Stories Upon Stories – Live your life today
There is always a theme for the Peterson Cup Cruising Rally (PCCR)… even a T-shirt. Last year it was Search for Puyuhapi. Why, you may ask? Because Commodore Ken had been motorcycling through Chile and Patagonia and had walked right through there in February. Puyuhapi is located through some tight Patagonian coastal islands, and down a long inlet into the mountains. (yep, just like BC ). It was a favorite stopping place for BCA members, Amanda and Barry Glickman on Darwin’s Passage.
As usual, the planning for the PCCR was at 4 pm Saturday, at the Dinghy Dock Pub in Nanaimo. By 5 pm it had all been planned. Instead of a Voyage to fabled Howe Sound and Squamish, arms were twisted and the brown bubbly supplied until we all were going to Jedediah Island and beyond. And further discussion was drowned out by the amplified band, which caused everyone to move outside – or go home. Then …BOOM… boom fizz.. BOOM boom— FIREWORKS ALL AROUND our sturdy little boats.
Sunday at 1000h, the Fleet lined up at Jessie Isle, just beside the ferry lane. We waved, they waved back. They took our pictures – we are on Facebook. Fame showers us again.
The Fleet rounded Jessie Point and tacked NW on a 9 kn breeze. Blue Rose was nowhere to be seen at the start, but motor sailed to catch up at Neck Point, then shut the motor to begin drifting with the Fleet. Mischief did the best, and held the lead toward Jedediah Isle. A light boat, fin keel and big sails. Hmmm, soon lighter winds, 5 -4 -3 , and everyone is pointing in different directions. Would the Fleet actually anchor in Lantzville? Fearing this, Commodore Ken managed a drift straight east toward Whisky Gulf firing range, then fired up the engine, set the AutoPilot and hopped in the bow hammock, with a good beverage. The Fleet needed proper example and good guidance, and so it was: Little Bull Passage would be appie hour. His BlueBerry Pie was in the oven, too.
Jedediah Isle is now all a BC marine park. There are official stories of how it started, but Ken had been painting a kitchen once, belonging to Dianna Schroder. She told of being a single mother on Lasqueti, and got work at the farm on Jedediah. She knew their daily table conversations, and every morning she woke up and looked out to the fields, the orchard, the seashores and Home Bay, with the strongest feeling and full intention that this would be a big park for everybody to come to.
There are many spiritual and magical spots on Jedediah – for folks who quietly find them. Ken knew of a few. With appie hour over, and now Garden Bay, near Mary Islet selected as the next anchoring spot in the marvelous passage toward Puyuhapi, Ken rowed ashore to find his spiritual spaces that Dianna had whispered of on that fabled Isle. The long sunset was special – very special.
On his return, everyone was gently rocking to sleep in their sturdy little boats.
Monday morning, Blue Rose was jostled by a rubber raft of crew, asking him where to explore, to find the Magic. He ducked back inside and took 5 hard boiled Quail eggs from the cooler, and nested them in a yogurt cup on tissue, and wrote on the lid “Lesser Great Awk Eggs”. He passed these over to Feather Mills in the raft, and said, “I found these rolling alone on rocks last night, please please, see if you can find the birds who care about them”. Feather went pale, Heather rolled her eyes, Michelle mentioned that Ken had misspelled Auk. With that, Peter motored off around the point.
By eleven, the big Texada mountains funneled air up and into Sabine Channel. The winds beckoned, all the Fleet laid hard over on a beam reach past QT south, then Upwood Point and on to the big resort town of Puyuhapi (Garden Bay).
The Garden Bay approach required passage in a narrow channel around Calder, to SE of Mary Islet. It was an easy anchor. The potluck and fresh pies had been made on voyage by Heather and Ken; and were served on Tula, where Mischief was rafted.
Heather’s pie was a very large tray of hot apple and berries, crispy oat topping, whip cream. All made on a Catalina 27! Yes, there was some jostling for seconds, while Peter laid out the fresh sashimi. After all, he was actually salmon fishing and the PCCR was just a great excuse.
Soon, all left on dinghies for the grocery store. Upon their return, Mischief ’s little Danforth anchor had somehow grown into a 11 kg Rocna. Heather looked for the pirates, the thief, or the saint, but none was to be found, and the hasps were very well tightened on the anchor chain, so it had to stay. Sleep on it dear captain – they all offered.
And so the waves gently rocked all to sleep in their sturdy little boats.
Tuesday, come the early dawn and it was 0600h. But there was no Commodore. Where was Blue Rose?
Was somebody’s poor communication skills to blame – perhaps? Anyway, he was heading south to rescue the three craft of the Southern Fleet of PCCR – all solo women sailors. If that was accomplished, he then hoped to go check on the Children, then rejoin the PCCR, who were scheduled for Blind Bay – where ever that was!
By 0830h , now near White Islets, Ken had phone contact with the family who were relaxing at home: “No rush Pa just go sailing, babies are often a week late”. . . So then Commodore located the Southern Fleet. One in Snug Cove, one disappeared, and one having discussions with a new Male Crew and was still in Ganges. Sigh-sigh- double sigh… Commodore get back to duty! With that the Blue Rose set sail at 180 degrees for Blind Bay – where ever that was. Likely at 312’ NNW and be there by 1600h for appie hour. Meanwhile, the Fleet had composed a wonderful song about the frequently missing Commodore.
Nelson Isle, Blind Bay is an idyllic spot, several possibles for stern tie, and then there is Telescope Passage. All in all, this is a lovely Puyuhapi. It worked. Cam and Mary Ann were already there on MayKnot. It was just as Cam and Ken had discussed last March in Vancouver. Yet Peter felt he had chosen the destination.
The PCCR Fleet did a stern tie in the north end, with Mischief securing the far and peaceful corner. The appies were on, with a fine Tradewinds pie. And the songs were written by then. In fact, there are even some music instruments on Freyja A. The Commodore felt so honored, as they sang.
Yet, felt a bit too scattered, distracted, accomplished, foreboding, joyous, oh, and was having some really great sailing experiences as a solo skipper, with all voyages taken without regard to weather, waves or currents. The Blue Rose just seemed to be the “Little Fraser that could”. It was designed for these BC coastal conditions after all, and only a few of these boats were produced.
Now, after happy appies, the Fleet skippers gave a nod. They gave over passage-making decision to their crews. The four crew could choose the next anchorage. One final night anchoring before Gina’s Mexican Cafe in Nanaimo. They selected Smugglers Cove, then on Thursday, everyone would have a nice beam reach for Gina’s. And how about a real race for once? Let all vessels line up out in Malaspina Strait at Kelly Isle by Wednesday at 1000h. It was a go. And so the waves gently rocked all to sleep in their sturdy little boats.
Wednesday at 1000h, found Tula, Tradewinds, Blue Rose, and Freyja A on the start line. The NW winds blew strong and tugged the sails south .
Heather on Mischief chased the Fleet on the prescribed course, being late for the start line at Kelly Isle and needing to refuel, just out of the Blind Bay – where she had paused to chat with MayKnot – then finding that they intended to linger for several days more.
Tula, as usual, had tacked off to Texada in search of salmon. The course was now a run, with a shifting following wind, and against tide. This produced steep island passage waves. Could the Catalina 27 pull this off? Heather was stressed, feeling seasick, constant forces on the tiller, which began to show cracking lines, twisting in her hands.
Tradewinds, Freyja A, and Blue Rose smashed ahead, on a run; fairly directly toward the broad shallows of Thormanby Isles, with the ultimate hope to angle across the wave crests and into the narrow entrance of rocky Smugglers Cove.
Blue Rose was allowed to lead, or was leading, who knows? And came first to the storm tossed entrance of the Inlet. The waves subsided just three boat lengths away – as usual. But one has to be slow and accurate – for the rocks are real in the Smugglers lair.
Once into Smugglers, Ken scouted the anchorages, and dropped anchor further in, near the cabin deck, and stern tied promptly. He then launched the dinghy and motor- he could see that a big US flagged power boat, had tossed the stern tie line and the anchor directly across the entrance channel. Ugly, exactly where Tula and Freyja A had planned a tie up.
Well, Tradewinds came inside first. Roger, an experienced solo sailor and helicopter pilot for the BC wilderness, recognized a safety issue imposed on our Canadian craft by the thoughtless stinker, and so quickly and accurately expressed the hazard and described the character traits of that skipper in fairly direct language. Then he dropped it, “no use harboring resentments, it is unhealthy for me”, he noted. “Just go and say it accurately, and it then becomes the other’s problem- how to become a nicer person”. However, the Stinker remained on the deck chair, watching and drinking, while the woman crew member wrung her hands.
Mischief came in and made it past the confusion and the high emotions, but she had a lot of her own frazzled energy from that harrowing race voyage. For now, she had a cracked tiller, was seasick, physically worn out, and a temper arising from all the unsafe anchorage people.
However, Commodore Ken was in the dinghy and followed her over to assist as needed. Mischief dropped the small gift Rocna and powered the windlass down while reversing to get that secure grab. But it was not happening. The rocks were closer at stern and Ken placed the rubber inflatable at her stern to prevent a grounding. (Ken’s phone was now ringing back over on Blue Rose.) With some consternation, and a few choice words, Heather got the anchor reset – in her excellent fashion, and Ken did her stern lines.
Looking off to the entrance, Ken saw Peter on Tula doing a stern tie. Problem was, he was also lecturing the Stinker, and his anchor was still up. Ken powered over to be the bumper tug and run the anchor and chain way out … so as not to cross over the Stinker anchor – although there was an idea of doing just that and then hauling up the Stinker and tossing it onshore. (But that would be so un-Canadian!)
By now, Tradewinds had been calmly anchored and safely stern tied. They were cozy and watching all the entertainment. Their appie pie was ready, and they would host.
Ken knew Heather’s tiller was unsafe, and now thought how to cut and shorten it. He also had a big spare tiller, donated from Blake Williams of Sea Fever, that had snapped when he grounded in Boat Passage. Yet Ken had the family commitment to be in Vancouver at the hospital, at his children’s side, and right now. The phone call message was urgent.
He talked to Roger and described the work that would resolve this, tossed up the spare tiller. Roger agreed to take on the Hero project.
With all that done, Ken pulled in the Blue Rose stern lines and powered up the anchor and surfed out the Smugglers Cove exit, looking at Stinker… might have said something – might even had done a radio Ch 16 to warn other boaters of a Navigation Hazard – a ship at the entrance to Smugglers Cove, but Ken had bigger issues in very, very high priority. It might have been 1600h… it was like he was a smuggler, running for some fine gold and jewels, dodging the great authorities- all to make something happen.
Out in Welcome Passage the winds had increased. It likely affected the BCA Rendezvous Newcastle crowd. But with all sails set to the following stiff breeze, the engine at 3000 rpm, the Blue Rose dove and surfed, and corkscrewed the steep seas, at some extreme hull speeds, towards English Bay. He phoned and said he would arrive at bedside, ETA 22ooh. How? Well the spirit knows.
The safety of the Burrard docks was totally blocked by the collected Vancouver night’s Fireworks flotilla – all expert captains and all correct in anchoring – of course! The spirit danced Blue Rose through that mess, and docked under the Burrard Bridge, Ken’s little blue car directly arrived at Grace Hospital. The children were having a strangely joyful, yet tragic experience, it was a wonder to be part of. Friends and more family collected. And so it goes there: the little soul chose very early to return to Heaven, it was her choice – no one at fault. She was perfect. The wonderful learning is still being resolved in a teaching and sharing way, with a healing manner created for many, many other people with similar experiences. A legend of healing if you like. We look for, and we can see her rainbows.
Meanwhile, back on the Tradewinds potluck, the vast display of events was debriefed. The basic needs of sailing, food and safe shelter, freedom on our waters and happy social connection were all accomplished. The cycles of life are true. Except, once again, the Commodore was missing. Perhaps another song to compose?
And so the waves gently rocked all to sleep in their sturdy little boats.
Thursday, the final day for PCCR, saw strong NW winds. Yet the course was laid out: the Fleet goes back to Newcastle Isle.
Tradewinds chose to relax in a secret place for lovers (called Anderson Bay). Heather on Mischief wanted the better safety of Nanaimo. Peter and the Tula crew wanted a wild sail into “Rob Dodge land”. Heather later commented on that particular beam reach: “It was an exceptional Catalina 27 voyage. Fastest time, biggest waves, and most exhilarating, yes, but with the safe tiller in place.” Thank you Roger.
And then she made up three dishes for the Newcastle Rendezvous potluck. The Peterson Cup was going to Freyja A. (And we don’t even have to make a new name plate.)
As Lex said at the end of his Currents Editorial in 2004:
“I’ve been stunned by the speed with which one’s life can change, and how it has drawn those close to me into those changes. Live your life today”