Friday 29 March 2013

Boat Shopping 101, Part 1: Making the Case for the Wrong Boat

     "Another season passes by you..."
                          -Big Country

   ....  and you are one more season lost, another season spent dock-walking, fender kicking, online ad surfing,  ladder climbing, grinning, nodding, and doing everything but the very thing you need to be doing:

Pulling the trigger on buying a boat.

    If you're still standing on the dirt wishing you were feet-wet, and this condition has persisted more than 26 weeks, do not consult a physician.

   You're simply doing it wrong.

   Those of you who are thinking about buying a boat, a bigger boat, a different boat?

    Quit looking for the right boat.
     Find the boat, right now.

     See, here's the deal:

     There IS no "right boat."

     There is, however, a right TIME.


      Look, you can spend the rest of your dirt-bound life thinking, wishing, planning, hoping, dreaming, conniving, scheming, fantasizing, about loosening the ties that bind...

     And all of that strategizing still leaves you on the dirt.
      Gazing longingly out to sea.

     Which is wrong.  Way wrong.

   I'll let you in on a secret:

      Most of us are sailing on the wrong. Damn. Boat.

       That's cool.

      We're sailing.

      *Cue the music*

       Right now.

       Why is "sailing right now" so important, my friends?

        Because no one knows what tomorrow may bring,

        There is a proverb which, in Yiddish, is written:

         .דער מענטש טראַכט און גאָט לאַכט

         Loosely translated, "Man plans, God laughs."

       What has worked for me and for other Docksters may work for you...

... Or  may not, 
       ....  and I accept no liability, nor any congratulations, nor any damn thing, incurred along the way.


  But, having said that,

  We are on the water, and you are on the dirt.  

  How's that working out for you?



         Friends of the Dock (henceforth known, anonymously, as FODs) are looking for a boat. 

      9 months ago they were looking seriously at a Bayfield 25. 

     They asked me for my advice.

     I offered it:  

      (Come on, you think I am gonna keep my piehole shut?

       A Bayfield 25  is a good, solid, capable, full-keeled, well-equipped, comfortable, small cruising boat.  Under $10 K.

      Want a cheap, solid $ 4 figure cruiser? 

        The Bayfield 25 is a good bet.

        A boat that would be the queen of Dock Six.

         If it suits them, they should buy it.  

         Others offered the same advice.

       It was the first boat they crawled aboard; conventional wisdom says no one should ever buy the first boat they inspect.

         So, they didn't.

          It sold.

         No problem. 

          It's fall.  Other boats will come along before spring.

         Then, I screwed up.

         I suggested they attend the Toronto Boat Show .

         The FODs climbed all over the big shiny new boats on display.

        They talked to brokers. 
        Some good brokers. 
         Brokers I trust.  

         Brokers from whom I would buy a boat.

          Brokers who happily and patiently  listened to their needs and wants, and decided that the boat in which they were originally interested, a Bayfield 25, was...

           Too small, too slow, too spartan, too under-equipped.

            The Boat Show consensus was, and the shoppers involved agreed, that they needed a newer, more equipped,  big body, big dollar boat...

       ... like walk-through transom Catalina over 30 feet LOA, starting over $80 000.00

     10-15 times as much as the Bayfield 25 that was in their budget and their dreams last season.

          Those brokers who recommended expanding their budget and getting a bigger, plusher, newer, better equipped, more expensive boat aren't wrong...

        If their customer can comfortably write a mid- five- figure cheque for the purchase price...

        ....And if the broker and the customer are 100% sure of the customer's needs....

       ...  And if an example  of that "right" boat is available on the market.

          If not?

          Another season lost. 

         I argue that the perfect boat for you, (for anybody, for that matter,) is smaller, older, cheaper, slower and uglier than you think it is.


         See these folks?

      Marco  and Dee are less than $3K into their boat.

       Is it perfect?

      Is it their "ideal" boat?


      Are they out on the water, grinning?  

      Hell, yeah.

      Meanwhile,  waaayy too many other would-be sailors are burning off another season searching for the "right " boat.

      Those of you stupid enough to still be reading, here's what I want you to do:

      Figure out how much you can comfortably write a cheque for, today, right now. 

   Find a boat in 80% of that price range.

     Buy it.


    Next post I will explain why.

    Stay tuned.

   In the meantime, 

   "Talk the Dock!"



Thursday 21 March 2013

Another Dock Diatribe Debut

                  "Believe we're gliding down the highway, when in fact we're slip sliding away ..."
                                                                                                         -Paul Simon

  Our friends at The Silo  have published another tale from the Dock:

Living a "No Wake" Life

As always, I'd like to hear your thoughts.

"Talk the Dock!"

Friday 15 March 2013


               "That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed..."
                                                           -gordon lightfoot

    Picked up some bad news on the cyber-telegraph today:

    The proprietor of BFS Gear and longtime sailnet contributor SmackDaddy's boat sank.

     At the dock.

     I'll let him pick up the tale from here.  Warning:  Graphic images ahead.

  Below is borrowed without permission but with the best of intentions.

"The Saddest Day of a Sailor's Life:

On February 25, 2013 we lost our sailboat. It went down in the slip in about 100' of water during a freak storm with 60+ knot winds.

Literally, all that's left of S/V Smacktanic, that Catalina 27 we loved so much - the first boat we ever owned - the boat that patiently taught us to sail - is a freakin' cleat.

I'm laughing while I cry. It really is an indescribable feeling to know your boat is...just...gone.

Here's the story...

We've had the typical, blustery late Texas winter. Gusty northerly winds in the 20-30 knot range. I usually check in on the boat every week or two when we're not sailing her  - cleaning her up, doing little projects, running the motor, checking lines, etc. Just making sure she's in good shape. This past Friday I took off work around 2 and went down to put the bimini back on. I had re-sewn some of the seams that had let go due to sun damage to the stitching.

Although the exterior of the boat was nasty since it hadn't been power-washed in over a year (due to there being no water at the docks since we'd been pushed out so far - see below) - everything was in pretty good shape. I got the bimini put back on the frame and ready for the upcoming season:

Then I worked on the cabin of the boat, cleaning the sole, wiping down all the surfaces...and, of course, having some beer and chips aboard my awesome boat that I'd put SOOO much work and love into over the past few years.

I checked the battery charge, checked the bilge pump, and finished up the bimini work, squaring everything away for the week. It was a nice, peaceful evening:

After taking this photo, I noticed the somewhat slack dock lines and slack "bow collar" that kept the stem away from the dock. I also noticed that the bumper board at the dock in front of the bow had let go on one side and was hanging down in the water, leaving the concrete edge exposed to our bow. So I adjusted all the lines, making sure the stem would stay well clear of the dock. I then put a call into the marina manger about the bumper board. He said he'd try to get to it over the weekend but couldn't guarantee anything.

Now, notice in the photo above the amount of fetch behind the boats toward the dam in the distance about 1.5 miles away. And notice the lack of any breakwater whatsoever. Hell was about to break loose.

As you might have heard, Lake Travis has dropped some 40' due to the Texas drought. As this has happened, our docks have been pushed further and further out into the lake - exposing us to far more fetch and far more weather. Here's the setup showing where our boat used to be - and where it was on this day:

On Monday, 2/25, we were hit with near-hurricane-force winds of over 60 knots from the WNW for approximately 6 hours. This burst of air and large chaotic chop violently pushed all the wildly-bucking boats on our dock forward toward that concrete and steel edge. Docklines stretched and snapped like thread.

I talked with the marina guys who were down there during this storm. They said they did everything they could - replacing lines that were breaking and adding second lines. But as soon as they would get to one end of the dock securing the boats - all the lines they'd placed had snapped again. They said that one guy was there trying to hold the pulpit of his violently pitching boat to keep the stem away from the dock. But he was literally pitched into the air and almost went into the water inside his slip - which would have easily killed him. They evacuated the docks. And the boats didn't stand a chance.

The next day there was nothing but carnage to both boat and the dock - the entire structure of which had bent dramatically enough to pop out the concrete pavers.

80% of the boats along our line that did stay afloat were dismasted, holed, and/or suffered massive "total loss" damage to their stems:

As the boats pounded into the concrete the fiberglass gave way. The concrete even gave way under the tremendous force, revealing an even deadlier foe: the sharp steel structure beneath. These ruthless edges worked through the remaining fiberglass like a hot knife through butter. And as the bows were sliced open ever wider with each huge wave, the gaping hole began to pull in more and more water...until she couldn't fight it anymore.

Above: Boat in center slip is gone - leaving only the mast hanging off the dock structure (just out of frame to left).

Above: Catalina 27 on the left is sitting down to her gunwales - 3/4 submerged. Her stem is gone. Boat to the left of her is dismasted.

Then it was to our sickeningly empty slip (where the workboat currently is in this photo).

Not a trace of the Smacktanic. Just small pieces of teak, shattered concrete, and bent steel showing the carnage that had occurred. Beside us to port had been a Beneteau First 235. Also at the bottom of the lake with our boat.

That damn bumper board that I'd called about on Saturday still lay in the water.

And nothing else remained.

It is a strange, sick feeling that comes over you when your boat - that THING you loved - is gone. You realize that you had some true emotional connection to it. You loved it. You actually loved it. How can that be?

On closer inspection, I could see small bits of our beloved C27 under the concrete. Shards of the anchor locker - the starboard nav light - just...pieces.

From this... this in just a few hours.

I'll miss that damn boat. I really, truly loved her. RIP S/V Smacktanic.

I always hate to play on heart strings - but, c'mon, do us a solid and buy a BFS sticker, tee, or skully, will ya? We've got an ocean boat to save up for!"

Hang in there, Smack.

"Talk the Dock!"

Requiem for a Spork

   "...and it brings back those old emotions..."
                                  -The Spoons

      Roger MacGregor is retiring.

     And he's taking his Spork with him.

      Or maybe not.  More on that later.

     In January, Mr. MacGregor surprised the boating world  by announcing his retirement, and the imminent closure of MacGregor Yachts, builder of  what may be the most controversial pleasure boat on the planet, the MacGregor 26M "powersailer".

   aka "The Spork."

   Roger MacGregor is to boats as Steve Jobs was to computers and Colin Chapman was to sports cars:  he's a game changer.
    This guy has been bucking convention since he started building boats, way back in 1961.  Back then, the common methods of getting into the boat business were to either inherit a yard and continue a tradition, or splash a mold in your backyard in your spare time and buy an ad in the back pages of  Popular Mechanix, hoping to sell one or two.
   In other words, most boat builders were romantics and dreamers-  few were businessmen.

   MacGregor Yachts began as a class project when MacGregor was studying for his MBA at Stanford.  Roger realized that if a business is going to be successful it has to be run as a business- find a market, serve that market  and change as the market changes.  He thought  that the time was right to bring sailing to the masses.
   He wasn't wrong.
    The early 60s was the dawn of an era of upward mobility.  Incomes were stable, the economy was stable,  the middle class was growing and life was becoming easier with the damn-near universality of labour-saving devices.  Most homes had telephones, televisions, washers, dryers, vacuum cleaners and refrigerators, and cooking appliances that didn't require fueling with wood or coal.
    All this extra income and all this extra free time meant that Joe and Janet Suburbia could now indulge in pastimes previously the preserve of the idle rich, like golfing and tennis...
    ... and boating.
    Not only were the masses ready, but the industry was ready as well.  With the revolutionary new material, fiberglass, boats could be produced much more quickly, and more cheaply, than ever before, while also being relatively maintenance free and more durable.

  Low maintenance, affordable, and fun- ideal for the Suburbia family.

     Established yards like Trojan, Chris-Craft and Morgan began to utilize fiberglass in hulls alongside their traditional wood-hulled craft, while new companies like Bayliner, Sea Ray, Grampian and O'day sprouted overnight to meet the demand for boats to get the middle class on the water.

    Few of those companies are left, and none are left in their original form, with their original owners.
    Except Macgregor Yachts.

    From the beginning, MacGregor set out to do things differently. He had no interest in doing business the same old way, building the same old boats, with the same old market.  He was a man of his time, and understood that there was a whole new marketplace of Suburbia families that wanted fun that was fast and easy.  This was the Atomic Age- when folks weren't being scared shitless by the idea of commies looming just over the horizon, they were looking for fast, easy, affordable family fun.

    Roger realized that the key to success was weight, or lack thereof.   He understood that, next to the initial purchase, the most expensive part of owing a boat is storing the boat.  Slip fees, yard storage fees and  hauling costs were limiting factors for many would-be new boaters.    Wood boats are heavy boats, and many early fiberglass boats were splashed to the scantlings of their wooden older sisters, making the hulls really thick, but also really heavy.
  Unless you owned a big truck, your weren't towing your boat anywhere.
   However, if the boat was light enough to be towed behind the family sedan, then that boat could be used whenever and wherever desired and stored in the driveway at no cost.

   Further, MacGregor understood that light means fast, and fast means fun, and if it wasn't fun, the Suburbia family would move onto something else.  So, he started building boats that were easy to trailer, easy and fast to set up, and that sailed fast enough to be fun.

   Further to the previous further, the Suburbia family was looking not just for fast fun, but for affordable, fast fun.  Mr. Macgregor theorized that lighter means lower material cost and lower labour cost, allowing boats to be built for less and offered for less, making them more affordable while still being profitable...hopefully.

     Starting with a small catamaran, MacGregor Yachts found their market... and listened to it.  When the market asked for a small cruiser, MacGregor launched the very successful Venture series, starting with the Venture 21, in 1966.

                                                                                         -image courtesy of

     The Venture 21 became the Venture 22, then MacGregor launched the MacGregor 22, which is apparently the same, but different.

  A smaller boat, the Venture 17, was introduced, then came the salty looking cutter-rigged Venture of Newport 23, which is a completely different boat from any previous MacGregor or Venture offering...
                                                                                     -image courtesy of

    ...and then came the MacGregor 24 and the Venture 24 and the MacGregor 25 and the Venture 25 which,  as near as I can tell, are all pretty much the same damn boat:

                                                                                -image courtesy of

     Which looks a whole lot like the earlier 22, and the later Venture 2-22, and the MacGregor 25 and...

    I'm not even going to try to figure out the  tangled family tree of Venture boats and MacGregor boats  and MacGregor Venture boats and Venture of Newport boats. MacGregor built a whole bunch of boats that were a lot alike in a buncha different lengths under a buncha different names.

    And he sold a buncha them over more than 3 decades.

  Starting in the late 70s, MacGregor Yachts brought their light, fast, affordable boat philosophy to bigger boats.  Their fist over 30' offering was the MacGregor 36 catamaran, a quick demountable cat with spartan accommodations for 4 in the hulls, from 1977 to 1983.  The numbers on this boat are crazy- 35'10" LOA, only 3000 lbs displacement, and disassembled on a trailer it is a package only eight feet wide.

    3000 lbs.

    That is less than half the weight of any other production catamaran.  This is a 36 foot boat you can tow behind a small pickup truck.

                                                                                                        -image courtesy of

        Then, in the late 80s, Roger really began to make folks talk, offering the MacGregor 65, a 65' (not a typo- sixty five feet) yacht dubbed a "ULDB"- Ultra Light Displacement Boat.

                                                                                                    -images courtesy of

   With only 22000 lbs displacement, "Ultra Light" is an accurate description. The boats were also quick.  MacGregor's "Fast Cruiser" set west coast race records which have stood for decades.  Turns out that fast and light and economical also spells success in big boats-  100 MacGregor 65s were built between 1984 and 1995.

    The Mac 65 really started the headshaking and tongue-wagging among serious sailors.  It was all well and good, according to conventioal wisdom of the day, for MacGregor to build small playboats and trailer cruisers, but it was another thing entirely for him to tread on turf owned by serious racers and engineers like Bill Lee, whose 68 foot ULDB, Merlin, set the standard, and who had amassed considerable racing success with his Santa Cruz line of boats.   Armchair yachtsman and dockwatchers point out that the big Santa Cruz boats like the SC 70 were long and narrow and light, and occasionally broke because they were raceboats, y'see.  The MacGregor 65s were long and narrow and occasionally broke because they were too lightly and cheaply built and as such were unfit for open water.
    100 built.
    The newest is almost 20 years old.
    Most are still on the water.
     They may not be the most attractive boats, the most luxurious boats, the most heavily built boats, but the M-65 has held up.
       It's typical MacGregor- know your market.  Roger understood that the vast, vast majority of big boat owners are cruisers first, racers second, and less than 1% of all big boat cruisers cruise very far.  While other builders cater to the dream of bluewater cruising, building boats that are rarely used to their intended capabilities, MacGregor catered to the pragmatic realist big boat owner, essentially saying:  "Look, you and I both know you're not going to sail the TransPac, but this boat will get you from San Diego to Ensenada and Cabo quick, at half the cost of other boats."

     What was that, patient reader?
      "What about The Spork, you longwinded bastard?"

    Hold your horses.  I'm getting there.

     In the early 90s, the game changed again.  The small and dormant water ski and Jet-Ski market blew up, almost overnight, with the introduction of tubes and wakeboards and sit-down personal watercraft.  Now you didn't have to be fit and coordinated and athletic to get pulled behind a boat or ride a jet powered water craft.  Anybody could do it... including kids.   While mom and dad may have wanted to sail, the kids wanted to jump wakes, and since any parent looking to spend quality time with their spoiled brat er, kids indulges their spawn, the Suburbia family who would have gone sailing were now looking at, and buying powerboats and PWCs.


     How does a sailboat manufacturer adapt to a marketplace demanding speed and versatility?  Some simply ignored the issue, others attempted to change the image of their offerings, some simply ceded the small boat market place to the powerboat industry and concentrated on building larger cruisers.

    MacGregor Yachts?  They just created a whole new marketplace with a whole new boat, the MacGregor 19 powersailer.
                                                                                                        -images courtesy of

  This boat was the first MacGregor spork, a sailboat that can be driven like a powerboat, and/or a powerboat that can be sailed.

  This was a water ballasted centerboard boat that was designed to have a large outboard hung on the transom.  Many sailors hated it because it wasn't a pure sailboat.  Many powerboaters hated it because it had a mast and sails.
      Joe and Janet Suburbia and their kids kinda liked it.  If only it was bigger...

      In 1995, MacGregor Yachts introduced the MacGregor 26X.

                                                                                                  -image courtesy

  Accomodations for 5-6 people,  the versatility to sail or zip along at up to 20 knots with a 50 hp outboard hung on the rear, trailerable behind a small truck, easy and quick to rig, available at a price point lower than similar sized keelboats and powerboats, with a full raft of features and options, what's not to like?
                                                                                                    -image courtesy of macgregor yachts.

  At this price point, you get a lot of shiny gelcoat and carpet and vinyl, you don't get a lot of teak, you don't get a lot of tankage, you don't get a full galley.
  But you DO get on the water.
  The mirrored bulkhead ahead of the dinette is a clever touch, making the cabin feel larger than it actually is.

The MacGregor 26X/M series became the most popular trailer sailer/pocketcruiser of the last two decades, possibly the best selling model ever, anywhere.  Thousands of these boats have been built and enjoyed.  The Mac 26 enjoys a solid grassroots Owner's Association that other manufacturers and classes can only envy.

                                                                                                      -image courtesy of macgregor yachts
  This is a shot of an Owner's Association meet in Seattle.
 Count 'em.
 That's a lot of loyalty and camaraderie right there.

  The more popular the MacGregor powersailers became, the more vocal, and more numerous, the critics.

    I used to really dislike these boats.  I didn't like the cockpit, I didn't like the layout, I didn't like the rig, I didn't like the ballast system, I didn't like the ambiguity of the whole damn package.

  Then a couple of years ago, friends of mine who had been boatshopping for several months, were waffling between powerboats and sailboats and of course the 26M/X is on their list.

     Giving them my best old-salt-true-sailor sneer, I asked "Why?"
When they laid out their reasoning, it causing me to modify my opinion of the MacGregor 26 powersailer.

For what it is, it is absolutely EXCELLENT.

The problem is, most people don't know what it is.

It is NOT a sailboat- too tender, rigged too light, too big a motor, too many compromises and a weird hull shape.

It is NOT a powerboat- it's got a mast, boom, too small a motor, too many compromises and a weird hull shape.

What it is is a "happy family boat."

Sorta an iPhone of a boat.

Here's what I mean:

The kids want to get slaphappy silly getting the bejesus bounced out of them while hanging onto a tube for dear life and inhaling half the lake?
No problem. This boat has an app for that.

Want to enjoy a nice light wind sail and teach the kids about sailing, until they get bored and want to go tubing?
No problem. This boat has an app for that.

Wind picks up, storm clouds threatening, everybody is getting a little nervous and you want to get back to the dock quick?
No problem. This boat has an app for that.

Want to take the whole family on a sailing vacation for a couple of weeks in the Keys, but you live in Cincinnati?
No problem. This boat has an app for that.

Are you a novice boater, unsure whether you will like sailing, unsure whether you will like powerboating, don't want to guess wrong and buy a sailboat when you would rather have a powerboat?
 No problem. This boat has an app for that.

    How many of us have found our kids, once they reach a certain age no longer want to sail, instead they would rather hang out with their powerboat-owning friends, because "sailing is slow and boring?"

    How many of us have spouses who won't sail because they get antsy when they see storm clouds on the horizon?

     How many of us wish we could cruise our boat in new cruising grounds but can't because we only have two weeks of vacation available?

     It's not for me, but it may be the right boat for my friends, and at the end of the day, if you're on the water with a grin on your grille surrounded by a family grinning just as big, then it's the right boat for you.

  Those smarter than I, like Naval Architect, guitar player and curmudgeon Bob Perry explain why it is what it is, and why it works.

 Bob Perry reviews the Macgregor 26M

It's a spork: Neither spoon nor fork.  You can eat a meal with it, but it neither ladles soup nor picks up steak as well as either a spoon or a fork would.

   But it beats the hell out of going hungry.

  Now, the future of The Spork is up in the air.
 Production is being wound down at the plant in California, and dealers and the public were originally told  that the boats would no longer be built.   Roger MacGregor's daughter, Laura Macgregor Sharp, who along with her husband and family has had a life long relationship with Macgregor Yachts, culminating in becoming MacGregor's export dealer, has started a new company in Florida, Tattoo Yachts.

   Now follow along here:

   When Roger Macgregor announced his retirement in January, he informed dealers and the public that his daughter's new company would be offering a brand new trailer sailer.  A week or so later, Laura Sharp announced that the new boat would be the  Tattoo 22, available in the fall of 2013.

 Then, during the last week of February, Tattoo Yachts showed photos of their "new" Tattoo 26, "under development," which will be available May 2013, much sooner than the earlier announced Tattoo 22.  The 26 looks awfully familiar...

                                                                                                              -image courtesy of Tattoo Yachts

   It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out.

  The Spork is dead.
  Long live The Spork!

   Happy Retirement, Mr. MacGregor.
  You've earned it.

                                                                                                      -image courtesy of macgregor yachts

"Talk the Dock!"


Sunday 10 March 2013

Stories from Behind the Beach: Love Comes to Town

"We'll fulfill our dreams, and we'll be free..."
                          -Mumford and Sons

   On the Dock, I think it is fair to say that we Docksters tend to buck convention.  We're small boaters in a big boat world.  We are usually left alone but never lonely, and we're not bothered that we're not bothered.  We're power-free but not powerless.  We are self-sufficient but interdependent. We root for the underdogs, because the underdogs is us.

   We're a little crazy.  We're okay with that.

   If you were thinking about starting a small business and being your own boss, would you start a business from scratch in an untested market, work long hours for little pay, in an industry where the failures outnumber successes, in a small town with a historically seasonal clientele?

That would be crazy.

That would be Urban Parisian .

This is our kind of place.

                                                                                                              -image courtesy of

   Brad Lewis likes to bake.

   A lot.

   He began baking as a kid, and got his hands floured professionally at the Ancaster Old Mill, which led to baking his way into a slot at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa .  Somewhere somehow along the way he ended up in the kitchen at Callahan's Beach House, now known as simply The Beach House.

   Where he met Melanie Atkins.

   Melanie is as passionate about wine as Brad is about baking.  She has a background in social service, but a love of wine that led to her becoming a Certified Sommelier through Niagara College .

 Pastries and wine.  I told you these were our kind of folks.

  When David's, Port Dover's first lakefront fine dining restaurant opened, Brad and Melanie were on board.    Typically, the dessert "get" at a fine dining establishment is about 20%. At David's, Brad tells me, the number was above 80%.  Clearly, something was working.

   The success of David's showed the pair that you could successfully sell food in Port Dover that wasn't fried.  It got Brad and Melanie thinking about the future.


   It sounds like the cover blurb for a Nicholas Sparks novel,
   "She loves wine.  He loves pastry.  Where will the relationship go?"

    Backpacking through France, apparently.

    Brad and Melanie knew they wanted to build a life and a business together, but it took trekking through France to fully realize their common goal.

    They wanted to open a French bakery.

    In Port Dover.


    Thus, Urban Parisian was born.

   Success was not guaranteed.  Every business start up is a risk, the food industry is riskier than most, and in a town known for hot dogs, french fries and fried fish, any joint without a flat top and a fryer has traditionally caused the locals shake their heads and start a pool on when, not if, the new place will fall flat on it's face.

  Yeah, it's crazy, risky, fraught with danger and likely to fail.

   Why would anyone do it?


     Brad and Melanie opened the doors at 401 Main Street in March, 2011. From jump, the place was jumping.  Immediately they reached out to  friends in the business, recruiting help to meet the demand.  Today they have four employees and run Tuesday through Sunday, 7:00- 5:00.

   Also from jump, the French bakery concept changed slightly.  Customers wanted more than just bread and rolls, they wanted something in between them.  Quick to grasp the opportunity, Brad and Melanie stretched the  Urban Parisian concept to encompass a soup, salad, sandwich and quiche breakfast and lunch menu.  The menu is fresh every day, and to meet customer demands to know what's on, the menu is posted on facebook daily.

The menu is some of the best culinary marketing I have ever read.  Most restaurants advertise their soup of the day as, for example, "Chicken Noodle"
  "Soup du Jour; Chicken Cacciatore (rich stewed tomatoes, chicken thighs, peppers, onions, olives, garlic, fresh herbs and house made chicken stock)"

The love, the passion, for what they do comes right off the page.

This is some serious food porn.

  How about salads like this:

 "Mushroom Quinoa Salad; Garlic sautéed local mushrooms with balsamic onions, green beans and slivered almonds in organic quinoa drizzled with our french vinaigrette served over mixed greens"

Feeling vegetarian?
 "Crunchy Cauliflower Wrap; Steamed cauliflower in a lemon/dill dressing with slices of crunchy dill pickles wrapped up and warmed in a flour tortilla"

  Are you freakin' kidding me?  Cauliflower.  COLL. EE. FLOW. ER.  Didn't like it when I was 7.  Don't like it damn near two score years later.
  Yet, I'm drooling on my keyboard.

  Anybody who doubts the power of the well-written word, doubt no more.

  Okay, here's the money shot:

"Beef Baguette au Jus; Sliced slow roast beef with garlic sautéed onions on our famous baguette served au jus."

C'mon, you know you're with me.

Along with the menu every day?


You're welcome.

   A different variety of fresh breads every day, including ale buns:


Pecan butter tarts:

  This, by the way, is a lie.  These are not tarts.  They are damn near pies.  Handfuls of heaven.

 For breakfast, how about a cup of coffee and an apple-filled cinnamon bun?

  I need a cigarette.

Melanie and Brad believe in keeping it real and keeping it local.  They source almost all ingredients locally, follow the seasons, and support local farmers through their membership in a food co-op as well as hosting a farmer's market on their patio every Thursday during the summer.  Everything is made in house and from scratch.  Real butter, real cream, real cocoa.  Brad and Melanie even blend the iced tea in house.

 Coming in from a drab grey March, you feel the love.  Light wood trim and subtle colours invite you to slow down for a while.

What is missing isn't missing at all- it adds value.

There is no wi-fi.

The pair of proprietors wanted to create an environment where as Melanie says, "you could get away from work, not bring it with you."

There's also no pop.  It  wasn't until Brad pointed it out that I realized what was really different behind the counter- no hulking, brightly lit, glass front cooler.  You can have your choice of coffees, espressos, cappuccinos, lattes, teas and smoothies.  Want a can of Coke?  You're out of luck.

  Brad and Melanie wanted to create a place that feels like home, and they succeeded.

    As food service veterans, the couple knew that the long hours could take a toll on friendships with those outside the industry, so they started a "Sunday Dinner" tradition.  After close on Sunday nights, invited folks  would arrive and the kitchen would transform from work to play, as Brad and Melanie whipped up dinner for their friends and family. That's what this place is all about- love, passion, that extends beyond the food.

     In the future, Melanie sees a liquor license, allowing her and Brad to offer a light pairings menu in the early evening, with Brad's small plates paired with wines Melanie has selected.

     The bakery reflects the couple who started it- comfortable, professional, inviting and fun.

     Hope to see you here soon.

    "Talk the Dock!"