Chickens Royal Winter Fair, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, acrylic, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
For a time, my sister, Yvonne Brioux, and I would lug our paints easels and canvases down to the Royal Winter Fair, pay our admission. We would wonder around, find good models among the championship animals, and sit down and paint them. Vonny was a portrait painter and would get the faces perfect. The other visitors assumed we had been admitted free and were part of the display. “Oh look, Mummy! An artist! Take my picture with her!” I always came home with great pictures and a bad cold, picked up from the dust and the crowds.
Roberts’ Cay, Exumas, Bahamas, Goldie’s Well, Ship Channel Anchorage, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
If you sail east from Nassau, you will arrive at the tricky little entrance at the south end of Roberts’ Cay. Inside, turn north and drop your hook in the deepest water, six or seven feet, beside this tiny house. There is no room for more than half a dozen boats, anchored both fore and aft. The little house and the cistern (Goldie’s Well) were owned by Mr. Roberts and his wife Goldie. There was a well-tended garden beside a little pond, palm trees behind the house and a tall platform beside it from which they could overlook the boats and watch the sun go down in the west. Peacocks, large iguanas and chickens roamed around. Cruisers joined them for Happy Hour on the dock. Mr. Roberts said it was his wish that cruisers could always visit there The first time I visited, the well water was still fresh and sweet. But Goldie was gone and Mr. Roberts was buried under the small circle of stones you can see in the garden. Termites were feasting on the palms. The last time I was there, the eavestroughs had fallen down and the cistern was almost dry. Most of the palms had fallen to the termites, and a hurricane had taken out the platform and the dock. You can google the key. It is now for sale for several million dollars and has No Trespassing signs on it. I’m glad I got this little painting, before everything is gone.
Mangroves, Intracoastal Waterway, Florida Keys, Tarpon Basin, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
On our way back to Indiantown Marina that spring, we anchored in the northeast corner of Tarpon Basin. We were well away from the noisy Highway U.S.1 and just off of the Intracoastal Waterway. I loaded my painting supplies and a water bottle into the dinghy and poked along the shore until I found the tiny hidden entrance to the narrow creek through the mangroves, which came together over my head. I tied the dinghy to a root arcing out into the water. Birds flew and sang in the branches and fish swam around and under me while I painted. My favourite part of cruising!
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For a few years, my sister Yvonne Brioux and I would go to the annual agricultural fair at the Canadian National Exhibition fair grounds in Toronto. It was cold and dusty, and thousands of people came by and watched us paint. Sometimes someone would even buy one of our paintings. There were those who thought we were part of the exhibits. We always enjoyed the weekend and brought home many paintings of farm animals.
When I was alone in the Vero Beach Mooring field, I often took my paints and went over to the nearby cultural centre. Sometimes artists gathered to paint models, and sometimes I just looked out a window or painted on the beautifully maintained grounds.
It was a beautiful fall day and the leaves still clinging to the oak trees were mirrored in the calm water of the creek. I stood at my easel, looking toward the creek and the Royal Botanical Gardens, trying to get the mood onto my picture.
Some hay, loaded up a long time ago, that never made it to the barn, and the machinery abandoned there with it, and the view across the rolling hills to another barn in the distance. A peaceful afternoon, enjoying and recording the moment back in time when something, perhaps death, caused this farm activity to stop.
A favourite spot for our Dundas Valley School of Art painting class in the late nineties was this area south of Ancaster, Ontario. It was late fall and the red dogwood bushes were showing off the colours of their branches, now that the leaves were gone. This is one of those quick little sketches that is almost an abstract painting.
Trees, hammock, shadows, Dundas Valley School of Art, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
Everyone in the class was hot and looking for a piece of shade from which to paint. I found mine. The dark patches of shade under the trees looked so cool, in contrast to the grass in the glaring sunlight.
Norman Island, Norman’s Cay, BVI, British Virgin Islands, Benares Bay, Tortola, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
In the winter of 1997, I chartered a boat in the British Virgin Islands for six weeks. Friends, escaping Canada’s winter, came and went. We sailed, snorkelled and ate in many of the delightful restaurants. Happy Hours were celebrated on board or in local watering holes. From Benares Bay, I painted this picture.
Old fish cleaning station, Marathon, Florida Keys, original, acrylic, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
I was at a dock in Keys Boat Works on the Gulf side of the Keys when I painted this. TowboatUS had delivered my boat My Detour and me there after the latest breakdown of my motor. My stern was facing an old trailer park where all of the trailers had been evicted. The only thing left was this old fish cleaning station and some floats, caught in the tree roots under the dock. I sat in the shade in the cockpit of my boat and painted it. When I returned to this spot two years later, the cleaning station was gone and there were condos in the trailer park. But there had been an economic downturn and most of them were empty.
St. Lucie Canal, Indiantown, Stuart, Florida, Okeechobee Waterway, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
Every late fall or early winter, boats leave the Indiantown Marina and head out the St. Lucie Canal for points south, and return in the spring. They pass grazing cattle, the back lawns of the houses scattered along the shore, and some heavily wooded sections, where the trees reach out over the water.
I met Richard in 2006, and joined the annual parade with him. We usually set out to go to the Bahamas but things kept happening. Richard had a quadruple bypass one year. The next year the old motor had to be replace, a big job for Richard. The year after that there was no window to cross. Then I returned home because my father was dying. Each spring we would spend some time anchored in St. Lucie Canal, and this was our view.
Mangrove, tides. No Name Harbor, Miami, Florida, Intracoastal Waterway, Florida Keys Cruising, acrylic painting, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
I was cruising with Richard, the singlehander I met in 2006. We were waiting for a friend of Richard’s to arrive so we could head south in the Keys. I t was Sunday and little power boats were anchored all around us, the partiers on board playing loud Spanish music, splashing into the water off their boats and having fun. Our stern faced the shore towards this old knarly mangrove, the roots reaching out into the water along the high tide line.
Autumn, Dundas, Ontario, Canada, Dundas Valley School of Art, acrylic, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
Our Dundas Valley School of Art class was out painting in the field. There we were, scattered around, after finding a place where we wouldn’t be standing in mud or snow. My eyes were drawn to the hilly fields rippling off into the distance, and the fall colous showing through as the snow melted.
Wild grapes, Valley Inn Road, Burlington, Ontario, acrylic, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
On a warm day in late summer I propped up my easel with my back to the Royal Botanical Gardens. I was on the edge of the Valley Inn Road, looking out over a little inlet hidden at the east end of Burlington Bay. The Valley Inn had disappeared, likely in a fire, many years before. All was quiet, except when this freight train lumbered through on the tracks high above.
Coneflowers, Royal Botanical Gardens, Burlington, acrylic, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
They are both gone now, and, looking back, I realize it was a very special time. My mother and her best friend Myrtle often came to stay with me in Hamilton in the summer and we would paint together every day for a week. On the day this was painted, we were in the Royal Botanical Gardens, in Burlington, Ontario. At the end of the week, Mom took the coneflowers home with her. Now Mom is gone and the coneflowers have come back to me by default. I live in a small house and the walls are already full, so they need a new home.
Weaving, Tapestry, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
For several years I lived in Guelph, which had an art department that teamed up with other faculties. Home economics was one of these, and this small tapestry, in which I turned the weaving on its side, was one of the results.
Rolph Gate, Dundurn Park, Hamilton, Ontario, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
For many years I lived in Hamilton, Ontario, one block from Dundurn Castle. This entrance to the castle must have been very imposing when it was the only way into the property where the castle loomed. Now it is just ornamental, but it was always an elegant beginning to my daily runs around the top of the bay.
Canada Geese, Princess Park, Hamilton, Ontario, original, one of a kind, Sharon Lehnert
One of my favourite places to paint was Princess Point, a fresh green park where Environment Day was always celebrated. I t overlooked the waterway known as Coot’s Paradise, where people canoed in the summer and skated in the winter.
I was not very far along on this painting when it started to rain big heavy drops that ran down through the paint. I packed it in for the day. Later I went back to the painting and liked the effect of the rain, so I finished it. Voila!
I have painted Webster’s Falls several times, and love looking up at it from the bottom of the ravine. But up on top, in the park, is this fantasy-like structure which incorporates the trees and wood around it. This pavilion is a work of art.
This small bay was just between Whale Cut and Windley Key, in the Florida Keys. It was protected all around by keys and sand bars. It was tricky to get into and usually we had it all to ourselves, but we were in a very windy few days of weather (25 to 30 knots) and another couple of boats had joined us. We had lots of downtime and were very close to the mangroves, so I painted this little sketch.
Update from Sharon and Richard on Lucky, January 31, 2013
The last update was mostly about our land life from July to December. So I am sending this little auxiliary update to fill you in on the boating life from then until now.
On Friday Dec.28, we arrived at Indiantown Marina. When we got the netting and tarps off, Jesse was waiting to move our boat to the work yard, and we really got to work, so we could sleep on the boat that night.
Richard wiped down the slightly mildewy wood inside, and then scrubbed the entire deck and cockpit. I moved the things from the SUV up the ladder into the cockpit and unpacked and put them away. We lowered the dinghy and I carried all of the things piled in the boat and on the deck and in the deck boxes in the dinghy and put a tarp over it, so we would have room to work. When we were really beat, we went to Dee Stephanos, the Italian restaurant in town, for supper.
The next day, Richard took the roller furling apart. All of the bearings and other moving parts had been cemented into a solid mass by a cormorant which had had landed on it many times when we were anchored near Tavernier. We thought it was cute and took many pictures of it. We didn’t notice the many deposits of shit it made in our roller furling (read cormorant toilet). Later, I had to go to West Palm for new parts for it.
On New Year’s Eve day, we put things away so Maggie and Shirley would have a place to sleep when they came for the marina party that night. The party was good. It was warm, not too many mosquitos, and the potluck food and meat supplied by the marina was plentiful and tasty. A cruiser, Phil on Loopy Kiwi (New Zealanders doing the great loop) played his guitar and sang after supper. He was a wonderful entertainer. I sipped wine all evening and when we were ready to leave, I could barely walk. Apparently I invited everyone back to the boat for Richard’s wonderful crêpes the next morning, but I have no memory of that, or even how I got up the ladder and into bed. Maggie and Shirley slept on the boat, and I felt badly about being such a poor hostess and swore off booze. I was pretty useless as a worker on New Year’s Day. Vince and Sharlene from Finn MacCool came to visit.
We had to go to Stuart because the TV had no sound and we needed get a new one. I also insisted that we get headphones for the noisy violent “action” movies Richard loves to watch. Later we had to exchange the headphones (only one had sound) and the TV (it stopped). Best Buy was very accommodating and now we have a happy boat, where I can write and read, and Richard can watch the movies he likes. If we were married, I guess you would call the headphones a marriage saver.
With the right parts, it took us a day to get the roller furling back together, even with four hands instead of two, but now it works like new.
All of the time we were in the yard, Vonny, from Toronto, was trying to get the yard boss to finish the paperwork on Wishbone. (Remember, it was hit by lightning in No Name in May.) He had already been paid and on Monday, January 14, Don Depencier from Bothwell came in a Bothwell Boatworks truck to take Wishbone back to Canada. He took three hours to tie the boat down. He did an excellent job. Today Vonny found out the local surveyor who is representing the insurance company is now happy with the paperwork and has submitted it to the insurance company.
Meanwhile we continued working as hard as we could every day. (Yes, there was the odd nap when it got really hot some afternoons.) I was Richard’s step-and-fetch-it, and drove to the hardware store and all of the other places where we needed to get things. Richard fixed the wobbly rudder bearing, put on the new feathering prop, and put in a new cutlass bearing. He cut out the floor behind the steering pedestal in the cockpit and replaced it with skillful fibreglassing. There was the usual washing down of the topsides, and we sanded, taped and repainted the deck, which made the boat look clean and spiffy. Richard put the bottom paint on. There was a lot more, but I’ll spare you the tiresome details.
I managed to distribute quite a few copies of Idiot Afloat, Book I and II, and played a couple of Scrabble games. On Saturday nights, we attended the potlucks and enjoyed the company of other hard-working cruisers. One night we had six guests, definitely against the rules, Moose the cook explained, so we brought extra meet to compensate and, of course, extra food. Three were friends from Pickering Ontario and the others were Richard’s good friends Richard, Renita, and Renita’s 88-year- mom. We all had fun.
A big surprise was the day that John and Sheila, my brother and sister-in-law pulled up in their little rented car. They were on their way from the cruise ship where they had travelled the islands, ball-room dancing every night, and the villa they had rented for a week or so in Orlando. They climbed the ladder and we made room among the tools and paint cans in the cockpit for them to sit. I served tea and fancy Christmas cookies. Sheila said everything looked very convenient. But I suspect they wondered how people could even consider this kind of cruising when it involved so much work. I wished they could have seen the nice parts, like now.
On Friday, Jan. 18, we were launched. This year, we went on a dock while we finished the remaining tasks – sails on, groceries bought and stored, laundry, returning friend Richard’s ladder and shop vac, visiting Richard’s friends Ben and Blanca, fixing the steaming light, and so on. This was a real luxury, which we decided we have earned because of our advanced ages.
Tuesday, January 22, we cast off our lines and headed out at noon. Twenty minutes out, we turned around and headed back. The stuffing box was leaking quite a bit. We anchored near Indiantown Marina, just in case.. Richard got out some big wrenches and tightened it. After he mopped up the water in the bilge we were underway again. With our new feathering prop, we flew. Two hours later, we went through St. Lucie Lock, with no waiting – except for it to empty down to the lower level.
At 4 p.m. we turned right at marker 37, went up the river a little ways, and anchored, all alone. We cooked a little roast and later watched a movie. When the movie was over, we went out into the moonlight and realized that we were a little too close to shore and parked solidly on the ground. So Richard started the motor, put it in forward, we rocked the boat back and forth, and gradually moved into deeper water. We reanchored where the wind and opposing current would keep us in deeper water.
The next day we were able to sail for a while, before we came to the restricted bridges. We heard Three Penny Opera calling the same bridges and we ended up in North Lake Worth together. I made a good soup between bridges, and we took it over and reconnected with Pat and Addison. We hadn’t seen them for three years. Reconnecting with old friends is a nice part of cruising.
When we left the next morning, we swang by Anne and Michael on Nimue, flying a British flag. We met them when we had dinner at Ben and Blanca’s and will watch for them down the road. That day, in Riviera Beach, we shopped at Boat Owners’ Warehouse and had drinks with Richard’s old friend Jim Moore, who restores Trumpys, and lives on one. Such an tasteful, beautiful boat. We sat in the gleaming dining room, and they recalled the times when they had worked together, many years ago.
Friday – eleven bridges and nineteen miles. We spent an hour or two waiting. We anchored in Lake Boca Raton. Saturday – thirty-one miles and thirteen bridges, and two hours waiting. We dropped the hook here in Lake Oleta at Bakers Haulover at 4 p.m. Mick and Sue arrived on Jenny on Monday. We haven’t seen them for two years, so we have spent a lot of time together, catching up on our friendship.
On Monday, I pulled Richard to the top of the mast and he replaced the old tri-colour light.
We’ve been getting rid of the boat yard dust and dirt, and organizing cupboards. And doing yoga, swimming, and just chilling. Sue and I took the shuttle bus to get fresh food at Publix yesterday. Tomorrow Shirley is coming to dinner, and will take us to do errands.
We’ll wait here for a Bahamas window. This is cruising.
Update from Sharon and Richard on Lucky, Jan. 27, 2013
Today, Richard and I are back in Lake Oleta, at Bakers Haulover, on the Intracoastal Waterway, which we left in May, 2012, with my sister Vonny and her husband Ray. They had been hit by lightning a few days before and we were taking our boats to Indiantown. Richard and I were storing our boat Lucky for the summer and Vonny and Ray were taking Wishbone there to have repairs done.
Vonny and Ray waited three months for their insurance company to approve the estimate for repairs and send them a deposit for the work. The work was finished a couple of weeks ago, they paid the yard the total bill so the boat could be shipped north, and are waiting to be reimbursed by their insurance company, which is waiting for more info to be sent by the yard before they will pay.
Vonny and Ray have quit cruising. They want to move on.
Here, the sun is shining and it is warm, but not hot. Richard and I are happy to be cruising again.
My summer was very busy. I got the second edition of Idiot Afloat, Book I printed, and arranged a series of book talks to promote it. This meant learning how to use a new projector, and trying to assemble my spotty collection of pictures into an interesting presentation. I’m not sure how engrossing it was, but I managed to sell about fifty books that way.
In the meantime, Book II continued to take shape. I went through the edited copies that a dozen people returned to me, and incorporated the corrections into the book. There are still typos and mistakes in both books, but both are better for work so many volunteers put into them. (Email me if you didn’t get a copy yet and would like one. I have little stashes available in various places, and carry some on the boat.)
Besides working on the books, I tried to visit Mom almost every day. She didn’t always remember my name, or whether I was her sister, her daughter or, recently, her mother, but she knew we loved each other and was always glad to see me. I worked on jigsaw puzzles and she watched and sometimes helped. I gave her manicures, and she picked the colour she wanted her nails to be – bright peach, or a glowing turquoise. Conversation didn’t happen much. She had had a small stroke that affected her speech.
Virginia stayed overnight when the hydro went out at her place and we played Rummicub by candlelight. I took her to doctors’ appointments. We gave out candy together at her house on Hallowe’en. I spent some time with the grand-nieces and nephews – there are now 17 – and with son Mike. Richard and I visited back and forth when we could. I was there when he had surgery in November.
In November a garage took shape in my back yard, and was bricked with the old bricks from the century home that Sandy and Gerry had to tear down to build their new house.
I started promoting Book II among the sailors I know in November and spent most of December filling orders. It was exciting to turn on the computer every morning. I did the printing on brother Bill’s big printer, and the book was being mailed out to readers before the end of November.
Suddenly, it was Christmas. Richard was at my place and all packed to go south. We had Christmas dinner at Bill and Connie’s. Most of the nieces and nephews and their spouses were there – and those wonderful kids, the oldest Julian at nine, and the youngest Trent, four months. All different, and all perfectly delightful.
Tuesday, Boxing Day morning we headed out and got stopped by a snowstorm in Ohio in the afternoon. Friday night we slept on Lucky in the Indiantown Marina boat yard.
Now, after three weeks of very hard work and five days of travel (one a great day of sail), we are anchored for a few days. We are enjoying the cruise.
Update from Sharon and Richard on Lucky, July 16, 2012
It’s a long time since the last update, on May 14. We are home in Ontario now, caught up in the usual business of land life, and this will be the last update until we get sailing again.
On Monday, May 14, we left Bakers Haulover at 6:30 a.m., followed by Vonny and Ray on Wishbone. We got to Lantana at 5:30 p.m. We had passed through nineteen bridges! Most were restricted, and I called them all on the VHF and figured out our timing and did the countdowns to the openings. I am really tired of doing that.
The day afterwards, we got to Peanut Island before noon, after five or six bridges, and Richard dropped Vonny, Ray and me on the beach to go to Customs, as we had been instructed to do in Key West. The young woman there stamped the paper from Key West, wrote Indiantown on it, and we were done, in less than a minute. A far cry from both Cuba and Key West. If you have to check in or get a cruising permit, West Palm is the place to go. Richard saw Mark’s little boat, on a dock at a large marina in Riviera Beach. I was sorry to see it there, still on this side of the Gulf Stream.
We rafted in Peck the next afternoon, after another five or six bridges. It was hot and muggy, and Vonny and I paddled around the sterns of our boats for a long time. It would be so nice to get back to the cool north, I thought.
We woke up at 3:30 a.m. There had continued to be thunderstorms every night, and the one that woke us was another doozy. Richard went out in the driving rain to fend off a sailboat that was dragging down on us. It seemed to be caught on our anchor. The skipper would motor away, and then be pulled back down alongside Wishbone, which was rafted to us. He hadn’t had time to put any clothes on, and the driving rain was very cold. At one point, while he and Vonny were trying to keep the two boats apart, his lifeline broke, and he fell overboard between the two boats. Vonny saw the upper half of his body go underwater. Then somehow, he swung up out of the water and hoisted himself back on board. Eventually he got his boat untangled, the storm blew over, and we all went back to sleep.
The next night, Vonny and Ray tied up to the dock in Indiantown, and we anchored outside, in the St. Lucy Canal. Wishbone was hauled the next day and put in the work yard, to be assessed for damage and have repairs done. As of the date of this update, the yard has done an estimate, and a local surveyor went over the estimate and pared it down. Vonny and Ray are still waiting for Commandeur, the broker in Holland who sold them the insurance, to agree to cover the work that needs doing. Meanwhile, the boat is incurring work yard costs of $25 per day, instead of the much lower storage area costs. You really only know how good an insurance company is when you have a claim.
Then followed a week of hot days of work, thunderstorms most evenings and delicious communal meals made from our leftover stores.
I gave the bags of things I had collected for Cubans to Andy, the tall skinny Polish Canadian who sails to Varadero every winter. In doing this, I was also giving up the dream of ever going there on our boat. I knew that, after hearing Vonny and Ray’s account of their travels in Cuba, Richard had made up his mind that he would never ever sail there. Maybe someday we will fly there, as tourists, but it isn’t really as rich an experience.
We borrowed a car from Richard Brooks and delivered Richard’s Mercedes to the paint shop. Three or four days later it was done, and now looks like a brand-new 1983 car.
On Friday, May 25, our boat was put in storage, and we loaded up the Mercedes. We had to put some stuff back on the boat, as there just wasn’t enough room for the four of us and all of the stuff that we wanted to take home in the car.
We all took turns driving, and stopped at night to sleep. It was a companionable, stress-free trip home. We dropped Vonny and Ray off at their condo in Toronto, and got home in time to see Richard’s family before they went to bed. Hugs all around. I can never break up with Richard, no matter how annoying he gets. I would miss his family too much. He says the kids feel the same way about me.
I drove home to my place the next day. I got the house opened and got back into all of the usual summer stuff. The six weeks from then until now have flown by. Mom is much diminished since I saw her in January. She survived two bouts with pneumonia over the winter, and is weaker.
After visiting her for a few days, I got pneumonia and was not very functional for two weeks. Sandy and Connie brought me food and kept an eye on me.
My new computer is working now, but it’s so complicated! And seems to be cheap, but when you have to buy all new programmes, and the stuff you use doesn’t work with them, and the router has to be changed, and more gigabytes are needed from Bell and the old printer doesn’t work with the new laptop….well, you get the drift. The process sucks up a lot of time.
Replacing the old car and disposing of it wasn’t as complicated, but it was still a more complex procedure than I was expecting. Now I’m happily driving Bill and Connie’s 2006 Freestyle, and even used the full seven-seat capacity when Richard and I went to nephew Tom’s art show in Toronto. He is painting constantly now, and has some wonderful paintings to show for it. He has a website, and I believe you can find it if you google his name, Tim or Thomas Brioux.
The draft of Book II is being read and marked for editing by the book club and Vonny and Bill. I am re-editing Book I for a reprint, since there are only thirty copies left from the first printing of 200. I am going to check out a different binding process, and get the pre-publication cataloguing from the National Library this time.
The process of getting a book printed and marketed is a wonderful learning experience, and it’s good to avoid vanity presses, which are a huge rip off. I have only used the internet to tell people I already know about the books, and for taking orders. The full text of the book is not available online. That is too much to get my head around.
It has been very helpful to have my brother Bill and Nicole and Travis, in his office, giving me technical assistance. Having a real publisher would seem to be the best option, of course, but I don’t think my writing is of general enough interest or literary merit to make that a possibility.
An unexpected bonus of selling the book directly is the feedback I get. Almost all of it has been extremely positive, and that which has been critical has made me be a better writer. It’s a journey.
Virginia has coaxed me into taking four-day visit to Hamilton next week to visit old friends. Of course I will bring copies of Idiot Afloat with me. Let me know if you would like one.
So, until the trip begins again, good-bye from Sharon and Richard, not on Lucky for a while.