The annual Thanksgiving Rendezvous, held October 8-10 at Thetis Island Pub and Marina and hosted by the Calgary Chapter, is a favourite end-of-season wind-up event for members of all BCA chapters.
Cruising boats arrive from as far as Victoria to the south, Vancouver to the east, and the Sunshine Coast to the north. Participants also came on foot by ferry from Chemainus, or by the scheduled floatplane that comes right to the marina dock daily. Everyone – member and non-member alike – is welcomed and encouraged to participate.
This Rendezvous is always a jolly time, with a swap meet, potluck supper Saturday, a model boat race, and evening slide presentations; all leading up to the old-fashioned, sit-down Thanksgiving turkey supper and prize awards Sunday night in the Pub.
In recent years, early October weather has been clear, sunny, warm, and mainly dry, with good chances of finding decent wind on the way to the event and back. This year was different, though. Winter weather came early. High winds, gale warnings and wet weather on the Friday before Thanksgiving threatened to scare us off, but it seems that a little heavy weather does not hold BCA members back and we broke attendance records yet again. The marina docks were filled to capacity, with at least one late arrival having to anchor nearby. That is no great hardship, though, since there is lots of sheltered space nearby with good holding and a convenient dinghy dock.
Although winds gusted to 45 knots early Friday just as many of us were getting underway to Thetis Island, conditions moderated in the afternoon as the clouds cleared off, making for pleasant travel. After a reasonably calm evening, during which the early arrivals visited and rested up at the marina, rain began overnight and continued most of Saturday. Temperatures all weekend were mild and pleasant, and winds at the marina were calm or light.
Rain Saturday morning dampened hopes of hiking the Island and most other outdoor activities; however, morning coffee, the swap meet, the ‘Happy Appie’ hour, and the potluck supper proceeded in the club room provided by the Marina, and other activities took place as planned in the Pub, the outdoor shelter provided, or on member boats. The swap meet attracted many more items than in the past and there were some exceptional values on offer.
Saturday night slide presentations were well attended and we enjoyed an excellent picture presentation by Guy Gauvin and Valerie Gunn, showing their trip around Vancouver Island this summer on Tectonic. They had had the foresight to take lots of pictures on the trip, with no intention of presenting them anywhere, but they had their camera along and with help of a friend, they made up an amazing presentation on the spot and on short notice that very afternoon.
Their contribution was followed by a presentation by Ken and Carol Gillstrom, covering the Scotland portion of their world circumnavigation. They then showed slides describing details of how they built their aluminum offshore sailboat, Voyager 10.10, in the backyard, while running businesses and raising children.
After the main presentations, some drifted off to their boats or the Pub, but many lingered in the club room to pick Ken’s brains, watch more slides and chat with one another.
Sunday morning began with a roll call and announcements on VHF 68 at 0900. The day was mostly sunny and clear and people spent more time outdoors.
Mid-afternoon, preparations for the model boat race created a lot of excitement as people scrounged for materials on the beaches and schemed how they would devise a floating vessel that would take best advantage of wind, current and technical expertise to capture first place in this competitive, but friendly contest, overseen by the capable Race Master, Myron O’Byrne.
The race took place in bright sunshine, but winds were light to dead calm, making the eddy currents in the slips a significant factor in determining the victor. Some boats moved decisively down the course and some never really arrived at the finish without much poking and prodding. One contender, looking good at first, lost its keel and fell flat, but continued down the course. Another lost its rig. Ultimately, after much hilarity, Carol Gillstrom was declared winner, with Ken Christie taking second place.
The race itself was a farce, as always, but some real design talent emerged and perhaps soon, some of the advanced features revealed will be incorporated in commercial designs by Jeanneau, Beneteau, Hanse, and other top manufacturers. I am especially looking forward to seeing and sailing a commercial version of the mickey bottle design. Some bugs in the chainplates and standing rigging need to be addressed first, however.
At 1730 hours, the Thanksgiving turkey dinner was served in the Pub and as always, it was excellent. The keg of beer provided by the Calgary Chapter was a hit, but surprisingly, we learned at supper that we had not quite emptied it, bringing into doubt sailors’ reputation as drinkers… Supper was followed by prize draws, after which we all called it a day. We had tentatively scheduled presentations, but everyone was content to return to boats to visit or rest.
Monday, slack water in the passes was scheduled for after lunch, so there was no need to rush off in the morning. We enjoyed the remaining pastries and a leisurely coffee in the club room, then by checkout at noon, most boats were gone.
It seems that in spite of weather warnings than might discourage some, BCA people are a hardy lot, and all in attendance agreed that this was the best Thanksgiving Rendezvous in recent memory. For that, we have the attendees themselves to thank for pitching in and making the event a success, and we owe thanks to marina owner, Paul Deacon, and the staff at Thetis Island Marina, who have worked with us over the years to make this annual event run smoothly.
Now that the Rendezvous season is over for 2016, we are looking forward to next year, and while events are fresh in our minds, those of us in Calgary are seeking input from participants about how to make the 2017 Thanksgiving Rendezvous (Oct 7-9) even better.
A few suggestions heard so far are online pre-registration, better pre-event communication, eliminating the Friday night activities that no one ever attends, or scheduling a sailing movie just in case people come by. Adding events like a crib tournament Saturday afternoon or in an evening? Bring back the dinghy race (no oars, no motor, much splashing and hi-jinks)? How about a Calgary-style pancake breakfast? Beer tickets good for wine as well as beer? White or red? Vegetarian or other special options for the supper? Knot tying/untying contest? Mooring contest? Rendezvous souvenir hats? Rafting boats if we run out of marina dock space?
We’re brainstorming, so all suggestions will be considered. Bring them on. Ideas? Write to me at email@example.com.