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! Continue reading “Endings and beginnings”

Us and the boat and the sky and the sea

img_20160714_193503.jpgThere 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. img_20160804_114739.jpgBut 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!

Continue reading “Us and the boat and the sky and the sea”

Underway – Sailing from Hawaii to Vancouver

Route sailed from Hawaii to Vancouver
Route sailed from Hawaii to Vancouver

We did it! Finally! Illusion made it to Vancouver, Canada on the 24th of June, after almost three weeks at sea. The three of us (John, friend of a friend in New York, Ivan, good friend of Sara’s from Spain, and I) had an undramatic and enjoyable passage, with a bit more motoring than hoped for (definitely worth fixing the engine!), decent conditions overall and no major storms.

Continue reading “Underway – Sailing from Hawaii to Vancouver”

Autumn in Vancouver

wpid-img_20151022_154341.jpgVancouver, consistently near the top of ‘best places to live’ lists, has so much beautiful, spectacular scenery that it can be easy to overlook the gorgeousness of your own neighbourhood. We’re based in Mount Pleasant, East Vancouver, which is a bit of a trek to the beaches and mountains that make this place so famous (and so expensive!), but we’ve been surrounded by amazing colours and stunning sights these last couple of months without having to walk more than a few blocks from our place. Continue reading “Autumn in Vancouver”

Fog, whale and wine: an afternoon sail around English Bay, Vancouver

20150929_152717Some 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.
Continue reading “Fog, whale and wine: an afternoon sail around English Bay, Vancouver”

Weather at sea!

With all the crazy weather happening recently in the North Pacific (hurricanes, tsunami warnings, storms in Vancouver, etc), we’ve been reminiscing about some of the mad weather related moments on Illusion’s journey from New Zealand to Hawaii. Here are a few of the memories that stand out, for varying reasons… Continue reading “Weather at sea!”

Going bananas – easy cookie recipe

Bananas at sea - August 2013 (Leaving Raivavae)
Bananas at sea – August 2013 – en route from Raivavae to Tahiti.

While Doug works away on the boat, Toby and I are back in Vancouver. Given that Toby is sick every time we go on a bus, I’m starting to see the (unconventional) wisdom of Jean-Marie , the broker for our harbour neighbour’s boat, who took one look at Toby splashing around in a bucket in the cockpit, asked his age, and said, with a smile but in all seriousness, “Ah, he’s too young to be on land.” Brilliant, eh?

Anyway, here we are on land, looking for ways to enjoy the summer without Doug, van or boat. It’s going pretty well, considering (you know, minus the odd moment of ‘aaaagh, I’ve run out of diapers and it’s bedtime’) and when we do brave the bus we get rewarded with sights like this: Continue reading “Going bananas – easy cookie recipe”

Boat building and shoulder healing

IMG_20140323_140049As you might have noticed, things have been pretty quiet round here – mainly because Doug had surgery on his shoulder after injuring himself during the (so-horrible-we-try-not-to-talk-about-it) day-we-finally-gave-up-on-the-engine, back in August.¬†Here’s a link if you don’t know what that’s referring to. I still feel sick every time I think about it – that and the moment I nearly killed him with an accidental gybe, but that’s another story…

Doug’s speedy jump down into the engine room resulted, we later discovered, in three torn rotator cuff muscles (two of them almost 100% ripped) and a 90% torn bicep. We should have guessed it was serious when his whole upper arm turned a particularly disgusting shade of purple. Looking back it is kind of unbelievable that he then continued the voyage from Raivavae up to Hawaii, including a 15 day solo sail, mostly without use of the autopilot, and two trips up the mast while alone on the boat. Anyway, in about November,¬†realizing the pain wasn’t going away, he finally figured he should get it seen to by a doctor and within weeks he was having scans and appointments and surgery was booked for mid-February. Continue reading “Boat building and shoulder healing”

So… what’s the plan?

1382810533947Well… get Illusion to Canada obviously! Eventually. That part of the plan hasn’t changed, although the timing has. I think at one stage we were even talking about having her here by the end of July so we could spend August sailing around the islands of British Columbia. We just didn’t realize that it would be 2014, not 2013!

The big lesson of this whole boating thing for me has been to learn to expect everything to change and not rely too much on plans. It’s a great lesson. Even though I was warned that everything would take a load longer than predicted it was actually pretty interesting to realize that Doug was spot on with his sailing prediction times for the most part. Aiming for two weeks from New Zealand, but might be up to three. Even with awful storms and no engine, it was twenty two days. Five days tops to get from Raivavae to Tahiti, he said. It took about three. About a week to get from Tahiti to Nuku Hiva, five days if we’re lucky with the winds. We weren’t lucky, but it was still only seven days. Aiming for two weeks from Nuku Hiva to Hawaii, but don’t worry if it’s more like three – it was fifteen days. So it’s good to know we can have a reasonable idea of travel times. It’s just all the other stuff that gets in the way…. Continue reading “So… what’s the plan?”

Remembering to talk about the birds

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Just before Doug and the Illusion crew left the boatyard, we discovered Google Talk. Skype had been letting us down, and we’d been relying on WhatsApp messages. While that’s great for speedy interactions and sharing photos*, nothing beats a (free!) voice call, or even better a video call. It didn’t always work, but if he went to just the right spot in the yard, and managed to time it so the lawnmower or some other engine wasn’t running, and nobody was stopping to talk to him, we could just about manage a proper conversation. Yay! Continue reading “Remembering to talk about the birds”