Endings and beginnings

So 2016 is coming to an end and what a year it’s been.

We are delighted that this was the year we finally got Illusion up to British Columbia, were able to live-aboard as a family for a while, started exploring the amazing Salish sea, and shared some great sailing and boat-based social times with friends, old and new. Summer feels a long time ago now, but wow, we had some brilliant local trips and started to get the hang of sailing with a little one. We didn’t do a great job of updating the blog, but our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages are usually fairly current, and perhaps over Christmas we’ll add some videos or posts about our time in Desolation Sound and other beautiful places round here!DCIM100MEDIA We’re excited to gradually get to know more boat-people in this area and are especially impressed by the hardy liveaboards who brave the winter here, despite a lack of official support for long-term anchoring in False Creek and nearby beaches, and manage to keep cheerful too. Everyone should have a few (friendly) pirates in their lives!

Vancouver is known for its rain, but this Autumn has been exceptional with record-breaking numbers of wet days. It pretty much started raining at the end of August and stopped just in time to start snowing at the start of December. We’re relieved we decided to keep renting our flat as Illusion is currently a bit better suited to the Tropics than the freezing temperatures here and we weren’t quite ready with the leaky hatches (etc!) when the rains started.

Marina life
Marina life

We found a marina slip for the winter and are gradually getting to work (in between teaching, thesis writing, and childcare) fixing things (!) and doing a bit of a general clean and refit. It’s been stormy, wet, cold, grey, and a bit depressing to be honest. That combined with so much worrying news on the national and international level over the last few months has made it feel like a very dark few months.

Ocean exploring!
“Ocean exploring – let the adventures begin”

For sailors, cruisers and other explorers, travel can be a passion, a way of life, a chance to learn and grow and connect. We take to the seas (or the roads, or whatever) to see and experience new things, for fun and love and joy. But recent and ongoing news reports from all over the world, – especially of the continuing refugee crisis in Europe, the regular drownings on the Mediterranean sea, and the troubling approach to immigration becoming more and more apparent in our home countries (UK and USA) – are a sobering reminder that to travel by choice and cross borders at ease is an immense privilege, one that is not available to many people today.

So this holiday season, as we reflect on our good and bad times over the past year, we are thinking of those for whom crossing oceans represents more than just adventure and beauty and finding peace on the water. We’ve made donations to Doctors Without Borders and Migrant Offshore Aid Station to help with the important work they do to help save lives at sea – perhaps you could consider doing the same if you, like us, are one of the privileged ones who gets to enjoy the ocean – and are thinking of ways, however small, that we can put our love of the sea to good use to make things at least a little better. (For a start, we are working even harder on decreasing our use of plastic and encouraging others to do likewise – see my forthcoming “Pledge Less Plastic” post for more on that.)

20160826_092412One of the best and most beautiful things about travel, and especially travel by sailboat, is the people and places you connect with, and recognizing and relishing shared humanity, despite differences, wherever you happen to drop your anchor. One of the hard things is not being in places long enough to contribute to long-term projects which work to make things better for communities and their surroundings. We hope in 2017 we can start to see ways to work within this paradox, combining our love of the new with a commitment to the local – it’s too easy to overlook injustice when you’re passing through a place, and community-building takes time and energy!

dsc_0111We wish for you, and us, in 2017, the spirit of openness, adventure and awareness needed to embrace the challenges ahead – whether on land or at sea – and hope we can all help to spread love and light and warmth, even if, especially if, the days are dark. We hope you can spend the holiday season with the people you love, surrounded by festive cheer!

Here’s a very quick recap of our year in a few pictures:

January in Madrid
Starting the year in Tynemouth, England
January in Tynemouth, England
Leaving Hawaii
Leaving Hawaii at night
Hawaii to Vancouver
Hawaii to Vancouver – still seas, lots of motoring
Illusion finally makes it to Vancouver
Illusion finally makes it to Vancouver (thanks to Doug, John and Ivan) and we get to experience family life aboard again
Definitely in Canada - you can tell by the geese
Definitely in Canada – you can tell by the geese
And the jellyfish
And the jellyfish
Keats Island
Keats Island
Full moon while anchored at Savary Island
Desolation Sound in August
More Desolation Sound
And again (anchored at Grace Harbour)
And again (anchored at Grace Harbour)
Sailing from Secret Cove to Vancouver
Sailing from Secret Cove to Vancouver
Sailing back from Desolation Sound
Sailing back from Desolation Sound
Sunrise from anchor at Kitsilano beach

***Thanks for continuing to share the Sailing Illusion journey, whether online or in person. We’re delighted that we got to hang out with so many lovely people on our boat this year and we look forward to more of that in 2017!***

Land-based wintery fun! Happy Solstice! Merry Christmas!

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