Adventure over, Home waters

27-AUG-2017, just outside Pender Harbour – We’ve come to realize that the adventure is over for the year.

It is warm here, in the 20sC, 70sF. We haven’t worn foulies or even long trousers in a couple of days. The locals tell us its only rained for four days since May: It has been a glorious summer.

This morning at 8.20, we’re motoring south looking for the promised ten knot winds out of the north. Instead, we have floating satin water with a few small fishing boats and a distant catamaran with its main up, under power.

The trip has not felt like a success – it is something we got through, and hope that it has not killed our love of sailing adventures.

One of the questions that nagged at us was, Why do we feel as if we never relaxed. We blamed much of it on Hilary, and she does bear some of that weight, but the major problem was lack of time. This year we are gone for one month less. That’s a month that we would have spent lounging at anchor or at dock exploring, relaxing and recovering. We left three weeks late and will be back a week or so early.

First lesson: This is a five month trip, if there is to be any relaxation.

[Jennifer disagrees vehemently. She wants this to be over, if we could get back sooner, she would make that happen. She says an extra month would have been terrible. She’s wanted, she tells me, to get home since the middle of our time away.]

Today is Sunday. On Thursday, we went to the resort at the Gorge, just north of Manson’s Landing. The Gorge, itself, is beautiful, sheltered and shallow enough to anchor. The resort is very Canadian with that feel. Moorage is the most we’ve paid in Canada, $1.75/foot, but with it comes access to the grounds and the pool, hot tub, etc.

Interestingly, if we’d anchored out, we’d still have access to the grounds. The pool would be five bucks a head.

We met and got to know Cat, the woman managing the fuel dock. Clothed in patterned spandex tights, a Gorge resort T-shirt and a tight blue bandana covering her hair, she was one of those people who is very competent and welcoming.

We had docked on the central promenade, where everyone who walks on the dock must pass. I like it there. When at anchor solitude is wonderful, but at a dock, let’s be in the middle of it.

Friday morning, I was just about ready to take some muffins out of the oven, when Cat asked if we’d like to move to the farthest outside edge of the finger dock: more privacy. But more important to us, was that we’d just motor away from the dock when it was time to leave.

I asked Cat if she would like a muffin. Literally, her eyes got bigger when she said with drawn out emphasis, ‘‘Homemade?’’ Well, yeah, I don’t make any other kind. I said, ‘‘yes.’’

We walked the boat around the inside corner of the dock, tied her up, and I gave Cat a muffin. We spoke for a while; Jennifer and I were both getting to like Cat. I asked, ‘‘Would you like to come to dinner tonight?’’

Having people to dinner has been something we’ve done very little of on this trip. Hilary is a wild card and we haven’t been anywhere very long. Cat jumped at it, and asked if she could bring her partner.

In the states, partner can sometimes be a code for same sex, while in the rest of the west, it implies nothing. Cat revealed little enough of herself, that I wondered who Cat’s partner would be: Richard.

‘‘He’s about my height.’’ (5’6″ I would guess) ‘‘With long hair, probably past his butt.’’

Cat suggested 6.30, which worked for us and I told her we’d be working from whatever was on the boat. She said she’d bring fresh vegetables for us. This time we jumped the same way Cat had jumped at the muffins. Cat laughed, ‘‘I thought it’d been a while for you.’’

We took time at the dock to unpack and repack the aft cabin, and removed the alcohol stove. We’d been reduced to using the single oven burner for everything; for guests, we’d unpack the stove.

Dinner was refried black beans using carmelized onions, lard, chili powder and extra cumin, though as I write this, I realized I left out the basil I normally add. The corn tortillas, after four months, finally went irreparably moldy*. So I made fresh flour tortillas – it had been too many years and I added too much lard, or perhaps not enough water. The tortillas came out closer to pie crust. I made basmati rice, which came out better than I have ever made with each individual grain fluffy and separate – to great applause from Cat, but it was purely chance.

Cat brought apples, tomatoes, string beans and purple carrots. The purple carrots were orange on the inside to my disappointment.

I stir-fried the string beans, carrots and apples with sesame oil and sesame seeds, and that was dinner. Jennifer bought some thin cookies. We bought wine, Cat and Richard brought wine and Blueberry Porter beer.

Hilary was completely psychotic and did not really engage much during the meal, but hugged and kissed both Cat and Richard at the end.

Cat is from St. Anthony, New Foundland, Richard is from Ontario. Richard has done this and that in the local industries and lives in a small cabin just down the road.

Cat has done some of the world traveller thing and has a degree in sustainable farming from Peterborough in Ontario. She’s spent time at an Ashram in Portugal, which changed her, and is planning for what will come. Running the fuel dock is her first management gig, and she’s got to get better at dealing with unhappy customers, she tells us.

We left about 9.30 Saturday morning after giving Cat and her co-worker at the fuel dock some very delicate corn muffins (more than usual leavening, fat and eggs – they were very good).

We motored to Westview, which is part of Powell River. Again at a dock.

We  walked 2km with Hilary for ice cream and then spent hours talking with the people on the dock. Jennifer got to know John Campbell who is friends, though no relation, with our friends Ian and Linda-Marie Campbell. We like this network of friends we’re building.

Yesterday we motored and then sailed for several hours at 2 knots to Pender Harbour. Casual may be an understatement for some things. No marina would answer us on VHF or telephone, until ‘‘Jazzy Bob’’ called us from Garden Bay, where he was docked and just told us to find a spot and tie up. Which we did. That seems to be how it is done, at least at this time of year. There was plenty of anchorage as well. ‘‘Just pay the waitresses in the bar for moorage.’’

We had a wonderful and relaxed walkabout with Hilary. A woman spotted me walking with Hilary, arm-in-arm, and called to Jennifer, ‘‘your mother, right?’’ Followed by, ‘‘The same genes, you’ll live a very long time.’’ People now take Hilary for much older than she is. I wondered whether ‘‘same genes’’ chilled Jennifer as it did me.

We’re motoring south this morning to Gibsons, hoping the wind will show up. We may tie up or anchor out. Tomorrow, we’ll be in False Creek in Vancouver to see another Diening daughter, Ankie, who I haven’t seen since 1970, I think.

We check back into the states in the next few days, then eventually back to   Jennifer’s Port Townsend house, before flying out. We won’t return to the Pacific Northwest again until January, just Jennifer and me.

[16:00 27-AUG-2017 – We sailed the rest of the running wing-and-wing for most of it. A very nice sail. When asked whether she liked the sail, Jennifer replied that I had complained that I felt I had nothing to do under power, then said no more.]

* Yep, you can can read that the tortillas had previously been reparably moldy.

Author: johnjuliano

One-third owner of Caro Babbo, co-captain and in command whenever Caro Babbo is under sail.

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