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The Official Magazine of the Bluewater Cruising Association

Seamanship at BCA: August Rendezvous

Rosario Passos

Counting Stars
Whitby 42 Ketch
November 19th, 2016

August is now gone, as are the long lazy days of a short summer this year. As July wrapped up, we were nervously watching the weather. It wasn’t looking good for a while for the Rendezvous, with predictions of rain, cool temperatures and strong winds for the August long weekend. The crew of Counting Stars decided to leave Vancouver early to ensure they had a space on the very busy docks at Newcastle Island, where the Rendezvous was going to be held again this year. Due to the weather, many boats that were trying to head north also decided to tuck in at Newcastle waiting for a weather window.

Preparing to Go

Counting Stars and her crew, Rob Murray and Debra Zhou, who currently have their boat Avant in Mexico, headed for Newcastle Island ahead of the weekend with anticipation. I joined them later on in the week to help with provisioning and preparation for the event and the frenzy of preparation began! There were activities to put together, Nanaimo Bars to cut, welcome packages to finish, prizes to sort … all got done with laughter, amidst boat chores with Rob and Debra’s help, and by the start of the long weekend, we were ready to roll and looking forward to a good time. We even had a new self-tailing winch installed at the main mast and a hamock hung with care at the bow. Thank you Rob and Debra! We couldn’t have done it without you guys!

The Event

As the wind kept blowing strong towards the end of the week preceding the long weekend, we started to hear from other fellow cruisers that they were not going to make it across the Strait of Georgia. Fairwyn attempted to leave the Vancouver Rowing Club only to face very rough seas right outside of English Bay, Arahura II made it down the river for a couple of hours only to be beaten up with waves over their bow, May Knot was caught up the coast in seas too rough to navigate safely, Jason and Jay from Evolution Sails, one of our awesome sponsors, aborted half way across the Strait and went into Silva Bay hoping to make the final leg of the trip the following day… the messages kept pouring in over email… and we started to get a bit discouraged, and worried for the safety of our BCA friends.

On the Saturday, the weather took a turn for the better, the winds calmed down, the seas subsided a bit and folks started to come in. All in all, and in spite of the rough sea conditions, the rendezvous was well attended with 30 boats and close to 60 sailors. It was great to welcome everyone aboard Counting Stars to process their registration and hear their tales of braving the seas to make it to the rendezvous.

Saturday evening we gathered at the park shelter for Appie Hour and as the darkness of the night approached we settled in for Movie Night, with blankets and popcorn! Following the screening of “All is Lost”, which everyone braved until the very end in spite of the cool temperatures, we gathered to share the sailing faux-pas we noticed during the movie. There were fun prizes for the winning teams!

Cosy BCAers watching All is Lost talking about the sailing "no-nos" each group found.

Cosy BCAers watching All is Lost and talking about the sailing “faux-pas” each group found.

Saturday came with a little bit of sunshine coming through the clouds and the wind subsided even a bit more. We enjoyed a nice breakfast courtesy of BCA and a few more boats arrived just in time to join us for the fun activities.


Seamanship Activities

The morning activities were all about Seamanship. We learned a few emergency sail repair techniques from Jason and Jay from Evolution Sails. With their careful guidance we learned how to hand sew sail slides onto the sail. It takes a lot of effort and a few specialized tools, but it is totally doable in an emergency situation, and will keep you going until you can take the sail to a sail repair shop.

Hand sewing tips from Evolution Sails.

Hand sewing tips from Evolution Sails.

BCA’s own Chris Stask of Inceptus hosted a great hands on seminar on soft shackle making, and by the end everyone had their lines in knots… maybe not the right knots, but knots nonetheless!

Tying knots with Christ Stask.

Tying knots with Christ Stask.

Karina McQueen from Sea Rover II and Denis Heinrichs, BCA rendezvous organiser extraordinaire from Counting Stars put together a well attended hands on session on cleaning and greasing winches. Everyone wanted to get their hands dirty! Denis thought we should have hosted the session on Counting Stars and all our winches would have been serviced!

Winch cleaning and greasing.

Winch cleaning and greasing.

Rob Murray of Avant hosted the most fun and competitive activity of the weekend: line throwing. We even had to have a special session on Sunday to determine the absolute winner…. as there were prizes, of course. Who ever thought that there was so much skill involved in throwing a line!

Learning to throw a line under Rob's expert guidance.

Learning to throw a line under Rob’s expert guidance.

Following the activities we all went for the now habitual “Floating Lunch” at the August Rendezvous. This year we were not floating per se, as the winds were still blowing. Since nobody wanted to float into the Straight of Georgia, Gary Peacock from Sea Rover II tied his father-in-law’s runabout to a buoy and we all tied our dinghies to the runabout. As always, it was great fun to just hang out, enjoy some great food and laughs together.

Floating lunch at the August Rendezvous.

Floating lunch at the August Rendezvous.

Once again, BCA provided the meat for the potluck dinner – a delicious beef roast sliced to perfection with the help of great volunteers, and everyone contributed with absolutely delicious and delectable dishes to make up a great meal.


Costume Contest

Lots of folks got right into the costume contest. There were several Gilligans wondering around and it seemed like Pirates of the Caribbean had invaded our rendezvous. The competition was fierce and our international panel of judges had to think long and hard before a winner was declared. The Pirates of the Caribbean on Counting Stars took home the grand prize: a bottle of wine!


The evening ended with a great musical performances from John and Geraldine Guilfoyle from Sea Reach and  Anita and Jay Bigland from Karina C.

Our own BCA commodore, Jennifer Handley from Camdeboo joined in the fun for some great singalong:

And Chris Stask from Inceptus got everyone going with this great performance:

Like so many other BCA rendezvous before, there was amazing food, fun activities and games and lots of great visiting with friends, singing and, of course, sharing of sailing stories.

Event Sponsorship

As in past years, the incredible local community of chandleries and businesses providing marine services, from insurance to sail repairs and rigging came out in force to support our event this year. We received many generous gifts from our sponsors which we handed out during the weekend, as we recognized each and everyone of the businesses who donated items. As offshore sailors who are currently preparing and outfitting our boats to go offshore, we are fortunate to have such a great set of supportive local marine businesses.


Some of our sponsors included:

The weather cooperated beautifully with dry conditions, light wind and very warm temperatures. I can’t wait for next year’s event!

Thanks again to Denis Heinrichs and the organising committee, who worked hard to put together such a great event again this year. And thanks as well to all the volunteers who helped during the event.  Well done! I sign-off and leave you with the soundtrack from Gilligan’s Island:

Here is a photo album with more photos of the Rendezvous.




  1. Rita Balaam says:

    Sorry we missed it. We were still on the West Coast as part of our 7 1/2 week sail around the island. Rita.

    1. Rosario Passos says:

      Yeah, we definitely missed you guys! How was the island circumnav? Write a story for Currents! 🙂

  2. Jane Goundrey says:

    Great write-up Rosario
    Very impressed with your computer skills in getting the photos and videos put together
    Wish we could have been there

    1. Thanks Jane! It took me a bit of time to get it all done 🙂 Yeah, wish you could have been there as well. Next time! 🙂

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