Wednesday, 25 May 2011

when some lessons are obvious

Blissful evening sail.
The May long-weekend was finally upon us. When you belong to BCA, (the Bluewater Cruising Association), it means you sail to Pender Island for a weekend of rabble-rousing, and a bit of learning for good measure. Luckily, we were both able to take Friday off work. I spent Thursday running around like a mad woman to get ready. (Rick was working on a customer's boat). We managed to go under the Johnson Street Bridge right on time. (After hours, we have to schedule in advance for a bridge operator to set us free from the Upper Harbour. This is unlike daytime hours, when you simply radio the bridge for a lift as you get off the dock.) What a great way to end a short but stressful week. It was a lovely evening on the water: The sun was still shining and we were sailing on a beam reach. Life was good.

Funky currents in the Channel

We only went as far as Cadboro Bay that evening. This would give us a head start on our journey Friday morning. Pender is only some 35 nautical miles away from our dock. When we get off the dock, part of our routine, (other than doing laundry, grocery shopping, topping up propane tanks, water tanks, fuel tanks, and general stowing), is to check the weather and currents. The direction and strength of the currents and winds can sometimes mean a difference of hours on longer journeys, especially when we sail. Hence, we try to mostly go with the current, pretty smart huh? I knew that Friday morning we'd have current against us going through Bayne's Channel, and no wind. I figured we'd just have to throttle it, it's a short channel after all. Yeah right. The problem when you get very familiar sailing in a particular area, is that a slight amount of complacency can set in. (I'm usually too neurotic for that, but it happened this time.) If I'd looked more closely I'd have seen that at 9 a.m., the currents would be >2.5 knots, (which means it can be anything higher). Had I checked the chart, I would have remembered that currents can go up to 6 knots in that channel. After a while in the channel, we figured it out. We kept seeing the same set of stairs on the island on our starboard beam, and the same large home on our port side. That's right about the time things got a little, uh, tense. In other words we were fighting. We ended up going back out of the channel and dropping the hook to wait an hour or so, when the currents wouldn't be so strong and heads could cool off.

Practicing our grumpy faces
BCA Members learning about
safety and mast climbing
Alas, we still had no wind, so we motored all the way to Pender Island,  baked cookies and sulked for a bit longer. By the time we anchored in Bedwell Harbour, we were back to our jovial selves. The weekend had begun. We relaxed with friends, learned a few tricks for going up the mast, (at least I did). We also learned how to rescue someone who's gone overboard when you're a short handed crew. We commiserated and laughed with sailors who are also getting ready to head south around the same time as us. Time was spent with good friends who've been offshore and are just fun to hang out with. Of course, that meant we had to practice the art of polishing off some rum in good company. 

S and J demonstrating various
 mast-climbing techniques

B&B demonstrate rescue techniques.

Indeed, fun was had, food and drinks were shared, and sails were sailed, (or engines motored, depending on the day). Now, all we need is another weekend to recover.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great time! There never seems to be enough weekends.



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