Snug Cove at Bowen Island
Snug Cove at Bowen Island

I’m sitting in the cockpit watching the sun set on the second of two perfect days. 

For the record, ‘perfect’ while cruising has a slightly different definition. It definitely doesn’t include the mechanical condition of the boat – I am finding a combination of denial and selective amnesia works well on that front. We have ice blocks in the still broken fridge, the auto helm is somewhere in Burnaby, and because it is not here, all the instruments including the depth sounder have gone on strike in support of their fallen comrade. Oh, and this morning the head (toilet) spat effluent all over me…. 

But these are just picky little things. 

Yesterday, we sailed from Vancouver. The plan was to cross the Georgia straight directly to Gabriola island. There was about 20 knots of wind blowing in the straight, which is about a force 5. That’s a fresh breeze to regular sailors, and it is to us too … EXCEPT,  when there are two forces working in opposition. This is a lesson we learned last year, and it is a very important sailing lesson that the likes of Francis Drake, Joshua Slocum and Tracy Edwards failed to note in their logs for a very good reason.

They didn’t sail with kids.

The first force  – The wind. (For us 20 knots is the magic number). Combined with force of nature #2 – bedtime for an excited preschooler who isn’t used to sleeping on a moving boat, equals sheer bedlam. ..perhaps that should read as just ‘lam’ because there certainly isn’t much ‘bed’ to be had.

It is for this reason, that God put Bowen Island just where he did. The last outpost on this side of the straight… And if the great restaurants and pubs there were also his idea, he really must be commended. We arrived about 7. Tied to the dock and headed straight up to our favourite Italian restaurant run by the French… What ever it is, the food at the Tuscany has never let us down. We sat in the courtyard, next to the burbling fountain. It was already past A’s bedtime but he was in great spirits. Not a whine to be heard. We chatted, the three of us as we waited for pizza on a warm June evening and I realised that the evening couldn’t get any more perfect. A breezy sail over, followed by dinner at a favourite restaurant with my two favourite guys. 

Buoyed by that, I had little expectations of today, but we seem to be on a roll. A. Slept in to 8:15!! He loves Bowen principally because of the toy shop there. After a leisurely breakfast he and I arrived at the toy shop just as the shop attendant was opening for the day.

30 mins later we set sail as we left Snug Cove. The wind was light. I headed the boat over towards West Vancouver and we ghosted along picking up wind and speed as we went. We tacked once… I repeat that ONCE between Snug and Silva Bay on Gabriola Island. The wind lifted us up over Passage Island, past Bowen Island and took us right to the entrance of Silva Bay. We had about 15 knots all the way… Seriously. Does sailing get any more perfect than that?

Having no instruments is blissfully refreshing. I’d forgotten how beautifully simple it is to sail by the feel of the wind on your face and the tilt of the boat. Without the instruments we didn’t talk ourselves into putting the engine on because we’re going to slow. There were times we did 3 knots (I looked on the GPS) and times we were doing 8. We didn’t really care, It took us all day to get there and it was a great day sail. Full stop.

Of course, coming through the narrow passage into Silva Bay and past the infamous ‘Ship Yard Rock’ without depth instruments is not an exercise for the faint hearted…. Aka me. Another use for my developing denial/amnesia skills.

Now, I’m sitting with a glass of cool wine in the cockpit of my boat in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. A is in bed… Late again because he made a bunch of friends on the dock and spent hours hunting for fish, crabs and for some reason, feeling the need to drag enormous pieces of Kelp up onto the dock. Felt like a shame to interrupt him, so we didn’t.

This weekend’s ‘imperfect’ weekend was ‘perfect’ and last weekend was so very calamitous. In reality there wasn’t much difference between the two. Next time something breaks on the boat, I’ll have to remind myself that there really is no such thing as ‘perfect’ on a boat. The ‘Sh!t’ can literally fly at any given moment, it’s whether you let it get you down that makes the difference.

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What Perfection Looks Like.