It is now October and the vast majority of the Fleet of 2023 has safely and successfully travelled south with a few members moving into and around the Mediterranean and Asia.
During August it was fun to watch seven BCA boats head out the Strait of Juan de Fuca, turn left at Cape Flattery and set their sails for Southern California and Mexico. Watching their steady southbound passage on the BCA Fleet Map was of particular interest this year as Campbell and I were signed up as crew aboard Counting Stars, heading south with Denis and Rosario on their first leg to San Francisco in September. What was even more poignant was that our former boat, Camdeboo, newly outfitted and upgraded by her owners, Werner and Sarah, would be joining this parade of BCA boats a few weeks later.
As we prepared ourselves for this passage, I was not without anxious thoughts and butterflies in my tummy. This despite having made the northbound trip from San Diego in 2005, the southbound “hop” directly from Victoria to French Polynesia in 2006, and knowing that Denis and Rosario had worked long and hard to prepare Counting Stars (and themselves) for this passage and that they had done everything they could to ensure a safe and speedy journey.
I find these long passages challenging, in spite of or perhaps because of previous experience, when things didn’t quite work out as forecast or as modeled by PredictWind, GRIB files etc. I had my seasickness meds at hand and expected to feel miserable for a few days before finding my sea-legs and becoming accustomed to the motion of the boat, which is when life begins to look much brighter and the nights less stressful.
But enough about me and my pre-departure anxiety! It’s time to toast the Fleet of 2023.
Ever since BCA was established in 1978 (that was forty-five year ago!), it has helped aspiring offshore mariners prepare themselves and their boats for cruising beyond protected coastal waters. The Chapter Fleet groups, of course, play a big part, as do the education and mentoring programs, and on-the-water opportunities offered by all three chapters. All this hard work culminates with the presentation of “leaver” or “bon voyage” packages to departing BCA members at Rendezvous, end-of-year BBQs and other gatherings.
This year, much of the work (researching, sourcing and assembling the packages) was done by Vancouver Chapter member, Patty Kennedy, herself a leaver. She and her husband, Doug, appropriately were the first to receive a package at the May Rendezvous. Thanks Patty for the time and energy you put into making the Leaver Packages happen this year! Fourteen members received these “graduation gifts” over the spring and summer; it was wonderful to be present for a number of the celebrations and add my best wishes to the congratulatory cheers and applause around me. It was also inspiring to hear the leavers talk about how joining BCA helped them prepare themselves and their boats for the adventure ahead. Their comments were a great affirmation that BCA’s vision of “mentoring, supporting and realizing cruising dreams” is alive and well!
Many cruisers remain members of BCA while exploring the world and are happy to share their adventures, either by giving permission to BCA to list their cruising blog on our website (check them out here in the lower right rail) and/or by writing articles for Currents (an easy way to reduce membership dues). Those of us who remain at home thus have the opportunity to follow along and share in the joys and inevitable frustrations that come with passage making and living aboard, while also offering support and encouragement as needed.
And so, Godspeed, fair winds and following seas to everyone who has set sail this year, including:
- Marina Steel and Rob Boeckh and family, Andromeda
- Jennifer and Adam Wilkins, Circle Game
- Natalie and Peter Hunt and family, June
- Debbie and Rob Warren, Northern Star I
- Heather and Egbert Jager, Roundabout II
Pacific West Coast
- Aaron Sugrue and Linda Lafontaine, Aquila of Vancouver
- Vici and John Kortbeek, Judy Townsend and Frank Kortbeek, Bear North
- Sarah Beukema and Werner Kurz, Camdeboo
- Rosario Passos and Denis Heinrichs, Counting Stars
- Shawna and Jason Poitras, Elu
- Oreola Donini and Darren Bos, Leeway
- Irma and Ben Deacon, Malaya
- Karen and Glen Upton, Next 1
- Jaclyn and Mark Jeffrey, Raicilla
- Chad and Lori Bremner, Wayward
- Janette and Scott Brown, Whalesong
As for us? In the end, all my worrying about wind and weather and seasickness was for naught. Our passage from Port Angeles to SanFran took 5 1/2 days and, from all reports, was one of the most benign this season. We had three days of flat calm and, with negligible winds, pretty much motored the entire distance. Notwithstanding that, the last leg was sporty to say the least and it was a tired crew that finally dropped anchor in 20+ knots of wind just before midnight in Drakes Bay. A few hours later, somewhat rejuvenated, we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge; a memorable moment for all aboard, complete with a bottle of champagne thanks to our BCA friends, Connie and Peter. Cruising life couldn’t be better!