There were numerous moments over the last three years when we wondered whether we should just give up on trying to get Illusion to Vancouver. It was so complicated and expensive and time-consuming. And then on top of that wanting to visit our families for weddings and births and funerals, the addition to our own family-crew, the ongoing pressure of trying to complete my PhD, Doug’s surgery and recovery from his shoulder injury, and all the other ups and downs of life…. Yawn, I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about all the bad stuff. Every few months we would have a serious talk about whether we should give up on trying to get the boat here. Maybe sell her. Maybe sail her back to the Marquesas. Maybe go and live on her in Hawaii. But none of it quite made sense and each time we re-evaluated, our conclusion was to keep pushing on. We couldn’t easily sell her without a working engine, but if she had a working engine, we could get her here and in that case we didn’t want to sell her. So we just stuck at it and waited for all the circumstances to make sense and come together and…. eventually, they did!
So here she is! In Vancouver! And it’s brilliant! We’ve been so happy to spend time on her, at anchor in False Creek and by Jericho Beach, invite friends over, meet other sailors here, and start to explore the British Columbia coast and the stunning Salish sea. We’ve been making up for lost time, enjoying all the small stuff, and just feeling so relieved that we can begin to enjoy the boat and stop feeling stuck.
The land of boat ownership is a weird and wonderful place. People assume you’re loaded and have this luxury life full of magical, movie-worthy moments. People, that is, who don’t own a sailboat. Those who do, especially those who live on them or cruise, know that the beautiful sunsets are often missed because you’re stuck down in the engine room and the gorgeous clear water is just the place you try to avoid dropping pegs into when you’re hanging out the clothes! Ok, I’m exaggerating slightly, but boats and glamour, in our case, is, well, just an illusion.
It’s a twenty year old boat, of a make that’s never been known for its beauty inside (“oh, it’s really narrow” from other sailors and “wow, nice 80s decor haha” from non-boaty people. It was actually built in the 90s, but you’d never know from the style.) And with a captain who delights in fixing and making do, a first mate who hates shopping, and a budget that has been badly bruised from three years of marina fees, it’s safe to say, at the risk of too much information, that it’s not a glamorous life aboard.
We wear the same salty clothes for days on end, the head still smells more than we’d like, we have cold water showers off the back, we had a bit of a mosquito problem, the compost starts to get flies, the rocking and rolling can get annoying, the cushions are not comfy, lots of the food is out of date. It’s basically not-very-fancy camping on the water.
But oh, the feeling of waking up and getting your mug of tea and sitting out on the deck, watching the gulls or the seals or the mountains. The cold splash as you jump into the water on a hot afternoon. The fresh crab that a fellow boater brings over. The serenity of sunset. The comforting clinks and rocking on a quiet afternoon. The dinghy rides around the bay, saying hi to other boats. Watching the clouds and listening to the rain. Wandering through buzzing forests. Watching light play on the waves. Deciding it’s time for a move, lifting the anchor, and heading out into the open sea. The moment of arriving in a new place and wondering how it will be. Heading to shore, excited to explore.
Boats and glamor? Not so much. But boats and adventures? Boats and beauty? Boats and explorations? Boats and gulls and seals and fish and bald eagles and maybe whales and dolphins if we’re lucky? Boats and testing yourself and trying new things and learning all the time? Boats and realizing how little you need to be comfortable and content? Boats and friends and laughter and conversations? Boats and songs and fiddles and ukeleles? Boats and the stars and the moon and the sea? Yes to all that!
It’s not luxurious, it’s not always relaxing (our 1am second anchor setting mission on a blustery night in False Creek is testament to that) – but it’s all that we hoped for over the last few years and it’s all that we want right now! We’re so excited for the adventures to come…