't learn).  We decided 30 feet was a nice size: not too big to handle and maneuver, but plenty of room for sleeping, a little washroom, and a teeny kitchen.  Because new 30-foot sailboats can be expensive, we focused our search on older boats, from the 1960s-1980s. 

Once we decided to take the plunge, we started looking online for available boats.  We found quite a few contenders in the Toronto area, so we contemplated a road trip there to do some boat shopping.  I wanted to buy a boat and sail it home, but Hubby decided that a month long sailing voyage over the Great Lakes was just too epic a journey for us - probably smart, given our sailing track record.  The cost of shipping a boat home, or having a trailer built so we could tow it, started to feel overwhelming and, frankly, neither of us was in the mood to travel to Toronto.  Sadly, the city conjures unpleasant memories for me now, which breaks my heart because I spent all of my childhood summers there.

Inspecting an Allmand 30 Sailboat | @danslelakehouse

To save money, and heartache, we decided to buy a boat locally.  But we looked at the only two for sale that fit our criteria and were really disappointed!  The first needed a ton of work and the second was under a tarp when we viewed it, so it seemed so dark and dated - although the teak woodwork was impeccable.

Disappointed but undeterred, we set aside our concerns, hopped in the truck and headed to Toronto the next day.  The journey was really emotional for me, but I can't avoid the city forever so in some ways it was good to go there, but have a distracting mission to focus on. 

Beautiful turquoise and green sailboat with wood work and gold detail | photo by @danslelakehouse

We made appointments with boat brokers and boat owners and saw as many boats as we could.  At first it was discouraging because my top contender, a 1960s Grampion with a tiny wood burning stove (photographed below), turned out to be a huge disappointment!  Almost all of the "woodwork" was faux wood-look melamine, plus it was so painfully tiny.  We quickly realized that a lot of boats photographed better than they looked in person.

1960s Grampion Sailboat Interior | @danslelakehouse

With each viewing, though, we learned a TON and we narrowed down what we wanted: definitely no smaller than 30 feet, a beam (width) of at least 10 or 11 feet, a shallow draft to fit into our bay, a table that folds away completely for more room to move around...

Along the way, we drove to Sarnia where I fell in love with an incredible 35 foot "Finnsailer," built in Finland by Fiskars in the 1970s!  It needed major work but it was SO cool.  Even Hubby, who originally called it "an ugly little thing," fell hard after seeing it in person.  It was huge inside and had a pale aqua bathroom sink(!), tons of storage, lots of beautiful teak, and the cutest little retro stove.  It still had the original melamine plates and cups sold with the boat, with their own custom designed cubbies.  It was in rough shape, but had so much potential to be something really incredible.  There aren't many of them in North America and I liked how unique it was.

Unfortunately, it was already under contract when we saw it, but I'm so glad we could tour it anyway!  My photos didn't really turn out, but the one below shows the adorable stove (some Finnsailers came with bright orange stoves).  This video tour of a Finnsailer 35 is super thorough, if you're curious about the boat of my dreams (although the boat in the video is missing it's original stove).  I want to keep my eyes peeled and maybe someday, down the road, restore one of these gems to make my late Finnish Grandpa, who loved fishing on Lake Superior in sketchy boats, proud. 

Finnsailer 35 Interior | @danslelakehouse

After touring a ton of boats, we narrowed it down to a specific kind of boat: a Ticon 30, which is - don't laugh! - the second boat we'd seen locally, before we left for Toronto.  We viewed one in Toronto and saw what a Ticon 30 could look like restored.  We almost bought that one, until an inspection revealed major water damaged.

With that last disappointment, we ran out of time and Hubby had to get back to work.  Somewhat miffed, but feeling SO much more knowledgeable about boat-buying, we returned home empty-handed.

We decided to take a look at the Ticon 30 for sale in our city again.  And you know what?  It looked a lot better!  It needs some aesthetic work, to be sure, but it's in great condition and has been maintained well.  We had a boat survey done last week and are just waiting on the results before completing the purchase.  Unless any major damage/problem is revealed, we're taking the plunge and buying it!

4,000 kilometers, four hotels, countless boat marinas, a truck repair, and a flat tire later, we came full circle and committed to purchasing the second boat we saw, in our hometown.

C'est la vie!

On the bright side, we found every delicious, lakeside burger joint in Southern Ontario and stuffed our faces with juicy burgers and tasty sweet potato fries for a week!  We truly didn't have much time for anything other than looking at boats and logging a too short visit with my Aunt and Uncle (and the kiddos), but we made time for some relaxing, lakeside meals together.  And Costco.  We always make time for Costco.

Lakeside restaurant - love the navy siding!

I bet that, at this point, you're curious to see the boat we might be buying?  I didn't take many photos of any boats we looked at because to access these boats we had to climb up incredibly tall, teetering ladders so I always left my purse - and camera! - in the car.  It never dawned on me that these boats wouldn't be in the water, so I wasn't quite prepared for the feats of strength.

I managed to snap a few photos of the Ticon 30 with my phone.  I love its wood floor and that incredible, teak drop-down table (so many of them had table bases bolted to the floor).

Interior photos of Ticon 30 Sailboat | photo by @danslelakehouse

If the purchase goes through, I can rip off the tarp and share better quality photos, a peek at the (somewhat homely exterior), plus a whole tour - might be a good excuse for my first video tour!  I'm so excited about the prospect of decorating this boat - first up, new upholstery.

Fingers crossed it works out - if not, we'll have to hit the road again...
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30 comments

  1. Good luck with the boat purchase! Will you be docking it at your house or a marina?

    My Dad has had a boat up on lake simcoe for years. We call it the floating cottage (since we rarely take it out), and it is so relaxing to be on!

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    1. Thanks! We're in the home stretch...
      We will moor the boat in our bay, but not on our dock because it's too shallow near the shore.
      So many people around here use a boat like a floating cottage too - it's such a clever way to get some lake fun! Lake Simcoe is beautiful!

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  2. Wow, you're living the dream Tanya :) I'm so glad for you two ! This is all very exciting. I'm looking forward to boat updates ! Big hug from Berlin. E.

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    1. I'm trying to! But I've really learned this year to just be grateful for every little moment of happiness that comes my way.
      I have been saving my house decorating money for boat decorating and I can't wait to share some before and afters!

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  3. I didn't realize so much goes into purchasing a boat. So excited for you guys and can't wait to see some boat makeovers in the future.

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    1. Me neither! I thought it would be much simpler, but it was more like buying a little floating house. I have such fun DIYs planned. I hope it will be a fun "room" makeover to see!

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  4. I wish you all the luck in the world. We had a boat when we lived in California, we kept it at Mission Bay in San Diego. It was a 30 footer, diesel.
    Lots of work and as we found out the 2 happiest days in a boat owner's life are the day they buy their boat and the day they sell their boat.

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    1. LOL, we've heard that too! Well, we've made someone's day then, haha.

      A family friend also called sailing "standing in a cold shower, ripping up hundred dollar bills".

      I'm a water baby, though, so I think I'll be pretty happy with boat life. Hopefully I don't get sea sick - oy. It was encouraging to meet some boat sellers who LOVED their boats and were selling only to buy bigger boats. The guy who owned the Finnsailer had it for nearly 20 years. But yes, I'm steeling myself for the boatload (pause for laughter) of work this will be...

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  5. What fun! Congratulations. I wonder if Szuka will approve :)

    Some unsolicited feedback on the new blog layout, with only the beginning of the post showing up - hope you don't mind. It's a bit cumbersome since it means more clicks. The earlier style was better :)

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    1. Thanks :) We've been watching YouTube tutorials on how to teach a dog to climb a ladder, lol. We hope she's on board with the boat (pun intended).

      No, I don't mind at all - I'm thrilled to hear feedback. I just switched to truncated posts Monday night and was going to do a post later this week asking for feedback. I switched because I prefer that as a reader - I like to skim a new blog, open interesting posts in new tabs, and not get bogged down scrolling through posts that don't interest me. It makes pinning from individual posts easier for me. But I'll open it up to discussion this week and we'll take a vote :) I'll happily switch back if that's the general consensus. I want this blog to be easy and fun to read. So thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment!

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    2. Lol your boat puns are hilarious! Hope Szuka enjoys her new trick!

      Wow, a vote is so professional and democratic!

      Of course, this is my personal taste because it's harder to open multiple tabs when I read on my phone, but thanks so much for taking feedback so prettily :)

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    3. I'm curious to see if most folks are for/against/don't give a hoot about page breaks...This will be fun!

      Interestingly you're seeing the desktop version it seems, because the blog template I bought has a mobile version, which always had the "read more" truncation, as well as a desktop version (which has the images on the sidebar and looks busier). I wonder why your phone defaults to the desktop? You should have already been seeing a "read more" break since December on a phone... Hmmm. If you scroll to the very bottom, you can switch to mobile which, although it's still truncated, is larger and might be *slightly* more user-friendly? Maybe not - it's a personal preference, to be sure.

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    4. Perhaps I mean your older template then? Because I do remember your blog being easier to read on the phone and on the laptop. I'm not sure what view I have on my phone!

      I just read your newest post asking for views on truncated posts and I'm surprised other people feel as strongly about this! I thought it was just me being lazy and silly lol.

      I don't use any feed services and come straight to your home page, (so I'm glad to hear that helps with the page view count!) so I see the site exactly how you make it. I don't follow too many blogs because I prefer to choose a few good ones and read them thoroughly, so I'll always click through to see each of your posts no matter the format, but I would be a happier reader if I didn't have to click 'read more' all the time :)

      And honestly, I've always wondered how people could even take progress photos at all (patience of a saint etc) and yours are so lovely, so I don't think you should worry about that at all :)

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  6. Why am I not surprised all the boat pics have teal, aqua or turquoise in them? Lol. I am not a huge fan of the water, unless I can have my feet flat on the bottom of whatever is holding said water, ie a pool, tub, or shower lol. But the adventures do sound like a lot of fun.

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    1. Lol, those boats just *happened* to catch my eye ;)
      The green/turquoise one with Toronto emblazoned on it was a beauty - 60 feet or so. A really pretty boat!
      You know, Hubs is not a good swimmer either, which makes his love of the water puzzling. He is outfitting us with these high tech life jackets that send a distress signal or something. It won't be the chic, lounging in stripes and khakis life I'm picturing - I'll be wearing all kinds of dorky safety gear... I'm planning to take some aerial videos of us sailing, so I'm definitely taking you along for the ride :D

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    2. The Toronto one was my fave, well from what little we see. It reminds me of a little pirate ship with the little scroll detail and the windows with the separations (whatever those are called), the windows on the side and the wood.......not to mention it's smiling :)

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    3. Isn't it cool? We weren't allowed to wander most of the board yards after we were done viewing whatever boat was for sale there that interested us, but this marina was easy to sneak into, lol, so I snapped a lot of photos of the water and various boats - including the green one. I wish I could have taken more photos because we passed by some seriously amazing boats - ships, really - on the way to see some of the teeny 30-footers that we can afford. There's a ship in Toronto for sale right now that is nearly $4,000,000. It has a tiki bar and a chef and needs a whole crew to operate. Crazy!

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    4. Lol, if only..... I think that is a ship I would feel comfy on. lol

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  7. You can't live by a lakehouse and not have a boat to get onto the lake with so I have my fingers crossed for you that the sale goes through!

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  8. How very exciting! My boyfriend bought a CS30 at the end of the summer of 2014, of a similar mid-80s vintage. I'm slowly trying to get my decorating hands on refreshing and reviving the vintage interior. And while I love being on the water, I'm also slowly dealing with my propensity to motion nausea. And learning how to sail! I look forward to following along on your boat voyage. :) Fingers crossed.

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    1. We're going to have so much more in common! I'm so thrilled to hear someone else is into sailing! I have a post planned on my interior inspiration for the boat - I'm way to excited about decorating it, when I really should be learning about how to operate it, lol. We looked at a CS30 in our search - that's a great sailboat. It will look beautiful when you're done with it, I'm sure.

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    2. So far much of anything I've suggested has been met with a raised eyebrow. ;) He did like a vintage teak tray I picked for the boat up at a church rummage sale the other weekend at least. I'll look to you for inspiration!

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    3. The upholstery is so trashed on our boat, so a mini makeover is necessary! I have lost hours looking at marine interior fabrics from Sunbrella, lol. Then some throw pillows, some baskets. Now I need a teak tray!

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  9. We just bought our boat and brought it home yesterday! We are spending our time doing a lot of cleaning and making it our style. I've measured for reupholstering all the cushions and curtains. I want to redo the counters in ours and add some hardwood to a piece that has yucky carpet. I hope you enjoy your adventure. Boats are great fun. We have a funny story. We are military and were stationed in Alaska. We fell in love. Then we got stationed in Arizona. So here we are, buying a boat in the middle of the desert. The neighbors all think we have lost our minds, but we are fixing her up and taking her back to Alaksa with us in a few mo this upon retirement. I look forward to seeing how your new prose and joy turns out. Have fun with it. Boating is a wonderful adventure.

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    1. Congratulations! Are you re-doing the cushions yourself? I'm too nervous about messing them up, so I'm thinking about having them covered professionally. Are you on Instagram? I'd love to follow along and see the progress! It sounds like it will look AMAZING when you're finished with it.

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  10. Tanya: Not sure how this works so not sure if my previous message went out. Just wanted to let you know I recognized the Finnsailer photo as I was just on the boat yesterday. It is being sailed up to Lake Superior. We love it. First time for me to see it last Friday so relieved it was better than the photos I saw. The wood was a worry but that will me my job. Wish I was on it now. Best of luck looking for a boat. Lots of lovely boats out there. Don't rush. Rosemary

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    1. Congratulations on buying that wonderful boat! I replied to this comment back in May, but for some reason it did not appear, which I only just realized. My apologies! I live on Lake Superior so I've kept my eyes peeled for it, haha, on the off chance it stopped here for a break. I hope you have enjoyed it this summer! We ended up buying a lovely Ticon 30 which we have enjoyed sprucing up and sailing.

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  11. wow! i live a few blocks from the restaurant pictured in the article!
    enjoy your sailing adventures⛵️

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    1. Really?!? What a small world! This is a FABULOUS place to live! We very much enjoyed wandering the neighborhood and peeking in shops. The view was beautiful too. Hubby and I kept saying that it would be such a nice place to live!

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