We’re pleased to introduce Alex and Cory, two adventurers from Quebec who met in Newfoundland. Follow their travels on their YouTube channel, Wildly Intrepid!
The woods were my home from birth, deep in the Appalachians Mountains in La Beauce, Quebec. I was raised very simply with no running water and few belongings. My parents valued experiences over material things. Instead, they traveled the world with my younger sister and I from the time we were babies, taking off backpacking for six months in Asia without any bookings or set plan. This has only fed my thirst for new countries and the outdoors. I completed an Adventure Tourism Degree which led me to guide in Patagonia and in Newfoundland. That’s where I met Cory in 2010 and we kept on exploring ever since.
I grew up fishing, biking, and playing on the lake at my family’s cottage. After completing college I pictured myself grinding away at a 9 to 5 and living the typical consumer lifestyle. While building onto some significant school debt and moving from coast to coast I finally clawed my way out of debt working countless jobs I hated but yearning to go back to the lifestyle I loved and was introduced to while guiding. Having no passport and only traveled inside Canada, Alex opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
Our relationship was put to the test as we went on our first trip to Central America. Little did we know that a four-week trip would lead to us forever wanting more travel. Sitting down at breakfast in El Sunzal, El Salvador a few days into our trip Cory said the words that would define our lives going forward: “Four weeks is way too short for a vacation.”
“We knew nothing about sailboats and had zero sailing knowledge”
This led us to constantly wanting more adventure and looking for the next new place to explore.We moved throughout Canada for a place to live and saved our pennies for our next big trip with travel always on our minds. Finally, with our debt behind us, and our backpacks, our new homes we left on a year trip around the World jumping from one continent to another. Even though we tried to convince ourselves that settling down and buying a house or piece of land was what we should do, we couldn’t get excited about the idea. One day in Thailand looking at the sunset we saw on the horizon a sailboat at anchor in the bay. That’s when we first started thinking that living on a sailboat could work for us. Of course our minds raced and found every reason why we couldn’t live on a boat. We knew nothing about sailboats and had zero sailing knowledge so the idea got put aside until SAIL AMSTERDAM. There we realized that anyone could learn the basics of sailing and then the experiences and years would fill in the knowledge.
Broke but with a goal in mind we returned to Newfoundland to save up some money and the sailboat search began. The catch was that we didn’t really know what we were looking for or needed. A bluewater boat? What does that really mean? Will we actually like the lifestyle? Are we getting in way over our heads? These were all questions which would only get answered later.
This remote island in the Atlantic ocean has way more fishing boats than sailboats. So, not the greatest for sailboat shopping with limited options or inflated prices. Still, we managed to make friends and go out on a few afternoon sails. It gave us a taste of what the sailing life could be.
We found her!
Instead of giving up we moved back to mainland Canada and started looking once more for our tiny home. It needed to be affordable, big enough to comfortably live on but not too big to learn the ropes on. In the spring of 2018 a 1981 Hunter 33 presented itself on Lake Erie. It felt like she was made for us. Sure she needed some work, but with the right price and feeling right at home in her we were the proud owners of our very first sailboat.
We have a boat but it’s far from ready to cruise. We have to install solar, an anchor, replace batteries, the list is enormous. Before all that we still need a working rudder that doesn’t take on water. A quick Youtube search on “how to fiberglass” and some chats with some friendly boat neighbours and we have a little more confidence. We turn a two day job into a two week job. Finally we are ready to launch but the work still isn’t over.
Our first trip out with a friend showed our lack of skills with the jib sheets set on the inside of all the rigging. Slowly we built our sea legs while day sailing Lake Erie between fiberglass grinding, installing upgrades, and learning the systems on our sailboat. How long can we go on our tanks of water? How much power are we making? Is our fridge going to stay cool in warmer weather? These were all questions that needed to be answered before we left.
We can finally untie the lines
After some debates we decided to take the Erie Canal to make our way south in 2019.We were thankful for our practice docking the previous two seasons as we had to park along 36 locks and a new dock every evening. Then onwards onto the Hudson River which led us straight to New York and the Atlantic Ocean. It would take forever to tell the countless adventures we had along the east coast of the United States from a bomb cyclone to our very first passages, fouled anchor, breathtaking scenery, meeting sailors or going down the Dismal Swamp. Sailing sure is a full-time adventure.
We finally made it to the crystal clear blue water of the Bahamas and decided to cut our engine in the middle of the Bahama bank to enjoy some sundowners with supper. No land in sight, a flat calm beautiful evening without a breeze or noise. Bellies full and our next protected anchorage miles away we turned the key to our iron sails. Our Yanmar 2gm whined and whimpered but wouldn’t kick over. We couldn’t have known how much we would miss the roar of our little 13hp engine. This is when sailing changed for us as we were now at the mercy of the wind and needed to become real sailors. We were so happy to have carried on island hopping for the next four months instead of turning back to the United States.
The pandemic and all the countries closing their borders did change our plans. After rebuilding our little engine at anchor we flew back to Canada to wait and see what was going to happen. But the following winter we were back aboard SV Wildly Intrepid and crossed back over to the Bahamas for an exciting although short season. By that time we really knew that life aboard our sailboat was meant for us. Alex was pregnant and we came back to Canada to give birth to our beautiful daughter Coral.
Now we are waiting to return back to our sailboat after the holidays with our new crew and to explore more of the world.
Anne Alexandra Fortin & Cory Bertrand
Cory and Alex share their adventure with weekly videos on their YouTube channel “Wildly Intrepid Sailing” and share stories on their website www.wildlyintrepid.com. Their dream is to travel the world and to live without any regrets.