Archive for sailing

Shine a Little Light

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 29, 2013 by davegerry
Light me up!

Light me up!

You’re looking at an incomplete picture. It’s a lantern without a boat. The lantern came to me at Christmas…a gift from the family…with a tag but no note because, well, no note was really needed. The message was hanging right there as sure as one of the ornaments on the tree…and the message was, ‘Get out there and get your next boat!’.

I’m looking, but finding the right sailboat at the right length in the right place at the right price..is no slam dunk.

I had a lovely little oil burning lantern given to me by my wife three boats ago. There’s been a lot of water under the keel since then. This was before there was a house. This was years before there were children. That copper lantern was hung on the stern rail of my last boat and served me well. It provided a lovely warm glow…suitable for a snug reading session in the cabin below or for a relaxed round of late night drinks, on deck, at a quiet anchorage under the stars. I really loved that last little lantern. It connected me to all the floating islands of my past

One day, under a fresh breeze, heeled over somewhere in the channel between Bowen and Gambier islands, the strap that held the lantern to the stern rail let go. I was there when it snapped and it happened so fast I couldn’t grab for it. So I just stood there and watched helplessly as the lantern splashed into the wake and sank….just like Leonardo DiCaprio at the end of the movie ‘Titanic’. Only quicker. Gone. To the bottom of Howe Sound. My heart sank a little bit too.

A last glimpse of the last lantern.

A last glimpse of the last lantern.

Now I have a new lantern….all the way from a speciality manufacturer in Vermont. It needs to have its wick trimmed, oil reservoir filled and it needs to swing freely to throw that lovely warm light around a convivial cabin. This is now a lantern in urgent need of a vessel. Me too.

A Dream at the Dock

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 18, 2010 by davegerry

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I saw the love of my life on a dock at Pender Harbour, British Columbia  last week. I didn’t spot her until I was damn near past her. She took my breath away. I have always chased her from afar. I’ve seen her in so many magazines that you’d think I would have been better prepared for the moment. But she just knocked me back on my heels. The dock suddenly shifted under my well-worn boating shoes.

Yes, it was a boat. It was an Island Packet sloop to be exact. She must have been brand new, for she was so clean and sleek that it looked like someone had just peeled off the shrinkwrap. She was all cream-coloured deck and hull, gleaming chrome and dark blue sail covers. She had an Oregon home port emblazoned on her transom. You don’t see a lot of Island Packets in western Canadian coastal waters. They are premium priced yachts, built on the East coast of the United States and when their owners (always) reluctantly decide to let them go they seem to be snapped up within mere moments.

I can never afford this boat. Oh , sure, if I wanted to liquidate my assets and jump feet first I could do it. But I’m not really wired that way. All the pleasure I might derive from finally standing at the wheel of such a yacht might be tempered by the nagging suspicion that I had made myself uncomfortably, financially vulnerable. The confliction is the restriction, you see.

I had a long conversation with another sailor on yet another dock during the time when the Frau and I were away. He too had an unrequited love…a renowned Swedish blue-water cruiser. He’d likely never set foot on that boat either and his pockets are not deep enough to allow more than an aqueous daydream. And I met an older couple who had sailed the same boat together for more than 25 years and were now going to sell. After a quarter of a century and journeys that had taken them from Alaska to Mexico, you just know, they are going to be leaving behind a lot more than spare dock lines and life jackets. The female sailing partner said something rather profound to me when I told her about my reluctance to make a wrong move in the direction of another boat.  Sometimes , she said,  you just have to put your fears aside .

None of us will ever gaze hopefully toward any horizon if we always let nagging doubt take the helm.

Landlocked and Listless

Posted in Manly Ways with tags , , , , , , on January 18, 2010 by davegerry

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There is nothing like the deadly dull, soulless west coast winter to get you thinking about boats. Most die-hard sailors make it through these tough months by absorbing themselves in boating magazines, sitting in an easy chair tieing knots or attending boat shows.

Well, they’ve cancelled the annual Vancouver Boat Show this year because of a minor distraction called the Winter Olympics. It’s a helluva trade off, is you ask me.

I’ve already written on this blog about the lure of being at sea and I’m going to do it again. It helps reconnect me with the water, and I’m not talking about the stuff which is relentlessly falling from the sky.

Much more after the more.

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A speck in the Ocean

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 16, 2009 by davegerry

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”         -Mark Twain

sailboat

I have been in love with boats since I was old enough to throw up in one. What is this siren call? I wish I knew. The photo above is of my last sailboat taken from a helicopter over the Strait of Georgia, one of the most gorgeous sailing grounds on planet earth. I am never happier than when afloat in a boat. It truly satisfies my soul.

This is a melancholy time of year for boaters because, though there are still some fine sailing days ahead (many would say, the best), the end of the season is just around the corner. They claim you can go boating year round on the West Coast of Canada and while this is technically true you need an iron will,  and at least three layers of the best thermal underwear to see it through.

I currently find myself between boats. Understand, I’m not boatless. I’m between boats. There’s a big difference. I’ve always thought I could live on a boat..the right boat. A lot of people harbour the same dream, but unless you are prepared to put just about everything you own into landlocked storage or jettison all of your personal inventory, it’s not a practical plan.

I don’t want to get all Shirley MacLaine-ish on you here but the lure of the water is so personally strong, so deep in my bones, that there’s a good chance I may have once been either a Labrador retriever or an officer in Nelson’s navy.

There are depictions of boats and seascapes everywhere in my home. I am obsessed with 18th and 19th century naval warfare. I have all twenty of Patrick O’Brian’s extraordinary novels which have been thumbed through at least three times and there are a couple of dvd versions of Master and Commander upon my shelf. Upstairs, in a bedroom vacated by one of my kids, is an unfinished frigate called the HMS Unicorn.

I started it four years ago. They used to build real frigates in less time.

 

frigate 002

The unfinished frigate

It’s pretty clear that I’m a certifiable aqua loon.

I have travelled to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut and have filmed in boatyards from New Zealand to Newfoundland. A visit to the holy grail, the great flagship HMS Victory in Portsmouth,  teeters at the top of my bucket list.

And all of this because I must have some extra salinity in the veins. There is another boat in my future as sure as summer turns to fall. In the meantime I’ll just sit back, sip a little coffee from my Trafalgar mug and chant the oceanic mantra.

Explore. Dream. Discover.

Huzzah!

Huzzah!