Friday, August 15, 2008

Spanish, Ontario

It's Friday morning (8/15/2008) in Spanish. We've stayed here for two nights now, and it's a beautiful day - warm, sunny and calm. But instead of being on the way to our next anchorage (probably a return to Beardrop Harbor), we're spending another morning in Spanish. We'll get to the reason later.

Spanish is a nice place to spend a couple of nights, although it's pretty slow here and the marina is a half-hour walk from town. But it's very scenic, with the marina situated just beneath a large bluff (stairs lead up to a scenic overlook), and they have very nice facilities. We also finally have good internet, and the short layover is allowing us to completely catch up with our blog, email and news/financial matters. Now, if we only had cell phone . . .

[In case anyone has been trying to call us, our cell phones have been virtually useless since entering Canada. Phil's is nothing more than an expensive timepiece, while Bernie's works sporadically but costs an arm and a leg. Luckily, we have a few bandages left from Traverse City.]

As you can see from the photo, the marina has a large wind generator at the top of the bluff. We had read that it is used to provide electricity to the marina and adjacent complex, but we have yet to see the blades turn. When Phil inquired about that from marina personnel, he was informed that "it's broken, out of warranty, and the current owners likely will not pay to fix it because the marina complex is for sale." In case anyone is interested, they seem to be asking $2.4 million. You get a marina and a "Four Seasons Complex" that includes a health club, lounge area, various space that could be used for retail, and conference/meeting facilities. The laundry facility has large, new machines ($2C/wash; $2C/dry) that dry quickly. The showers are great as well. On the one hand, while anchoring, you realize how little water you really need to use for non-drinking purposes. On the other hand, you really appreciate a real shower! The laundry and shower facilities are available from 6:00am to 9:00pm daily.

Unfortunately, when Bernie tried to use the health club, she was quickly informed in a matter-of-fact tone that it is "for members only and marina guests are not members. Goodbye now, off you go."

Our only negative experience here.

Well, except for Meridian's starboard engine, which is acting up again. When attempting to leave our slip yesterday, and after having let all lines go, the engine died and would not start. Luckily, we hadn't really moved away from the slip yet, so we were able to reattach the lines safely.

After repeatedly failing to start the engine, we called a mechanic in Spanish, Tony Diodati of Motive Power, who came out to Meridian yesterday and pronounced our distributor cap unworthy of further operation. He should have new ones (we're replacing both as well as doing more tune up work) today and, if all goes well, we should be on our way later this afternoon. Otherwise, we may be here through the weekend.

Our stay here has been very pleasant though. We've walked into town a couple of times, and eaten twice at Vance's Motor Inn. We also had ice cream (quite ample portions) at a small stand while in town. To work off the calories, we took a hike along the Shoreline Discovery Trail that is located at the top of the bluff. It provides some great views looking out over Spanish Harbor and the Whalesback Channel, and it also has a number of interpretive signs that provide information about beavers - their important role in Canadian history and their habitat and activities. Bernie also got to FINALLY shop at an honest-to-goodness Farmers Market! She purchased a box of tasty plums, strawberries, green beans, some creamed honey, and dill pickles. Also, Bernie took advantage of our time here to replenish our cookie supply (an oven is a wonderful thing to have on board!), while Phil did some much needed cleaning down in the engine room.

Yesterday morning in the marina, we experienced something new . . . a seaplane landed and came into the marina, pulling into a slip very close to us. We've seen seaplanes tied up to docks along the shore, and we even saw one land outside of Killarney. But we've never seen one motor into a marina and tie up in a slip just like a boat.

The other bit of excitement here was the hailstorm yesterday. A thunderstorm came through and although it wasn't particularly severe (no wind to speak of, and not a lot of lightning/thunder either) it started hailing REALLY hard. It was pea-size and did no damage, but it bounced all over the place. It would hit the toe rail along the aft deck and come bouncing in under the canvas all the way to the companionway.

Well, that's about all for now from Spanish. If we don't post for the next several days, that means our engine problems have been solved and we're off doing the "anchoring thing". Otherwise, we'll be posting daily about life here in the slow lane.

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