By Anita & Ken Tillotson

(April 2005) 

We cruised in our Tanzer 26 'Tabasco' for many years: Lake Superior for three years;  then up the St. Lawrence river and all the Maritimes. We knew that we wanted to go further and needed a bigger boat.  In 2005, we plan to sail from Lake Ontario up the St. Lawrence River and across the Atlantic to the Azores Islands and then on to Portugal and the Mediterranean.  So we put 'Tabasco' up for sale and went looking for the right boat.


In November 2003, on St Joseph Island, about 30 miles east of Sault Ste Marie, we found a 1975 Alberg 37 yawl. There was moisture in the balsa core deck.  Her sails were pretty tired and the teak on the outside was grey.  The deck creaked in places indicating some delamination and there were many small gouges and nicks.  We were able to buy the boat at a reasonable price given the amount of money we would have to spend to bring her back to sea worthiness and beauty.


 In May 2004, we began our work, living aboard her on the hard.  The old alcohol stove gave off wretched fumes when we tried to use it and was discarded immediately.  A new Origo alcohol stove with oven was purchased and installed.  (We had had good experience with the one on our previous boat 'Tabasco').   All the outside teak was cleaned, sanded and 2 coats of Cetol applied.  This was all done in one of the coldest springs in a long while.  This prompted us to install a diesel Force 10 heater which kept the cabin cozy.


A complete set of new sails, a new dodger and bimini, Profurl for the genoa, cockpit cushions, a teak cockpit grate, some doors for the galley cupboards and a new cabinet behind the fold down table were purchased and installed. 


 Teak covers for the shrouds came with the boat.  After sanding and coats of Cetol, they were attached using whipping line.  We were to find that the wear and tear on sails was reduced as the teak rotated with the sails instead of rubbing and chafing.


Finally, in June we set off on our very first sail in 'Joint Venture'.  She sailed like a dream!  


We sailed through the north channel, visiting many of our favourite anchorages and ports.  We left Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island for the trip down Lake Huron to Grand Bend where we were previously members of the Yacht Club. 


It took about 36 hours and was uneventful.  It was misty and we motor sailed most of the way.  We stood 3 hour watches at night.  Our little schnauzer, Chelsey, learned that "walkeys" was up the deck and after some unbelieving looks at us, finally was persuaded to use the deck to do her business.


After a wonderful visit with friends and relatives at Grand Bend, we sailed south to the Detroit River, across Lake Erie and through the Welland Canal to Lake Ontario.  Some highlights are: struggling to get the anchor up in the Detroit River, 10 knot forecasts on Lake Erie while the actual wind was 20 - 25 knots with steep seas most of the time, hitting bottom coming around Longpoint in Lake Erie, and having the engine stall in the Welland Canal.  Also, as we motored out of the canal with the wind blowing 25 knots in Lake Ontario, the throttle handle came off in Ken's hand as he attempted to reduce speed.  He fixed it as we careened around and finally made it to Niagara on the Lake.


The next day we were passing Toronto's beautiful skyline and a few hours later, we were finally at Whitby where the boat is being repaired.


As I write this, the dampness in the deck has been removed, deck replaced and painted.  The stanchions are being reset with metal backing plates.  A repair to the bow done in the past was examined and a professional job is being done.  The topsides and bottom will be faired and painted.


More equipment and upgrades, too extensive to mention, must be completed in time for us to leave early in June.  Regretfully, In order to complete our passage across the Atlantic at the most favorable time, we must leave the Whitby Marina before the Alberg rendezvous.


We will try to share our adventures as opportunity presents.


Anita & Ken Tillotson

London, Ontario

'Joint Venture'