Winter Mode - 2020 in review
Greetings and Happy New Year Sunbeamers! Thank you for another great year here at Sunbeam.
We hope everyone had a great holiday season, and is staying safe. Before we get in to what was (by far) the strangest year here at Sunbeam, we first want to thank each and every one of you for your past, current, and future support. We truly appreciate all of you!
We know some of you have really suffered during this time, (perhaps others not as much), but either way, it has affected all of us in one way or another. Stay positive, and know that there is an end in sight. We also want to acknowledge that this letter is a little later than usual. Until last year, we always sent this letter out just prior to Christmas. Last year we sent it early in the new year and found it was more effective once the ‘busyness’ of the holiday season was over, not to mention that people start dreaming of summer at that point. This year we’ve held out even longer in hopes we could share more information on everything from travel restrictions to lockdowns and border closures; however we’re starting to realize we’re not quite sure anyone really has those answers, and just need to proceed with the upcoming season as usual.
Again, what a year! Before we write this letter, we always review the letter from the year(s) prior, remind ourselves of what was shared, and how things have worked out. Who would have ever thought when writing this last year that there would be a world pandemic to follow? How things have changed!
After the alarmingly high water levels in 2019, and the destruction that followed, we secured a contractor to rebuild our docking system. We removed the old dock, cribbing, endless rock, and other miscellaneous debris in November of 2019, until we ran out of season, and planned to resume in late March of 2020. It is very important to do this type of work at that time of year while the weather is tolerable for working outside, but more importantly, while there is still ice to stand on, since very low water levels are needed to do the work. We had just started the work on March 20th, and then the province shut down all non-essential construction effective March 24th, (so we barely got started, before having to stop). This hold up naturally proved to be very problematic and we were at a complete standstill with no docking for our upcoming season.
We were finally allowed to resume in mid-May, when there were some great challenges in having to build in the (very) cold, and (very) deep water. However, after a few very cleverly built floating work platforms were used, it started to come together. We also did not know at that point when, or even ‘if’, we would be allowed to open, which made for a very stressful time. The contractor portion of the dock build took until the end of June; however, like any project of that size, there always seems to be more that needs to be done, not to mention general maintenance. With the sleek design of these docks, there is basically no cribbing, (just small aluminum poles with all sections bolted together), and we found the wave action within the dock quite noticeable in comparison to the old dock. At that point we completely protected the outside edges of the dock with vertical pressure treated lumber, which significantly reduced the strength of the flow. We also added some triangular corner pieces for both aesthetics and safety (as people like to ‘cut corners’), as well as another docking “finger” in the outer bay, creating an opportunity to park two additional large boats, with reasonable depth. Back to the early spring for a moment…we (somewhat surprisingly) were notified on June 5th that we could open the following day, June 6th. We were very thankful, (and most certainly ready), but most reservations for the remainder of the spring season were already cancelled. We did manage a strong last couple of weeks in June, a trend that continued through the summer season. There were some incredible catches of different species and sizes…which you can view on the ‘photos’ page of the website.
Because none of our American guests (sadly) could join us this past year, we certainly welcomed a lot of new faces during the summer season who were able to take advantage of the new found availability. It really was a pleasure having all of you, and we look forward to having some of you back who have already booked other weeks for the coming season.
We chose to continue with all of our usual summer events with special permission/exceptions from our local by-law officer. More than ever, we felt everyone needed some normalcy and a true vacation, and did not want to compromise that experience. We also did not take any of this lightly or for granted, and followed all new cleaning protocols set out by the Ministry of Health. The summer season as a whole was a wonderful time, things in the world were calming slightly at that point, we had great weather, great people, and some great fishing.
We continued with improvements where we could during this time. Since it was peak season and cottages were occupied, and because we wanted to take advantage of good weather for outdoor work, we painted the exteriors of cottage #4, #5, #6, as well as #25 & the front office. We put a new colour on #5 & #6 to match the other cottages in the front row, which suits them very well. The dock work mentioned was a huge project in itself, but we kept on that almost daily, as well as the usual day-to-day maintenance, beach grooming, gardens and yard raking. We unfortunately never did get our new water trampoline, (somehow COVID had it trapped in China??), but we have been assured it will be here in early May…and ready for all you early season fishermen to enjoy 😊. It really is a good one though, 15’ foot diameter, with attached water slide!
As the Labour Day weekend brought the summer season to an end, we had our traditional Saturday night event! A shout out to everyone here that evening, especially the band, for sticking it out in the rain, and a very wonderful night it was, once the rain passed. Following that weekend, we welcomed lots of regular and new guests for some great fall fishing, or just a nice cottage getaway. The night temperatures cooled quickly, however we had some nice sunny, warm days for getting out on the lake and catching a nice Walleye fish fry. We also dove into some pretty substantial work to try and take advantage of the time we had left before the snow started to fly. We winterized cottage #9, to add to the completion of cottages #4 & #26 the year prior, giving us a year-round 1-bedroom option. There were some specific reasons why we chose #9 over our other 1-bedroom cottages, (#2 & #3), with the existing water lines being the main one. It was a very involved process, however done properly and efficiently. This now gives us 10 of the 13 cottages available for year-round use.
We also went right back to that dock again…in November! For those of you who were here this past year, you will know the “sunset deck" was a bit small, (but really was perfect for the right size of group). We decided to turn the “sunset deck" in to the SUNSET DECK and covered that entire section of rock giving us another 1000 sq/ft deck out on the water - to go along with the pre-existing 1400 sq/ft deck. All of the deck areas are just such beautiful places to gather, where you can enjoy the view, fresh air, seating areas, a great meal utilizing one of the BBQs provided, or fire in the propane fire bowl… and of course - the sunsets!
We are pleased to tell you that we are once again leaving our rates the same for the upcoming season. The spring and fall rates have not seen an increase since 2011, and the summer rates since the start of the 2018 season. We can continue to offer these competitive and very fair rates if you keep coming and filling those cottages!
We do not know what the future holds for our American guests for the upcoming season, and have to make a more concrete plan than what we had to come up with in the spring last year. COVID was very new (unknown) at the time, and we were literally waiting until days prior to people’s bookings in the hopes of better news. The way things are looking now, there is certainly the possibility of the borders re-opening prior to the start of the season, but there certainly is reason to believe they may not.
With that being said, and unless there is a firm announcement made by both governments, we have come up with the following schedule to make the cancellation policy more consistent, and easier on everyone for planning:
-All bookings are completely secure through to April 10th/21. At that point, (pending no announcements as mentioned), all bookings through to, and including, May 31st will be cancelled.
-On May 10th, all bookings through to, and including June 25th will be cancelled.
-On June 10th, all bookings through to, and including July 30th will be cancelled.
-On July 10th, all bookings through to, and including August 27th will be cancelled.
Before we commit to anything further, we will wait and see the state of the two countries, and make any necessary announcements on our website. At each one of these cancellation dates, this would also mean that availability will open up for those who were hoping for a cottage during any of those time frames. Please do not hesitate to contact us to see what has come available. Call anytime 1.877.298.9998, or check the website for availability and use our contact form.
Our very best to you all, to many more memorable vacations here at Sunbeam, and stay safe!
Darren & Sarah