This really was a very busy winter for us with the construction of the boatshed, and then we launched straight into our spring maintenance without a single day’s pause. With the boat protected from the foul April weather we had the time to give the entire exterior of the mothership a complete tune-up. But there were other aspects to our small family business occurring simultaneously. Fern was busy experimenting with new recipes (our family’s favourite time of year!), creating new menus and ordering thousands of pounds of food. A great “coming together” occurs as the food supplies, wine, mechanical spares, engine oil pails and ship’s stores are purchased, transported and stowed on the Columbia III. From the latest copy of the Canadian Hydrographic Survey’s “2011 List of Lights” to a custom made brass cookbook holder for the galley, from upgraded VHF radios and antennas to better towels for the guests, from 2 pallets of organic flour and baking supplies to new folding teak deck chairs . . . the season inexorably approaches and comes together. “What do you do in the off season, Ross?” guests often ask. And the answer is simple. We all get ready for our next season of exploring this wonderful coast and meeting new friends. The summer is the best part of the year and our reward. We leave home in 3 days for our 41/2 month season.