This is my sky.

The Museum of Human Rights and Esplanade Riel. From the Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba

I’m back on the prairies and in my favorite color, blue blue blue.

I’m in the blue rehab house with family who are spoiling me rotten. There is a bountiful supply of fresh tomatoes for toasted tomato sandwiches with my morning coffee.

Now I’m in pink. With my most lovely sister-niece, Misty. She got married this summer. Her husband Adam wore blue.

I’m three weeks into recovery from spinal surgery. We had a dance party last night. Nathaniel Rateliff was there.

He wore blue. He’s helping me go through withdrawal from my meds. Life is real again.

Ecstatic Loveliness

This is the summer that wasn’t. An unscheduled stop. A colosal disruption. 2021 is the year of the known unknowns, then there are the unknown unknowns.

OMOO and crew started unplanning the yearly voyage while patiently waiting for Covid vaccines and restrictions to lift. One thing led to another in the breakdown department. Undoing the doing we’ve done every summer for the last ten years came with some painful adjustments.

OMOO turned out to be requiring some maintenance and the Skipper was holding things together and doing the fixing, a constant happy occupation for his engineer’s brain.

After taking four new crew to Tent Island on a day sail, the Skipper headed back out with old crew to chase some wind and enjoy an overnight anchorage in Princess Cove on Wallace Island. After a delightful sail, the crew secured the boat with a hook and a stern-tie. A pleasant evening of chit-chat ensued and all was right with the world again. OMOO was thrilled to be doing all the things she normally does. It started to look like the post pandemic world was opening up again.

Nope, not happening… The next morning with the stern-tie released, the engine purring and the crew in place to haul up the anchor, the windlass called it quits, caputs, nada. The bolts holding the motor in place sheared off and it separated from the capstan. It fell onto the panel above the V-berth and went into a deep slumber. It almost died.

Well, OMOO is 20 years old this year so she’s needing some extra lovin’. The Skipper and crew hauled up 60′ of chain bit by bit, using the spring line and hook we have for anchoring. The spring line is actually a climbing rope which stretches and is perfect to take the load off the windlass. The rope is long enough to reach the electric winches in the cockpit. Up came the anchor bit by bit, and home went OMOO to get repaired.

Chris the boat neighbor/boat guru.

All the unplanning and getting stuck to the dock proved to be fortuitous. Being close to marine stores and repair shops comes in handy when the Skipper can hop in his truck and get what he needs. A few days later with alot of helpful advice from our talented neighbor/boat guru, away it went again, the windlass was revived.

Appropriately named, S/V Waitabit arrived on the transient dock so we waited abit and had a friendly welcome back impromptu cockpit party. OH SO GOOD!!

Ron and Laura from Knotty Friendship – they’re so naughty!!
Welcome back Beth and Dave. We missed you!!
Dave from Waitabit who brought the shade, (wink wink), Grant, who brought ALL the desserts, and Lesley who brought the smiles!

Sideways Sally was having her own existential crisis. In the middle of a staycation her back and legs stopped working. With a little help from a steroid spinal injection things settled down enough to move again. What made the crankiness set in was not being able to do all the things she normally does. This includes sorting and cleaning OMOO and going sailing. NONE OF THE ABOVE WAS HAPPENING!! She got oh so cranky. There was alot of discussion and some tears shed before the partial solution arrived. Her name is Tammy and she’s a housekeeper for boats. She came aboard and accomplished in three hours what it was taking SS to do painstakingly in three days.

On the bumpy road to this final outcome were all the days of fixing and figuring out stuff on the boat, which the Skipper happily plods (his word) along on. SS is safely over yonder on the other side of the pond (in Vancouver) where outta sight outta mind is her motto. When arriving back to the boat after Tammy did her magic, SS felt like she won the lottery. The boat was fixed, AND clean. Miracles do happen!

Then SS won another lottery. A call came in that changed the scheme of things in a hurry. Her spine Doc had a cancellation in the surgery schedule and her awaited laminectomy and spinal fusion (fancy words for fixing an old lady back) was booked in a couple of weeks, instead of a couple of months or more!! Excitement abounded and the hope for some smooth sailing returned.

OMOO, the Skipper and Sideways Sally snuck out for a few days to celebrate, and we were thrilled with life again. Being escorted by a stiff breeze and a pod of Orcas on the way to Clam Bay was so serene we had to pinch ourselves.

Once again we were consumed by the ecstatic loveliness of sailing in the Southern Gulf Islands.

Orcas along Secretary, Mowgli and Norway Islands.

I’m writing this ten days post surgery and I can walk, talk and smile again!! The surgery was a complete success and there’s so many pain free minutes in days that I can almost hop, skip and jump my way back to OMOO.

I’m lovin’ life!!

Hershey – unedited.


New Crew to OMOO

WE MADE IT!! We can have crew to OMOO again!!

Nobody is happier than the Skipper and 1st Mate to be back out there with a boat load of new crew and salty friends on four legs. It is pure joy for us.

My work family arrived to Maple Bay by car, floatplane and boat on Canada Day weekend. YES, there were experienced and capable crew that we want to kidnap and keep aboard. AND they come with dogs!! I have to say, I have to pinch myself when all this comes together. We are truly the luckiest to have OMOO and crew.

Zack and Hershey get acquainted while Oscar says grace (wink wink).

Then it’s out for a day sail and the breeze was SWEET!! We tacked north and west in Stuart Channel to Tent Island.

Zack track, Jack and Sideways Sally

Oscar took the wheel and got us to Tent Island for a lunch hook and a swim.

We’re keeping him!!!

Three of us flopped into the dingy and toured the sand stone cliffs. Zack jumped in and Jackie got some help from Sideways Sally as she perched on the side of the dingy contemplating too long…

Zack is an amazing colleage, nurse and friend. Although he sucks at putting on bandaids.

This lady is the life of the party wherever we go!! LUV you to pieces Suzanne!!

It was an unforgettable weekend because my work family met my best friends on their boat Imposter, and they all fell in love!! What’s not to love? Jen and Kelly were the hosts with the most!! They brought Imposter down to Maple Bay and cooked for the whole crew all weekend!!

My dearest friends Jen and Kelly

These people are beautiful, OMOO is beautiful, Maple Bay is beautiful.

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL!!

Monkey and Phaghty (Fatty) getting some treats and lovin’ from the Skipper.

Mesmerized

Watching the ripples in the reflection of the newly waxed hull, thoughts flood in, like the ebb and flow of the tide…

For those of you who may be new to my posts here’s a little background… sorry to our regular readers but we’ve been getting views from new places. My site allows me to see what country people are from that are checking us out. This month it’s been Germany, Finland, Brazil and Austria. Welcome aboard!!

This blog is a story of an extraordinary Skipper named Hershey who is living his life long dream of living aboard a sailboat and has found his way to the West Coast of British Columbia.  The 1st mate, Sideways Sally photographs and writes about our adventures.  The blogs to date have taken place over the past ten years of navigating and sailing the Northwest Pacific.

We’re a couple of gypsy souls who have faced some challenges to get here.  During boat projects and side jobs we’ll tell you the story of survival and overcoming both medical and personal traumas and why each day we live on bonus time.

It is the beginning of another season of summer sailing. The May long weekend started with clear blue skies and hot temps. So tempting to get out there but OMOO wasn’t ready. Instead we geared up for a short trip to warm up the engine, distribute the fluids that were replaced during the winter months (oil and antifreeze) and turn the boat around to face bow in and work on measuring the new anchor chain in increments of twenty feet.

Sideways Sally and Hershey had been waxing and polishing the starboard side hull so we were ready to start on portside. The sun set about half way from the bow to midships so the waxing came to a halt.

Time for a cockpit bbq!! With the pandemic the live aboard community had kept separated for the better part of fifteen long months. Everyone on G-Dock had been vaccinated and were adhering to local health protocols, so we felt safe to gather. With the meal came much reminiscing of collective sailing stories, laughter and cajoling as we shuffled our seating if someone needed to use the head.

It was SO GOOD to have our sailing family back aboard.

A year and a bit ago, along with the rest of the world, our lives took a drastic turn. We all have our own personal stories of living with the pandemic. When I stare into the mesmerizing reflection of ripples on the hull there is a whirlwind of thoughts. From gratefulness of surviving to the anger spawned from months of isolation cast upon me from my clients as a psychiatric nurse. With all the ups and downs between the work place and personal life, there are a billion thoughts that pummel my brain on a daily basis.

There’s nothing like the mindless physical activity of polishing OMOO to give me a therapeutic sense of accomplishment. SS is ready to go back to the trenches.

Projects and Purge

Spring cleaning started with a boat bottom clean and paint. It’s the first time in OMOO’s life with us that I was not able to do the bottom painting, which I love. I had knee surgery so couldn’t promise Hershey if I could be very helpful this year.

The yard guys at Maple Bay Marina were hired to do the work and help Hershey with changing a through hull in the forward head. (the valve that dumps the holding tank for the toilet in the v-berth) I explain these things for my prairie family.

Up she went…

Hauling out for bottom paint.

Next came the inside project clean up. Sideways Sally (aka boat slave) went to work with the Skipper’s help to sort, stow and purge tools, equipment and duplicate supplies. Surprise, surprise, we find many new items are purchased when we can’t find the old ones we had somewhere in the boat.

Before
After

Sideways can’t live or work the same way the Skipper does so we work at it together and somehow it all works. Secret is, I get alot of pleasure out of mindless activity…

At the end of the day we get to go sailing and meet other boater on the water.

Our first trip of the year is usually Clam Bay

OMOO is happiest under sail. Projects and purging makes it happen. Thank you to the Skipper for keeping the boat in perfect running condition. Your first mate is ready for summer sailing!

48North published article.

REFLECTION

The world outside and the world we create in our minds has never been more affected and connected than by the pandemic. As I sit down to write about the years 2020 and 2021 and how we are learning to live with the pandemic, I’m stopped in my tracks with thoughts I don’t want to think about, never mind write about.

Perhaps that could be the reason it has taken me extra time to post this blog. I started writing this in February when it looked like we might have an end in sight with vaccinations under way. Then the variants started arriving as disruptions to the vaccine supply in Canada occurred. We now find ourselves in a race: variants vs vaccine.

The feelings are real. I feel like the things we all learned to do, like wearing masks, following arrows in the grocery store, social distancing, washing our hands for a full two minutes, only seeing family and friends via zoom (the list goes on and on) are trivial.

And yet, those things are not trivial, they protect us from becoming sick, or dying.

The tragedy of losing someone and the burden of caring for those who became ill are things I only hear about, or watch in the news.

As I watch 2020 slowly fade in the rear view mirror, and turn to face 2021, very slowly my feelings become my thoughts, rambling around, looking for a way out.

Refection

Waves of broken dreams

the first wave spreads across the ocean

to each new continent, another explosion

no visible barrier can stop an invisible foe

The wave keeps coming

we watch and we wait

how to stop it… we don’t know

Mother Earth watches

her spirit weeping,

tears burning

scars

deep upon the people

hard learning, faster to find

the puzzle pieces that heal this time

reflection

March 21, 2021. I’m sitting in bed in my land home in Vancouver, B.C. Canada, listening to the drizzle of rain and the splash of passing cars while I reminisce about 2020. I’m reading this post from a year ago and thinking of all that has passed by. This was the last time I went for a walk before Arthur took me down (arthritis) and how I’m now enjoying a new knee and looking forward to taking that walk again!!

When the Sun Comes Out

We were only waiting for this moment to arrive…

Sideways Sally and Sunshine

After the long winter months of living in a waterfall on the West Coast, the spring sun is immensely welcome. Dock chairs are dusted off and where one or two gather, soon there are five or six.

Happy Hour on G-Dock

Micha, Ron, Mikey, Lora, Lisa

and of course, Shelby

Safety is an ongoing big deal, after a year of living with the pandemic, we are starting to see the light at the end of this very long, dark tunnel. So we sit, distanced but close in spirit as we crack open happy hour.

In the distance, the sounds of machinery coming to life in the boatyard as preparations for the summer boating season commence. It’s a yearly activity, but each time is like the first. The anticipation of spanking clean boat bottoms, waxed hulls and completed repairs lifts the mood even in the moodiest of times.

The promise of letting the lines go, to fill the sails under a warm sun in a fresh breeze is all the motivation sailors need to toil in the lengthening days. So we prepare and take pleasure in doing some boat gawking of those on the hard, while OMOO waits her turn to be lifted out of the water.

Along the docks planters spring to life with daffodils, while snow drops cover the ground in a white blanket, beckoning the summer to draw nigh.

There’s a renewed sense of cheer and happiness in choosing this lifestyle. We take a leisurely stroll along neighboring marinas and marvel at the boats that are docked in the bay.

Strolling the docks at Genoa Bay

Friends and strangers start to wander the docks and stop to say hi or chat awhile. There is nothing like lounging in our cockpit and doing an impromptu meet and greet with people dreaming of the boating lifestyle, or neighbors walking past on the way to their boats with arm loads of supplies for whatever project they’re working on..

One may be surprised at the devotion of boaters. The love we have of caring for and maintaining our vessels is a sign of the joy we experience as we prepare to wander on the highway to the world. It’s the experience of freedom we feel as we harness the wind, which takes us away to new and old mooring fields.

Sideways Sally pages coming soon…

Living on the bed.

Since John Lennon and Yoko Ono there has never been anyone that has perfected living on the bed like Sideways Sally and the Skipper. We are the perfect example of laziness.

Take breakfast for example. The Skipper fills the thermos with coffee, makes toast and boiled eggs and delivers it all to the picnic blanket spread out on top of the quilt. He climbs back in bed and we enjoy peeled and mashed eggs on toast laden with marmalade. YUUUMMMM.

We sip our coffee while watching PBS “Nova” which is always fascinating. We learned about the first chemist who invented cortisone, which is pretty personal for me and my arthritis. It’s so amazing what this man accomplished but what he also endured due to racism. Have a read!!

https://www.biography.com/scientist/percy-julian#:~:text=George%20Washington%20Carver%20was%20an,of%20uses%20for%20the%20peanut.

Last night we had a snack of cashews before we ate the remains of a rotisserie chicken sliced up for sandwiches. Also a very easy and elegant meal to have while living on the bed!!

This may seem like a very weird lifestyle to most but we’ve come to appreciate the simplicity of living in small spaces. It works especially well when the world outside is stormy and dreary, and staying under the quilt is so delightfully cozy.

Join us on the living on the bed challenge and we could share and compare the adventure!! WE DOUBLE DARE YOU. hehehe.

When not living on the bed Sideways is usually out globetrotting with family and friends, enjoying Miriachi Bands under the Mexican sky, scuba diving or sailing under the summer sun with the Aussies.

COZUMEL WITH NIECE JACKIE AND FRIEND TRACEY (videoing)

SOUTH OF PERTH YACHT CLUB, KAROLEEYA CREW – RACING RETRO H-28 SAILBOAT

This living on the bed edition is brought to you by the excellent team of Dr. Lisa Howard and nurses at VGH/UBC who replaced my decrepit knee. Unbeknownst to me I was informed prior to surgery that I would have a partial anesthetic so I was awake for the procedure but numb from the waist down. I wanted to watch but that was a no go. As I laid there draped I could hear all the machinery working away. My favorite part was hearing my surgeon say, “its a great knee, she’s gonna love this knee.” The whole thing was over in half an hour!! Because of Dr. Howard and crew I’ll be back out there dancing and jumping around on sailboats in time for summer sailing. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!

The Skipper has been treating SS like royalty through the first week of recovery, making me feel very lucky. He is a willing, patient and humorous companion and personal assistant.

We’ll be back to OMOO and our G-Dock family, enjoying visits post pandemic sometime in 2021!!

Lovely and serene – Maple Bay

2021

I don’t even know how to start this year’s first blog. But I may as well start with the Skipper’s corny joke this morning as we’re getting dressed to jump in the car and head up the Sea to Sky Highway.

“I don’t even know Howe Sounds???”

We’re feeling strange as we travel out of Vancouver across the Lion’s Gate Bridge. We’re going over the bridge, not under it like we’ve done a dozen times on OMOO. Neither one of us has been past the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Landing but we’ve spent days in Howe Sound sailing and anchoring off Gambier Island or docking in Squamish and walking up to the brewery.

So it’s a start to the firsts of this new year, this breath taking view along the winding drive between the mountains and the sea. Sigh…

We stop to enjoy the afternoon at Porto Cove Provincial Park with some friends who have lit the fire in their campsite. I know, camping in January?? Several of the campsites have tents set up and cooking shelters. IN JANUARY!! I’m close to 20 years on this coast and it still catches me by surprise.

Most of the trips we make by boat to the islands do not allow campfires, so guess how excited I am to be sitting at a campfire!! After dark the hotdogs came out and I was in for a yummy treat. I know, I know, but hotdogs on the fire are a big treat for this prairie girl. We went home smelling like wood smoke and it felt soooo good.

You may be wondering why we’re together in a car driving around the mainland? Well, Sideways Sally normally spends January in warm places, like Mexico and Australia, this year’s holiday is gonna be a little different.

I’m having a morphine holiday while I have my knee replaced. May as well right? Since we can’t go anywhere anyway I figure it’s good timing. Everyone I know that’s had a knee replacement ensures me the new knee is way better than the old one. And who doesn’t like morphine? It makes EVERYTHING go away.

So here we go 2021, looking forward to dancing again… when covid is gone.