Tag Archives: sailboat

New Spreader Boots

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The most common question I get asked by curious non-climbers is, “Why?” By which I think they mean, “”What would compel a sane person to want to spend as much time as possible dangling off the side of a cliff?”

I could answer something along the lines of how you are never fully alive until you look down between your feet to see… nothing. Or, how standing on top of a mountain makes you feel simultaneously invincible and insignificant. Or, how there is simply no better way to spend a day than by being outside… But I won’t. What I discovered recently is that there is a very practical and sensible reason to be happy in high places.

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Raring to go up the mast! 

A few weeks ago we were out on my daughter and son-in-law’s sailboat. We tacked just as a big gust caught us and handily fouled the foresail. In the aftermath (which involved a lot of flapping lines and waving arms and scrambling around to get the sail back where it was meant to be) we managed to send a spreader boot flying off the end of the spreader and into Finlayson Arm where it sank in hundreds of feet of icy cold water.

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Not a sharp photo – sorry about that. But you can see the state of the old spreader boot (the one that didn’t fly off into the water). It was disintegrating and held on only by a single ancient cable tie. That cable tie popped off when I touched it, so it was a good thing we replaced both while I was up there.

After procuring new pair, I was delighted to be sent up the mast to install the shiny new spreader boots. Securely fastened with rigger’s tape, they will help provide a smooth non-snagging surface for wayward halyards.

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The view from below. 

See? Slipping into a climbing harness and heading up, up, up is about the most fun a climber can have on a boat!

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The view from above…

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Smooth Sailing

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Days like this are great if you want to photograph masts reflecting in glassy water, but not so good for doing anything remotely like sailing…

Having just returned from a day on the water it seems like a good time to do a bit of an update on the sailing front. Despite the fact we don’t have a boat (yet), I have marked November 1st as the date we will head for Europe (Greece? Montenegro? Croatia? Italy) for a sailing trip. We still haven’t pinned down destination or duration of the trip, but one way or the other I am bound and determined to be aboard a boat of some sort, for a while, heading somewhere.

While the details of the trip are still somewhat fuzzy, what is absolutely clear is that there is no time to be lost between now and then when it comes to getting myself prepared to take the helm and cast off the lines. Given that one now needs to have an ICC (International Certificate of Competence) in order to sail in most European waters, I signed up for a five-day sailing course through Sea to Sky Sailing. My original dates were to be at the end of March on one of the company’s boats, but then Dani and Toryn decided they would hire a Sea to Sky instructor to come over here to the island to teach them on their boat, Easy Rider. Because they had an extra berth, they invited me to join them, which makes a lot of sense given that a) we’re practicing on a boat we will sail on in the future and b) we’ll be sailing together in the future so it makes sense we’ll all be learning the same way to do things.

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Katabatic winds? My study notes are serving two purposes. First, they are supposed to be helping me retain info needed for the ICC written test (my aging brain no longer holds onto details the way it used to). Second, in keeping with one of my 2017 resolutions, I’m trying to add more visual elements to my notes and journals. This has been an interesting process for someone who has never tried to draw anything. If I feel brave, I might post more sketchy efforts here at some point.

On the down side, the dates of the new training session are March 11-15, which has thrown me into a bit of a panic. Before then, I need to have completed the theory part of the course and get my VHF license plus get in a bit of sailing practice. My studies are well under way, but the clock is ticking now and I’m starting to have dreams eerily like those that tortured me throughout high school and university. In those dreams I show up for an exam and find I have studied for the wrong course or I try to get into the examination room and the doors are locked, or I’ve missed the exam date by a week or I open the exam booklet and discover I can’t read the language written on the page.

On the practical side, though I’ve sailed on and off for decades, my experiences have always been as crew. It’s quite a different thing altogether to be in charge of the boat. So, for the past several weekends, we (Dani, Toryn and I) have been trying to get out on the water before we are thrown into the deep end (not literally, I hope). Our first expedition was a bit hairy as the winds kicked up and we were all very rusty (fouled the jib quite handily and rattled ourselves quite thoroughly). Sailing brother, Sascha, popped over from Vancouver the next weekend and put us through our paces in very light airs in a fun expedition to Sidney Spit, a picturesque spot within spitting distance of Sidney.

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Up goes the mainsail…

That trip went pretty smoothly and included practicing picking up a mooring ball. At the end of it, we felt a bit more confident that we had not actually forgotten everything we had ever known about sailing. After enjoying a tasty barbecue in the cockpit, we also remembered how much fun it is to sail somewhere and then share a meal!

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Today we took Easy Rider out again, looking forward to sailing in light winds so we could do a bit more tacking practice. Sadly, the forecast 5 knots of wind wound up being 0-1 knots. Flat calm. It was easy enough to hoist the sails, but from that point on we bobbed around in the millpond with two gigantic limp hankies decorating the boat. What forward movement we actually managed to accomplish was more the result of the current pushing us than any impact from the non-existent wind. The fact there was not a single sailboat (other than us) out there should have been a hint that perhaps today was not a good day for sailing.

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We may not have buried the rail today, but it was mighty pleasant lounging around on the foredeck as we puttered back toward the marina.

Undeterred, we floated around for a couple of hours before dropping the sails and motoring back to the dock. While uneventful sailing trips are generally a good thing, today’s journey to nowhere gives mellow a whole new meaning.

Wildlife count: 2 seals swimming, 2 seals perched on rocks, 2 dolphins and a bunch of sea birds. Note to self: Take a bird identification book to the boat.

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Enjoy the blog? Consider becoming a patron to support the creation of these blog posts, photo essays, and short videos. In return, you’ll have my undying appreciation, but you’ll also get access to Patron-only content, advance peeks at works in progress, and more – all for as little as a buck a month! It’s easy – head on over to Patreon to have a look at how it all works.

Escape from the Farm…

Dad and I snuck off the farm for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon to go on a photo expedition – first to a nearby marina in Brentwood Bay and then to the Institute of Ocean Sciences at Pat Bay. We both took lots of photos and stopped a couple of times for coffee and to warm up (it was one of those grey, damp days that wound up being chillier than you’d expect, especially by the water).

Entrance to the Institute of Ocean Sciences

The Institute of Ocean Sciences is a beautifully designed building thoughtfully sited on a stunning piece of land on Pat Bay. A seismic research centre and home to many ocean-research types, the building and grounds are open to the public.

I was trying very hard to ignore my phone, but the messages kept coming thick and fast – five new sign-ups for our CSA Goody Boxes (yay!), a friend needing to borrow a couple of transport crates for chickens tomorrow, another friend wondering whether we have room in the goat barn to temporarily house a couple of goats for another friend, someone in the prairies calling to see if we can ship fertile Ridley Bronze turkey eggs, and two inquiries about hogs and pork.

Egg vending machines could be a handy way around the fact our farm is located on a dead end road with virtually no drive bay traffic…

At the second coffee stop managed to do some research on the feasibility of selling eggs through vending machines, coordinate a work session to finish up the last edits on the new book, and schedule a meeting with another farmer possibly looking to collaborate on a couple of projects for which I do not have space… Gads. My attempt to get away for a couple of hours was a bit ridiculous!

The coffee shop at the Institute of Ocean Sciences - includes a lovely view past arbutus trees over the water...

The coffee shop at the Institute of Ocean Sciences – includes a lovely view past arbutus trees over the water…

Suspended fish in the atrium...

Suspended fish in the atrium…

The marina we visited in Brentwood Bay offered up photo opportunities of a more rustic nature.

This old dinghy has seen better days.

This old dinghy has seen better days.

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Paddle neatly stowed on the deck of an old wooden sailboat

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Classic lines on this graceful sailing dinghy.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes out of Dad’s studio after he has a chance to go through the reference material he gathered today…