Over the Straight and into the Bay …

Silva Bay on Gabriola was our first destination out of Howe Sound. This involved crossing the Georgia Straight from Vancouver to the Southern Gulf Islands. There was only one way to see if we were up to it …

We took our good friend, a much more experienced sailor, with us. He seemed so calm–and kept saying, “this is completely normal,” in a tone that I knew it was true.

After a night at Silva Bay, we went on our own to Pirate’s Cove on DeCourcy Island, a lovely marine park established since 1966! Lots of trails for walking amid a lovely setting.

Our Catalina 30 at rest, stern tied and anchored in Pirate’s Cove.

I wish i had a wider angled lens to fit the fantastic angle from the water line … but I wasn’t about to jump back into the water just to get the picture as my camera isn’t even water resistant let alone proof.  Would go back to Pirate’s Cove in a heartbeat.

One of the things that I always enjoyed about our camping trips was the challenge to make meals with as little sand as possible, and as much flavour and nutrition as possible. Those meals over a single burner camp stove, with the light grit of shell and sand, are gladly gone when I can dip into my cooled ice-box for fresh veggies, fruit and meat. Can’t say we miss the sand.

After a night at Pirate’s Cove, we ended our long weekend away with a trip back across the straight. With steady NW winds from 10 – 15 knots and clear skies, we couldn’t have asked for better … Okay we could have, the chop grew throughout the day to a full 2m, and the wind grew to 18, topping out at 22 as we rounded Point Grey into English Bay, but just as quickly diminished to 15-17. Only in the bay did the waves cool down to a ripple. It was an intense and fantastic ride across the straight. It pushed our skills and comfort. More waves under our keel …

What you can’t see here is the whites of my knuckles gripped around the wheel as we surfed the waves. Every seventh wave seemed to be a biggie. I thought that we had a max hull speed of 6.5(ish) knots). And yet we were up to 7 – topping at 7.2 (albeit it briefly). We kept an average speed of about 6.4, or there about, with a beam reach, slowing to high fives in a broad reach as we headed into town.

The Sky was so clear that we could see Mt. Baker in the distance behind Vancouver.

 Now to plan our next weekend away …

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Our Maiden Voyage into Howe Sound

“Did you ever think that you, a prairie girl, would be sailing her own boat on the ocean,” wrote my childhood best friend on my facebook album.

Not in a million years. But then again, I haven’t lived on the prairies for over twenty years … And I’ve been next to the sea nearly as long as I lived with a horizon that went on forever and wind that went on longer than that.

This summer we became sailors. Okay, still becoming … but it has been wonderful, whether it has been simply sailing around the bay, tied up at Snug Cove, or anchored at Gambier Island.

Dinghys are for kids who won’t behave… set adrift in 0 knots of wind … they didn’t get far.

Happy weekend sailor.

Scuba Finn.

Keeping watch out front.

My handsome sailor!

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When Vancouver kids Visit Moose Jaw (Saskatchewan)

Twenty years ago I came to Vancouver to go to grad school at UBC.  I never left, Vancouver that is (I did, however, finish my graduate studies). To me, Vancouver was a postcard perfect place, so why would I ever leave? The weather is warm(ish) all year round, so much so that parkas are relegated to skiing or snow-shoeing. Cold is ten below, not thirty … No one has to plug in their car, unless it is electric. So there is no need to dangle an extension cord from house to tree to parking spot to attach one’s block-heater; our cars don’t have block-heaters. There are almost no mosquitoes, not really, not prairie mosquitoes who feast like starving vultures on unsuspecting children. And the wind … well, it’s light, predictable, and infrequent. But what about the rain, people ask … it makes things green, I say, and besides you don’t have to shovel rain.

The first week of our summer vacation, I took my two youngest children aboard a very small and movie-barren flight to Regina where my parents greeted us and drove us all back to Moose Jaw, the city I grew up in. The first night it was thirty-three degrees, the wind shrieked around the trees and lightning lit up the night sky in a blaze of fire-works. It was fantastic. Far more drama than what we are used to at home, and for me, it smelled and felt like my childhood. For the kids it was a great and fantastic show.

All that was familiar to me, is exotic to my children … a giant concrete moose …

… wind that drives the leaves of a tree sideways,

And horizons and sky like no other.

New to them were pocked roads, insect spray, and gopher holes. Finn found three gophers too, but they wouldn’t sick around for a photo. And then they walked my dad’s dog Twinkle.

We took them to the Natatorium where I’d cool off as a child on scorching summer days.

But mostly, being there was about the people, not about the landscape, the weather, or tourist attractions (which they have quite a few). This trip to the ‘Jaw’, was about connecting with our prairie roots, reminding them where some of their people are from.

It is good to be from Moose Jaw, from Saskatchewan; just as it is good to be home here in Vancouver.

(A link to more 2011 Moose Jaw Photos here.)

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Lessons in Bleeding

When Alex, the marine mechanic said to me, “a lesson in bleeding,” I loved it. It was just what I needed to know. I, in many ways am an expert in such things. I have bandaged many skin abrasions, birthed many children, and watched far too many movies with swords and hacking (I now close my eyes when I have seen too much). But the bleeding Alex was teaching me was bleeding air from the line of my motor, my Yanmar. When I thought about becoming a sailor, I didn’t know that it also meant becoming a do-it-yourself mechanic, that I’d get grease under my nails and have to acquire a whole new toolkit. I was prepared for salt spray in my face, and wind in my hair. Today, I learned about bleeding, and I am a happy woman for it.

(tall ship sailing link here)

Catalina 30 vancouver

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What do you mean DRAFT ONE???”

Kids helping to research the novel... on site.

“Draft one?” That’s what my daughter said to me yesterday morning over breakfast. I’d just announced that I was preciously close to finishing my first draft of my novel. My first novel. She looked at me in utter disbelief, or disgust, or dismay, whatever it was it was dis … “You’ve been working on that for, like, a year!” She’s ten, and sound like me in the 1980s. It’s disturbing and almost cute.  Her sing-song lilt, thankfully, nowhere near Valley-speak.

Our son, who’s six, chimed in, “Ya, and you’ve been working on it every day!”

I couldn’t help but to smile over my bowl of fruit and slices of toast and marmalade. “Yes, I’ve been working on it every day for like a year, and that is why I’ve been able to finish my first draft.” They shook their heads and like I was nuts, or something, more like something;( they don’t use the word nuts unless it is playground talk and someone’s been kicked.)

And so the day came and went. It was Robert Burn’s Birthday, Virginia Woolf’s birthday, and the day I finished the biggest writing project I’d begun since I finished my doctorate 9 years ago; at least I don’t have a defence to look forward to.

I thought about this book for a good year before I put any words down about it, then I researched for a about six months then I vowed to write a page a day until I finished.  That mostly worked. I wrote, for good or bad. 301 pages over the course of a few weeks plus a year. During which time, I took some time off to travel, to injure my knee, to get it fixed, and to learn to sail! Oh, ya, and my day job and raise my kids.

I read the final pages to Wolf and Graham after dinner, despite the ‘you’ll ruin the ending for me!’ mock protests. They know how it ends, they’ve heard it all before. I pulled a tear from my not-at-all sentimental husband. I win. That wasn’t from the pages I read to him, I read the rusty climax. What moved him was the epilogue, the pages I can’t read aloud, not yet. Maybe after draft 2 …

Let the fun begin!!!!

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Things that Inspire

Inspiration can really come from anywhere,

so long as it is something that is noticeable, something that you can fixate on.lavender

It matters not that it is beautiful, nor particularly awful. This has been my case, this week. Now I am not saying that what I have created is at all a work of literature, it’s not. I am not saying that I am a poet. For certain, that I am not.

But I was inspired, to explore colour, the inherent meanings of colour, the complementary nature of colours in the spectrum.

And so …  To a knee … following reconstruction.

Complementary:

Purple and yellow find their homes along the arc of a rainbow in an ozone-scented sky.

Secondary Purple: forever between depression and blood.

Primary Yellow: the base of both grass and orange groves.

Amethyst, mauve, lilac and wine.

A spring violet, with shades of purple on her velvety petals with a spark of sunshine in her eye.

Oh, so Complementary.

Plumb: a fruity hue trimmed with a golden glow.

Lovely.

(If it weren’t on flesh.)

Backed by the angry shade of a storm cloud, the kind that conceals lightning,

A bolt of pain within sagging folds of forgetful tissue,

where strands of hamstring masquerade as ligament.

A jaundice field spreads across a shin, reveals a slow healing.


Oh, so Complementary.

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‘Life is Laughing’ you said.

I came across a photograph today, it was of you. Though it is only the silky brown of your hair we see in the photo, I remember the look in your eyes, so serious, so happy. I was lifting a green ribbon from around your neck, a ribbon you carried your father’s ring on before I gave it to him. You took your job so seriously, and you didn’t drop, nor lose it.

I leaned low to touch your check with my satin gloved fingertips, to kiss your forehead. There I can see the lines creased at the edge of my eyes, not from weather, nor years, but from a deep joy that pushed its way out through my skin.  You had those lines too. You said to me, ‘life is laughing.’ Maybe you didn’t say it right at that moment, maybe not even that day, but you said it often, and I believed you. I still do, nearly twelve years later.

Now it is you who leans ever so slightly and kisses my cheek and I feel your whiskers brush against my skin. A year from now and you’ll join the ranks of adults of the world, and still you will remain my son who reminds me to laugh, and that the lines around my eyes are a good thing.

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