Some days you just have to drop everything and go sailing. Our friend Kate has a groovy little Riviera Star 24 in a marina in False Creek and has offered to take us out for a sail on numerous occasions, but the timing has never worked out. This week it did! Twice! First Doug and Toby went out with her on a beautiful sunny day and, despite a few engine issues (uhoh, maybe it’s contagious!), had a lovely time for Toby’s first ever sail.
Two days later, on Thursday, with the sun still shining, we met up again and after a slightly interesting start, manoeuvring out of the dock, headed back out to English Bay to see where the wind would take us. I’ve cycled and walked around False Creek so often, and been on the little water taxis, that it took me until we were under Burrard Bridge to realize I’d never actually been on a sail boat there. We motored out under the bridges, Kate raised the sails, and we looked over at the fog rolling in. Hmmm. Maybe we wouldn’t be going very far.
Well, we didn’t get very far, but wow, we were in another world for most of the afternoon. The fog came in, we made for the little patches of sunlight, enjoyed the ghostly gloom – and hung out with the grey whale that’s been seen for the last few days around Vancouver. Sooo amazing. He circled around. We tacked and gybed occasionally to keep near enough to see or to move to deeper water after drifting. At one point he moved towards us, getting closer and closer, then dipped down and swam under our boat. “Oh my god, oh wow, oh my gawwwd!” was pretty much all that was said for an hour or so. We watched, he disappeared for a bit, came back into view. We were joined by some guys on paddle boards and we all bobbed around in the fog, with the pale sun shining like moonlight on the water.
At times we could see Kitsilano Beach and the shoreline fairly clearly, at other moments there were just tree outlines and the misty pier of Jericho beach. The whale moved out towards Spanish Banks, no doubt in search of more food. Afterwards, we motored our way back through the fog, past a seal, unable to see Burrard Bridge until we were underneath it and a crane (we think?) flew out at us, and heading down False Creek the sun flamed on the buildings ahead of us. We shared some wine in the cockpit as the evening got cold. Our first family sail was likely always going to be memorable, but oh my, that was a magical, mystical afternoon! Thank you Captain Kate! Check out our video on YouTube here.
**Here are useful guidelines for how to behave around whales in the water – we hadn’t read these in advance, but luckily most of our behaviour was, instinctively, erring on the side of letting the whale be and keeping out of his way! Obviously the whale came very close, but I’m not sure how we would easily have got out of its path. But good to know what is recommended and try to be even more aware if there’s a next time!**