It’s been a long and cold winter here in the Pacific North West. We quite like winter sailing, but this winter we haven’t been out since Thanksgiving. We even had to cancel our annual New Years eve trip because of the 30 knots of wind blowing in Howe Sound.
However, spring is officially here. So last week I scrubbed the slimy green winter clothes off the boat and we set off on Friday for sail across the Straight to help do some spring cleaning at Tugboat Island. We were all a bit rusty, but as the sails rose and the boat settled into the stiff breeze, skidding along faster than we could motor we fun let out a collective sigh. We were back home again.
The sun gods listened to our prayers for a beautiful Saturday and the hearty crew of volunteers set to many jobs sprucing up this gem of a place, readying it for another season of fun. A. was entranced by the bonfire ….he’s a condo kid – these things are rarer to him than mountains of perfectly formed ginger snaps. He spent the afternoon as master fire tender carefully adding ‘just the right amount’ debris to the fire at a time. By bed time, he was a tired out, rosy faced, smoke infused, happy seven year old.
This morning we set sail for home in the rain and drizzle. (In the Pacific North West it’s possible to have both at the same time.) As we left the shelter of Sliva Bay we started to see big black gusts on the water and watched the tendrils race towards us before feeling the grab. In the lee of an island, we hoisted a double reefed main and unfurled a ‘panty hose’ sized amount of genoa after seeing the wind meter hit 30 a couple times.
We popped out from behind the island and we were off…..like a lethargic jellyfish. While the gusts were down to 25kn the waves were slowing us, so we inched along trying to avoid the reef at 3-4 knots. The leeway at that speed is big, so we had to power round the reef and then inched a little more genoa out which increased our speed to 5 knots. We took off…. in the wrong direction.
The wind, was blowing directly out of Vancouver, meaning we couldn’t aim at our destination. The tide was strong and sucking us northwards and our leeway was still considerable. The news flash hit us….we were heading to Sechelt.
We sailed for over an hour that way. Hoping the wind would change, or move, or ease, or turn into a large chocolate cake. None of the above happened. Sechelt is approximately a 3 hr sail. From there it is approximately 4 hrs to take the inside route to Vancouver. Sechelt was going to be a long way home. Tugboat, is 4 hrs from Vancouver, we could return there, and wait for a weather window in comfort.
We turned tail and covered the entire distance back in 40 minutes.
This is a first for us. We’ve always talked about, how we would happily blow off all work / school commitments if the sailing wasn’t safe, but we’d never actually done it. It wasn’t dangerous out there today, it was just going to be a long slog and we had a choice not to do it. So we took it. Tomorrow is the first day of Term 3 for Mr. A. We all had places to be tomorrow, but over a steaming cup of tea in front of a roaring fireplace at the clubhouse we decided that we’d just been given a gift, and we should let the stress go and just enjoy it.
And so, a short while later A. and I were at the beach looking for beach glass and finding some delights that the crashing waves had turned up. Today was a gift, tomorrow we try again.