Leaving Ottawa

Pre-departure thoughts on how this all came to be.

I have been trying to write this post for much too long. Originally, it was called “T-20 days”, and then it was “T-11 days”, and now it’s 5 days until departure and I am on a train leaving Ottawa! Needless to say, the past few days and weeks have been insanely busy. Where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday that we were toying with the idea of taking off for a year to travel and sail. But that was four years ago, and every decision we’ve made since then has been leading up to this moment.

Four years ago, David signed up for what is known as a “4 over 5”, where his employer sets aside 20% of each paycheque for four years, so that in the fifth year, he doesn’t have to work but gets all the money that was set aside.

Four years ago, we bought a house and undertook an insane amount of renovations to convert it to a triplex, so that our house would pay for itself while we were gone.

Four years ago, we started researching sailboats that we could live on for a year and that could take us anywhere in the world.

Today, we have put the finishing touches on our house, after four long years of what was supposed to be a one-year reno. As with any reno, it ended up being a bigger job than anyone could have predicted (I may or may not have been painting a door last night – yes, the day before I left – we like to do things last-minute).

Late-night painting, the night before departure

It’s a 100-year-old house, so there were lots of surprises/total nightmares along the way. David did pretty much all the work himself, and I couldn’t be prouder of him. The things he managed to do never cease to surprise and amaze me, from building an entire 500 sq. ft. garage by hand to gutting then basically re-designing our entire home. Now our house—which was originally every 1982 housewife’s dream—belongs in a design magazine. Too bad we won’t get to live in it this year! Look out for it on Airbnb.


Today, we also own a 1977 Cabot 36. We agonized over this decision longer than it took us to find a house. There is no perfect boat, but “the one” we were looking for had to meet the following criteria:

  • 36 feet or less, so that we could bring it home after our voyage
  • Solid construction so that it could go anywhere in the world
  • Reliable diesel inboard engine
  • Something not needing too much work to get voyage-ready

There will certainly be future posts (potentially with video!) about this boat decision-making process and why we went with our boat, but in the meantime, here she is!


We will be joining her in St. Martin in October and probably spend about a month getting her ready for our voyage.

But FIRST: Europe. We head out Monday from Toronto after spending a few days with family. We land Tuesday morning in Portugal, and will be making stops over the course of the following days in Lisbon, Sintra and Odemeira, on the Alentejo coast.

Here is a photo of the Pena National Palace in Sintra, a UNESCO world heritage site, to give you a taste of what awaits us next week.

Pena National Palace, Sintra, Portugal
Awesome aerial view of Pena Palace, c/o airpano.com

All this to say, it has been a long four years of hard work and sacrifice, but it is about to pay off big time, and not surprisingly, we could really use a vacation!!

Stay tuned!

Mel & David

15 thoughts on “Leaving Ottawa

  1. So, so, so exciting! And I know what you mean about Ottawa… B was just saying last night, “I’m going to be so, so, so happy to be back home when we get home” 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a grand adventure you have planned. Portugal is absolutely amazing!! Sagres, Obidos, and the Douro Valley were some of my favorites! Enjoy Europe, then when the cool winds come you’ll enjoy the warm of the Caribbean! Sounds like perfect planning to me!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step! (Chinese proverb)
    Lots of steps along the way, but you’re finally there. You’ll be logging a lot more than a thousand miles, and you deserve a fantastic adventure! Look forward to sharing part of it with you. Bon voyage!


  4. A once in a life time journey , it’s amazing…
    I’m excited to read your blog..
    Have the time of your life!
    Bev & John


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s