Sailing into the “New Normal”

 

Sideways Sally thinks  about everything, all the time. When she thinks about the new normal, she’s feeling very grateful that social distancing is not that much different than when they are out travelling up and down the coast. They are self contained, self sufficient and when going to remote areas, don’t often see people anyway. So there Covid-19, you can’t bother her!!

Most of the beauty of living and travelling on a sailboat, apart from the thrill of sailing, is the sights along the way. After the second night back in Clam Bay, which we visit often, the Skipper whispers to SS just before falling asleep, “so tomorrow I’ll sit on the port side and you sit on the starboard side.” OK, she gets it. It’s time to go see something new and feed the wanderlust. Off we go again, haulinng anchor and heading out of the bay. Motoring north we take Gabriola Passage at slack tide and turn into Dogfish Bay on the east end of the passage.

New to OMOO and crew it turns into one of the best anchorages yet in the Southern Gulf Islands. It is well protected from the NW winds by Gabriola Island and tucked between Valdes and Kendrick Islands. The bottom is sticky and there was no problem holding on the hook. The current coming and going from the passage added to the milieu, swirling more, being pushed back and forth with the force of the water from Gabriola Passage. The tide rose and dropped dramatically, exposing the exquisite sandstone formations on the east side of the bay, and the beach which grew substantially at low tide.

Mother Nature finally gave in to a good weather break and the temps soared to mid-20’s. Out came the toys, SS pumped up the paddle board and headed off to tour the bay. Then out came the hammock and she swung back and forth, the view  constantly rotating as OMOO swings on the hook. The sunshine and the breeze drifts over OMOO, lulling her into a lazy happiness. The Skipper pulls the boom far over to port to give the solar panels more exposure to the sun, his joy rises along with the amperage feeding the batteries. Next he’s up on the deck with a bucket of soap and water washing off the solar panels and checking the increased voltage. Up and down, up and down, getting his exercise just squeezing every ounce of power he can out of the May sunshine.

There are half a dozen other boats anchored in the bay, all shapes and sizes. A boater’s favorite activity is to inspect all other boats, so evening happy hour and boat gawking go very well together. The third day most boats have left the bay, the clouds return, decreasing our solar power so it’s time to move on. Clouds and showers are in the forecast so SS called Nanaimo Port Authority to check on the status of what’s allowed on the dock, and found out as long as boaters have not been out of the country in the last three weeks, that they were accepting transients on the dock.

Rounding Gabriola Island on our way to Nanaimo, SS is on the wheel and hears the raucous barking of Sea Lions on Entrance Island. One can usually smell these large animals long before hearing or seeing them but the wind was in the opposite direction.  Getting closer, and cutting the engine to drift by and observe the large colony is spectacular.  At one end of the island  there are much larger males, while in the middle it looks more like mama’s and pups. It’s quite amusing to watch young pups try to climb up the rocks and slide back down with a big sploosh, and try again. More big males are guarding the opposite end of the island, barking and growling, protecting the herd in the middle.

 

Being a prairie girl, Sideways Sally is always amazed at the sights and sounds on the water. For a few hours, nothing but the ocean and it’s inhabitants occupy her mind, and it’s a very welcome respite of the worries of our times, Covid-19 and “the new normal.”

Racing into a Storm

Sideways Sally has been having alot of fun staying local and sailing in her own backyard.  So much fun that she didn’t want to come back to “shore shit.”  But it’s time to update the blog.

Here’s what happened while anchored in Nanaimo Harbor.  This was super fun to watch, ENJOY!!

 

Thank you Nanaimo Yacht Club for an entertaining evening.  You racing sailors are amazing!!

More to come while we’re back on the dock.  Stay tuned,  SS.

STUART CHANNEL TO CLAM BAY

So that’s enough of being stuck to the dock!!  SS finished the cushion project, took a look at the weather forecast, listened to the marine weather channel and suggested to the Skipper that they get out, stay local and get in some sailing.  He took all of two seconds to agree and the next morning they let the lines go and off they went.  Into Stuart Channel with wind was steady at 10 knots and OMOO breezed along, tacking back and forth.

Sea Sparrow were already in the channel under sail so you know we have to race.  SS hailed them on the VHF and had a chat.  Len  said as soon as they saw OMOO they thought “when they pull out their new big sails they’ll run right over us.”   A few hours later and a lovely afternoon of sailing they were all anchored in Clam Bay.

When Sideways Sally thinks about the new normal, she’s feeling very grateful that life on a boat in isolation is not that much different than when they are out travelling up and down the coast. They are self contained, self sufficient and when going to remote areas, don’t often see people anyway.  So there Covid-19, you can’t bother her!! She used to look at boats from land, and think “what do people do all day on a boat.” Since sailing for the last 17 years, 7 on her own 27′ Coronado, and almost 10 with the Skipper on his 43′ Jeanneau, she’s learned there is lots to do on a boat, and it takes all day!

Stuck to the Dock

May 2020

Week One – Living and isolating on the boat from Covid-19.   We were stuck to the dock when normally we have taken off for the wild blue yonder.  Communities in remote destinations were not welcoming visitors, and under Government restrictions, boaters were urged to stay home.  May is our favorite time to leave on our summer trips when the days are getting longer and warmer.  In past years we’d be in the Broughtons or beyond, half way up the central coast, to Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii, or around Vancouver Island.

Sideways Sally has never been one for patience and dislikes waiting.  She has this “get it done” motto which has served her well over the years.  The boat had already been dug out and sorted from winter projects, which looked after April.  She was in trouble with May and all this waiting.  Not knowing what’s gonna happen next was even worse. Some days she wanted to cry, some days scream, but instead she sewed.  Haha, you thought she was gonna drink, right?  Well, there was a little bit of that, after the sewing of course.

Looking around the boat, SS and the Skipper decided the cockpit cushions could use a sprucing up.  Recovering them gave her some welcome relief from the ruminating inside her head, while hands are busy the mind is calmer.  A quick post on Facebook asking if anyone had a sewing machine they wanted to get rid of, and voila, a day later an answer from a neighbor who had three sitting in her basement.  SS picked up and dusted off her new “old Brother,” oiled it up and coaxed it to life.

WEEEEE.  She couldn’t have been happier, and same for the Brother.  Turns out this is the best Brother she’s ever had (apologies to her real brothers).  Hour after hour, enclosed in the cockpit, sheltered from the elements, accomanied by some country twang, a heater and load of coffee, she sewed the slips for the closed cell foam cushions that were showing 20 years of wear and tear.  Timing was good with the weather being crappy.  There was rain, rain, rain with infrequent spells of showers, wind and then more rain.  SS resigned herself to being ok with being stuck to the dock. Mother Nature wasn’t cooperating anyway.

It’s all an experiment, this new world we’re living in. For the most part, everyone seems to be trying their best to figure it out. Boaters in our home port of Maple Bay and the live aboard community kept social distance and worked away individually together on spring boat projects, preparing for summer sailing even though we didn’t know for sure if and when we’d be out there.

Towards the end of that week our live-aboards were all getting antsy to have some normalcy back, so for the first time since our 8 weeks of Covid-19 restrictions we gathered for a special celebration, on land, social distancing.  We had a very important person’s birthday to celebrate.  Boaters are unique people, and Vic is somebody who is selfless, caring and connected to all of us.  He is always there to help, or listen, or walk a dog.  So off to land we went, with chairs spread six feet apart, to sing and honor his 75th Birthday.  It brought tears to Sideways Sally’s eyes to be a part of the afternoon, sitting with our community, slowly getting back to something normal.  (B-day video in previous post)

Nothing to see, Everything to sea

During our time being stuck to the dock due to Covid-19 our view is becoming slightly limited.  Once in awhile our neighboring boats leave for a haul-out which widens the scenery slightly.   It was starting to feel like there was nothing to see.

We were truly longing for some wide open spaces so last week we let the lines go and headed out.   Some of our dock neighbors asked “where are you headed?”  “All the way to Clam Bay” was the answer, “well take lots of food” our neighbor bantered back, teasing us about our very short journey.

We left Maple Bay behind and were into Samsum Narrows, the feeling moving through  the water is like being home again.  The Skipper and I share that sensation and it’s one of the most indescribable things.  It’s something I could never have dreamed of until I got on a sailboat and felt the sun, wind and water all around.  It’s serene and exciting all at the same time.

It’s about 2 -3 hours if we have a good sail, but there was not a lick of wind so we motored up Stuart Channel.  It being our first time out for the season, Sideways Sally took the wheel so the Skipper could check on his improvements over the winter.  He had replaced the hoses for the water heater which connect to the heat exchanger which distributes heat from the engine into the cabin.  All the connections were ok with no leaks of antifreeze.  WHEW, this was a good thing as the project had become arduous, first discovering the hose was the wrong size, then due to pneumonia  losing his strength.  SS helped tighten the fittings so we were anxious to make sure everything was intact.   YEAH!!

I have to tell you, as a First Mate and a farm girl, I love working alongside the Skipper on his projects.  It keeps me up to date with how things run on OMOO and lets me get down and dirty into the bilge with tools in hand.  The best thing about this is our teamwork.  We tackle a project together and it gets hilarious pretty quick.  Usually what he says and what I hear and vice versa is totally different.  We just laugh about it cause at our age this is not going to improve, it’s just going to continue to get worse.  Like when I asked him while at the marina if he’d seen big Steve, to which he replied, “what about big cheese?”

We dropped anchor in the NW corner of Clam Bay where we have always had good holding and settled in for the night.  Shortly after, a familiar boat pulled into the bay so we hailed “Beyond the Stars” on the VHF and had a visit with our friends Shannon and John across the water.   It was so good to see them and talk again!! Normally this would have been an invitation to join us aboard but we were all isolating so that will wait for another time.   At high tide local fishers take the cut from Clam Bay to Telegraph Harbour, but late in the evening one fisher didn’t time it quite right and provided us with some entertainment.  Finally he got off the bottom, backed up and left the way he came.  We had a lovely dinner in the cockpit in the setting sun and then slept like babies with the gentle movement of the boat overnight.

After three peaceful days and nights, the winds were forecasted to kick up from the SE, veering to SW up to 25 knots so we hauled anchor and headed over to Princess Cove on Wallace Island.  Tucked into the end of the cove sheltered from the winds we enjoyed  three more days of lazing about enjoying the sights and sounds of nature.

Being from the pairies I never knew loons were saltwater birds but we heard their lovely calls both in Clam Bay and Princess Cove.   In Princess Cove the anchorage is close to shore and most people stern tie, especially if there are several boats.  We got up close and personal to the otter hunting frequently and teasing the dog who lived ashore.

So all through our week out, there’s everything to sea, from OMOO our lovely home.

Suspended in Time with Covid-19

Sideways Sally is very excited to share with you a published article in Pacific Yachting on June 1, 2020.  Here is the link.

Thank you to my Skipper for taking me along in his dream life of living and sailing on OMOO.

Thank you to my blog followers for always encouraging me to keep writing.

https://view.imirus.com/597/document/13362/page/31

 

How to spend a COVID-19 Birthday

Sideways Sally wakes up this morning happy to be in the boat bubble.  She flew back to Maple Bay from Vancouver two weeks ago to look after the Skipper who was very sick. After a few seconds of reorienting herself while buried under blankets in the V-berth she thinks, “Snug as a bug in a rug.”  OMOO is the “happy place.”

The Skipper has again evaded doing his own spring cleaning by coming down with pneumonia.  Now THAT is taking things to the extreme if you ask SS!!  As his wonderful Doctor says, “if it’s not one thing, it another.”  BUT, the good news is he’s on the mend again!!  This cat has used 4/9 lives!!

After a week back on board SS found the floor, counter and table top.  It took a bit of self medicating at first.  She came across some napkins that were buried in the galley, they said “wine is better than therapy” which reinforced her method of coping.  Things became even more optimistic when the food storage lockers became accessible and were full of canned and dry goods from last year.   Only one shortage, toilet paper.   If worse comes to worse, there is LOTS of moss here on the Wet Coast (that is not a typo).

Come along on a mossy walk, just around the corner from Maple Bay.

So SS got to thinking outside the boat, imagining becoming the hunter gatherer of all things essential.  Breakfast is covered because she uncovered the stockpile of oatmeal that will last for approximately 9 months.  This was originally for earthquake preparedness.  Lunches look pretty good with canned salmon and tuna coming out the ying yang.    So SS is picturing herself fishing, crabbing and prawning and making fresh seafood on a bed of rice, along with trying some seaweed salad.   OMOO can’t wait to get back out there in the summer sun. The wind and currents are calling.

This whole isolation protocol has not really changed the Skipper’s lifestyle too much.  He’s always content to while away the hours on his computer, leaving his colon to be the only one working.   The amount of research done on OMOO is astounding, but it’s always put to good use (wink wink).

Now that SS is here he has someone to share all his research with but she fails frequently when asked questions like “what were the Lone Ranger’s bullets made of?” and “what did he name his horse?”  While SS vaguely remembers the TV shows in her younger years, mostly Beverly Hillbillies, Bugs Bunny and Bonanza, the Lone Ranger escapes her.  Perhaps she wasn’t born yet??  Answers to both burning questions were “Silver.” “Why silver bullets?” SS asks, thinking that’s got to be expensive, well… according to google…

“The Lone Ranger uses silver bullets in his pistols. Ranger Jim forges the silver bullets using ore from the Ranger’s silver mine. … Secondly, the silver bullets are a symbol. They serve as a reminder of the preciousness of life, and the high cost of pulling the trigger.”

Then without missing a beat out comes the history of the Lone Ranger, and how the actor Clayton Moore was quite in love with the character and long after the movie came out, he frequently went to malls dressed in character.  But, he didn’t own the character so he got sued by the movie producer.  Clayton Moore dealt with the lawsuit by changing the mask he wore to go to malls to large sunglasses so that he was not fully in character.  He would not let it go.  He was born in 1914 and died in 1999, at age of 85.  SS silently thinks “how can someone who can’t remember where he left the last screwdriver he used remember so many names and dates.”  It’s truly mind boggling.  Keep in mind these questions tumble out at the same time he’s tumbling out of bed.

SS suggests these type of questions should be banned until at least three sips of coffee, or even better, three sips of evening wine!!  Next the Skipper breaks out into the old tune from the Oak  Ridge Boys  “Elvirus, my lungs are on fire, from Elvirus.”  Some levity about how Covid-19 would be lethal to someone that already has pneumonia.  SS can’t help firing up the blue tooth speaker and blasting out some good old “Giddy up, giddy up, Ompa Ompa pa Ma Ma.”

 

This gets the Skipper going and geared up for tackling a small project, and away we go.  “One thing a day and eventually it all gets done” is the Skipper’s motto.  He frequently admits “I’m a plodder, and I keep plodding away.”  It’s hard to believe unless you see it for yourself that stuff actually does happens on OMOO.

So  SS and the Skipper will get through this forced hibernation and hopefully evade the  COVID-19 pandemic.  OMOO can’t wait to get back out there in the summer sun.  The wind and currents are calling to take off for the wild blue yonder.

Somehow life becomes richer, deeper and more precious when priorities get put in a blender.

A most sincere  birthday wish to all our friends and family to stay healthy and safe during this weird unprecedented time of our lives.

Love and Respect,

Sideways Sally

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.

IMG_7079

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!