First Sail of the Season!

We made it off the dock – well initially, I made it off the dock!  This past weekend was the Thetis Island Regatta – an event that I have attended for (I think) 15 years now.  Even though my parents weren’t able to join us, I was still determined to make it to the regatta and to “race” our beast.

After a week of very long evenings, Owen had the hull in as ship-shape a condition as he could get her in (steel boat = rust spots = lots of work!), the galley was functional, if not complete, and we were ready to go.

As Owen was working Friday, I took the boat over to Thetis – my first ever solo trip!  I didn’t manage to sneak the sail out and I did get poured on (twice) but I didn’t hit anything, the boat didn’t have any problems and about an hour and a half after leaving our slip, I coasted up to the dock at Thetis Island – easy peasy!

I even managed to try out the new stove – the need for warming up led me to making hot chocolate as soon as I arrived, and then later, a batch of perfectly baked brownies were turned out from the new oven!  These proved to be too difficult to resist for the friends who turned up for a visit later Friday evening!

The Thetis Island Regatta is sort of the kick off to the Regatta season – though there are a couple of bigger races earlier in the year, Thetis Island brings out all types of racers – from the more competitive teams who do most every regatta of the year, to the people who bring their boat only out to this race more for the social aspect of the weekend, and the feeling that sailing season is finally beginning (that would be us!).

This year the we were actually granted enough wind to get around the entire way and to finish nearly 2 hours before the cut-off – but boy do we need a spinnaker – it was so sad to watch everyone sail past us on the first leg, and again on the last… maybe next year.

Much fun and socialising was had and some tequila might have been consumed and in no time at all it was late Sunday morning and the docks were emptying out.  After delaying our departure to avoid yet another rain shower, we headed home under blue skies, with the head sail giving the engine an assist.


All in all, the weekend was a wonderful success and it felt so good to get Solstice Tide out of her slip.

Next weekend is the Victoria Day long weekend and we will again get her out on the water – destination still to be determined…

Progress is progress – right?

It feels like it is going so slow but there is progress being made on the galley – just not fast enough!  We have installed the lower cabinets, the stretch of counter holding the sink, the sink and the plumbing – we have running water again!  How exciting!! (seriously – when I was down there painting with 3 different colors and realized I had no way to wash the paint off my hands?  Not good!)

Oven installed



Next up is the countertop behind the stove and to the right of the stove, and then the cupboard above the stove.  The doors are all ready to go into the cupboards – they have been left out to allow Owen more room to work on the plumbing install.

The sink is being a bit of pain – refuses to be clamped down on the sides – nothing a big bead of silicone and a lot of weight can’t solve – right?

I am hoping that the next update will show a fully functioning galley – I can’t wait to fire up the oven and get out on the water!



Galley progress

Well it feels slow and painful, but there is actually some progress being made to the galley.  After stripping it right back to the hull, the wall panels have been replaced and we have roughed in the lower cabinets.  They sure do look intimidating at this point!  It is a good thing that we are both tall, as the counters needed to be at a height of 39″ to give the oven enough room to gimbal without having it interfere with the hall to the stern cabin.  It will be nice to not be leaning over to do the dishes, etc., but I am bit worried about having hot pots so high up!

Here is a peek at the progress thus far:

galley rough in

We will have a row of cupboards along the wall behind the stove – mounted about 11 inches up, to allow for the Ice box/fridge/freezer/storage compartment which will be in the corner to open up – the use of that space is still to be determined – I am voting for a deep freeze – it might be a small space, but will still be better than what I have now, and will allow me to install a larger drawer style fridge in the space that currently holds our little mini bar fridge.  The cupboards above the counter and stove should make for good dishes storage.  I also gain the storage in the little 4″ wide cupboard beside the stove (cutting boards, cookie sheets?) and the space beneath the stove which should make for a nice big cupboard.  The storage under the sink will be far more useful than the space that was previously under the sink and shaped to the hull – just a really good place to chuck stuff and hope it didn’t fall out the next time you opened the door.

I am most excited though for the huge stretch of counter top that I will have – in the old galley configuration, the only countertop was a piece of cutting board that I had sized to fit one of the sinks – other than that, it was balancing on the edge of the stove or across the boat over the fridge.

Next step is to take all the panels out and get them primed and painted while Owen works on redoing the plumbing.  Then we can move on to getting everything installed.  I am hoping our upcoming 4 day weekend will mean a lot of progress – I am itching to get her off the dock for a day or two!

Do we really need a galley?

Well yes – we do.  Unfortunately, right now, ours is completely disassembled and waiting for us to put her back together.

galley destruction

This was taken after we removed the sink and propane cook-top – the diesel stove has now been removed leaving us with a frighteningly small area to put everything back together in!

The reason for the galley destruction / refit was two-fold – until this past weekend, we had a Dickinson diesel stove in the galley, as well as a separate propane cook-top.  This worked okay at anchor or at the dock – unless of course you wanted to bake in the summer time – heating the oven up to a temperature suitable for baking resulted in the entire boat heating up to horrifying conditions – the diesel stove is actually the only heat source when the boat was not plugged in.  We solved the oven issue by buying a collapsible camp stove which fit over the propane burners – a great idea but it took up the entire cook-top so there was no multi-tasking going on.    The other problem was that neither the stove nor the cook-top gimbled – which made cooking underway very difficult (and dangerous).

We finally decided that we needed to switch out the diesel stove for a gimbled propane oven, which meant that the entire galley needed to be switched around so that the oven will be mounted on an outboard wall.  We have purchased a Dickinson 2 Caribbean burner stove and I am excited to get her installed in her new galley – isn’t she pretty?!



This weekend we will finish ripping everything out and hopefully be able to start to get things put back in.  Pictures of the finished project will follow (eventually!)

Who are we?

For those that don’t already know us, allow me to introduce ourselves – I am Tara and my partner in crime is Owen.

The boat:  Solstice Tide is a 36′ Van De Stadt Seal which Owen bought as a hull about 15 years ago – her first trip at sea was aboard a BC Ferry! – he had previously completed a “rough in” of the interior, as well as building the mast and rigging the boat.   I have sailed with Owen for the past 5 1/2 years and we have been discussing this dream of cutting the dock lines for nearly as long.

We met sailing – we both race on other people’s boats and met doing Sunday racing in Nanaimo, BC and at longer distance Regattas – finally the Van Isle 360 in 2011 had us spending more time together and the rest is history.

owen and tara at swiftsure 2010  here we are hanging out on the docks at a Swiftsure Race about a year before we started dating (May, 2010)

I am a prairie girl – born and raised in Sherwood Park, Alberta – there is not a whole lot of sailing in Sherwood Park (or any for that matter).  I had my first taste of sailing on a lake in Alberta when my stepdad bought a 26′ MacGregor and then later a Tanzer – my experience there was limited to an afternoon or two over the course of the very short summers (and the long-lasting motion after the fact).  When my parents retired to Vancouver Island, I had the opportunity to get out and do some more sailing, and most importantly, got my first taste of racing – I was hooked!  About five years after they moved out, I followed and have been sailing ever since.

Owen is an Island boy, but grew up mostly on power boats.  He eventually bought his first sailboat and learned as he went.  He also joined the race world and that is where our worlds collided.

We have spent a lot of time out on Solstice Tide in the last 5 1/2 years (Queen Charlotte Islands, 2 trips to the San Juans, Desolation Sound and the Discovery Islands, Princess Louisa Inlet and nearly every anchorage in the Gulf Islands) and intend to keep cruising her as we get ready to head for warmer climes.

Solstice Tide at Chatterbox Falls, Princess Louisa Inlet ….   and off the beach at Hot Springs Island, Queen Charlotte Islands

Our task for the next 4 years is to essentially redo the entire interior – first task the galley which is currently underway and to add a dodger and bimini for some sun protection.  The engine had a major overhaul last year (thanks to a blown head gasket) so we are crossing our fingers that all will be good in that department.

Okay – that was a long, boring, post – hopefully you now feel like you know a bit about us.

Here we go….

A date has been picked – May of 2021 we are out of here!!  No really – we have said for years that we were going to take off and sail to ports unknown – well now we have put a deadline on that.

May of 2021 we are going to cut the docklines, heading out firstly on a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island – call it our shakedown cruise though we certainly don’t intend to stay tied to the dock for the next 4 years.

Once we have made our way around the Island (slowly), we will point the boat south with stops in San Francisco (because who doesn’t want to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge!?) and then on the San Diego where we will wait for the start of the Baja Haha.

On arrival in Baja, we intend to spend about 14 months in the Sea of Cortez – after that the plans are a bit more loose – probably the Marquesas, French Polynesia and then perhaps onto New Zealand before heading home via Hawaii.   We may also spend time in Central America before jumping the pond – who knows?

How long will we be gone?  Well I guess that will depend on a few factors – how long the money lasts, are there still places to explore on our route, are we still having fun?

We will now spend the next few years tearing the boat apart, putting her back together and still trying to save money and pay off all bills.  While we are doing that we will still get her out on weekend cruises and for summer holidays – she won’t be stuck at the dock all this time!

We have started the demolition – but more on that on another post.