On September 6, the Calgary Chapter held its first Club meeting of the season. The meeting opened with Magnus Murphy (who has been the Vice Commodore of the Calgary Chapter for the past 2 1/2 years) handing over the reigns to incoming Vice Commodore, Cathy Norrie. Cathy thanked Magnus, as well as other members of the team for their various contributions:
- Tami Adams-Catherwood arranges speakers for the meetings (and is always looking for more – get in touch if you’d like to share some aspect of your sailing adventure or an area of expertise with the group).
- Rick Reynolds has served for many years as the Chapter’s Treasurer, and has done his bit to keep the group solidly in the black (thanks!).
- Allen Dick spoke about the Thanksgiving Rendezvous coming up soon on Thetis Island.
The highlight of the evening was the storytelling – both formal and informal. With big ears open, I listened to Magnus raving about the San Blas Islands (which I promptly added to my ‘must go there list’) and took in the pros and cons of bashing up the west coast from Mexico (as opposed to heading across to Hawaii and then crossing farther north). Given that my brother lives on Oahu, I’m thinking that when the time comes to do that trip, the Hawaii option is looking more and more appealing.
Having just finished their final leg of their circumnavigation aboard Terrwyn, Bill and Cathy Norrie had many tales to tell. Cathy shared a presentation that included a very professional trailer to whet our appetites, followed by a fine feature presentation starring “Poppy and Scuppers”. Though only 9 minutes long, the short video captured the highlights of the circumnavigation leg that took them across the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal. Once again, the San Blas Islands came up – Cathy’s photos and videos sealed the deal.
This picturesque island group is now on my “Absolutely Must Go There No Matter What” list. Of course, the sailing was not all fun and games. Pirates off the coast of Venezuela have been a problem and it was interesting to hear Cathy and Bill’s strategy to avoid them: Depart from Trinidad at night, during a storm, and head east. Staying in constant touch with the Coast Guard, the devious route took an extra three days, but the result was a trauma-free passage.
There were also tender moments that elicited a few ‘awws’ from the audience – a short video clip of Cathy’s toes, painted to match the local waters; playing footsie with Bill’s duct-taped toes, (what better way to immobilize a dislocated baby toe?) proved it’s possible to be trapped aboard a boat for many months and still be on cozy terms. That’s reassuring for those of us who have yet to test the waters with our partners aboard!
Images of the passage through the Panama Canal never fail to inspire awe and it was cool to see Terrwyn’s progress through the Locks and, eventually, out the other end and into the Pacific.
After indulging in some tasty snacks (oh, so much food!), it was on to our next speaker. Terry Reid, a keen offshore racer, shared some photos and stories about his recent part in delivering O Canada, an Open 60, from Halifax to Quebec City. O Canada may be a high tech racing machine designed to be single-handed across oceans, but I was a tad surprised to learn she doesn’t even have a head aboard! Nope, a simple bucket on a rope was the extent of the ‘facilities’.
O Canada is currently undergoing a refit, with an eye to returning her to open-ocean racing. In fact, the Canadian Ocean Racing Team team is currently campaigning to do the Vendee Globe in 2020. For more information about her last refit in New Zealand after she was knocked down and badly damaged during a race, check out the documentary, The O Canada Project (available for rent or purchase on iTunes). Terry confirms that despite her size and tiller-only steering, she is so well balanced and light on her feet that hand steering was no trouble at all.
Terry also shared some photos from his recent participation in the San Francisco to Hawaii race this summer aboard a Santa Cruz 50 (Hull #1, no less!). With 10 crew members aboard, it was perhaps a tad crowded and Terry remarked on just how rough (weather-wise) this year’s race was. Also interesting was his observation that one needs very little light to function well while in the middle of the ocean. “All you need is one star to put somewhere on the rig or forestay,” he said blithely. “You don’t need to see much.” Of course, it isn’t always quite that easy. He admitted it could get disorienting on nights so dark you can’t see the bow. During one bad broach at night during the passage, one of their spinnakers ripped in half! Though, the way Terry told the tale, a shredded spinnaker wasn’t such a big deal. Hmmm. I wonder if I’ll ever see the day when losing a spinnaker at night will hardly seem worth mentioning. For that matter, I wonder if I’ll ever be brave enough to fly my spinnaker after dark!
Cover Image Attribution: By Dave Lonsdale, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/