With the current state of things, the boat might stay out of the water for the entire season. I’ve documented some background on what’s happening here with our current thoughts.

A provincial emergency

On March 17, 2020, Government of Ontario declared an emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA). This ultimately means the province has more power to respond to an emergency, see section 7.0.1 and 7.0.2 of the EMCPA. This allows the government to “regulate or prohibit travel or movement to, from or within any specified area”. Also provides a huge possibility for penalties for non-compliance. Individuals up to $100,000 and a year of jail time. Corporations up to $10 million, and extending to the directors, up to $500,000 and one year of jail time. This order has been revised and the end date has been extended every two weeks.

How this translates to us in Ontario is up to the government. Specifically, the provincial Cabinet and our Premier get to decide what and how to restrict. See Order under subsection 7.0.2 (4) of the Act – Closure of Establishments. After a considerable wait for updates, we now have the three stages for the Reopening of Ontario after COVID-19.

Stage 1 is clear with a list of essential workplaces and the expanded list of businesses that can open on May 19. Marinas and boat yards can now have staff on site to prepare for opening.

Effective May 16, 2020. Marinas, and boat clubs (e.g. yacht clubs) are authorized to be open to the public. Any clubhouse, or recreational amenity must remain closed, except for washrooms and first aid facilities.  Marinas/ boat clubs may operate generally including by providing grocery or convenience stores, provide fuel supplies, provide watercraft repair and servicing, and provide watercraft docking and launching services to the public. Restaurants on the premises may provide food by take out or delivery.

Reopening Ontario in stages, ontario.ca

But it’s just not that simple to re-open there’s guidance provided by the province on what needs to be done to protect both the staff and the public.

Sail Canada has provided some useful guidance, Return to Sailing and COVID-19 Public Health and Safety Measures for Sailing Clubs and Members.

The yard

We were fortunate in having one last chance to check in on our boat at Wiggers before the province shut things down. Since then, there was little communication, mostly because there was no news to share.

On May 11, everyone received an e-mail from Wiggers Custom Yachts stating that they have been given the green light to start getting ready but have not been given any specific dates on when they can open to the public. A few days later, May 14, we are notified that owners can access their boats starting on Saturday May 16! This is great great news, but what about launch and what about the marina?

The marina

Not impressed on the lack of updates from Cobourg Marina. Other marinas have been quick to announce their plans, some maybe too quick. I heard Kingston made an announcement that they were remaining closed for the season and then a few days later changed their decision to open.

I’ve e-mailed Cobourg asking for updates and options if we can’t put the boat in the water but haven’t heard back.

On May 19 we receive our first update from Cobourg Marina. They acknowledged the government announcement from May 14 and are now working to prepare the marina for opening. They now have to sift through all the new regulations, train staff and modify the facilities to make it safer for staff and boaters. I completely support this and agree it is important to be done properly. However, I would have liked a response to my one e-mail and more frequent updates, even if it was to say “we don’t know, we are waiting for guidance”.

The harbour is being dredged and should be complete by May 31. Boat launch and public washrooms remain closed. Boardwalks, walking trails are open while practicing safe distancing.

The marina doesn’t have a specific date yet. Their best guess is that lift in will be end of May or early June. Stay tuned.

Update from marina May 30

We received an e-mail update from the Marina, they held an online Zoom meeting for everyone to ask questions and then sent the info through an e-mail. Nicely done Cobourg!

  • Marina opening date is planned for June 12, 2020
  • Fuel dock is operational and pump out will be de-winterized the week of June 1st.
  • Bathrooms and showers will be available but the marina is writing up the policies and procedures based on guidance from the government.
  • Transient slips are still being discussed, boaters from the US will not be able to use Cobourg as a port of entry. This is not a Cobourg decision but a Federal decision.
  • If we decide not to launch this season they will hold our slip for the 2020 season. It’s not clear but I believe our deposit will apply to the 2021 season, but this could be an assumption.
  • If we decide to launch later in the season, our fees will be prorated.

The boat

CS34 Sailboat Winter Cover
Foggy survived another winter and the cover held tight.

There’s a few things on our list to do before we can put Foggy back in the water.

  • Rent a van to load all the gear back on
  • Engine: de-winterize, oil change, diesel fuel line leak
  • Patch a few small nicks in gelcoat, bow near rail, sugar scoop and cockpit floor.
  • Refill and load propane tanks
  • Reinstall batteries
  • Water system flush and de-winterize
  • Inspect and fix a few tears in our genoa
  • Bottom needs a light sand and new coat of VC17.
  • Hull needs a buff and wax. Will be so much faster than last year since we are not redoing the vinyl!
  • Mast work includes running lines, new anchor light, fix deck light and check windex.
  • Clean and waterproof bimini
  • Mast stepped and rigging tuned

The lack of time

We’ve been lucky, both of us have been able to continue to work during this time. Lori works in healthcare and under the current state of emergency in Ontario she can’t take any vacation and has a modified work schedule, working long hours. My work has been busier than ever but nowhere near the amount of overtime Lori is putting in! Looking at the calendar we are having difficulty finding common days to work on boat projects.

We are anxious and want to put the boat in but until we have a better idea of how much vacation time we can coordinate we are questioning if we should put the boat in. Lori is positive it will work out and she will be devastated if we can’t use the boat this summer. I’m being pessimistic, leaning towards keeping the boat out of the water and and trying to give it a positive spin that it will allow us to spend the few days we have off together to work on boat projects in the yard. But, like Lori, I would much rather have it in the water.

The costs

Cobourg marina deposit, already paid $339 deposit and have a remaining $2,196.72 for the 2020 season. Wiggers will charge us $816 ($24/foot) for summer storage. We could save just under $1400 in fees over the summer and save more in reduced insurance costs, fuel and wear and tear.

We thought about redirecting this savings into a charter. We could wait until our vacation time is confirmed later in the summer. But after a bit of research we scratched that idea. We don’t want to fly right now, costs are higher than what we are saving, no idea of availability and it just won’t be the same as being on our own boat.

The final decision

It’s sad, but we just don’t know yet. It all comes down to confirming vacation time which won’t happen until Lori’s work allows vacation again. There is another change in schedule coming up and this may come with an update to when vacation can be made but we don’t know yet. Unfortunately, the longer we wait, the lower we will be on the launch list.

What are your thoughts? Should we “go for it” and risk not having time to enjoy the boat? Or, play it safe, keep the boat out of the water and spend our available time and cost savings on boat projects on the hard.