Sunday, July 20, 2014

Vancouver summer -sailing, boat work and church

Sailing really is a part of Vancouver Summer. If not sailing then the glorious beaches.  It’s a port city and English Bay is one of the greatest protected harbours in the world.  The great freighters anchor there all the time.  Coal Harbour and False Creek are even more protected but many is the night I’ve anchored out in English Bay.
This Friday I was sailing there with a group of guys.  With all the boat repairs these last few years I’ve rarely felt comfortable with more than one or two all the boat.  Those who’d come out with me were no strangers to boat world and the finicky issues of scows and breakdowns.  But now that the hull and rudder, masts and rigging are restored, I’ve a new engine and a new genoa, I feel the boat is no longer one surprise after another.  The damage the boat took in ocean crossing and heavy wear is all repaired.
With the old engine on a couple of occasions the exhaust system failed and filled the cabin with smoke.  Not a pleasant experience for guests at all.  My sailboat is once again reliable. For me it’s always been safe and seaworthy but as a solo captain I could be fully engaged in such issues as roller furling jams or starter motor failures or bilge pump issues. Now I can actually trust the boat to not need me.  It was a delight to enjoy the ride and the company.   Fun to show people facts of nautical life and associate these with daily life. What’s true north and magnetic north?   Why two people winch better tailing than one alone.  The boat is a marvellous thing for seamanship but also extraordinarily experientially.  The sea and sky and mountains are all so inspiring and calming.
The Volvo Engine remains a joy.  Silent and clean running.  I love my Volvo D2 -40.  The Ray Marine autopilot got practically no use at all.  Jeffrey and John were more than capable helmsmen.  Then sailing, Carter and Tom with their small boat racing experiences got the maximum knots possible with the lightest of winds.  With my knot meter being replaced, Jeffrey found an Android app that gave the speed and heading off gps.  Next we were ‘racing’ in my old cruising vessel. The SV GIRI, old lady she is, was quite surprised with all the attention her tell tales were receiving, after my rather lazy sailing: point, set up the sails, put on the autopilot, drink coffee and correct course hours or days later.  Not these guys.  4.6 knots and finally 5 knots with only 12 knots of wind from the SE.  My boat doesn’t fly in light winds. It’s 13 tons with a full keel. But the new North Sail Genoa and the bottom freshly painted and all the attention to detail, well,  the GIRI  really  outperformed herself.
I’d got this magnificent lemon tart from East Vancouver Bakery on Hastings on the way to the boat.  It was devoured along with the ginger cookies and raspberry cookies.  I should have brought sandwiches but I was late and glad the bakery had the pie.  So soft drinks and carbs were all the crew were fed.  Together we suffered on tart, feared scurvy but somehow managed to survive.  There were no pirates and we lacked cannon subdue West Vancouver.  We did fish but only caught kelp.  I’d forgotten the fishing line but John heard the spool zinging out so we didn’t loose the tackle and did see we’d caught kelp.   No one was left behind. No one needed to walk the plank.  The cat of nine tails didn’t come out.  Gilbert utilized every crew member at some point to toss the tennis ball.  The sun was hot.   Vancouver is awesome for sailing.
We motored back under Lion’s Gate Bridge and across Coal harbour, stopping at Lonsdale to let folk off  before finally docking.
Tom stayed the night. Pizza is a terrific food requiring little preparation except making the request. Gilbert went back and forth between our beds not wanting to short change either of us on his doggie company.
Next day we worked together on the fine tuning boat electricals.  Rather Tom worked on  fixing the wind speed indicator and later the electrical outlet and radio.  I read Patrick O Brien.  Gilbert got Tom or I to toss the tennis ball. When a tool or extra hand was needed I shone.  The glyph was solved.   Tom had sorted through my offshore spare box and claimed all the new Yanmar parts for the old engine,  starters, alternators, water pumps, injectors, impellers and a mess of other parts I had as necessary back up. With the new Volvo and no plan to go offshore this year I certainly don’t need spare engine parts for another engine.  What was lacking through this process was music.  That did occasion my shaving and going out. The radio was dead.  Ralf’s Radio had a newer Clarion model which could be fit into the existing harness.
Armed with that, back at the boat, Tom installed the new radio.  I got the Chinese Food. Eating dinner we listened to Handel’s water music.  The boat hasn’t had tunes for over a year.  I don’t even know what I did to short out the old radio but the new one is spectacular.  It works. I have a wealth of songs on my I phone so we checked out the stereo with symphony, opera, Third Day, Steven Bell, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mack, the Animals, Garth Brooks, Cohen, Lightfoot, Phish, Old Blind Dog,  Pink Floyd, just about anything that seemed like it would be a ‘test’ of the sound system.  The radio passed with flying colours.  I’d met our neighbours while I was putting together the Canadian Tire Deck Box and installing it by the boat.  When midnight came and we were still playing music loud on the new radio, I don’t know they were thinking as fondly of meeting me.
Meanwhile Joan Baez was singing at the Vancouver Folk Festival.  A friends wedding was going on in Surrey.  I’d wanted to go but Tom was able to work on the boat with me now. It’s not always possible to have a day where we can work together and with all the Yanmar parts , he was glad to solve electrical problems for me. I haven’t a clue when it comes to ‘instruments’  and electrical.  Too many moving parts!  Tom’s quite happy to go through the system with the voltmeter checking resistance and voltage. I quickly get confused and only do this in a pinch. It’s not something I feel comfortable with either, knowing I can blow an instrument worth hundreds of a dollars or a thousand or more not knowing what I’m doing.  Out in the ocean with no one but myself and a ham radio or phone I’ll do the work with an expert on the other end but at dock I’m really glad when someone like Tom knows his way around electrical systems.  Getting the main components of the  electrical systems working last week myself was  a real joy. I’d found a short and a breaker disconnected but I’d also been lucky.  Tom’s approach is more systematic and knowledgeable.
I’d actually planned to be sailing to Nanaimo for the weekend but with the rain and Tom’s offer to help first with getting rid of the Yanmar parts and with doing the electrical work in exchange, well, it was a done deal. I was tired too in the morning too. I’d not been winching sails or living on the lean for sometime and all the use of the unused muscle groups had me happy to do little but assist.  I couldn’t believe Tom when monkey like he ran up the mast. I really don’t like climbing up my mast, but pilot that he is, he thought nothing of it.  Fixing the antennae off the Oregon Coast after a hurricane  solo sailing has somehow put me off to being at the top of the mast. I’ll do it. I’ve done it, more times than I remember, but it’s not something I would have done that day. But Tom had to check out the wind indicator and I downloaded the specs off the Raymarine website and that’s how he found that a wire had been misplaced.  Voila! The wind speed indicator suddenly sprang to life.
Today we made it to church. I say I’m pretty much a winter and spring Christian because in the summer I’m sailing any weekend I can and in the fall I’m away hunting any weekend I can.  Father Mark Greenaway Robbins was happy to see me.  Knowing I’d been out sailing, he says, he’s sure I know what I’m doing but “I pray for Gilbert.’     Gilbert is much loved at the church and everyone was glad to see him. I missed the church family and was glad to see everyone. AJ and Kevin and the kids look so great.   There’s now at least a a dozen or more folk  I feel close to just coming to church, going for coffee and visiting.
There’s a church picnic next week.  If I wasn’t planning on sailing I’d love to go to that.  It’s at the Sea Farer Mission and I love the work they do.  Father Mathew works with the men in the Down Town Eastside around St. James. The Sea Farer Mission works with all the Christians, mostly men,  that usually come to Vancouver on the working boats.  A lot of men away from home for long periods. I was given a prayer poster  with a picture of a young man at helm when I attended the Sea Farer Mission years ago. It accompanied my ocean crossings and was dear to me. In the back ground there’s a picture of rough seas and Jesus.  I just had it framed as it was getting so torn and worn. Tom put it up on the wall in the boat this weekend. Nothing is coincidence.
I did reports last weekend and answered emergency calls all weekend. This weekend I decided against doing reports and only had a few emergency calls.  With Mabel in the office, the anxiety of changing staff is mostly over.  Summer usually is a less demanding time of work though it’s never easy.  Early spring is the roughest time and compared to that this is light duty. The sun makes all the difference. Everyone is outside and exercising more and there’s just less gloom.
I’ve come from a swim and hot tub.  Mida fixed up the boat and my home. She put out pillows with sparkling bling on them. They brightened up the cabin and were a great choice. All the guys and me were thankful for the ‘woman’s touch’ but this was a particularly ‘eastern’ touch.  It really gave the boat a touch of the exotic.  A poll concluded that none of the guys would have thought to buy pillows with sparkling bling on them but all of us enjoyed the effect.
They’re fighting in the Ukraine and Middle East.  Gilbert thinks someone should introduce them to yellow tennis balls.  I think that life is just too full and precious with surviving and maintenance and getting along that I certainly wouldn’t want to have to deal with missiles falling in the backyard or planes being knocked out of the sky.  Two Malaysian airplanes down and whose to say it was the Ukrainians and Russians and not some group that has it out for the Malaysian airline.  Having just been flying around the world back from Russia I’m glad to be alive.  I was in Kuala Lampur last year and it’s not some ‘third world place’.  It’s as modern as New York. A great modern city so what’s happened to the air craft could happen here to Air Canada. There but for the Grace of God go I.
A weekend to be thankful for.  I’m truly blessed,  I just have to hold that thought. I’m looking forward to getting the guys out sailing again.  I’m planning on taking others out who want to go sailing too.  I’ll balance it with solo sailing since given my work and life it’s sometimes just necessary to be alone. Solo sailing is then at times like medicine.  This though was about camaraderie and sharing the joy of sailing together in the glorious English Bay on a sunny summer day.
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1 comment:

Anne Lindsay said...

Fine looking craft. Interesting to hear about the life of the sea farer