The Books that Inspire

Too many years ago to remember, while living a land-locked life in Alberta, having never dreamed of sailing before, I somehow came into possession of a book called “An Embarrassment of Mangoes” by Ann Vanderhoof.  The story of an Ontario couple stepping away from their lives to experience life in the Caribbean was truly my first inkling that people really do run away from home to live on a sailboat.

embarrassment of riches cover

It was about the time that I read this book that my step-dad got a sailboat, sailing her on a lake west of Edmonton.   I would only sail with them once or twice a year, and generally the sailing wasn’t too spectacular, but being on the water, seeing how the boat responded to any changes to the sails – it was fascinating, and I was hooked!

There are so many amazing books related to sailing – whether they be the practical, every boat should carry these types of books (I am looking at you Nigel Calder!) or the fantastic adventures of brave souls single handing around the world (with the reemergence of the Golden Globe race this year, I would highly recommend “A Voyage for Madmen” – it tells the story of the first Golden Globe race, and the sometimes tragic results) or stories about your “average” person or couple who just head out to experience a bit more of the world, or, depending on how you look at it, a bit less of their normal world, there is truly a book for everyone or every situation.

While I could hardly make a dent in the list of the sailing books that I have devoured, and loved over the years (we have entire bookshelves in our house dedicated to this subject!), I can say that I have absolutely loved “Love with a Chance of Drowning” by Torre DeRoche and “Maiden Voyage” by Tania Aebi and I have made nearly everyone I know read both!

Books help us join these people as they explore the world, and feed our desire to see these places, do these things.  I don’t know if it would have ever occurred to me to set out to sail away from North America if not for Ann Vanderhoof’s story – perhaps something else would have inspired me – but I do know that for me, that was the first inspiration.

What was yours?  What made you want to sail away, or climb a mountain, or just move away from your home town?  Is there a book, or a story, or a movie that put that idea in your head?

It is truly amazing how small the world can be when we allow the adventures of others to open our eyes to what lies beyond the borders of our town, province, country.  For now, as we plan, and save and work on the boat, I will continue to visit distant shores via the books that tell the stories of other people’s adventures.  Maybe someday, I can put my own adventure into the pages of a book?!

What is your favorite sailing related book?

Vancouver Boat Show fun

This past weekend was the annual Vancouver Boat Show – it has become our rather expensive habit to head over every year with a “big purchase” in mind.  This year, we had decided that we were going to purchase an electric Windlass – we currently have a manual windlass, which is definitely better than just pulling the anchor up by hand, but can take a really long time to bring the anchor up and gets rather hot and sweaty mid-summer!  We very often just opt to pull it by hand anyway but as I cannot seem to manage the final pull free from the bottom myself, that means either Owen is stuck with doing it, or we are both up there (and no one is at the helm!).

When we arrived at the show, Owen knew exactly what we wanted – it was just going to be a case of finding the best price.  When we saw the actual unit that he wanted (Lofrans Tigress) close up however, we realized that it was WAY bigger than we had thought, and the way the motor is situated, it would stand out from the mounting platform, leaving a nice 1/2 inch space under it for lines to catch.  Though it is the forever workhorse of the windlass world, we pretty quickly realized that it was not going to work for Solstice Tide.

So now what?  We looked at a Lofrans X2 1500 and thought we had it settled at that – but then of course, we found others to look at (it is a big show!) – so we had it narrowed down to 3 – a Lofrans, Lewmar and Maxwell – all with similar specs.

After hours of googling and figuring, Owen had determined that we could safely carry 5/16 high test chain, rather than needing to go to 3/8.  As the models we are looking at all have a top capstan, that will allow us to use a heavier chain on a storm anchor if necessary.

So, our little list of models in hand, we approached our favorite boat chandlery (Harbour Chandler in Nanaimo – highly recommended!) and asked for quotes.  We wandered back a bit later and Matt gave us the list of prices, but also mentioned that he was pretty sure that he has a windlass in stock, with the capstan, that was ordered for someone who never picked up or something of that nature.  If it works for our boat (has to be at least 1000 watts), he would be able to give us a great deal on that.  Owen will go do some recon on the model at the store (they just couldn’t remember in the chaos of the boat show which model was actually in the store) and that may make our decision for us.  Otherwise, we will need to narrow down the three options to one winner and get it ordered.

I am so excited about the idea of having this done, but realize how much work it will be.  Our v-berth is not finished – at all.  At the same time we install the windlass, we need to make a proper chain locker, and if we are doing that, we might as well finish the v-berth – our friends will be happy to hear that is happening – I am not so excited about all the work involved!!!  At least we will be able to get some more storage sorted out – and maybe this will be a good opportunity to remove some of the stuff that we have had kicking around up there and lighten the boat up a bit – which will be needed once we feed another 200 feet of chain on board!

Though it was a rainy, wet weekend, and we didn’t actually walk away with the windlass ordered, it was a great opportunity to meet up with some friends, have a weekend away and get over to the “big city”.  Once the windlass arrives, we will find ourselves with a lot of work to get done before a haul out in the spring, so it was a good chance for downtime!

Winter Projects

We came into this off-season with great plans to get a lot of work done on the boat – so far, we have gotten approximately nothing accomplished!  It has been oh so cold and rainy this year, making being at the boat no fun (especially since installing the heater is one of the must do projects).

This past weekend we finally made a jump into getting started.  I have been getting around to sewing a new cover for the Lifesling for months.  First I had to no particular desire, then I needed to order Phifertex.  When that came in the Christmas Tree was up and I really didn’t have a good space to work because of it (uh huh, excuses, excuses!).  Then I decided that I needed a hot knife to really do the job correctly and got that ordered.  Then, when I finally had all the supplies and the space, I just didn’t wanna!!  Well I finally got over that this weekend and dove into getting it started – and actually finished it.  It is far from perfect – but a heck of a lot better than the old UV damaged cover!

lifesling cover

Owen also braved the boat for a bit on Saturday to start to make a plan for the heater installation.  We are at the Vancouver boat show this coming weekend – which usually means yet another big job to be added to the list – this year it will likely be an electric windlass and new chain!

Hopefully, the weekend after the show will have some progress being made on the heater install – or any one of the million other jobs!

Boat Weekends

It is a long weekend and naturally that must mean we will be on the boat…. right??   Well it is November and we don’t yet have heat installed so I guess we are staying tied to a dock… oh and did I mention the forecast is for rain… alllll weekend??

We made it down Friday night just before the rain started…  2 hours later I finally had pillows and duvets out of their winter ziplock bags, the bed made and dinner almost ready.  It was an early night…  Owen was sound asleep on the settee by 9:30 and I think I made it to 10:30 before I realized I had read the same page several times.  Such is boat life.

Luckily, with fleece sheets, our boat is a cozy place to be – so cozy that, at about 2am, realizing that the rain had momentarily stopped, I opened the hatch just to cool us down!!

Saturday morning dawned with a lull in the rain but a frigid interior… I snuck out of bed long enough to fire up the spaceheater and then dove back into bed.  An hour later the need for coffee finally drew me out…  and what could be better than warm blankets, strong coffee and a good book on a Saturday morning??


Owen decided that we should take a break in the rain to pump out the boat and move it to the visitor dock (our winter home).  Unfortunately a very strong wind and current made that difficult – my attempt to put us on the pump out dock was a miss and Owen took over to try to correct the situation…  unfortunately the wind and current had different ideas and we ended up kissing a piling before making it out of the fairway… he decided to opt for the windward side of the pump-out dock figuring it would be easier…  after nearly taking the emergency station off with our anchor, we were finally secured and could pump out.  Now we had to move to our spot on the dock…  about 42 foot space for our 36 foot boat and the spot was on the leeward side of the dock…  this should be fun.   We enlisted a boat neighbor to help who nearly ran away when she realized where we were putting the boat…  luckily the spot was more protected and with our neighbor and I to catch lines, Owen expertly drove her into the tight spot.  Another hour of tidying, tieing down the dinghy and filling water tanks and we were settled for the winter!!

We have now enjoyed a delicious (if I do say so myself!) enchilada casserole and are listening to the rain pound on the deck… maybe tomorrow will be slightly more productive… or maybe not!!

This is what I love about boat weekends… if we don’t accomplish anything, we can call it a vacation!!


Friends and Turkey!

This past weekend was the Bluewater Cruising Association’s Annual Thanksgiving Rendezvous.  As the Rendezvous is held at Thetis Island Marina – only an hour or so away from our home dock, it is an easy one to participate in.  This year was our third visit, and the second with Julia and Charlie (the pup!) on board.

We headed over on Friday night with overcast skies and winds that changed directions every few minutes.  The wind finally tucked in once we got out of the harbor and we took the opportunity to throw out the head sail – with rain coming and knowing we would be coming in after dark, we opted to not put up the main.  As it was, we were trucking along at 5.8-5.9 knots under the headsail alone – we were going so nicely that I nearly missed the entrance to Thetis Island!  We did have a bit of a downpour as we were heading over but the beautiful sail more than made up for it.  We got to the docks and I backed us in while several members of the BCA came to take lines and help us get secured.  And with that we were there and the weekend could begin.

The festivities were not set to begin until Saturday so we took Friday as a nice night to cook on board and curl up with our books – we had the little space heater going and lots of blankets to keep the cold at bay – our next project is definitely to install the heater though!

After a cozy sleep (polar fleece sheets are the best thing ever!), we had breakfast on board and then headed up to check out the day’s itinerary and check in to the Rendezvous.  Saturday included a visit from the local Coast Guard Auxiliary – of which Owen was a member for 17 years.  We had all toured the boat previously so instead we took off for a nice long walk, followed by some more book time.  Saturday night was a potluck dinner – we went easy – opting to fry up some bacon and onions and cook up some perogies – as easy as it was, they were a hit and were gobbled up in no time.  As is usually the case, there was a ton of food and it was all so tasty!

The club put on a couple of presentations in the pub Saturday night and then we all retired back to our boats to get ready for a packed day on Sunday.

We started with a breakfast potluck, followed up by a walk for us and then a scavenger hunt had us scrambling around deciphering signal flags, hunting for stones and tying knots.  The hunt was intended to take about an hour but nearly everyone was done within a half hour – leaving a bit of downtime before the Turkey Dinner – prepared and served by the Pub.  As usual, the Pub prepared a wonderful meal, made even better by visiting with club members.

Monday dawned overcast and completely windless – and not at all warm.  We joined the club again for a coffee and a pastry and then headed out.  By noon we were tied up at the dock and the weekend was over.

Once again I couldn’t quite bear the idea of packing the boat up entirely so we took what we needed and decided we will stay down there this coming weekend.  The weather forecast looks wet and cool so it will be a great weekend to hide out below, get something yummy going in the oven and read a book or two – maybe even bring down a movie!  We will need to take bedding, etc. off after that so that Owen can start to work on heat install, but it will be nice to have one more weekend of lazing away down there!

Thoughts on returning to the house… for the time being!

We moved everything aboard on July 20 of this year – all set for a 2 week holiday.  Last night we finally moved back to the house.  When we returned from our holiday it was hot and it had been a long day and I suggested that we should just stay at the boat for a day or two – a day or two stretched to one week, and then another.  I am not sure what would have finally driven me home – other than the arrival tonight of one of our favorite furry house-guests.

We have been on the boat for seven weeks!  Seven weeks – and I loved it.  True we were not “true livaboards” in that we did have the house to go back to to do laundry – but that is the only reason that I went home in the last 7 weeks – Owen was there more, as he works from home much of the time.

I cannot say how much I enjoyed being down on the boat – being able to sit out in the cockpit and enjoy a nice fresh breeze when our house was baking away up the hill, or curling up below deck with my book – yes, I know that I can curl up at home with a book but a lot of time, we walk in, turn on the TV and then it is on all night.  It is so easy to get sucked into some stupid show that you are not even really watching, or to watch a rerun you have seen 3 times.  On the boat I read, or I did crosswords, or I sat in the cockpit and watched the stars.  Perhaps it is a lesson to take back to the house – watch less TV!  The other thing that I did not do on the boat was scroll through Facebook for hours on end – the wifi at the marina is not great, and combine that with a steel boat and I could not log on at all – so if I wanted to be online, it was on my data – so I just didn’t sit there reloading Facebook or Pinterest.

The marina is also so social – walking down the docks you are stopping to chat with the liveaboards who are on the same dock, or to chat with visiting boaters who are moored on the visitors dock or tucked into temporarily vacant slips.   There was music on the docks a couple of nights each week – I would often find myself pausing to listen for a bit before I headed to our slip.   Of course I will chat with my neighbor if we happen to come home at the same time, and occasionally a neighbor will stop to chat if we are working in the yard and they are out walking – but that is the exception – not the norm.

Oh – and did I mention that I can vacuum the whole boat with my dustbuster!?  And our head is tiny – much easier to clean.  I didn’t even miss the dishwasher (most of the time!).  I spent a couple of nights this past week getting the house back to a passable state – cleaning the bathroom took me most of one evening – vacuuming another.    And we have so much STUFF at home!  Every time I consider that at some point all that stuff either needs to go or go to storage, I get a little pang of anxiety.

And then there was the coffee – for 7 weeks I have had wonderful french press coffee – this morning I had the drip maker all set to go and the coffee was ready for me when I walked into the kitchen – but it was terrible – tasteless, bland…   maybe I didn’t make it strong enough this morning but maybe, it is that I really, really love French Press coffee – I think my drip maker might have just been retired!

Okay – one more thing that I already miss from the boat – walking up the dock in the morning – it is such a refreshing start to the day to have that short walk up the dock – even when you get scared by rogue Otters like I did yesterday!  I didn’t even consider the fact that it was raining this morning as a reason to be happy that I did not have to walk up the docks.

I know it would be a whole different animal being down there all winter – when it is pouring rain for days on end, or (please not this year!) snowing – but then it would also be so cozy to be curled up listening to the rain on the deck with the heater going!  So that is the next project – get the heater installed – so that maybe at some point this winter we can take a “staycation” to the boat.

I also recognize that dealing with laundry would be far less enjoyable if I couldn’t just run home and throw it on there – but then hopefully, when we are living aboard, the volume of laundry will be far reduced!

Being at home now means we can get a couple of projects done there (paint the outside of the house) and on the boat (heater, dodger hopefully before the winter sets in!).   Maybe once a couple of those are done we can head back down for a week or two… we will see!


Summer Holidays Come and Gone

We are back from holidays and sadly back to work – two weeks is just not long enough – I can’t wait for the day when I can say there is no end date!  We had a wonderful cruise, heading up through Desolation Sound, north through Yuculta Rapids, to Shoal Bay and back south again.

The weather was perfect – almost too hot – though the wind was not always there when wanted.  It was there on our delivery north however – it was there in spades!  We sailed from the north end of Gabriola Island to Desolation Sound – no really – we sailed!  The first day was a georgous downwind run in 15 – 25 knots of wind – hitting boat speeds of over 8 knots.  We were on the hook in Sturt Bay on Texada Island by suppertime – having had a wonderful day.  Day 2 was a bit more exciting – 20 – 25 knots of wind on the nose – big seas, tons of tacking, water over the decks – and us – all day.  We finally arrived in Roscoe Bay around 6pm – completely exhilarated to have sailed all the way to Desolation Sound.

Desolation Sound

That is when the fun really began – after negotiating the narrow, rather shallow entry into Roscoe Bay, Owen went forward to set the anchor.  He took the lashings off the dinghy, lifted the dinghy up – and the pike pole followed along with it – our poor dinghy had been impaled!  Of course, as he pulled out the pole, the air rushed out of the front chambers of the dinghy – we then began a search for the patch kit, panicking for a few moments when it was not immediately found.  Luckily it was located, the patch was put on the next morning and after a very long day stuck on the boat, the dinghy was inflated and all was good!

From Roscoe Bay, we hopped over to Pendrell Sound for a swim – stopped the boat, jumped off, marveled at the crystal clear warm water – got back on the boat and we were off again!

We headed up through Yuculta Rapids, stopping at Big Bay for a night on the community docks before heading out the next morning, north through Dent Rapids.  By 4pm that day (Wednesday) we were anchored in Shoal Bay, enjoying a margarita on the deck of the “pub” and marveling at the view up Phillips Arm.  We stayed put in Shoal Bay for another night but then were faced with a dilemma – what now?? – our whole trip had been planned on the premise that we would make it to Shoal Bay – but here we were on the first Thursday with no definite destination in mind!

The urge to go further North was strong, but planning passages through some of the tidal passes meant for some long days, and we knew we couldn’t get as far north as we would like to get (hello Broughtons!) in the time we had left.  As such, the decision was made to head south again – the Friday saw us head back through Yuculta just a tad late – by the time we went through, we were fighting huge current and barely made it through.  Waiting to get through Hole-in-the-wall, to get to Octupus Islands and Waitt Bay would have meant a wait of several hours, so instead we just kept trucking South, eventually landing on Read Island in a private little bay.

Owen actually cast the fishing line once we cleared Yuculta, and caught a fish!  Well it was a little guy, and he let it go – but he got it!

Owen and his fish

Somewhere along the way in our wanderings, Owen managed to get a spinnaker rigged – we have had the spinny for years – but with no way to properly fly it.  He had cobbled together a spinnaker pole before we left and installed a ring on the mast for it to attach to – combined with some Frankestein-like rigging, we managed to get it flying – and actually used it a few times when the wind was directly behind us and too light for any other sailing.

Owen admiring Spinnaker

Our trip continued south with stops at the Gorge and Squirrel Cove before heading back to Pendrell Sound – this time to stay for a night.  This was attack number two on our poor dinghy – while going to take the dinghy to shore to attach a stern line, the dinghy bumped into barnacles and promptly sprung a leak – that repair took slightly longer (well it took two tries over several days) but she is once again sound, if slightly less pretty.

After Pendrell, we headed to Galley Bay and then did a looong trip from Galley Bay to Garden Bay.  The forecast had been for 10-20 knots from the Northwest so we were looking forward to a screaming sail downwind – the reality was no wind for hours (6 before we managed to sneak up the spinnaker for a couple of hours and then another 2 before we were finally anchored), lots of smoke from the inland forest fires, and heat – so much heat!

glassy calm on delivery to Garden Bay

We spent a couple of days in Garden Bay and then hopped over to Jedediah Island (Boom Bay) where we met up with Mike and Alli.  Finally, we made a long trip, with no wind, from Jedediah to Ruxton Island and spent our last night in Herring Bay.

As of now, we are living on the boat – because I flat-out refuse to go home (that involves cleaning and packing and I just can’t manage it right now!) – we will probably stay there until the weekend and then make a move back to a stable home – for a couple of weeks anyway.

There is a bit of work to be done on the boat – transmission issues were cropping up again so it looks like a possible rebuild there.  Additionally, we were having some issues with one battery (that thankfully only showed itself on the second day in Garden Bay after the smoke had been keeping the solar panels from charging fully) – we were glad to have had the second solar panel, as we did not plug in for the entire time we were away.

Next trip may well be our delivery to Maple Bay for the long-weekend regatta.