Winter at Farewell Harbour Lodge

Meet Cecil and Marisa, our winter caretakers

 Cecil and Marisa live on Amber IV, their steel 41-foot sailboat during the winter, moored to the floating dock at Farewell Harbour Lodge. We thought it would be nice to shed light on a small piece of their lives on Berry Island in the winter, and I must say, the story is quite charming. 

 Cecil and Marisa have varied backgrounds and skillsets. Fifteen years ago, they made the leap from living in their own home in Sidney, BC (near Victoria) to living full time aboard their sailboat with their two sons. Marisa worked in the service industry - "everything from bartender to finally working as a chef and owning a restaurant." Cecil has a background in graphic art and design. Still, as Marisa puts it, "as anyone knows, artists usually pick up a plethora of other skills and trades along the way to pay the bills and actualize financial goals." So the two of them are well prepared to face anything this hardy lifestyle throws at them. 

They began their caretaking journey on Gilford Island, but they realized that this wasn't quite the right fit for them after one season. Soon after, through a friend who's also a caretaker on Swanson Island, they heard of the opening at Farewell Harbour Lodge. After meeting with Tim and Kelli over the phone, they accepted the position and have thought of Farewell Harbour as their winter home for the last four years. Their caretaking duties vary from monitoring the property to protecting water lines from winter freeze to keeping the generators purring. Apart from these duties, Cecil and Marisa enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the job. 


When I spoke with Cecil and Marisa about writing this piece, my first burning question, which I'm sure you're also all wondering, was, what do you do with all that time? As Cecil put it, "the easiest answer is: nothing!" But after our chat, I'm not so sure that's the case. Their winter home sounds like not only a breath of fresh air to clear the mind and soul but also a petri dish for musical genius and creativity. Marisa wrote back to me saying, "Daily life here at Farewell in the off-season is quiet and tranquil for the most part. I love to read, write letters, and work on various art projects. Cecil and I play music, although my skills and confidence are lacking when it comes to my banjo pursuits. You'll never see me auditioning for Simon Cowell! I am an avid beachcomber and bird watcher. When I am not on the boat, I usually play in the woods or find a new log to plunk myself down on and meditate." Meanwhile, it sounds like Cecil is a devoted tinkerer of all things boat-related. Whether it be regular maintenance or repairs, he says, "we're in a harsh marine environment 100% of the time, so whatever she dishes out, we live through it!" 


Cecil and Marisa feel so lucky to call this amazing stretch of coastline their home waters. Although the weather isn't always quiet and calm, they're well prepared to deal with adversity. In their words, "not everyone could live here in the isolation as we do, but we also know how fortunate we are to be working for the McGrady and Brockway families. Not all property owners are as generous and mindful of the comfort of their caretakers."

Thanks to Cecil and Marisa for sharing this insight into their winter lives. Their behind-the-scenes work is crucial to the lodge operation and cannot be overstated. They take great care of the property, and we're all very thankful.

-- by Sylvie Stewart Grantham

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