What’s the best way to avoid a pandemic? Why, buy a sailboat, of course!
In late March of 2020, I recall my wife, her dad, and myself coming to the realization that this weird Covid thing looked like it was something governments seemed serious about. Travel restrictions were rapidly being enacted all over the globe, and although riding it out in New Orleans may have, at the time, seemed like an enticing proposition, we knew it wasn’t feasible.
So we booked flights to Vancouver, BC, and went home in time for early spring. Well, spring for my wife and myself at any rate, we lived in Victoria at the time, and winter there is almost always fairly mild. My father-in-law was not so fortunate. He had to go from Colombia to New Orleans to Dawson Creek (mile-zero of the Alaska Highway). Not so pleasant.
Spring back in southwestern BC was a bit chilly, especially April, but generally bright and nice, and we made the most of it.
Though we had been living in Victoria since 2013, and had been spending plenty of time there before making it home while living on nearby Pender Island, there was no shortage of things to keep us occupied on breathtakingly beautiful Vancouver Island.
We’ve noticed over the years, however, that municipalities, large companies, and various governments seem to have been increasingly clamping down on the freedom to camp and explore the wild places of the south island, a factor that ultimately led us to the decision to seek home in other parts of the world.
Canada is massive and wild, with a proportionately tiny population, but the freedom to enjoy it is gradually getting confined to urban centers and ever-shrinking government-approved areas, many of them at a price. It’s terribly sad and somewhat sinister.
But, like I said, we made the most of our spring, and after three months of beautiful B’n’B’s, off-season cabin-rentals, and camping when the weather permitted, we decided, after some weeks of deliberation, that we should buy a sailboat.
This wasn’t to be our first experience with boats. I’d been around boats most of my life and my dear bestess best buddy had her fair share of seafaring chops as well. This wasn’t even to be our first sailboat, we had had one the year before, a cheap toy-sailor we’d bought to learn the ropes on (lines, Damnit!), and to determine if sailing was for us. We had settled on one that wouldn’t sink us financially if we proved to be incompetent enough to sink her. Which we nearly did, more than once.
Our first sailboat. By some combination of miracles, we didn’t sink her.
Needless to say (then why say it?), we were bit deep by the sailing bug and horribly infected with an incurable disease. The only remedy for such an affliction being the song of fluttering sails (not luffing, fluttering), the whisper of a hull cutting through water, and regularly enjoying a taste of the sea’s soul-nourishing salt-spray. Our condition is one of many crosses we bear, and a sailboat is the only cure.
We found our second sailboat through a short series of very fortunate events. After scouring classifieds and online marketplaces upon returning home, and not quite being satisfied with anything, it was suggested to us by a woman in a shop in Quallicum Beach that we check out the marina of a wee little community called Deep Bay. Deep Bay was a place I had driven past countless times without ever realizing it was there. So we went to Deep Bay Marina for a boo, and there she was, A 29 foot C&C Mark II called “Ready”.
“Ready” and waiting for us
We called the number on the sign, met the owner, went over the beautiful little gem, agreed to buy her, went to the bank, handed over the cash, and became the new owners of a lovely little piece of legendary Canadian-made excellence.
Well… it wasn’t quite that easy.
To remove a bit of the sugar-coating from this fairy-tale-sounding story, I must include the fact that, in reality, she needed some love before setting out to sea. Quite a bit of love really. An entire month of sanding, scraping, fixing, fitting, finding, scrubbing, painting, connecting… I think I’ve made my point. Not exactly the trials and tribulations experienced in say, “Sailing Uma” or anything, but more than taxing enough for us.
Getting “Ready” ready
Frank, the previous owner, had found the boat sitting neglected after a number of years and purchased it with the intent of shining her up, Bristol fashion, as she well-deserved. But he wasn’t young and had too many such projects under his belt already, so he bowed out before completing the task, though he did indeed do a great deal of work to deliver her from the ignoble fate of far too many beautiful boats: death by neglect.
If he hadn’t, we wouldn’t have been fortunate enough to ever get to know “Ready” because neither me or my wonderful wife are in the business of getting our hands really, really dirty for extended periods of time, and had she needed any more love than she did, we would have passed on her.
Thanks Frank, for bringing her back to life as much as you did.
Thanks also for the help and guidance from Independent Marine Supply in Coombs and the ever-reliable Spencers Marine Supply and Consignment in Sidney. We sourced near every stainless nut and bolt, replacement filter, valve, seal, or belt, and much, much more in materials, as well as a veritable plethora of priceless information from these two places. I really can’t express my appreciation enough in the confines of one blog post. But thank you.
Two of the best Marine Outfits on Vancouver Island.
Our month spent completing the rehabilitation of “Ready”, at Deep Bay, was wonderful. In fact, at that time, our entire life experience in general was great, other than a few miserable hiccups near the end of the project. All work and not enough play makes writers go crazier. But, that aside, we met many helpful, friendly, encouraging people, and became good friends with Deep Bay Doug, the wharfinger at Deep Bay Marina, with whom we always had fun and a lot of laughs. And rum.
On our maiden voyage from Deep Bay to nearby Hornby Island, the Hawaii of Canada, Doug even accompanied us with his boat. It was as much to make sure we were going to be safe as it was a good reason to go have fun in Tribune Bay for a couple of days.
Upon our safe arrival and successful anchoring, we rafted our boats together for a few well-deserved and perfect summer days of relaxation and good company. And rum. And hangovers. And boat scraping. But that’s a story for another post.