One of the (many) delights of sailing is the characters you meet; there is something special about people who sail boats or fly planes. Often eccentric; always independent – what they seem to have in common is the diversity of their life experiences, the breadth of their interests, and the scope of their practical abilities. They are resilient, flexible and self-reliant. Perhaps it is the freedom of being on the water and the challenge of pitting one’s self against the elements that attracts people who prefer to be unfettered and self-sufficient.
The rules of sailing are real: ignore good preparation and good maritime manners at your peril! As Don Bamford said: “Only two sailors, in my experience, never ran aground. One never left port and the other was an atrocious liar.” The sailors I’ve met have learned many things the hard way, and their tales of troubles- and disasters-past provide ample entertainment for those long stretches when the sail is set and there is little to do but sit and enjoy the wind and water.
Notice that I didn’t mention the sun! This is because we saw very little of it during our last two weeks negotiating the waters of the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast peninsula. We did have some sun, mostly on days when there was little or no wind. We also had fog, mist, and rain… all the weather that you would expect from a Pacific Northwest autumn. Forecasted winds included regular small craft warnings, while the actual winds ranged from non-existant to almost gale-force, and were invariably icy!
One joy of sailing for me is the quiet. I love slicing through the water without the benefit of the motor. I also love sitting in the boat enjoying lunch or coffee ‘heaved-to’ in the middle of nowhere or tied up somewhere peaceful. Another thrill is the access to wildlife and being able to visit wonderful places that would be otherwise out of reach. River otters frolicked on our dock (and on our boat, at one stage!) and numerous seals bobbed up and down in the frigid waters near us. The birdlife – some of which I’ve managed to capture this time – was a treat.
Looking back through the photos, what I notice most is the predominant colour theme of each day: one day the green of reflecting waters; another day the grey of cold winds and rain; yet another, the misty blue of foggy firs and mountains.
“There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats,” as Ratty said to Mole in Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 classic, The Wind in the Willows. We had a wonderful time, and might have even learned a thing or two!