Back in 1999 when Ted & I were still dating he asked me what I wanted to do when I retired I told him “I wanted to live on a boat in the Caribbean AND I wanted to do it while I was still young.” The moral of that story is beware of what you wish for.
A few months later I bought a gift certificate at a charity auction for a private cruise on a 37 foot President for Ted for his birthday. We had a perfect day and that cruise gave us a small taste for the lifestyle we would soon be embarking on. The name of the boat was ‘Meant to Be’ and perhaps that was an omen for us.
The first step in the plan was taking boating courses at a local Canadian Power & Sail (CPS) squadron. It taught us that we definitely needed much more training. I knew that Ted had the right aptitude when he got 100% on our Boating course exam (only the second person from that local squadron). In the spring of 2001 armed with a little knowledge, a lot of courage and just the right amount of fear, we traded in our 14 foot canoe for a 38 foot Chris Craft Catalina affectionately called “Our Wet Dream”. We spent three amazing summers cruising Georgian Bay and the Trent-Severn Waterway dreaming and planning our early retirement. Our garden at home was neglected as we spent more time at the boat and enjoyed our weekend life on the water.
In October 2003, four years after that first discussion about early retirement, the Caribbean dream started to unfold when we found the perfect boat in Montreal, a 65 foot custom Canadian built Trawler. Our retirement plan shortened from 10 years to 5 years when we decided to share our love for boating, scuba diving and entertaining by running a private charter business in the Bahamas. Thus Making Waves Charters
(Bahamas) Limited was born. So at ages 42 and 51, we made the radical decision to leave the Canadian winters and our professional careers behind to pursue a life of travel and adventure. We took early retirement from our busy, fast paced careers to live a different kind of lifestyle. We sold the house in High Park, our furniture and everything that wouldn’t fit on our new boat. Nine months later we picked up “Le Bouclier” in Montreal and brought her to her new home port at Ontario Place in Toronto. Some things were easy to say goodbye to such as the snow and our business suits. I like to stay that we traded in our business suits for bathing suits.
The Toronto Bed & Breakfast idea did not happen until a few months before we picked up the boat. It was one of things written on a napkins sitting around the kitchen table in April 2004. I wanted to spend the summer on the boat rather than working till the end of September. I told Ted “why don’t we run a B & B on the boat, we’ll call it a “Boatel” and so the idea was born. I had a friend who was a PR person at work so I picked her brain on how to do a press release. I sent lots of email out to various newspapers but with no success and then one day the phone rang. The person said “I read about you in the Toronto Star travel section, can I make a reservation on the Boatel? Overnight we were in business and the phone kept ringing for the next couple of weeks. We drove to Montreal on June 1, 2004 to bring the boat home to Toronto. It was a beautiful sight seeing the Toronto harbour for the first time.
That was 10+ years now and the phone is still ringing. We still remain the only bed & breakfast in Toronto on a boat. We changed the name to “Boatel I” in 2010 to strengthen our brand image and because no one could remember or pronounce the old name.
I remembered my mentor once told me “if you’re going to dream, dream BIG and if you’re going to dream have a plan to make it come true.” Making Waves Boatel was no longer just an idea, it was reality and our dream had come true.
Our friends thought we were crazy to leave solid careers at such a young age but we have no regrets. We tell many people “life is too short to miss out on doing what you love”. What do you think, do you dare jump off the corporate treadmill?