Sideways Sally Adventures

SS spends the winter months working and dreaming of escape.  When the snow piled up in Vancouver it was time to go.  SS took off for warm water diving and what a thrill it was.   I dragged my lovely niece Jackie and her friend Tracey off kicking and screaming.  They had to leave Manitoba at – 30 and adjust to + 26.  It was a hard sell!!  They barely coped by sipping margaritas and getting pinned down on the beach lounge chairs.  After a couple of days they thawed out and came to life again.

Staying at an all-inclusive resort was a first for me.  I’ve lived in Mexico 40 years ago, have traveled with the locals, but always shied away from the touristy spots.  I was sold on the place when a friend of a friend recommended the dive shop that is at Cozumeleno Resort.  The resort experience was a pleasant mix of laid back, friendly and very professional staff and not too many people from Canada, U.S. and Mexico.  The accommodations were clean and comfortable.   The best part is the beach and the view of the water.  The limitless supply of natchos and drinks were perfect.  The only shortage at times was pico – fresh salsa.  Can you imagine!!

 

 

Cozumel (Spanish pronunciation: [kosuˈmel]Yucatec MayaKùutsmil) is an island and municipality in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico‘s Yucatán Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen. It is separated from the mainland by Cozumel Channel and is close to the Yucatán Channel. The municipality is part of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

The economy of Cozumel is based on tourism, with visitors able to benefit from the island’s balneariosscuba diving, and snorkeling. The main town on the island is San Miguel de Cozumel.

Sideways Sally Adventures – Cozumel Night Diving

The dream of a lifetime came true in Cozumel when I joined Island Divers for a night dive.  After 5 day dives with the most amazing and professional dive masters, I was ready!!

 

https://www.islanddiverscozumel.com/

I also had the pleasure of meeting the owner of Island Divers, Chris Alliston and his lovely girlfriend and her son.

 

Chris is a friend of Dave & Kathy Meena’s from Vancouver Island, whom many know and love.  Thank you so much Dave for the connection!!  It’s very reassuring to get a recommendation for a safe crew when far from home in unfamiliar territory.   As a novice diver I am learning every dive and depend on the expertise of the locals.    Chris is also a professional photographer with a gallery in Hawaii.  Check him out on FB:

https://www.facebook.com/ChrisGAlliston/

I’m also super pleased to be able to manage this many dives after working out and getting in shape.  I’ve worked with “Laina the Traina”  on strength training for the last 4 months and what a difference it has made.  I would not have been able to maintain the schedule of diving I so enjoyed for the week in Mexico.  The non-weight bearing activity was easy on my wrecked knees.  It feels magical floating along with the fish and the sights are incredible.

I fell in love with sea life when I first went snorkeling in West Australia in 2003 with my son-inlaw Chad Peacock.  We were exploring Ningaloo Reef and I couldn’t get enough!!  My daughters Malena and Chelsea were cold and begging me to go in and I just kept saying “one more time.”  To go below and encounter the colorful coral and matching fish, with a big sea turtle acting our tour guide was and always will be super special.  After another dive experience off the East Coast of Australia on the Great Barrier Reef while on a sailing trip in the Whitsundays I came home to take my PADI certification.   Cold water diving in Maple Bay and Ladysmith, British Columbia was challenging, and I love warm water diving back in Oz and now Mexico.

Each dive morning in Cozumel I would meet the crew on their boat at the dock next to the resort or at the marina, depending on harbor conditions.  We would take off for the reef past the cruise ships and arrive about 20-30 minutes later, gear up and drop over the side.  Depths were from 40-70 feet in amazing coral and abundant sea life.   We would do a two-tank dive, one in deeper water through the amazing coral, some as tall as buildings.  Swimming through the arches and around the formations was incredible.  We would take a 30 minute break between dives, back on the boat for snacks before dropping back in for a shallower dive.  Cozumel has the 2nd largest reef in the world.

Coral reef Cozumel: Fascinating for divers and snorkelers

Chris arranged a night dive which he filmed, capturing sea life which was luminescent in our flashlights.  What a thrill!  Thank you, thank you, thank you Chris for making this happen.

Watch for the lobster which were two feet long, the sea turtle the locals thought was around 100 years old, and the aqua colored octopus at the end.

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This was truly worth the trip and without a doubt I WILL BE BACK!!  Take a coffee/tea/beer/wine break and have a look.   I’m the one with the gray hair!

 

Early Christmas with Prairie Family

Prairie family arrived in Maple Bay on a foggy west coast day.   Some travel plans were thwarted when the float planes were grounded in Vancouver, which caused a one hour  door to door trip to turn into a twelve hour adventure by car, skytrain, an almost float plane trip that taxied out into the harbor for take off before being called back in due to fog,  then a bus to the ferry and finally a drive into Maple Bay from Nanaimo.   Better safe than sorry!!   FOG- IT’S EVIL…  I’ll be looking into helijet for these winter trips.

We took the gang to Butchard Gardens on a warm winter night with only an occasional drizzle.    It was a treat to spend time in such a magical setting and a highlight for my oldest sibling Harry who has spent several years on staff and loved showing us around.

Again the fog was dangerously hovering over the Malahat on the drive home.  As we cautiously drove along  my  second oldest brother Rudy commented that “it would be really nice to find a straight road with no trees.”  At this point I  started pondering the trips I’ve made on black ice on those straight roads and -30 when you step outside your vehicle.  I started to like the fog again.

We finally got Herb and Rose up on a float plane out of Maple Bay for a quick trip to Ganges and back when the sky cleared on Sunday.   We’re sipping coffee in the float home when Herb spots the plane that has just landed.  He said,”I wanna get on that plane,” so a phone call later and away they went.

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In the afternoon we were treated to tea and treats at our family friend’s Linda and Dirk.  We grew up with Linda on neighboring farms on the prairies.  It’s always a fun walk down memory lane when we catch up with them and  some of the sibs had not been to previous reunions so there was lots of ground to cover.

As we made out way back to the marina we spotted the “Carols Afloat” from the Maple Bay Yacht Club.  It was a calm clear and warm night out and it gets really “Christmassy” watching and hearing the decorated boats playing favorites and calling out “Merry Christmas” to all as they cruise past.

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Back at the float home Chef Kelly was preparing an amazing dinner –  Paella – with chicken, chorizo sausage, prawns, mussels on a bed of rice, all flavored deliciously and enjoyed by all.  THANK YOU KELLY AND JEN!!!   Kelly was back in the morning to cook  a frittata and pancakes for us.  I’m sooooo happy we met those many years ago on our motorbikes!

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It was awesome to have my prairie family here with my west coast family.  Thank you all for coming.  We had a very enjoyable time.

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Left to right – back row: Harry, Dirk & Linda, Kelly, Harold, Jennifer, Irene.

Left to right – front row: Herb & Rose, Barry, me, Rudy

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“Family is Family” by Kasey Musgraves is my favorite song to play after a family reunion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6p5mfBHZuE

Next stop, Christmas with my kiddos, can’t wait!!

November Sunshine

I never get tired of the view from the office towards North Shore Mountains and False Creek with it’s stunning back drop of high rises and reflections of the sun rising and setting.

Vancouver broke a record for days of sunshine this November and it truly was a treat to experience, especially through a month of work and work outs and not visiting OMOO or the Skipper.

 

BUT,  December is here and there’s some catching up to do with family and friends in lovely Maple Bay.  This is a fav winter scene from our home on the water.

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So thanks November, for your sunny kindness!!

Awe-inspiring Autumn

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There’s some new beginnings this October for Sideways Sally… after getting off the boat (OMOO I miss you!!) I had changes to make, and it’s become awe-inspiring.

adjective: awe-inspiring

Arousing awe through being impressive, formidable, or magnificent.

“Michelangelo’s awe-inspiring masterpiece”

First of all, I switched the B&B I’ve stayed at for 5 years to a brand-new beautiful house with a gym in the garage. The owner is an impressive 80 year old woman who looks and acts 60. While she was helping me drag my luggage up two flights of stairs I saw how fit and strong she is. She gave me inspiration to get into better shape. I hired her trainer and got to it.

I found Dolores when I was between moving from my rented room at Cambie B&B onto the boat last spring and boat projects were delayed due to damaging winter storms that held up the repair shops for longer than expected.  I took to airbnb and found my new winter home.

The new digs gave me another part of Vancouver to explore. The neighborhood is near Shaughnessy which is home to streets lined with beautiful trees guarding historical mansions of brick and mortar. Not much further away is the VanDusen Gardens which is paradise to wander through, so colorful this time of year.

Over the five weeks the skipper was in hospital in the summer I ate my stress. A pizza, a bag of chips, washed down with a bottle of wine really packs on the pounds. One of the specialists I see put it all into perspective as I struggle to get my back pain under control. He said, “Imagine carrying a 25 lb backpack around all day.” That would hurt, and I was hurting myself.

My new routine included a new job!! I switched from 12 hour shifts to 8 hour shifts in community mental health. I left the setting of acute mental health and rotating shifts. I’ve never worked Monday to Friday in my entire career. This was traumatizing to say the least.

Six weeks in and here are three things I love about this job:

a) I love my clients wherever I work so that part didn’t change.

b) A sunny office, with autonomy to arrange my day to juggle the needs of my clients. I’m an old pro at multi tasking and it makes me happy. My computer station includes a sit-stand desk top, so I can get off my rear end as needed.

c) I get out and about, I either walk, take transit or grab a car-share to wherever I’m meeting my clients.

My case load is 60, about 40-50 are stable at any given time and 10-20 may be in crisis or need extra support to deal with what is going on in their lives. Sometimes they require hospitalization, to see their Psychiatrist, or a change of medication. I can be helping with getting applications done for health coverage, disability or simply handi-dart. I can be doing therapy with a young 20 year old with childhood trauma.  You name it, I do it.

It’s never the same day twice.

It’s a big change for me not to go see the Skipper and Omoo on my days off, but between work outs, grocery shopping for healthy food choices and getting rested from the work week, the days fly by. 

We did have a rendezvous on land in Nanaimo over the November Remembrance Day long weekend, met family and friends for dinners and had NOTHING to do in our hotel room. It was perfect!

I’ve booked vacation times in 2020 to give me some longer weekends, a trip to a warm beach, and time off for sailing.  

 SO… I think I can do this!!

SO LONG SEPTEMBER…

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See you next year!!  Thanks for some great sails across the Strait.  Yup the Salish Sea gave us some perfect winds on our travels.  That’s the best part about a change in seasons – WIND!!

We scooted across to Maple Bay via Clam Bay and landed in for a Dutch Birthday.  The Dutch do these celebrations right.  There was an abundance of family, friends, great food, awesome music, and dancing.   Thank you Fritz and Brigette for having us to your fabulous party!!

The Skipper surprised everyone when he got up and grabbed the lovely local boat detailer and broker, Bon for a jive.  What fun!!  To answer your question, cause I know your all wondering, the Skipper won’t dance with SS cause she wants to lead…

But along with the fall wind comes the drop in temperatures and FOG.  It’s spooky, beautiful and dangerous.   When it’s thick as pea soup SS gets out the horn and sits at the bow when underway.  When the fog starts to lift it’s pretty safe with the radar and AIS.

We were off the dock at False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf for our last time this year.   After dropping off a treat to the amazing staff, Turk and crew for always fitting us in to their busy harbor, we pushed off.   The winds were NW 15-20 KN with gusts.  Once out of English Bay we set the sails for a broad reach and away we went with wind and sun, HEAVEN!!

Since our destination was flexible we took advantage of the wind direction and headed for Tumbo Island Marine Park, a sweet gem and a forever favorite.  It was rock n’ roll from the swells on the Strait  when we arrived, but it settled down for night.  We woke up to thick fog and no wind so we decided Browning Harbor was our next stop.

Along with a boat party for work mates and visits to favorite anchorages, Hershey and Sideways made the most of our second summer.

Luv it when we get together with colleagues and their families.

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Hello October blog sort of soon with lots of changes to report for Sideways Sally and it’s all very good.  Thanks for joining Hershey, SS and OMOO once again.

Rainy Day People

Here we are in a water fall in Vancouver but enjoying the company of old and new friends and listening to tunes.   We left sunny Maple Bay for one last trip to Vancouver for OMOO this year.   We had another great sail across and still can’t believe our luck with the wind on these crossings.  It was a three hour sail right into English Bay and it was so enjoyable we didn’t want to stop!!

Just before leaving Maple Bay we were refilling our propane tanks when Vic who was so helpful as always, discovered a leak in the hose fitting, so we couldn’t use the stove until we got it replaced.  There wasn’t the right fitting available so we’re on the hunt for one.  However, we can use the microwave under way or when plugged in at the dock.  On our usual stopover in Clam Bay we heated dinner in the microwave while motoring into Clam Bay and reheated it on the engine.  The Skipper always has creative solutions!!

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We got up at sunrise to catch the slack at Porlier Pass and shared it with a tug and log boom.  That was a first!

add video of tug

 

Winds were SE 10-12 knots so we set the sails for a broad reach and got comfy.  Winds were forecast to build to 20 KN but it never happened.  At one point gusts were up to 18 KN so we reefed in preparation.  OMOO sails better upright so we scooted along at 6.5 knots, happy as can be.

 

Jacques and Brenda, whom Sideways met taking Power and Sail Squadron 10 years ago, drove in from Chilliwack in a downpour.  We have a tradition of a visit at Fisherman’s Wharf and getting fish and chips from Go Fish.  We’re SO glad you guys made it in again this year!!  Especially cause we got to cuddle with Milo!!  We really do need to get our own dog.

Fred the Fireman came out to entertain Milo, but Milo wasn’t so sure about him!!

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SS couldn’t wait to introduce some special people to the Skipper so look who came for dinner!!DSCN2187 (2)

Thank you Steph and Jason, we’d LUV to have you come back for a sail and keep you for crew!!  We had a long discussion on how to handle sea sickness and Jason and the Skipper both suffer.  So I guess it will be me and you sailing the boat Steph!!  As we found out already, the guys won’t have any problem finding things to talk about, it’s all about engines and fixing stuff!!

So rain never stops people from boating and things are busy as ever in False Creek.  SS gears up and goes out to check things out.  The neighbors are strolling the dock and comment on the New Brunswick flag hung on our boom.  Especially the ones from PEI!!  These East Coaster’s flock together when they land on the West Coast.