Friday, July 3, 2009

July 1 - Sidney to Fulford Harbour and onto Ganges

Wow! The fact that I am writing this and still alive is great! I apologize that it is so long, but I don’t want to forget any of it. Today was such an experience; I learned so much. Not just about sailing, but about how to care for an infant while on a sailboat – there’s a reason there’s not much out there about it! Let’s start at the beginning.

This morning started out great. We didn’t forget anything, we got to the airport on time and everything went smoothly. We met Rachel Gregory (Auntie Rae) at our gate and all boarded together. We were on a small Air Canada plane which only had 2 seats per side of the plane so Dean was the lucky one who got to sit in row 5 while Bella, Becca and I got to sit together in row 6. Becca didn’t fare as well this flight and had a few spells of crying – mostly my fault for not bringing a big enough bottle. We arrived at Victoria to beautiful weather and again the line of Prius taxi cabs. Unfortunately, they aren’t big enough to hold all 5 of us plus luggage. A nice driver called a bigger car for us, and this time, not only did Bella get to go without a car seat, but she got to sit in the front in the middle. We thought we were on our way to our adventure until we got into the town of Sidney and found out there was a parade and most of the streets to the marina were blocked off. We eventually found a nice man who helped us find a detour.

We arrived at Island Cruising and Dean signed us in and did the paper work while Rachel, Bella, Becca and I sat outside and enjoyed the view. After checking in we began the walk to our boat. We happened to meet our Thrifty Foods delivery man just as we headed out so that was quite convenient. He knew where slip H 15 was – as far away as we could possibly get. So with Rachel carrying 4 bags, Dean loaded up with 3 bags and me with Becca and a backpack (and our delivery guy with 5 bins of food for us) we began the trek. It took about 10 minutes. Believe me that this is a long walk loaded up like that!

The boat was beautiful. I was pleased to find it larger than I had expected so lots of room for everyone. We had a really nice gentleman, Chuck, give us an orientation and sail with us for the first few hours. Rachel and I were extremely overwhelmed with all of the information, however fortunately Dean seemed to know what he was talking about. We started by putting away all the groceries. I wanted to get it all organized, but Chuck was just putting stuff here and there, but I planned to organize it later. Needless to say, I have learned where everything is it staying there. It’s pretty neat – the fridge is a little hole in the counter that you put the food down into. I took Becca up top to feed her baby food while Dean was going over stuff downstairs. I set Becca on the bench and in what seemed like slow motion she did a dive onto the floor. I managed to grab an arm which slowed her down, but she still hit her head pretty hard. I know better than that at home – why I thought I could leave her unattended on a boat, even one tied up is beyond me.

We eventually took off and Dean did a great job getting us out of our slip since the boat wasn’t going into gear and Rachel and Chuck had to push us off of other boats so we wouldn’t hit them. He gave us some great advice. Just go slow and you can’t get into too much trouble. We weren’t going to smash into anything at the speed we were going. And we didn’t hit anything. This was when I learned my first baby lesson. Becca was quite fussy and hadn’t napped in hours so I decided to put her down for a nap like I would at home. I took her down to our bedroom, wrapped her in her swaddle, gave her a little cuddle and tucked her in with some pillows around her so she wouldn’t roll off the bed and went back up top. I could hear her crying but sometimes she needs some winding down time and Dean needed me on deck. We eventually got out of the marina and motored along for quite a long time. As we started out I decided to go down and check on my still crying Becca. I went into our room and didn’t see her where I had left her! Panic! She had rolled about 5 feet along the bed and had spit up. Poor girl! Remember that she was swaddled, meaning that she had no arms to protect herself as she rolled along. She was hysterical and I felt like the worst mother on Earth! I grabbed her up and just hugged her and rocked her and apologized and after a few minutes she calmed down. I still feel guilty about it and I’m sure I will until the day I die.

Dean stayed at the helm motoring for quite a while and I was surprised that we hadn’t put up any sails yet. Chuck kept going over things with Dean and then he decided it was time to start sailing. Rachel took over the helm while I held Becca and Dean and Chuck raised the sails. They talked us through what they were doing and Rachel and I picked up what we could, but there was a lot. As soon as the sails were up the wind died and after waiting around we ended up just taking the sails down and motoring into Fulford Harbour where Chuck departed us and got on the ferry. Dean did a fabulous job docking and we were quite confident in heading out. Becca fell asleep in my arms due to pure exhaustion so I just let her sleep there for about 30 minutes before she woke up. Isabella was a great girl. She always did exactly what we asked her to do and she had a blast.

We started motoring towards Ganges Harbour and after a while Dean realized that we had encountered wind and he was excited to put the sails up again. This also went fairly smoothly. Dean did a good job remembering what to do and we were sailing soon. I started to get really nervous and we picked up speed and the boat was heeling (leaning) – Dean claims it wasn’t much but Rachel and I disagreed. We were traveling about 5 knots which was a pretty good speed. We eventually got a point where we needed to start tacking as the wind was no longer in our favour. Rachel and I eventually got this down to a science and were happy to contribute. Eventually tacking was making us take too long to get to Ganges so we decided to take down the sails and motor. Having learned my lesson earlier, I set Becca in her car seat and lodged it inot a secure spot ton the obat and she gladly fell into a second needed nap. This was when ‘all hell broke loose.’

I have not been so scared in as long as I can remember. Childbirth was more predictable than our afternoon. First we couldn’t figure out how to get the jib sail down. I was at the helm with Dean and Rachel working on it and nothing was working and I was supposed to keep the boat pointed into the wind but even turning the wheel as hard as I could was doing nothing and the boat kept feeling like it would tip over. We told Bella just to sit on the floor and not move (she DID have her life jacket on). While we were trying to get this down we kept drifting closer to rocks so we would have to stop and Dean would get us out of trouble and then continue trying to get the sail down. Finally with Rachel up at the Bow (the front) and Dean at the stern (back) they got the jib. That only left the main sail.

Dean was sick of me trying to steer the boat at this time so he took over, ordering Rachel and me to head up front and pull down the main sail. Rachel was in charge of pulling down and I was in charge of tying it up. Doesn’t sound too tricky except that neither of us knew what we were doing and the wind was blowing like crazy – trying to tie a sail that is blowing in the wind is NOT fun. The boom (bottom of the sail) kept blowing from side to side and I tried to hold it still but I had visions of myself hanging onto it out over the water, but that never happened. Bella helped by passing me the ties (I needed to keep coming back to the cockpit to get them after I tied each one on. Eventually we did it and Dean said it was actually done pretty well.

We motored along to Ganges – it was now after 7pm and we were not close and Dean isn’t certified to sail at night. I fed Becca in her car seat, a great makeshift highchair but she wasn’t really hungry. I think she was still traumatized. Eventually around 8pm we arrived near Ganges – I say near because it looked like many marinas and we couldn’t figure out which one was Ganges Marina – where we had our reservation and we first went into the wrong one, but it is a testament to how well Dean can maneuver this 34 foot boat that he just turned us around got us back on track. We tried radioing the marina as they told us to, but no one was answering. This was quite frustrating as we weren’t sure we were in the right place and where we were supposed to dock. Eventually we just found a place to dock. Dean kept warning me to get off and pull hard on the line to tie the boat and I was so concentrating on doing that that I jumped off too soon and fell really hard. I was okay, but a whole group of about 15 people were eating dinner right there and saw the whole thing. My pride is bruised. After docking Rachel and Dean went to find the staff. They found them celebrating Canada day with Beer and not really working and they said we were fine.

Now that we were docked I swaddled Becca and put her in our bed where she is sleeping soundly, and still in the same position – I keep checking. We barbequed hamburgers for dinner and had a salad. Then as a treat we heard there were fireworks. We made hot chocolate and had cookies and sat on deck for a front row seat for Bella’s first fireworks ever. She was thrilled and not scared at all. They lasted about 20 minutes which I figure is the whole annual municipal budget for Ganges since it is such a small place. We put Bella to bed which she of course resisted, but then fell immediately asleep. It was 10:30 (11:30 Alberta time). Dean, Rachel and I stayed up and enjoyed the bottle of shiraz that had been left for us on the boat, heading to bed around midnight.

Tomorrow should be a much better day as we don’t have as far to go and we seem to have worked out a few kinks today – wish us luck!

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