Thursday, August 25, 2011

Saltspring Island 19th Annual AA Round Up

I was at the Whitecliff Thursday night Meeting with George when Bill reminded me the Saltspring Island Rally was that weekend.  Bill had sailed with me one weekend to Silva Bay. We've a lot more stories over the water and under that bridge than that, though!  Hearing about Saltspring from him seemed a message I should go even if everything would be last minute.
The fact is, I love Saltspring Island. I especially love the AA Rally every summer there.  I've been more than a half dozen times, sometimes arriving on motorcycle, sometimes  tenting with everyone else, or sometimes arriving on my boat or staying in one of the great Salt Spring Island bed and breakfasts. Everyway has had it's own unique pleasures. For a couple of years the Brians have made the trip memorable. Great friends and great fellowship. Then there's been the guitar playing around the tents,  singing campfire songs.  There's always great outdoor musicians and talking sticks too. The lamb roasts have been beyond the gourmand!  Kiwanis breakfasts have been the best.   All that plus reliable August weather,  Ganges Harbour,  great meetings and oftimes speakers whose stories illicit tears of joy and sorrow.  We celebrate life, joyous and free!
I'd hoped to get away Friday but I forgot about an interview which I foolishly got caught up in. I must schedule interviews early morning rather than end of the day at the end of the week. Fridays now .I'm so often utterly exhausted, mentally and even physically with the sometimes chronic pain.   I rarely feel like more than watching tv and eating pizza and literally can't think.   Yet,   it just seems like yesterday I was crossing the Strait every Friday night, motoring or sailing through the wee hours of the morning, so I could wake up Saturday in some scenic Gulf island anchorage.  Those days were mostly 5 or 10 years ago.  These last couple of years of accidents  remind me my body is actually aging or at least taking longer to heal.  
I didn't get away Friday. I crashed in bed and slept the sleep of the dead.  I ran the errands I had to do early Saturday morning.  That caused me to missed the tidal window. So I  got away late.  I was optimistically thinking I'd maybe get to Saltspring for the evening speaker.  Then I had to fuel up.  But really, I didn't care, once I'd untied from the dock I on the water just loving the boat and the glorious August sunshine. The view of mountains and city from English Bay is always utterly beautiful.
I motored.  The day was spectacular, blue skies, light winds.  I eved slowed enough to troll.  I didn't catch any salmon this time.  So many times in the past I've been more than blessed.  My crew were as lazy as I was, though.  I had a "good guy saves world from terrorists book, adult male comic reading, lots of gingerale and snacks. The Yanmar engine Jim had fixed again was working just fine.  The new exhaust manifold appeared to be doing the trick.  The autopilot turned my boat trip to as close to a train ride as solo sailing gets.  Mid Georgia Strait I was alone for hours sunning nude on  deck with  cat and dog buddies along,  loving the sea, blue sky and great BC outdoors.
Late evening I made Active Pass.  I had a bit of excitement going through the east end watching the depth sounder ,  chart, radar and occasional angry whirlpool.  Round the bend though it all got easier, the ebb helping me along.
Soon I was through and  headed for Ganges Harbour on Saltspring. I'd been this route so many times at night I actually knew my bearings despite the  confusion  that night entrance can be.
10 30 pm  I dropped anchor.  I'd missed the Saturday program but was really contented I'd made it. I made a light dinner before falling asleep at anchor.
Morning in Ganges was glorious. My cat, Angel, loved being on deck early.  Gilbert, the dog was really pleased when after coffee I got the dinghy in the water.   A trip ashore is dog heaven. He only tolerates  his life jacket because of what it means.
Pretty soon I had  the 4 hp Yamaha engine on the dinghy and left first mate Angel in charge of the Giri. The sun was already filling the sky and warming the day.  We tied up at the municipal dinghy dock and walked on up the hill past the High School Gilbert's friend, Robyn, attends.
The Farmer's market field and building really isn't that far from Ganges.  Tents, campers, people and coffee machines flourished.  We'd arrived just as the speaker was being introduced.  Gilbert and I sat at the back just like we had last year.  A half dozen other dogs and owners were there about the rear entrance much to the dogs entertainment.
The speaker, great on service, shared a wonderful tale of inspiration and life, leaving us all laughing through tears and thankful to be alive together.  As the hundreds or so stood to close the meeting in prayer I was so thankful I'd made it another year.
The coordinator announced that next year will be the 20th Annual Saltspring Rally so that's going to be a landmark year. I'll really want to arrive Friday night for that.
Leaving I saw Brian with his new Big Foot camper. He's living the dream planning on heading south for a road trip by to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. He's achieving all the things he'd once only talked about.
A half dozen of us who'd been together the year before carried on those continuing conversations that happen among friends.   So much had transpired in the time since we'd last met sometimes months since a meeting or even a year or two, yet it's like it was just yesterday.
Waving in departure I felt again how much  I belonged.  It was good having friends who shared a common journey.  There was no need for that terrible aloneness that still sometimes could haunt the night or make the crowd seem terrifying.  Hugs, smiles, fond words, and always 'see you again next year!"  We sure do hope so!
Enjoying the summer day even more, Gilbert and I walked back to Ganges Harbour. Ripe red and green  apples were falling off the trees along the road. Beautiful yellow, white and red  flowers were being pollinated by big gold and black bumble bees.  Birds flitted everywhere.  
The harbour soon opened  in front of us with ships and sailboats at anchor, the marinas full,  and a sea plane taxiing  to take off.  It's a really bustling summer vacation spot.   I sail over in winter sometimes when it's not nearly such a bustling place.  I love Ganges everyway though.  I could get lost in Mouats but only made necessary stop at the book store for more summer reading, looking in the shop windows at the fetching island fashions before heading back to the docks.
I bundled Gilbert into his life jacket for the dinghy ride back.  More boats were leaving and with another plane taking off I had to keep my eyes open to avoid getting in their way.  What a lovely day to be on the water though.
Back on the Giri, Angel made her report, giving her Siamese cat opinion on all that had gone on while we were off gallavanting. I wrestled the outboard motor and dinghy on board while Gilbert rubbed noses with her, licked her ears and telepathically relayed all the sights and sounds he'd experienced.  She wasn't interest ed in the dogs he met and chided him no doubt on not paying more attention to the cats.
Soon I had the anchor up and was steaming out of the harbour too late to catch the turn in Active Pass.  I headed up Trinicolli Channel instead  to cross at Porlier Pass.  The wind was perfect for sailing and I could have gone wing on wing for a while like I have so often before but the autopilot isn't well set up for sailing right now. I'd have to balance sails and autopilot and run around on deck like a deck monkey and.....well.... instead I made another cup off coffee and decided I was a motor boat.  I was enjoying sunning with my book looking up at the occasional circling eagle.
Porlier Pass was a cakewalk even though I was off the turn but catching some of the flood to move right along. The current even high was only 1-2 knots this day when Porlier can actually be running 6 or more at other times.  Then the chop and whirlpools can be exciting.
At first there was a little wind in Georgia Strait, mostly 5 to 10 knots,what the weather station means when they say 'light and variable'.    That's easy pleasant sailing though 15 to 25 is best.  With my anticipated return ETA around midnight I preferred the iron jenny steady  5 knots speed.  My book was exciting and my hands were free to eat salad and fruit on the way back.
There was a beautiful sunset on Georgia Strait.  Before too long I was in English Bay heading under night lit Lion's Gate Bridge at First Narrows.  I got confused by a tanker docking and was hailed by a tug to go round its stern.  Only then did I realize the tanker was going to sandwich me if  i continued on that side of her.  Night can be so confusing.
Thankfully my neighbour was away so I had lots of room to dock.  Midnight then, I was all tied up with power cord, attached.  Both Gilbert and Angel running up and down the dock. I got them back in the  boat so I could to to sleep  having had a great weekend on the water.
Making the AA rally even if only for Sunday morning was still worth it.  There's comfort in traditions.   It just felt good to celebrate and share in gratitude.  Angel and Gilbert had a great time but unlike humans they 've got the bar set low for good times.  They both  aren't as likely to be restless, irritable or discontent. If Angel is, it's usually because of something obvious like her litter box needing changing.  
That night I fell asleep with the cat at my neck and the dog resting his head on my leg.  I'd been really glad to see my friends.  I do  look forward to Salt Spring 20th Annual Rally next year.  IMG 2087
IMG 2088IMG 2105IMG 2093IMG 2095IMG 2094IMG 2104IMG 2106

No comments: