Sailing into Retirement

Story and photos by Ann Wallace

Hello dear readers of TTS

Ann preparing to move onto the boat!

Before I handed over the Editor-in-Chief reins to Helen, I promised I would keep in touch and send stories about my travels.  Well, so far I haven’t travelled very far, but I thought it time to let you know what is afoot with my husband and me.


In March this year we had planned a week-end getaway in Montreal, to be followed by a few days of spring skiing in Lake Placid.  “While we are there,” my husband suggested, “why don’t we drive to North Carolina to take a look at that boat?”  This wasn’t really logical, since northern New York State is no closer to North Carolina than Toronto is!  However, I guess he reasoned that ‘once across the border’ … or something like that!  So off we set, exchanging cold Montreal and the snowy slopes for the sun and lush vegetation of the south.

The sail boat in question had been on my husband’s radar for about two years.  She was his dream boat, but initially beyond our budget.  However, the economic climate in the United States was not being kind to people who had luxury items like boats for sale, so over the years her price had dropped until we felt it ‘safe’ to go take a look.  And that is what we were doing back in March in Wilmington, North Carolina.


In case you are wondering, and before I go on with our story, a word or two about us as sailors.  My husband has sailed all his life: in dinghies and Thames barges during his youth in Britain, in a Hobie Cat that we bought soon after we arrived in Toronto in 1974 (my heart-stopping introduction to the sport!) and then, after the arrival of two children, a 27 ft. sail boat and, some years later, a 40 ft. sail boat.  On the latter, in 1985, when our children – and girl and a boy of 12 and 10 respectively – we set out on a 14 month sailing trip down the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S., over to the Bahamas, returning via the States once again and thence into Quebec and east to the Saguenay River before returning to Toronto.

Cabo Rico North Easter 400

I had no sailing experience prior to the Hobie, but readily embraced the joy and logistical pleasures of sailing and, as our vessels grew in size, running a ‘home’ in the confines of a boat.  We kept the 40 footer until two years ago, spending summers aboard while our children grew up and became competitive sailors at the highest levels.   But the old boat grew old and reluctantly we acknowledged it was time she went.  We’ll see what life is like without a boat, we told ourselves.  A year later we realized we missed her.


So we went to North Carolina and fell in love with the boat we saw.  We returned to Toronto, negotiated, returned for surveys and sea trials and, by mid-summer, she was ours!  Then reality struck. “Not very sensible, having a boat two days’ drive from here,” we reasoned.  “And by the time we get her back to Canada it will be time to haul her out of the water for winter.”  Neither of us can remember who said it first, but what was said is, “Let’s retire!”  (At our age – not such a silly thought!)