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! 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”
They’re not often talked about, but I’m fascinated by rogue waves – waves that are much bigger than the rest of the sea around them, jumping up at you out of nowhere. Even the name suggests mischief and danger. I’ve witnessed what I’d call mini-rogues (basically waves that are noticeably larger than the average sea state) many times while out in the Pacific, usually during or near storm systems, but sometimes caused by storms hundreds or a thousand miles away. Proper “rogue waves” are less common, but more dramatic. Continue reading “Rogue Waves”
Vancouver, 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”
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. Continue reading “Fog, whale and wine: an afternoon sail around English Bay, Vancouver”
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!”
Back in 2013 when Doug was solo-sailing from the Marquesas to Hawaii, and wondering whether to just carry straight on up to Vancouver, he heard radio check-ins from a couple of boats doing that journey who were having a pretty rough time of it. Rough enough for him to realize that he should call it a day for that season’s sailing, leave the boat on Oahu, and get himself up to Vancouver for some much needed rest and shoulder surgery. He’s mentioned those boats a few times while we were working out whether he could sail to Vancouver this summer, not wanting to leave any later than the end of August if at all possible. The last few months have been all about trying to get the engine fixed, while simultaneously prepping the boat to be ready to set off. As the end of August approached, and with the engine really close to working properly, things were still up in the air about whether Illusion was going to be leaving the harbour. Continue reading “Stormy seas and safe harbours – lessons in community”
A car on the quay tooted its horn and we looked over to see Atu waving at us. We’d been about to haul up the dinghy to store it on deck for the journey, but luckily hadn’t yet, so it wasn’t too difficult to get the fuel back out of the anchor locker and make our way over to shore. Euloge, his wife Hilda and 15 year old daughter Atu had come to say goodbye! And brought with them a bag full of food for the journey – banana crepes, stew and rice, a bag of bananas – plus clothes as gifts and a shell necklace. We were bowled over by their generosity and thoughtfulness. After hugs and kisses and address swapping, we headed back to Illusion and waved goodbye as they drove off to church.
After three flights (Vancouver to LA, LA to Tahiti, Tahiti to Raivavae) it was pretty amazing to arrive at the tiny airport and see Doug, complete with an amusing amount of hair, waiting for me. Henriette, whom Doug had met a couple of days earlier, sorted us out with a ride to the other side of the island where Illusion was moored, and I was glad I’d made time for a practise French session with my friend Cristina the day before leaving Vancouver. Our hour of chatting had slightly prepared me for the first significant French-speaking experience since finishing my A-levels, seventeen years ago. (Aaaaack! I can’t believe that was 17 years ago!). Then we were alone, at the quay, and there was the dinghy waiting to take us out to the boat. I guess I hadn’t really thought about how we’d get there – that was a pretty cool moment. So we headed off onto the water, for my first meeting with Illusion and my first experience of living on board a sailboat. Continue reading “Ḿeeting Illusion”
We left Auckland on May 30th, sailing east towards Rapa in the Iles Australis. It was surreal to watch the city lights disappear on the horizon – hard to believe that the time had finally come to begin our journey. The weather forecast showed two low pressure systems building, so we sailed southeast to avoid them. The first few days were slow going due to light winds, but it picked up by day four, so that we were able to average about 150 nautical miles per day. We headed northeast, hoping to catch the coat tails of the storm and ride them east (low pressure systems rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere). The winds and seas got progressively bigger and we found ourselves in the middle of a 420 mile wide gale. No skirting this one unfortunately.
Strange thoughts run after being in uncomfortable sailing conditions for most of the 8 days we’ve been away from Auckland. We’re 35 degrees south of the equator, 162 degrees west of London… Which reminds me that I’m half a world away from Sara… and prompts me back to OpenCPN, the charting program we’re using to track our progress. Surprisingly enough, we’re on a direct course to where she is in northwest England! But it’s 9500 miles away and the “directness” of our course is challenged by the “S”-curve of a great circle route that has been plotted on a Mercator-projected chart of the globe. Strangely enough, the route would take us through San Francisco, about half way on a journey to northern England. Across Hudson Bay, too. And Greenland. Then through the western isles of Scotland. I really miss her, but for me this is the distinctly “not-fun” part of cruising, so perhaps it’s a good thing it’s not her introduction to the “cruising life”… Continue reading “Choices – Starting an Epic Sea Journey”