The day I never left G-Dock

 

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When I turned 45 I picked up and moved from the prairies to the West Coast.  I had been married for 25 years to a very nice man, had three wonderful children, a great nursing career and a dread of dying of boredom.   Fifteen years into my married life I decided I would one day make the break, and it terrified me.  I put it off for ten years, weirdly believing that somehow everything and everybody would be better with me in the picture “till the right time.”

I remember standing at the kitchen window in Brandon, Manitoba, staring out at my favorite tree, mindlessly washing the dishes and thinking, “why can’t I be happy here just like everyone else?”  It pains me to say this for the fear of hurting yet again the sweet souls of my wonderful family and what I put them through in my crazy attempts to make sense of my life.

Near  the end of my married life I took a motorcycle trip out to the west coast to look for a job and meet up with friends.  A job interview took place the same day I made an offer on Nomad, a 1979 27′ Coronado sailboat.  She belonged to a friend of a friend who took me out sailing on a day of golden sunshine, blue blue sky and smooth sparkling ocean .  I was in heaven and  had fallen in love with sailing.

I’d kept my little sailboat “Nomad” on Saltspring Island  and learned as much as I could from the sailing community I met there.  I enrolled in the Power and Sail Squadron course and learned the basics of safety and sailing on the ocean.

I went everywhere in that little boat.  Being old, she had 1/2 inch fiberglass and was bullet proof.  I ran into rocks going to Jedediah Island,  sat out 45 knot winds anchored in Desolation Sound, and was stranded on a calm day when the 9.9 Honda engine wouldn’t start.  My friends rescued me and towed me back to SS.  The old tiller broke off in my hands in the middle of a gale where I pushed it a little too hard into the wind.  I steered her back to the mooring with what was left of it between my ankles.   The adventures were just what I longer for and I had found my happy place.

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Five years later I sold Nomad with the hopes of living aboard a bigger boat.   I’d put my name on a list for moorage in Victoria where I was working, gave notice on my apartment, and  made an offer on a sailboat that didn’t pass the survey.   She was a beautiful old wooden boat with brass rails and an ornate interior.   She was a rotten old classic.   My plan fell apart and I went to live with a friend who rented me a room close to work.  I realized there must be more to learn about boats and living aboard so I postponed my plans for a year and went sailing with friends on their various boats.

Unbeknownst to me at the time somebody was looking for a lady to sail with, and possibly more…

Carol was a colleague, she was the Social Worker on the unit where I was working.   I would occasionally hear her on the phone in her office talking to a man she was dating, whom she had told me a little bit about.  He was from the East Coast and was living on his new sailboat.  They had met via internet dating.  One day I walked into her office during one of these calls to overhear her saying, “Well you should probably throw out some of those old t-shirts, especially that ratty one.”  (I now know exactly which one she was talking about.)  Not wanting to interrupt her I sat quietly waiting for what I needed to talk to her about.  She then said, “Will you be coming to see me later?” followed by, “Well, then I guess you’ll be wanting to go sailing again soon instead.”   (I now know he hates leaving his boat.)  Soon after this Carol invited herself along to one of my exercise nights at the local pool.  She started asking me more about my sailing life, and more about my love life,  both of which were nonexistent at the time.

I’d just come through leaving someone whom I loved deeply but who loved alcohol more, and I had to get “off of that sinking ship.”  I told her I’d dated a few guys I’d met on internet dating sites, but that it felt like “shopping at Walmart, there’s lots for sale but nothing of real value.”  so I’d given up and was just going to have fun doing things I enjoyed.  She then explained that the relationship with the man with the sailboat wasn’t really going anywhere and that he had this really strange sense of humor that she didn’t get.   However, they wanted to keep sailing (she was a ferocious sailor).   This guy had asked her to bring friends sailing, as he was new to Vancouver Island and didn’t know anyone.  So one day she invited me to meet Harold and sail on OMOO.

I had sailed on a few boats by this time, but was thrilled to get on the wheel of this Jeanneau 43 DS sailboat.  The first time I sailed her we were blasting past Sidney Spit on a broad reach.   I had to keep her away from the shallow water and still catch the angle of the wind to maintain our great tack.  I was focused and got her going perfectly.  The skipper noticed.

We went sailing a few more times and she sailed like a dream.  We would have a little happy hour when we got back to the dock.  The skipper would tell stories of how he moved across Canada, working and living in rooming houses so he could save money for his dream lifestyle.  He wanted to live aboard a boat that sailed well and he could stand up in.  He’s 6’4″ tall and has trouble fitting on beds.

He described some of the people in these rooming houses who were  drug dealers or mentally ill,  and how the police would show up, and how he’d lock his door when things got wild.    I laughed and laughed so hard I had to lie down on his settee.  “You’ve been living with all my patients” I said.   We’d tell each other our stories and jokes,  cracking up while Carol sat looking at us like we were from Mars.

When we met, OMOO lived in Sidney, at a marina surrounded by “Gin Palaces,” big empty power boats, mostly owned by Americans.  The skipper wanted to find a community, so he followed another skipper he’d met to Maple Bay.

One beautiful spring day in Maple Bay the skipper needed a hand measuring  his anchor chain so he gave me a call.  I was on Saltspring Island hanging out with my sailing friends.  I love to do anything that has anything to do with boats so I met him at the next ferry.  We worked away under the warm sun and when the job was done Harold asked me if I wanted a beer, so I said sure, “if you’re having one.”  He replied that he wouldn’t drink cause he was driving me back to the ferry.    I went below to use the head and thought “I don’t need to go back to the ferry.”  I brought up two beer and without saying a word we opened the beers and  I never left the boat.

The rest is history.  We’ve been this wonderful wacky trio of OMOO, Hershey and Sideways Sally going into our tenth year now.  We’ve gotten to know each other’s family and friends, have been tossed around in some life and death health issues, and have celebrated our home on the water every chance we get.  We take trips every summer  to the most amazing destinations on this vast West Coast.   We’ve met people everywhere we go and make lasting friendships that we value immensely.   We have a friendship and understanding that I’d always dreamt of.   Hershey is gentle soul with deep insight, always curious about what’s going on in the world, and keeps me grounded when I’ve had a wild ride in the trenches .  He listens to my stories when I need to debrief  from work.  On the boat he is a teacher, a stickler for safety, and the most experienced sailor  I’ve met.  Thank you for taking me along on your life long dream of living and sailing on the ocean.

To my Skipper, my best friend, my mentor, and my safe place to land.  I love you to pieces my favorite nutbar, Hershey.

Captain Passage is the very first video I made of our adventures.   It’s long one so grab a coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy.

 

Wait for me: A note from OMOO.

 

It’s that time of year again when I start to think about getting my bottom inspected.  It’s been a long cold gloomy winter and one thing I know for sure is that things grow in the dark.

The guy that lives in my belly all winter is always scratching around, poking and prodding in odd places.  Now she’s starting to come around again, and I can hear the two of them laughing and giggling, then things get really serious when it comes to who cleans what and where they’re gonna put stuff.

The Skipper that lives in me is called  “Hershey” and is pretty damn chill about all of this, he likes to keep things “calm and cultured.”  However, the one they call “Sideways Sally” doesn’t always appear to have time for that.  She likes to get me sorted out, cleaned up and spit and polished NOW, like there’s no tomorrow.

I’ve never quite understood how they make it work but one thing I’ll tell you for free, in the end I look pretty damn good.

It starts with uncovering me, I’m thanking my lucky stars about that one.  There’s been some gawd awful flapping and flinging of what’s left of those gray tarps trying to keep winter off of me, like that’s supposed to work.  Then I’m gonna get a bath with that loud machine which kinda stings, then the scrubbing starts.  It all feels so good when it stops.  Music is playing while I get my rub down with some smooth waxy polish, it’s kinda romantic.  Then I have a soft glow, and I’m sitting pretty again.

The Skipper likes to rev up my engine, which is the part I love the most.  He’ll  get me all lubed up and stroke me in all the right places.  He’s very diligent about that and he always leaves me clean and tidy.  This is also his favorite activity, so it makes us both very happy, and I run well.  All my Yanmar 75 turbo charged parts never skip a beat, maybe that’s why they call him “Skipper”.  I don’t know, or care, but I do wonder what his last name is sometimes.

Sideways gets down to business pretty quick, sometimes she kicks him out “to go take a break and get some stuff from town.”   By the times he comes back he can’t find a thing and she is completely happy, and I smell good!!  Then she usually invites a bunch of people over and they all drink wine, or tea if it’s before three.

OK, I know this part is weird, the Sideways Sally lady is always talking about how much she loves to clean my bottom.  In fact, she’s gotten several marriage proposals from saying that out loud.  Not from him tho, he knows how crazy she is, from these other guys that come around.  She gets so excited about bottom cleaning that she even requests to do it for her birthday.  She truly is a strange one.  But when she gets geared up for the job, oh my propeller, is she one hot lady.  She kinda overdoes it sometimes though, insisting I need to be all scrubbed down… down there with sand paper, then washed down with acetone, if you can believe it.   She gets down on her hands and knees for parts of the job, then gives me a make over with the brush and rollers.  It’s all black and goopy for awhile, but feels fresh and smooth when she’s done.    Sometimes there’s lots of people around while this is going on, so I’ve gotten quite used to exposing myself.  Actually it feels kind of risque, but in an attractive way.

Knowing I’m soon to be completely naked with my bottom showing, I’m off to the boatyard for my date with the slings.  They give me a lift and I’m on the hard.  I like to be handled gently, but I don’t mind the hard.  Then the words to this song keeps playing in my head “wait for me.”   I’m in a super vulnerable position when I’m on the hard, and without all the help I would never get finished in time for the summer season.

The other guy who is a regular named Ken has gotten pretty good mucking around under my hull as well.  Sometimes he brings another lady, Tanis and they all get dressed up to join the party.  They  get the job done pronto!!  There’s lots of laughs going on when they get into the beer.

Part of this routine gets quite technical when it comes to the Skipper and my propeller, there’s something special about it which requires lots of attention.  Different tools and lubricants come out and it seems to attract  people that come over to make sure it’s all getting done perfectly.  This is a big deal for the Skipper plus he kinda likes an audience.  Talk about risque!!  He gets this big grin on his face the whole time he’s making it all clean and shiny.

Once I’m all dry and spiffy they put me back in the water where it’s soft and cushy and I can move around and get comfy again.  Finally when everything is organized and the crew can find stuff  again we all go chasing some wind, which is my favorite thing to do.

 

 

 

2019 Family Trip to OZ

 

Week 1 – Vancouver to Melbourne

I was determined to get a blog up each week, but here we are on week 3 of our trip and I’m grabbing a few moments early on a beautiful Aussie morning to try to catch up.  It has been an amazing journey so far with no major glitches in our travels.

We had one minor glitch at the airport with Barry’s visa because I put in my ex-husband’s birthday (who’s name is also Barry) instead of Barry Bromley’s.  I must have been doing this after too many over-time shifts at work.  However a quick re-do and 15 minutes later we were cleared for boarding.  WHEW!!

The best way to travel turns out to be with a slightly disabled person.  I say slightly because Irene can get around very well, especially getting to the AO (Aussie Open), I’ve never seen her beetle so fast as getting to the Rod Laver Arena to enjoy live tennis!!

We did not have to navigate our way through airports as we’d arranged assistance.  The kind and efficient staff scooped us up for fast security check through and whisked us away to the gate.   Hong Kong was a dream with the porter taking us right through to our hotel.   The ladies in Melbourne wouldn’t even let Lexi and I take our own luggage!!  And no line ups!  It was fabulous!

Next time I travel I’m borrowing that cane!!

The first day of tennis in Melbourne we took Barry and Lexi with us on a ground pass while we got our bearings and learned the transit system.  It was easy to get around on the tram once we got Barry away from measuring the track and onto the tram.  It was an amazing number of people moving around the city and attending the OA but it all went very smoothly.

We had no idea who we would end up watching but we did get a thrill out of seeing Serena Williams, Rafa Nadal, and the Oz female player Barty, among a few others. It was fun to be in the “Barty Party” and enjoy the Aussie fans.

Irene said what struck her the most is how quiet the crowd is while the volleys are on.  You can hear a pin drop, while she’s used to watching on TV when the commentators are talking the whole time.   It was fun and interesting for me to see her enjoying live tennis, and an educations as she knows ALOT about tennis and all the players, their wives and girlfriends, and any nonsense they’ve been up to.

Barry and Lexi toured the aquarium, went on a river cruise, and then took a day trip with a steam train ride out into a nature reserve.  Of course it was “not set up for us steam engine fanatics,” according to Barry.   He only had fleeting moments of measuring and examining things before getting yelled at to board the train.

Day 3 in Melbourne and we got on a tour for the Great Ocean Road.  The pictures explain it much better than I can.

Now it’s many hours later after another day of exploring this huge and interesting country.   We are off to go diving in the morning so I will post this for now and keep working on updates.

Cheers from down under.

 

Then and Now… WOW

JULY, 2018

Crew change in Port McNeill  with Ken our faithful crew coming aboard so Sideways Sally and the Amazing Janaye with her Mom Jackie could catch a ride back to Vancouver with Tanis, the other half of the Ken crew.

MUGGED BY HUMPBACKS!!

Well, the East Coast Skipper had seen alot of big whales in his day,  Right Whales in the Bay of Fundy, Humpbacks off the coast of Newfoundland,  but never this close up.  He also took many, many friends out sailing on his Tanzer 22, and had great times which make great stories.  Sideways Sally has heard them all, but my favorite is when he was out with a certain friend who’s name is changed to protect their identity.  “Charlie” was always keen to join Hershey on the water, and since he’d been out quite a few times, the skipper felt confident one fine, calm afternoon that Charlie could take the helm while he went below decks to make a cup of tea.

The skipper is very happy when people come aboard and show interest and share his love of sailing.  He was feeling life was quite perfect that afternoon, nothing is more luxurious than sipping  tea in the cockpit in the sunshine.  Giving Charlie his last minute instructions to go on either side of the fairway buoy that was just ahead of the boat, the skipper thought it was all very straightforward.  As he was below letting his tea brew there was a loud “thud” and a sudden jolt that sent the tea flying.  Looking out the hatch he immediately saw that Charlie had ran smack into the buoy.   The skipper shouted, “either side was open and clear, why did you hit the buoy?”  To which Charlie replied, “I couldn’t make up my mind which way to go.”  Luckily there was no great amount of damage, just spilled tea, so away they went.   The skipper still scratches his head when he tells this story now.

Sideways Sally is determined to put a secret camera on board when the Skipper and his mate Ken go out adventuring.   She really needs to know how they manage to do everything just fine without her.  This year they had a wonderful time eating chili several times a day for days in a row,  (which Tanis had prepared ahead of time) so why cook if you don’t have to?  They also manage to anchor safely then drink beer and play chess to their hearts content, not always in that order.   No one is telling them when to get up, clean up, or how to do stuff, and it’s a happy, messy men’s world at sea.   It’s not all smooth sailing tho, and it’s normal to have things break on a sailboat.

This year they broke the throttle cable, but no panic, they were able to motor into Forward Harbor and put the anchor down, then put their heads together to jury rig a solution.    Ken and the skipper go way back to working together in the window business in Winnipeg Manitoba.  Hershey was the engineer and Ken was in quality control.  What two better minds to fix problems!!

In no time they had a line running from the fuel throttle inside the engine compartment, up through some plumbing tubing through a hatch to the cockpit,  and taped in place with electric tape, then tied to the rail beside the helmsman’s seat.   All the skipper had to do to run the engine was pull on the line running to the throttle which is spring loaded, and he could control the speed of the boat while under power.   It felt and looked like he was holding the reins of a horse, YEEHAW!!

No doubt this was all done with alot of laughs and alot less time without the instructions and suggestions from the 1st mate.   They truly have a good time with their trips together on the water.

This year they were in for a special treat.  They were SO thrilled and scared shitless all at the same time, to get mugged by humpbacks.  This is the day every boater dreams about (OR NOT).  Ken especially has always wished to get the experience of being close up and personal with some wild life since his boating times are once or twice a summer as timing allows.  His wish came true and he caught some great video of humpbacks “mugging” OMOO barely more than an arms’ length away.

What a show these large humpbacks put on,  coming over to OMOO who was stopped with the engine off as soon as they saw the blows.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU KEN FOR SHARING YOUR VIDEOS ON OUR BLOG.

NOW WE CAN HARDLY WAIT FOR NEXT SEASON!!

 

Then and Now with James and the Amazing Janaye – July 2018

 

IMG_4242Along came James, Harold’s  son, and there were many hours spent on the Tanzer 22 getting James acquainted with sailing from the early age of two while still in diapers.  Through the years James brought friends aboard and appeared quite content to occupy his time playing games with his friends or reading.   Harold was under the impression that James was not particularly interested in sailing but none the less it was a way to spend time with his son so Harold always encouraged James to bring as many friends as he wanted.  James took lessons, then enjoyed the sailing dingy Harold had bought for him.

 

 

One day to Harold’s great surprise James announced he wanted to do everything on the Tanzer to get her ready for a sail.  Harold asked if he needed his help and James replied, “No Dad, I’ve watched everything you’ve done” and was very capable of getting the boat ready for setting sail.  “This brought tears to my eyes” is Harold’s memory of that day.

Teaching sailing has always been an informal passion of the Skipper’s and this summer we had the awesome surprise of having a lovely young lady aboard who took to sailing like a fish to water.  THE AMAZING JANAYE came from Manitoba with her Mom Jackie (niece to the 1st mate) and set sail from Port McNeil to Sointula on Malcomb Island to Blackfish Sound and back to Port McNeil.  In the few short days aboard, Janaye advanced from novice sailor to experienced deck hand and crew, asking all the pertinent questions and understanding the answers and directions in a heartbeat.  She helped tie the lines when docking, adjusted the fenders, and even reminded us when we needed to move the fender step from port side to starboard side at the dock.  While at anchor she asked “what do we do if we start to sink?”  So we got out all the safety gear and explained the EPIRB, the waterproof VHF, the flares, the emergency food and water and explained the reasons why we may need to abandon ship, along with all the safety mechanisms on board to keep us afloat.  Janaye and her Mom seemed reassured we would be safe in case of disaster.  (We were anchored within the bay at Port McNeil at the time but wanted to keep their first experience safe and secure)  Coming from a 10 year old from the prairies the questions were extremely appropriate and showed us the wheels were turning and she truly wanted to gain knowledge and understanding.   The Skipper was THRILLED, and before the first sip of morning coffee Janaye would ask “Harold can we play chess?”  and they were off.  They got along like long lost friends and life on board OMOO was a dream come true for the Skipper.

 

 

Thank you SOOOO MUCH Jackie for bringing us your delightful daughter to spend some time on the water.  Looking forward to your next visit on OMOO.

Here’s Janaye’s story of her trip on OMOO.

 

 

PSS… She’s adorable and she gets an A for effort on the anchoring (35 ft depth so 120 ft of chain down).

 

THEN AND NOW

Then and Now 3

THEN

Reaching adulthood, Harold graduated high school and got a job at a pickle plant in Sussex, New Brunswick.  He was saving money for university and started that fall in St. John then went to UNB in Fredrickton to get his Bachelor of Science in Engineering. He worked the summers, first painting houses and then got hired by Warnock Hersey testing bitumen at the Irving Oil Refinery. Then tested concrete when the company set up a lab in St. John. After his 3rd year he tested bitumen at an Imperial Oil Refinery in Halifax.

Sailing was still a priority but he didn’t get back to St. John often since he didn’t have a car. Once, he took the train and went sailing again. After 4th year Harold got a job at Fraser Pulp Mill in Edmunston, N.B. in the engineering office. After graduating in 1971 at age 23 engineering jobs were hard to find close to home so he took a job in Labrador at Wabush Mines which was an iron mine. The job lasted two years, and he did not enjoy it but it was good experience. He was foreman in maintenance, and the equipment was huge.  By now he could afford a car, and since it was a very isolated location he put his car on the train to get in and out. There was good skiing and he often went night skiing and could view the northern lights.

He’d saved enough money to take a trip back to Holland in 1972 to visit his grandparents. His cousin Hessel was married by now to Selma. Hessel worked on the family tulip farm and had built a forklift that would attach to the back of a truck. The forklift was for lifting boxes of tulips. Hessel was approached by an owner of a silage processor to make some forklifts for him, which was the start of further development of fork lift factories, pattening the product and shipping them all over the world. The machine was called the Kooi Ap (the family name, ap meaning monkey in Dutch) and was later sold to Telladine then Moffat. Now these machines are seen everywhere. IE – on the back of Home Depot trucks.

The engineering gene was strong in this family. Although Hessel had trained in horticulture, he experimented all the time. Hessel later built a sailboat that could walk up the beach. He had bought a 30′ steel sailboat with an unfinished hull and deck. The first thing he did was cut off the hull at the water line, then welded on his own hull and a keel that would split in half and would come out like wings to form two platforms that would hydraulically walk up the beach so his kids could step off the boat and play close by.  Harold’s connection to Hessel and his family had a big influence on his life and he thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them.

Harold left the Wabush mine after his 25th birthday and looked for a job in St. John. He was hired by Lockwood in Moncton, as a plant engineer in window manufacturing. This afforded him the means to buy his own sailboat and in 1975 at age 27 he bought a brand new – right from the factory, Tanzer 22 #1017. He sailed on weekends out of Schediac (lobster capital of the world). He sailed up and down the N.B. coast and to P.E.I.  He named his boat Joshua after whom he thought was a loyalist ancestor. People would ask him if he’d named the boat after Joshua Slocum who was a famous sailor (1st man to sail around the world). Coincidently, there is a Harold Upham in California who is also a famous sailor (for extensive sailing trips) and he also named his boat Joshua. These things are known due to the internet.

Many things were learned on these sailing trips. On one trip to P.E.I. he blew the Tanzer logo and number off the sails from sailing in too big a wind. He also found out the lockers in the cockpit were not sealed or waterproof when his gas tank started banging around when they were taking water in over the side of the cockpit. He bailed in a hurry to stop the boat from sinking.

Later on he moved the boat to the St. John River at St. John Marina. He was on the river every chance he had, also leading to lots of learning.  One time he went on the wrong side of a buoy and slid the boat straight onto an old barge and found himself and Joshua lying on their side until the tide came up a bit and the boat slid back down.  Another time he had to tack quickly while sailing under the spinaker ,to get out of the way of an oncoming ferry, he beached the boat, so he took the spinaker off and they were able to shove the boat back into the water. There were many, many days of joyful sailing and running aground regularly. There was a deep drop off at the river’s edge, allowing Joshua to sail close to shore, close enough to pick the flowers, but then the river would suddenly be shallow and they would run aground. The river was warm so Harold would jump in the water and push his boat back into the water and keep going. There was no depth sounder or radio.  Often times friends and family came out on weekends when everything went right!!

One holiday Harold took the opportunity to sail on a 125 yr old schooner off the coast of Maine with 15 other passengers. This was alot of fun, he remembers being the only Canadian.

No physical symptoms of Marfans developed during this time, other than Harold was unable to develop strong muscles. His grip was always good, which he feels was from sailing, and his work was not physically taxing.  He lived on oatmeal, peanut butter sandwiches and sardines. He tried learning to cook which was “hit and miss” He’d took Power and Sail Sqaudron Courses so would grab a Sub Sandwich and eat it in the parking lot before attending a course.

NOW

Blind Channel is a welcoming spot for fuel and a few provisions. It has a current running through which either helps or hinders boats from docking. The wind and current weren’t in our favor but with a little help from the dock hands and crew of the other boats we might hit we tied up in a mix of rain and sun. The next morning was foggy but it burned off by noon which is when we needed to leave to hit the slack tide at Green Point rapids, then catch the current through Whirlpool Rapids and land in Forward Harbor for the night.  While getting off the fuel dock at Blind Channel when Grant and Lesley from Maple Bay were tying up so we waved hello and goodbye.

In Forward Harbor we found our next door neighbors from Maple Bay anchored, or rather they saw us coming in and yelled a hello while we were anchoring. It was a fun visit aboard “Gypsy Spirit” that evening, with their salmon chowder and our chili with homemade bread and some lovely wine. We learned something new from Chris and Susan, that KY Jelly can fix anything!!  Apparently the lube is effective for more than what it is intentioned!!

Off we went the next morning into Johnstone Strait with forecasted gale winds but we got lucky and were out and into Port Neville before the winds got going. We explored the inlet and went through the narrow channel into upper Port Neville which has good holding in a protected anchorage. There were some old pilings and logging equipment on shore and other than that we had the inlet to ourselves. The NW gale did blow up that night and we could hear it overhead without any waves building so we were very comfortable.

One thing about an anchorages like this is it gets so dark, especially with a cloud cover, that we sleep very well and wake so rested.  Back out into Johnstone Strait in 8 knot winds. We’ll take it!! First a whale watching boat came by and pulled alongside close to ask if we’d spotted whales anywhere, the passengers all waving at us. That was a first, we usually watch the whale watching boats to see where they are to spot any whales. We had not seen any so away they went. A little later they caught up to another whale watcher and found the pod of Orcas. We watched for awhile from a distance then continued on our route to Port Harvey.   A pod of dolphins visited, swimming in the bow wave, always delighting us with their company. SOOOO beautiful.

We reached Port Harvey and tied up mid-day, ordered our home made pizza – George’s specialty (the marina owner) and took a little walk up the ramp to a lovely bench looking over the bay. We learned later that the industry in the bay have been expanding against by-laws so Marina owners George and wife have taken their opposition to the Supreme Coart of B.C. So, things aren’t always as peaceful as they seem here in these remote islands.

Off the dock just as Susan and Chris from Gypsy Spirit arrive, we say hello and goodbye and head up Chatham Channel to Tribune Channel and enjoy a sail under light winds and more visits from Dolphins. They say hello very briefly as they are obviously in the middle of fishing, then dart back to their side of the channel foraging for food.

We anchored in Kwatsi Bay in low cloud. We are in one of our favourite spots as the dolphins come in for night and we watched them in the morning.

The biggest thrill of the trip happened the next day, as we motored past Trivet Island, we were hailed on the radio, asking more details about OMOO (size and make). Then the person on the radio announced they were the previous owner. Switching to another channel so we could talk more Harold talked to Denny on Jersey Girl, whom he had so hoped to meet at some point. As the boats got closer we cut the engine and went of deck to say hello. They said they were very emotional seeing us as they loved OMOO and only had to give up sailing due to aging and being unable to manage the climb in and out of the cabin. They were on a 60′ yacht.

We were able to ask why they named her OMOO and Denny said exactly what we had researched, OMOO is a book written by Herman Melville and means “Wanderer” in Polynesian. What an awesome chance meeting on the water. Later at Sullivan Bay some other boaters who met Denny and his wife at another marina, said they were telling them of our meeting with tears in their eyes. We could tell by all the extras on OMOO that they had put alot into this boat, and I had relayed to them a little bit about how the Skipper being an engineer had kept everything in great condition.

We carried on to Sullivan Bay, feeling very VERY lucky about our experience and so happy to be where we are, in a life where dreams come true!! Sullivan Bay is a lovely posh marina run by American float home owners. Everything is done up beautifully and we thoroughly enjoy our stopover. The next morning we are lounging in our dock chairs enjoying the surrounding view while waiting for slack tide at the Narrows to enter Drury Inlet. We meet and chat with our neighbors, Peter and Helen. Peter is celebrating his 82 Bday today and we wish him Happy Bday. Then ALOT of big power boats pull in, obstructing out view and as space runs out on the dock, we run away to get the quiet anchorage across the way until slack tide.

We find Drury Inlet to be quite desolate, even the little marina in Jennis Bay has been abandoned. We anchored in behind a small island which gave us protection from the wind and had another dark peaceful night. Next day we woke up to low, low tide and alot of exposed beach on the bay. We researched the time for slack tide to get out thru the narrows and I will now describe what I am going to call a “Pseudo Slack” and I have promised the skipper to blame this on the chart plotter. It turns out we went against the current at a very dangerous time, having to dodge debris, weeds and underlying rocks between whirlpools and 7 knot current. We got pushed around alot and crawled over to some back eddies where we were going 9 knots with the current suddenly, and then back into the whirlpools and junk. What a stressful ride. I would call it thrilling but my mind was busy thinking of all the possible things that could go wrong, like a log popping up and hitting the hull, punching a hole through the fiberglass, or getting caught in the rudder or propeller and wrecking it, making us lose steering or power.  That along with it being dead calm so we could not have sailed back out of the narrows. I also wondered how would the dingy respond in this situation if we had to abandon ship.  Where was my knife in case I have to cut the lines to the dingy quickly??  Well OMOO did not let us down, but got us through safely.  Both through the narrows and our stupidity for not figuring this out accurately.  WHEW, were we happy to get back to calm waters and an uneventful trip across the Queen Charlotte Strait to Port McNeill.

Here we are, another week of adventures, all intact, just like it never happened!!

THEN AND NOW

Then and Now 2

As Harold grew into his teens, the invites to go out on boats continued. At age 12, Al Trafton took him out on the family’s wooden 40′ sailing vessel. Al’s wife, son and daughter were there, and Harold remembers Mrs. Trafton cooking their evening meal, the smells wafting up through the companion way, teasing a very hungry crew.

The intrigue of sailing grew and Harold couldn’t get enough.  At age 13 Harold’s father bought an 11′ Japanese fiberglass Cat boat, a monohull with one mainsail. Harold and his Dad sailed on Bell Isle Bay up the St. John river. The first trip out was most memorable, “when we swamped it after about five minutes.”  We pulled the sail down and paddled back to shore.

After a couple of years his Dad bought a 16′ sloop, a McVay fiberglass sailboat which they named Wejari, a name that combined Harold’s sisters’ names, Wendy, Janie, and Rinte. When asked where Harold fit in, in reference to the name, he stated, “I fit right in the boat, we had alot of fun with that boat.” The family mostly sailed on the St. John river and on holidays sailed it to Prince Edward Island and camped in two tents.

In 1964 at age 15 the whole family flew for the first time to Holland. The flight took 13 hours in a Locheed Constellation. Everyone got sick since the plane would not fly very high and experienced constant turbulence. “It was awful, and I thought I was going to die. Everyone was throwing up.”

The next year Harold few back by himself on a DC8, which was much more comfortable. He worked on his grandfather’s farm where he drove the one cylinder diesel tractor.  Once when he was raking the hay (a machine that turned the cut hay over to dry it) he got the wheel stuck in the mud, but his Uncle Hessel who was only six years older helped him get it unstuck.  Their friendship grew with the time they spent  together and this became a very meaningful relationship.

The sailing continued with the Dutch relatives with Grandfather sailing the Frisian Lakes on a wooden 18′ sloop. The most memorable thing about this experience was sailing the same level as the reeds along the shore, because the water table was so high.

Harold thoroughly enjoyed working with the machinery, and watching his Grandfather invent a tulip sorting machine.

Harold grew very fast during his teen years, so fast he had stretch marks on his legs. He became very thin. Ever since he was little, when he got upset his heart would squeak. His parents took him to be checked out by their Doctor, who sent him to a cardiologist but nothing was done.  Little was known about Marfans Syndrome back then although in the 1800’s Dr. Marfan had discovered what was then called the”Spider Syndrome.” (google)

It was quite unusual to be so tall since all the Uphams were known for their short stature, even to the point of having to place their coat hooks at about waist level to most people. Harold’s father was 6’1 and Harold grew to be 6’4″. This became a bit of a challenge when it came to fitting on small boats!

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Dad, Harold, Janie on Dad’s lap, Rinte and Wendy

NOW

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Toba Wildernest Marina at sunset.

After leaving Toba Wildernest Marina, where we met many other boaters at the evening happy hour, we headed for Frances Bay to position ourselves for an early morning start up Bute Inlet.

We were hauling anchor by 6am and as we passed Bartlet Islet we had a “blow” alongside our starboard bow. Harold saw it and yelled”whale.” I immediately grabbed the camera and got onto the deck to take pictures. There were two humpbacks who circled OMOO and swam under us and circled again. This went on for about 20 minutes, and was SPECTACULAR!!

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In our experience so far, we have seen many humpbacks but they always seem very illusive and disinterested, sounding very deep when they are spotted and swimming far away. These two seemed very friendly and curious, almost too close for comfort.

As they left, they gave us a whale tail wave.  What an immense thrill we had waiting and watching them swim and then surface the other side of us. This all happened as the sun was coming up over the mountaintop and glimmering in the water where the whales swam… pure magic!!

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We continued up Bute Inlet, hoping to catch the inflow wind, as per guidebooks. I thought I’d read the winds were inflow in the morning and outflow in the evening, but this morning the wind was opposite, with a 20 Knot outflow wind gusting to 30 Knots as we rounded some of the points.

It’s a 35  nautical mile long, winding inlet so we hugged the lee shore when possible to take advantage of the current which was in our favor and stay out of the wind at least part of the time. No sailing today, too bad.

The wind abated as we reached the head of the inlet where the heat intensified and brought out the horseflies in hordes. By the time we anchored it was all we could do to combat them with our squirt bottle of vinegar. They go crazy when you spray them with vinegar and leave as fast as they come in, but we were quickly losing the battle.

We anchored in the shallowing mud flats and got below quickly to put up the screens so we could open the hatches to catch  some cool breezes coming off the snow fields and glaciers. The horseflies covered the outside of the screens while we sat inside, comfortable with the solar panels supplying power for our fan, blowing cool air out of the bilge and the fridge, keeping our beer cool.  Other than the pesky flies we had the inlet to ourselves, at least on the water. On the shore on both sides the loggers were busy.  One side of the harbor held the camp barge, about the half the size of a football field,  for accomodations, cooking facility and helicopter pad, while the other side was active with chainsaws and equipment moving the fallen timber. The helicopter was busy at lunch time taking the loggers back to camp, with several trips overhead. It all quieted down by 5 pm, and an even cooler breeze sent the flies home as well.

This was our chance to enjoy the views from the cockpit. The majestic mountains surrounded the harbor, making one feel like a very tiny part of the grander scheme of things. The grandeur of the hanging glaciers mixed with the wildness of the sheer cliffs and crevices paint a picture of abandonment, except for eagles, bears and cougars that roam, foraging for food.

We checked the depth sounder again and seeing that it would be too shallow for low tide, moved OMOO out to a deeper spot with 30 feet of water under us.  It’s tricky anchoring at the head of these big inlets, as you can see on the chart below, it shallows quickly, going from 130′ to 22′ then to 2.5′.   Feeling  comfortable with our position, and the calm conditions, we set the anchor alarm to warn us of any movement and retired early.

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At 10PM it was like someone flicked a switch, and we heard the far off howl of a fierce wind coming down the inlet. Within minutes the waves built and OMOO was at the rodeo. The skipper went up to check the depth sounder and the wind speed to find gusts to 40 knots and 12 feet under us. The wind had blown us onto the more shallow mudflats, with the tide going down. The plan was, if the anchor chain let go, which was highly unlikely, but possible due to the blasts of wind and wave movement, Harold would start the motor and head over to the logging camp for temporary moorage.   We had experienced winds like this before, at anchor in Crescent Bay, in Haida Gwaii, and the Rocna anchor held then so we were confident in the Rocna, BUT ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.

We prepared for all night anchor watch, making coffee with the hot water we keep in the thermos, ready at any time.  The skipper took the first hour, while I,”as an exercise only” prepared the ditch bag, checking all the essentials, including the EPIRB, waterproof VHF radio and flashlight, flares, knife, water, food and enough medication for a week for the skipper.  Then I rested, although there was little chance of sleeping, to prepare for my turn on anchor watch.

Just before 1AM and my turn, someone hit the switch and the wind died as fast as it had come up. Setting the clock alarm for 6AM to check where we were at at low tide, we fell back into bed thanking our lucky stars that we didn’t have to pull an all nighter.  When we woke at 6AM  we had returned to where we had anchored and the depth was 30 feet. WHAT A RELIEF!! Back to sleep for a few more hours before hauling anchor and heading back down the inlet on emerald green seas, enjoying the beauty surrounding us and feeling comforted knowing the boat and crew were prepared and able to continue exploring the long inlets of the Broughtons, our destination for this summer.

Riding with the tide we cruised along at 8-9 knots, making the trip much faster than we anticipated.  OMOO rounded Stuart Island by 3pm, ahead of slack tide at Yucalta Rapids, Gillard Passage and on to Dent Island Rapids.  It was an uneventful trip with the 1st Mate on the wheel through the rapids, just the way we like it!

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After attempting to anchor at Shoal Bay, dragging on kelp, we opted to tie up at the dock and enjoy an evening at their friendly pub, and a night with no concerns about wind, or dragging the anchor.

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On the dock in Shoal Bay
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The gardens behind the pub at Shoal Bay

Once again we were HOME SWEET HOME, which is wherever we are moored or anchored at the moment!