Sunday, August 3, 2008

In the Cruising Mode

Last week on the way to the Cal sailboat rendezvous at Thetis Island, I finally started to get into the cruising mode. Despite there being much to do before we head south, the constant flow of jobs on the boat has slowed to a trickle and I can now relax and enjoy things. Lights winds and a change of tide around 10 am put Ladybug at Discovery Island, where I anchored off the abandoned coast guard boat shed. I hiked the trail to the lighthouse and campground beyond, snacking on some early blackberries and photographing the shoreline and passing ships. The shallows between Discovery and the Chatham Islands were full of seals including mothers with their pups. The babies nuzzled the mothers for reassurance as I rowed by in Little Bug'r (Ladybug's tender). Around 2pm, the ebb current had slowed enough to resume sailing and Ladybug drifted slowly to Sidney Spit where I dropped the hook at dusk - about 12 hours of sailing and 20 minutes under motor.

The next morning, Alex from UK Sails met me at the Port Sidney marina to take my spinnaker in to be recut as a cruising chute - this will be much easier to use than the present racing configuration, and does not cost that much. I then sailed to Maple Bay, dodging ferries and navigating Sansum narrows with a light following wind. Rani came on board at the public jetty and we sailed to Kuper Island for the night and then on the next day to Thetis Island marina where the rendezvous was being held. There were nearly 20 Cal and Crown sailboats ranging from a 23' Crown to a Cal 39, with several 29's in attendance. Apart from a barbecue, there were no organized activities and people chatted amiably on the docks or invited each other aboard their boats. It was inspiring to see how many owners had renovated their vessels with ingenious changes to make them comfortable cruising homes. I particularly liked one Cal 34, a slightly larger cousin of our 29, but much roomier, with a separate forepeak double berth, an enclosed head,and a nicely laid out galley. Definitely a classic case of two-foot-itis (or in this case 4 foot-itis as the Cal 34 is just over 33 feet long).

One incident marred the otherwise enjoyable weekend - I slipped on the brand new cedar docks and sprained my left ankle. Thankfully, a kind American woman from a nearby motor yacht saw the fall and hurried over with a huge bag of ice, produced by her onboard ice maker. This and a few other slips and scars led me to comment to one cruiser that I would probably be a multiple amputee by the time we reached Mexico!

I sailed Ladybug back from Thetis Island, dropping Rani off at Maple Bay for her last week of work, and returned to the marina to wrap up a few things. On July 31 Rani and I had a farewell 'open boat' on Ladybug and said goodbye to friends in Victoria with wine and snacks,departing once again for Maple Bay the next morning. I will miss my neighbors, Mary the gardener, with her little house boat, and John - a spry older Brit on an English-built ocean cruiser. Jim, the owner of Hidden Harbour marina, presented me with a Hidden Harbour burgee (flag) to fly from the spreaders in Ladybug's travels.

On the way to Oak Bay, I finished off the solar panel and charger installation that had occupied me during the last days at the marina, and collected a few friends for the sail to Sidney. We polished off the remnants of food from the 'open boat'as well as a few bottles of vino and chatted about life and sailing and psychology (2 of my guests were working on their PhD's in his area). It was another slow sail with light, mainly easterly winds and we only made Sidney around 8pm.
Last night (Aug 2) was Rani's going away party thrown by her friends at work. Loads of people showed up at the Pioneer House restaurant where, despite it being a steak house, vegetarian Rani was able to find a tasty Mexican entree. Rani's co-workers are a great bunch of people and I know she will miss them. They made me feel welcome, too, despite me being the cause for Rani's departure!

We haul out on Tuesday to put on copper bottom paint, service the outboard, and repair a few dings in the hull.

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