Sailing on Pursuit
I wasn't quite sure what to expect, and had donned my bravest adventurer face when I finally hooked up with Dave and the Pursuit at the dock. I was excited, but also feeling a little queasy about spending a week on a 37 foot boat with 3 people whom I'd never met before. All that I knew about the other two women was that they were friends from Alberta. That could be a good thing or a bad thing for me. I stowed my gear and had a few minutes to acclimate before they arrived. It was mighty cosy down below; one way or another we were all destined to become rather intimate. I calmed down and told myself that everything was going to be fine. Dave seemed nice enough; how bad could it be? I can get along with just about anybody but pompous raving lunatics. Anyway, that was my mantra of the day, and I just kept repeating it to myself. Over and over again.
Lynda and Susan, the friends from Alberta, arrived loaded for bear. They had had a miserable and lengthy trip from Alberta, thanks to the airline strike and an encounter with an unruly car rental employee. Uh oh. After some minor positioning over berth space, they got settled below and then we cast off. Dave looked rather nervous. About 2 hours out, I realized that I had forgotten my Cokes, digital camera, artichoke hearts, spiced olives, and assorted other deli goodies. I don't drink coffee, so that meant no caffeine. Oh no. The rest of that day is mostly a blur because I was nervous and trying to absorb everything, because as usual, if I was going to do this, I had to be the best, quickest, sharpest, fastest, smartest being on the boat. That lasted about 12 hours, then I threw in the towel. I could never be a sailor, because I couldn't remember the friggin knots. (An intimate peek into the complex mind o' Joan.)
To make a long story short:
- The Alberta women calmed down and could probably be friends for life.
- Dave survived.
- Nobody crashed the boat into anything, in spite of the fact that not a one of us could remember whether reverse was up or down on the throttle.
- I got certified.
It was one of the most enjoyable weeks of my trip. I loved sailing. I loved it when it was raining (whomever invented Polarfleece should get a Nobel), I loved it in big wind, little wind, I loved everything about it. I loved the way that all of the equipment fits and works together, loved handling the sails. LOVED steering and adjusting and heeling and flying through the water. Loved relaxing at the end of the day in a sweet spot. Loved sleeping on the boat.
I especially loved the exploring part. We docked or anchored at idyllic little places every night, where there were petroglyphs on sheer rock walls and seals romping and piles and piles of brilliantly colored neon starfish. The water most nights was flush with transluscent Moon Jellyfish. The full moon peeked out from behind the clouds one night just long enough for us to whisper our appreciation.
We saw amazing boats: old restored wooden boats from the twenties, enormous yachts, beautiful little day and trailer sailers. We were able to sail all but the last day out, which we used to practice docking (otherwise known as Moe, Curly, and Larry learn to dock a boat). It was all incredible and peaceful and exciting and wonderful and calming and fulfilling. We laughed for hours and hours. And I learned to appreciate a glass (or two or three) of wine at the end of a long day on the water (another amazing feat, because other than an occasional beer, I don't drink). Unfortunately (or fortunately?) for everyone else on the boat, I didn't discover that until the last night on the boat, when we were low on vino. They graciously gave me the lion's share.
Sailing, to me, is like the perfect combination of traveling in the Eurovan and riding an exquisite horse. When the wind is up and the sails are nicely trimmed and the boat is just flying, the world feels perfectly ordered. It's the same pumped high you feel when you're galloping, beautifully balanced, seat deep, legs extended. Only, with sailing, you don't ever have to return to the barn.
The last day out we motored back to Heriot Bay and docked a little early so that Lynda and Susan could catch an early bus to Victoria, where they were meeting friends for a late dinner. I deposited them at the ferry, changed my clothes, then went back and helped Dave clean up the boat. I even loved that part.
I got a campsite for two nights overlooking the water right there at the Heriot Bay Inn. Dave and Sally fed me at their beautiful home and another night I spent solving the problems of the world with a 24 year old blonde hippy named Jason who was very bright and very cute.