Monday, February 18, 2013

A Day of Boating

Today I head back to Saint Louis but I do have multiple blog posts to write regarding my trip to Vancouver. This story goes back to Thursday and an incredible day I had on the water.

This trip was unexpected. The night before Rob's dad asked if I had ever been boating to which I said that I hadn't. I didn't know why the question was asked but then I was informed that he had a sailboat and if I would like we could go out. Never having been on a boat outside my grandpa's small fishing boat, a canoe, and the ferry here in Vancouver and New York City I said, "Sure."

So Thursday morning came and we headed to the marina and I had no idea what to expect. I also was shocked to learn that Lucy, Rob's dog, would be joining us on the trip. As we, or rather Rob's dad prepped the boat for launch I was given the task of opening up one of the sides. This was a zipper like plastic curtain that needed to be rolled up to allow access from the control portion of the boat to the sides. However, as is typically the case when I'm doing something I don't know how to do, this wasn't as easy as simply doing. Rob got his side up quickly but I kept trying and trying. I said nothing aloud as I struggled in the process of trying to roll up the curtain and fasten it on the top. One minute, two minutes, and then five minutes later I had to help with something else and when I came back, somehow, it all worked and that darn curtain stayed in place.

After about 30 minutes of pre-launch work the engine fired up on this sailboat and we slowly left the marina. I was standing on one side of this 32ft sailboat and Rob was on the other and we both had boathooks in our hands so if we got too close to another craft we could reach out and either push it away or push us away. Either way I was sure that at some point in time I was ending up in the water.

We got out of the crowded marina and got into the main waterway that led to the bay. With Vancouver in the background I thought that this was a prime photo op and I think I was right.

As we went under a bridge we did indeed have a destination. This destination was Bowen Island where we would dock, have lunch, and make our return trip.

The winds were calm which meant the small motor was powering this sailboat. I didn't know sailboats could have an engine because a sail boat sails, right?

As we got into English Bay the 32ft sailboat, which had seemed large compared to the canoes and dragonboats we had seen, was now a spec on the water compared to the massive freighters and tankers that were anchored in the bay awaiting their chance to off load their cargo. I'm somewhat fascinated with large boats, and somewhat afraid of them as I have a fear of open water and being on a big boat as it sinks with no one within 1,000 miles. Seeing them up close got me wondering as to just how many miles these boats have gone and have many shorelines have they seen?

After about an hour Rob's dad handed the wheel to Rob and instantly, what was a smooth ride, became a slalom affair. I couldn't help myself but to make a few smart remarks as the navigation aids showed our track and we went from a straight line to a zig zagging mess. Then, after an hour of that, it was my turn.

All those remarks I made? Yeah, they came back to bite me because I was just as off; and not only that, the sails were put up when I was behind the wheel so not only did I have to worry about other boats, but I also had to make sure I kept the sails in the wind. Rob took a picture of me, as shown, and the only caption I can think of is to say, "Okay folks, who let me drive?

Thankfully the water traffic was low as the weather was a typical Pacific Northwest day; cloudy, misting, and a bit chilly. Well, I was chilly but Rob and his dad were rather comfortable. Okay, I wasn't a bit chilly as my hands were numb despite the fact that I had cotton gloves on and waterproof gloves on over that.

My career as captain wasn't going that well as several times I steered the boat out of the wind. This meant Rob and his dad had to do more things with rope, ahem, line than I could comprehend. It got so bad I could see Lucy the Maltipoo dog looking at me with a look of, "seriously, my life is in your hands?" Thankfully for her she too had a life jacket just in case.

We passed Passage Island and was getting closer to our target. This was good because I was starting to get rather hungry. There was still a ways to go and I noticed that I was, for no better word to use, relaxed. This was a feeling I haven't used in a while, if ever, and a word that I don't think I've used on my blog as well, if ever. With the skyline of Vancouver slowly drifting out of view I relinquished control, sat down, and just breathed.

It was about another hour before Rob's dad turned us into the small port on Bowen Island. Once again I had a boathook in hand but once again it wasn't needed. We parked, ahem, moored and got out of the boat. To be on land again felt weird and now we had a short hike to the place we would be eating.

This whole experience felt odd. I had never been boating, and had never been on this island and all the while I was just soaking all this in because I may never do any of it again and I may never be on that island again. And not only that, this island and the atmosphere and the gray weather which was spitting small drops of rain was just amazing. Rob and his dad kept wishing the weather would have been sunny, but when I think about life there on a day-to-day basis this is how I envision it and with that being the case I felt like an outsider looking in on a life that I would never know.

We ate at this small restaurant/coffee house. They served primarily sandwiches but I went with the breakfast and got some of the best tasting eggs and bacon I have ever had. Perhaps the 2nd best only behind a hotel I stayed at in Lithuania.

With lunch done we headed back to the boat and with each step I wondered if I would ever step where I was stepping again. This is an odd thought process I'm sure, but when I'm in a place that I doubt I'll be again I get sad. This place was so neat, so perfect, and I was so relaxed that I wanted to freeze time. Sadly, that just isn't possible to we got back to the boat and repeated the pre-launch things and headed back to Vancouver.

The ride back seemed so much faster than the ride out, but that's a day I'm not going to forget for some time to come. It's rare to say I experienced a perfect, relaxing day but Thursday was it. If I could freeze a moment in time it is certainly this picture which was taken right before we got back on the boat, which is shown, and has Rob, Lucy the dog, and myself in it.

1 comment:

  1. I went boating for a week once. It was just as you describe. Being in places one may never set foot in again is both sad and exhilarating, and it feels really odd.