The First Year
So we have our boat, now we need a place
to keep it. As I was still working in Port
Alberni, we tried to get a slot there. No
Joy. The only spot that the Port Authority
would allow us to "live aboard"
was at the Fisherman's Warf. This was exactly
what it said it was, with fishing boats coming
and going at all hours and eau de fish plant
when the wind blew the wrong way.
We needed a slip NOW, so got one on a monthly basis at a pretty little marina on the east side of the Island, called Schooner Cove.
Now we go to pick up our "new" boat. Our sons, Eryk & Andrew came with us and over to Vancouver we go. Overnight on the boat then away, bound for Schooner Cove, slip C-37.
Now my first shock. Although I had spent over 20 years sailing these waters, most of that time had been on the foredeck or cranking winches, and taking my trick at the wheel when underway. I had never docked nor undocked a large boat. A meer detail, gulp... We managed to leave Gandalf's old slip at Harbour Ferries Marina without even scaring another boat, and when I docked at the floating fuel dock, I hardly moved it at all.
After a very long and hot motor across the Strait of Georgia we arrived at Schooner Cover. We were to stay here for the next 14 months, until I had finished work and retired.
We had many good times here and met many great people - even joined the local Yacht Club. And I enjoyed a special status as the local "dock cop". Everyone felt that with us staying aboard (in Schooner Cover Marine there are no live aboards, but varing numbers of stay aboards at any one time) their boats would be safe. One day as I returned from work, John, who had a boat across from us, came up all incensed. It seemed that he had left some prawn and crab traps on the dock overnight, and now they were missing. He was astounded at the audacity of someone who had stolen his traps from right in front of the dock cop's boat.
I mentioned this to Janice and she smiled. She had got a picture of the crooks around John's boat. (Have a look here to see if you recognize them).
Over the summer we went out for several daysails, a couple of weekends and were getting comfortable with the boat. We were looking forward to the fall winds when we could do more sailing than motoring. This was not to be.
That summer was long and hot - three months without rain. (no wind either). When the wind and the first rain came we discovered that all our port holes leaked. We had to tarp the boat until we could get replacement ports in. We deciced to spend a little extra (and, surprisingly, it was just a little extra) to replace the current plastic ones with bronze. After gettting the parts in from the States, we then had to wait until we had a couple of dry days that coincided with my days off.
At the very end of the summer, we decided to take our good friend Jan (two Janices on board was very confusing) on a weekend cruise over to Jedidiah Island. We had a nice sail over and anchored out in chunk of protected water off the south-west tip of the island. I rowed the dog ashore for her walk in our dinghy, Shadowfax, then returned for a BBQ and beer in the cockpit. We got to speaking of what we wanted to improve on the boat, and I was long in my critisim of Shadowfax, and my desire to replace her with a new rigid hulled infatable. A good evening was had by all, culminating in an early night to bed.
As is my wont in the summer, I arose early to take the dog ashore ---- NO Shadowfax. The line secure her to Gandalf had some how become untied during the night. My cursing caused the the Two Janices to get up. My Janice avered that I had hurt Shadowfax's feelings with all that talk about replacement, so she had run away from home.
I figured that Shadowfax was history, but decided to have a quick search down tide from us. The current that was running most of the night would have pulled Shadowfax through a narrow channel, and then north between Jedadiah and Texada Islands. At the current state of the tide we could not go through the channel, but I prevailed on the girls that we should look as far down it as possible. There was one small point just before the water got real shallow, that blocked our view of a little cove. Sure enough, high and dry and hiding was our Shadowfax - but how to get her. She was ashore on Bull Island, and the only way to get to her was either swim, or use a dock that belonged to some sort of estate, with big signs on it saysing " Piss Off - No Tresspassing" or similar words.
A close examination of the estate led me to believe that there was no one home, so I snugged Gandalf into the dock, then bushwacked along the shore to Shadowfax's cove, then rowed her back to Gandalf - all the way appologising and telling her what a good dinghy she was. Since then I have always been nice to her, tell her she is appreciated, and only discussed a new dinghy at the bar, well away from her hearing.
On our previous trips out (as infrequent as they were) we had become famous (infamous?) for rather spectacular landings - including one where we tried to turn sideways in our slip. The slips there are very generous, and almost big enough to do this, IF you do not have a neighbour. We did. We managed to stablize ourselves without damaging any boats, then I went to do a long step onto the dock to help Janice - who had managed to get off on the first part of the "docking". The long step was trunkated when I tripped over a line and fell between the dock and the boat. I threw my top half onto the dock as I fell as I did not want to get wet. I didn't - But I did crack two ribs. **note to self** no more heroic leaps. Anyway, the point is that when we came in, anyone around usually rushed over to catch lines - and it was very much appreciated. But not exactly esteem building. So, prior to going over to Jedadiah we had snuck off and practiced, and actually got pretty good at sliding into the slip.
As we approached the marina from Jedadiah the conditions were perfect. Slack tide, no wind, and lots of our friends around to witness the perfect landing. As we entered the marina, there was a large patch of flotsum just at the enterance. This was not unusual for slack tide, so I did not particularly notice, other than to try and miss the biggest chucks of weed. We rounded the corner to start our final approach to the slip when the motor started to strain, there was no power, black, sooty smoke started to eminate from the exhaust. CRAP!!! I was trying to keep on the proper approach line and figure out what the HELLO was going on, when we passed Dick's boat Whistler. Dick was working on his engine, and just as we went by one of his engine alarms went off. My head came up like pointer hearing a grouse. Dick yelled "Its mine" but some how I heard "Fire". This was quickly shown NOT to be the case, but I was no longer on my line for the perfect landing, and with no power, belching black smoke, we slowly crashed into the dock - being fended off by a larger than normal group of dock friends.
A later examination by Lyle, another friend who is a diver, revealed that we had picked up a plastic grocery back around the prop. No damage and about three minutes to fix. Thank the Lord for small mercies.
We did eventually learn to dock Gandalf, and in learning more about her, Janice decided that "she" was a "he". After all, Gandalf was a wizard, not a witch, and besides, our Gandalf was always a perfect gent (previous adventures not withstanding).
It was now time for me to retire. At a party a friend of my step-mom (yes, Dad married his lady) told me of a resort that might need a caretaker for the winter. As it happened THAT resort did not, but the idea appealed to both Janice and I so I just sent out a quick and very basic resume to every resort I could find on the Web, from Rivers Inlet south. To make a long story short, we ended up with a position looking after a pretty little lodge in Rivers Inlet, called Rivers Lodge.
It was time to leave Schooner Cove Marina, and start out new adventure