CROW’S NEST – it takes a village

CROW’S NEST – it takes a village

This post has taken SO long to reach the point where I felt it to be publish-worthy.  Francois finished the exterior of the Crow’s Nest a while ago, making it all roof tight and weather proofed as only Francois could do.  It’s identity was to be that of storage primarily and secondarily, green house.  Which it is.  But during the process though we got comments from family and friends and neighbours…such as…what is it?…a he-shed?….a she-shed?…and the best was, why not a tiny house?..and why not put in a loft for sleeping?  We became a neighbourhood curiosity with people stopping by from time to time to have a look and we became known, not as the yellow house with the boat in the yard but as the place with THE SHED.

So let me begin at the beginning…

It all started with a need for storage, a picture to inspire and lots and lots of planning and drafting.

We enlisted the services of a local guy to dig out and grade a place for R.E.D. to rest off-season. The space was to eventually house a location for a shed.  If you go back to the criteria we used when house hunting three years ago (three years already?), the property was to have a garage or at least a place to store the boat or room to build a garage.

Then came another local guy who agreed to pour the foundation for the future build.  The deal was that Francois would do all the form work in advance.  On the day of the pour, the guy showed up and offered Francois a job, the forms were prepared that well.  At this stage we had  bathroom issues and winter was approaching so instead of splitting energies, the decision was made to work indoors and begin again outdoors in the spring.

Next step…ordering and delivery of the materials…all locally sourced.  Early spring we began again.  Friends showed up for the wall raising.  Our neighbourhood supervisor arrived with all the right gear…and a jar of his harvested maple syrup.  How sweet is that!?

And supervise he did!  Rocking chair and all.

In no time three walls were up…

The rest Francois took care of himself, installing the beams and trusses. I helped when I could…holding stuff…handing stuff…acting as the ‘go-fer’.  You all know my strength is mostly on the inside.

It didn’t take much time before things were actually looking real.

I ordered windows and doors…locally sourced again. And for the roofing we hired the same company that replaced RED by the Sea’s roof.

The green house glass was a bit of an issue.  Should we go with laminated glass, tempered glass, polycarbonate?  Online research gave no definitive preference.  Each type had their benefits.  Finally after consulting the leading Nova Scotia green house expert, we went with 10 mm tempered glass, professionally installed, each of the four panels weighing 70 pounds.

The electricity is all complete now inside and out, again locally contracted. The black lamps  at each entry weren’t my first choice but Francois wanted ones with motion sensors so when he goes out to HIS SHED at night he won’t have to fumble around in the dark.  Working in the shed at night…really? Can you hear the eye roll? They do however have a touch of the nautical which I like.

Adding a new structure on the property created another big discussion.  How do you make a modern building blend with a yellow-sided 90 year old home by the sea?  You make it disappear…like a shadow.  The black steal roof  with white doors and windows are the shared common factors and the rest we made ‘disappear’ with black stained ship lap and cedar for the cladding.

Weather depending, the rest will be inside finishing.  Even on chilly days, when the sun shines, it’s all toasty warm inside.  Come spring there will be landscaping to pretty it up a bit but for now we are complete for this season.

Thanks for stopping by.  It’s now time to put our dear R.E.D. to bed for the winter season.  Please come back soon for another visit to see how we’ll accomplish this Quebec style.

For those reading this in a language other than English (see language choice upper right side bar of each post), please forgive the automatic translation.



When we moved into R.E.D. by the Sea a little over a year ago, we felt she was perfect just as she was.  The previous owner had presented the space is such a charming manner …painted white throughout…allowing her things to speak.  We fell in love with the simplicity.  

The home inspection confirmed a solid envelope.  Little things needed correcting he said but these we could easily do ourselves.  

Energy tests showed that we were a few points more efficient than a new build…surprising for our eighty-eight year-old gal.

The roof we knew would have to be replaced in a few years but being a vital part of a secure envelope and with the couple of nor’easters we had last year, we decided not to wait, so a new metal roof is in place that will last well beyond our life-time. There have been other smaller improvements…water treatment system, storm doors (more nor’easter lessons) and a heat pump which we love!

With R.E.D. securely resting in her new driveway spot for the winter, it was time to work on the Crow’s Nest.  

Look at that perfectly cured concrete pad just begging for the rest of the ‘he-she-storage-greenhouse-shed’.


….there’s always a but…

So here’s the story.  One day after using the bath we noticed bubbling of the ceiling downstairs in the kitchen.  Not a good sign and to add a little stress, it was just before guests from away were to arrive!  So, fast forwarding to present time, it turned out there was a small leak in the bath’s hot and cold water lines.  

There were plans to make minor changes to the main bathroom anyway ….the toilet was old….and I had a few ideas decor-wise…you know, nothing major.  It was quite lovely as it was with that old country home kind of charm all of which I wanted to retain.  Just add a little something more to make it ours.

If we were going to have the leak fixed, why not change the toilet at the same time.  And if we were going to change the toilet, why not change the flooring.  Well then, if we were going to change the flooring then I’m sticking my design foot in the door and adding my ideas to the reno pot.  You can see where this is going can’t you?  And since Francois is Mr. Builder in this home and since he can’t be in two places at once, the decision was made to concentrate on the bathroom and leave the Crow’s Nest build until spring. (Squeee!!!…Kat’s project is officially in motion!)

As I mentioned, there was nothing at all wrong with the bathroom design-wise. The fixtures kept with the loveliness of days gone by. 

I love the claw foot tub with the chrome feet, and chrome and porcelain faucet/shower combination.

The console sink is a beauty too…maybe not the most practical but really pretty.  The previous owner had such good taste.  

So that’s your tour of what was.  Small….barely 8’ by 7’….and with the sloping gabled roof, it left precious little space for storage.  We try to be minimal with our possessions but even minimalists have needs for the basic conveniences. 

As with any reno project I’ve done, it’s fun to create a mood board which helps to bring concept ideas together while still allowing for flexability during the process.  It’s a guide that also helps with budgeting.  I was given a general dollar range and was determined to come within it.

On to demolition day…

With the tub, sink and toilet extracted and resting happily outside in our yard (what will the neighbours think?), Francois started removing the vinyl floor tiles.  Forty-five minutes later, this was his progress…one tile.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, the plumber was due in four days to install the toilet because we had another guest-visit for the weekend the following day and we needed to have at least the toilet part of the flooring done by then.

I called a friend who is a tile expert for some help and he gave us really good, time-saving advice.  Leave the floor ‘as is’ and screw  quarter-inch plywood on top for a solid substrate.  Easy fix!  Thanks so much Travis!

Nothing in an old house is square so trying to make everything level is tricky. The fun part (sarcasm) will be to make it appear straight.  I have confidence in you Francois. 

Thankfully the weather has been typical-east-coast-mild so working outdoors has been possible.  Dancing between bouts of rain was tricky but all the cutting is now complete.

I’ve finished the tub painting…three coats of mat black was more than enough and it rested happily upside down in the middle of our living room waiting to be installed….the only logical place, don’t you think?  

There’s not much a little elbow grease and baking soda can’t clean.  Just look at all of that sparkling shiny chrome,  good as new!  When the plumber dropped by to check on our progress he asked if we had bought new fittings.  Insert proud Kat moment here.

Back to the flooring story….yet another addition to ‘if we change the floor, we might as well… So the small baseboard radiator was removed and floor coils with thermostat installed for radiant heating.  Another simple fix.

Wainscotting was installed to add some texture so now to get on with flooring. If time allowed it would be preferrable to finish the tiling and grouting, then replace the baseboard, then paint, but plumber day was fast approaching and we needed that toilet installed (at the very least) before the weekend guest arrived so just the toilet space was grouted for now.

In the meantime my part of the project was on hold.  With such a small space in which to work, if the two of us were in there together, probably only one of us would come out alive…so I handed things, unpacked things, made countless trips to the hardware store for supplies, shopped for accessories and, the hardest part for me otherwise was to stay out of the way.  Oh, and I assembled the new vanity.  Let’s hear it for more storage!

Dan the Plumber did such a good job!  Just showing up gave him a five star rating in my books and he more than exceded our expectations.  Great communicator, great service, creative and really nice all in one package.

Now on to more flooring.

I found the perfect tiles for this space a couple of months ago but when we decided to purchase, there was a lady who was there ahead of us buying up what we thought was the last in stock.  The tile guy told us to wait and he would see if he could get us more.  Thankfully he did and we cleaned the store out of all they had hoping it would be enough.  Imagine  that wee moment of panic when the flooring was almost finished and we realized we were two square feet short.  So I quickly went online and found two more.  Whew! Disaster averted!

Welcome to our new favourite room…

Many years ago, Francois asked me to put together a concept for our condo bathroom…a spa experience, like a boutique hotel he said.  In spite of its small size it turned out to be a little haven with deep soaking tub, rain shower, white fluffy bath towels hanging on their heated towel rail.

I get that bathrooms are mainly functional beings but it elevates these simple rooms to another level when you add a little extra imagination so that when you open the door you feel ‘ahh’.  This one at our little home by the sea makes me feel that way.  The site line from our bedroom makes me smile…  

The curtains make me smile. The ideal complement.  Just enough.  Not too frilly.  Like a bow on a present they serve no real purpose. Just enough for a little bit of ‘pretty’…

The indulgent porcelain ‘cat’ toilet brush makes me smile. I mean, why would’t it?…

The minimal with a blend of the new……and the old…the just enough space for essentials..

…the local art with a little seaside charm thrown into the mix. It all makes me smile.

And when I fill up that pretty bathtub with lavender bubbles, put on some of my favourite tunes, pour a frosty martini and step in, I smile.  This little, rather ordinary bathroom is no longer just functional.  It has become a retreat.

And as with any of our renovation projects…condo…even on the boat…we add a little something of ourselves, a symbol of successful team work and love, hidden for any future owners to find.  So before closing the wall, Francois left his mark.

There you have it.  One project completed.    When you think of it, this had all the elements of building a house…flooring, drywalling, electrical, plumbing, decorating…of course on a small scale…but still.  We planned it so that we would still be happy with the look several years down the road…maybe forever. And on final calculations I was way under budget.  

This project has wakened the design demon in me but the focus has to be on the Crow’s Nest for now….although it doesn’t mean I can’t dream and research and plan does it?  I have one major project in the concept stage that spans both boat stuff, creating, designing and lots of things I love…


…no spoiler alert from this Galley Kat….


Thanks for dropping by.  You can always count on us to have something new coming down the road.

For those reading this in a language other than English, please forgive the automatic translation.



Here’s a little modification recap.  Mostly meant to provide additional security and improve independence for this and future adventures it was a big financial output this year but we can now untie the lines and feel we are well prepared.

Solar panels were installed to supplement battery power (story here, here and here)


Solar Monitor

 And should we be fogged in along the Saint-Lawrence which is very likely this time of year, we have Gen the Generator to provide power at anchor for that much needed morning coffee (story here and here) and to fire up our little electric heater to take the chill out of the cabin.



A word about fog…Ray the Radar will let us see what’s coming and going around us (story here)

The Dome

The Dome

Our boat came supplied with a collapsible camping water jug which we have now upgraded…modestly for now (story here)

15 Free Flowing Gallons

15 Free Flowing Gallons

Mostly esthetic, the Weather Station (story here) was added to give us an indication of changes in barometric pressure, temperature and humidity but the added benefits of having a safe place to store charts and navigation tools made it a step up from ‘pretty’.

A Place to Hide All Precious Cargo

A Place to Hide All Precious Cargo

Solar  Luci Lights will be used to supplement our mast light when at anchor.  Solar instead of battery power is always good.



…and little ‘AA’ battery operated LED cabins lights can be used at night instead of using the boat battery.  Only thing missing in this picture is our evening cocktail.


Cabin Lights

This  year we’re trying something new.  We removed all the bilge covers in the rear berth and found bins that fit securely into the depressions.  Lower priority items and less used are stashed at the back and the containers are small enough that they can be lifted out easily to access things stowed in behind.  Thanks to a great suggestion from our friend Beth we used large pool noodles to safely store fishing rods.

A word about balance:  we are very conscious about equilibrating load.  The weight of the extra 15 gallons of water port-side will be balanced with provisions starboard.  An eye’s view from land shows an even distribution and the onboard clinometer shows zero degree healing at rest and because the load sits low, the righting arm and centre of gravity should be at peace with each other.


Improved Storage

This sack made of breathable Phifertex holds 2 sets of full foul weather gear, long underwear, tuques, gloves, wet suits and will be stowed below.  Everyone we have talked to says to be prepared for the cold.  Hoping this will be enough. And regarding cold, who wants to fall in the Saint-Lawrence River with near freezing temperatures?  Life vests with safety harnesses, webbing life lines along both port and starboard with tethers have been added.



Two sets of simple pole clips will keep our docking/locking poles secured and out of the way mounted just behind the companionway stairs.


Clips for Docking Poles

What’s left?  Well I guess the only thing left to do is provision.  That’s a personal preference thing. What works for us won’t necessarily appeal to another. I’ve spent the winter working on easy galley recipes and there will be new ones posted from time to time along the way in Sea Salt Galley Kat. We’re counting on being at anchor more often this trip but as with previous years what’s worked best for us is to count  number of days away from supplying and add a contingency factor of +20% to allow for bad weather and unforeseen delays,  There are lots of places along the way to pick up supplies though.  Oh yeah, speaking of our bellies, we have our fishing permits.



…and some super duper lures thanks to  Tim the Master Fisherman, so hoping to snag a fish or three and Francois knows of places where we can dig for clams.  We may freeze but we won’t starve.


Scary Stuff

A word about internet.  In a perfectly plugged in world we would by now have an internet booster but haven’t we already done enough for one year?  It’s on the list of improvments but the priority had to go first to those things that will make us safer.  We did however augment our data plan which included a super deal from our provider giving us a new iPad mini which hopefully will provide more latitude with blog posting.  Will see just how great that signal is along the Saint-Lawrence.

…and last but not least is what we have been referring to as Little Red, our new-to-us dinghy.  Names have been thrown around, suggestions offered but Francois has come up with what we think is the best of the best.  In France if you order a glass of red wine you ask the waiter for a ‘ballon de rouge’ so don’t you think it very fitting that our little inflatable should be called…


So that’s it.  Next time you hear from us we will probably be on our way.  Feel free to stop by to check in on us.  It will be an adventure for sure.