Being boatless and living in Canmore can make it a little tricky to orchestrate as much time on the water as I’d like. So, when my daughter extended an invitation to join her aboard Easy Rider, a cute-as-a-button Ranger 29 that she and her husband keep in Sidney, I jumped at the chance. I’d already said, “Yes!” when she added,
“We’re the host boat. Do you think you might be able to give us a hand?”
I had no idea what was involved with being a host boat and, honestly, my head was filled with fond memories of previous BCA events: sea shanties and microscopy on the dock, fun contests, delicious food at a never-ending series of potlucks and happy hours, and Dark & Stormies aboard Counting Stars with Denis and Rosario. I wasn’t thinking about what “giving them a hand” might entail.
I soon found out. Dani picked me up at the airport and said, “First stop – Costco.”
“How many people are coming?” I asked a couple of hours later from behind the overflowing shopping cart full of everything from juice and melons to jumbo-sized granola boxes and gigantic tins of coffee.
“75-100,” she said. “We won’t know until we get there.”
“Where are we going to put all this?”
“Don’t worry,” she said blithely. “Easy can handle it.”
When I saw all the other stuff that Dani and Toryn planned to take, I thought she was out of her mind. Three big folding tables, a massive rectangular umbrella (to shelter the check-in table), folding chairs, generator, propane fire pit, industrial-sized coffee makers, kettle, all that food from Costco, platters for the food, a cooler, two massive stand-up paddle boards (SUPs), the dinghy, personalized goody bags for each boat, donated prizes for draws, in addition to all the stuff that lives on their boat, plus the host hubby and wife and their mother-in-law.
We set off early on Friday morning, directly into wind that gusted over 20 knots, and pinned some participants to their Vancouver Island docks until much later than their planned departure times. Heavily laden as we were, we lumbered along, but Easy is a gutsy girl and seemed unperturbed.
As other boats arrived later on Friday and all through the day on Saturday, we heard all kinds of hairy stories of setbacks and route changes caused by the inclement weather.
The forecast for the weekend had been grim and we all fully expected a rather soggy Rendezvous spent huddled around the fire pit in our foulies. Remarkably, as the boats arrived, the weather cleared and the weekend turned out to be gorgeous – warm and sunny – until we all headed for home on Monday afternoon. We were the last to leave and managed to make it back to Sidney just as the first raindrops began to fall. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Between the blustery Friday and the dribbly Monday, we had a ton of fun catching up with skippers and crews of 37 boats. That meant that in addition to Dani’s usual tasty ‘Trays of Abundance’ for the appy hours, we also needed to prepare two breakfasts (and, most importantly, coffee) for about 80 hungry souls on Sunday and Monday mornings and coffee and tea for a potluck breakfast on Saturday.
If you’ve had the pleasure of coming aboard Easy Rider, you will know that she is all galley below (Dani loves to prepare meals for many), but even so, it was quite a feat to orchestrate all that fruit-chopping and platter-prepping in the available space.
Toryn kept the generator going and coffee percolating out on the dock, while Dani kept the two of us busy with the help of some impressive organizational flowcharts.
Hot on the heels of Saturday’s potluck breakfast, a few of us headed off to explore the bay on self-propelled vessels of various types. Perhaps weary from the journey to Pender Island in rough seas, only the hardiest among us made it to the beach at the far end. It was a terrifying journey for me as I was seated on the front of Toryn’s SUP in charge of lunch, a delicious rice and curry dish Dani had prepared in her amazing Shuttle Chef thermal cooking system.
We enjoyed a fabulous picnic ashore and then meandered back to the floating dock, and checked in more boats. That’s quite the procedure involving waivers, and checklists, and counting people, collecting cash, and handing out the goody bags for all the boats that were able to pre-register before the cut-off.
Sunday Morning Pastries
Toryn took a coffee-making break to run ashore in the dinghy early on Sunday morning to pick up dozens of scrumptious pastries from Pender’s own Vanilla Leaf Bakery. My, oh my, those cinnamon buns were sticky and delicious!
Scavenger Hunt to Remember
One of several items participants found in their goody bag was a sailing-themed scavenger hunt. A dozen or so boats participated, delivering their collections of treasures to Easy Rider where, somehow, we managed to store everything safely below until judging commenced during the potluck Sunday evening.
From something pink to five items a pirate needs, the entries provided all kinds of entertainment for the judges who scored each entry according to a complex matrix that took into account creative interpretations of the challenge, how many items were successfully gathered, and the quantity of rum in the entry packages (pirates, it turns out, drink a lot of rum – some of very good quality).
The winner overall was the crew of Counting Stars. Their scavenger hunt booty was delivered by a real life pirate, complete with eye patch and blue-footed booby dubbed Bobby (a wannabe parrot).
Prize packages were handed out for the top five boats, but the laughs were shared by all.
It was during the announcing of the winners and favourite items that I realized why I had actually been invited aboard. Turns out I have not lost my capacity to yell loudly for a long time and my daughter took full advantage of my hearty bellowing, not only to announce the highlights of the Scavenger Hunt entries, but also to broadcast the Trivia Contest questions.
Nobody managed to get all 15 questions correct in what proved to be an entertaining and educational trivia contest. From day shapes and signal flags, to the meaning of ancraphobia and the rationale behind pirates piercing their ears, the questions covered a wide range of topics. Congratulations to the crews of Counting Stars and Traversay III, who tied for the win in this contest. Each team took away a bottle of cheap red wine as their prize.
Prizes for contests and the door-prize draw this year included books, BCA anniversary tumblers, candy-filled bottles, and magazines and prize packs provided by Pacific Yachting.
Turk’s Head Knots
Knot-tying expert (and VI Bosun) Chris Stask took over the picnic tables on the floating dock and led a workshop on how to create a Turk’s Head knot. What a great way to spend a Sunday morning, while digesting all those tasty pastries! Chris’s preparation and organization never fails to amaze!
Calling All Scientists!
Later on Sunday morning, Elaine Humphrey set up a laboratory and aspiring marine biologists of all ages explored the world revealed by microscopes. Those who received goody bags were delighted to find fold-scopes they were able to assemble and use to examine the teeny tiny details of our world, with the knowledgeable Elaine right there to answer questions and point out minutiae we might otherwise have missed.
Sharing is Caring
Many boats took part in the gift exchange, which was held on Sunday evening just before music, singing, and sea shanties started up again around the fire pit.
By the time the majority of the boats hauled up their anchors or cast off their dock lines on Monday, we’d all had a chance to catch up with old friends and make a few new ones as well.
We shoehorned everything back into Easy Rider and with our load a little lighter than when we’d arrived, headed for home, racing the clouds and just beating the rain.
Many, many thanks to all those who contributed to making the May Rendezvous a big success. In particular, I’d like to thank Dani and Toryn – they began work by organizing the event way in advance; creating the customized wooden ornaments for each boat; the lovely BCA keychains; sourced and ordered all the stuff that went into those great goody bags (the bags themselves were handy reusable mesh veggies storage bags), researched trivia questions, and more. I now know what goes on behind the scenes and have an even greater appreciation of what a great organization we are part of.
The August Rendezvous is just around the corner and I, for one, can’t wait to do it all again (though, as a chill-axed participant this time)!
You can see a complete photo album of the event on Shutterfly.