To answer that question let’s ask Captain Jack Sparrow from the Disney movie franchise “Pirates of the Caribbean”--click on the photo below to see a short video where he talks about his boat, the Black Pearl:
So according to that romanticized version of boats, they are all about freedom—the freedom to move about at will (or at least at the will of the winds, tides, currents, and in Captain Jack’s case, other pirates). In my opinion this definition doesn’t include the reality of constant vigilance regarding care and maintenance or the funding of such maintenance. I suppose you could argue that the treasure Captain Sparrow was constantly in search of would be used for that purpose. Somehow I doubt that new sails, repairs, or scraping of the hull would be what the good captain would spend his portion of the gold financing.
But I digress…boats do provide freedom. And now that our boat is no longer tied to a dock we are getting a sense of that again. We were too long tied up, restricted in our movement, and stationary. Boats are boats (whatever that is) when they are being used as a boat—moving through the water. I may be anthropomorphizing a bit, but I swear Boreas feels lighter, happier, and even excited now that we are sailing again. When she sails she sparkles and dances like a figure skater covered in sequins--is the photo too much???
And yes, we are out sailing again! On a cold and foggy morning in mid-May we cast off from our comfortable mooring in Port Townsend and motored out the Admiralty Straight. We didn’t go far that first day but it was far enough to feel Boreas wake up and shake off her winter slumber. (I know, I know…now I’m just waxing poetic nonsense.) We soon arrived at the John Wayne marina in Sequim where we rendezvoused with Rob’s sister Laura and her husband Joe and their dog Tay who had driven across the country in an RV starting in Atlanta, GA. That's a looooong drive! We had a great visit with them being tourists and going out on day sails. We had only one sailing mishap where we knocked our brand new wifi amplifier’s antenna overboard. Whoops!
After saying goodbye to Laura and Joe we raised the sails and started north to meet my cousin Grace who was flying into Bellingham from Missouri. It was windy so we decided to put a reef in the main sail (this means we tie down the bottom portion of the sail to reduce the overall sail size) and immediately figured out we didn’t have the reefing system quite right. Yikes! Thankfully it was an easy fix and we were on our way crossing the Juan de Fuca Straight. This crossing can be harrowing but thankfully we had a smooth sail.
Once we picked up Grace and got her on board (with an exciting dinghy ride in the dark to our anchorage) we had a lovely week sailing around the San Juan islands. One of our most scenic anchorages was in a semi-box canyon that was completely calm when we went to bed. In the middle of the night the winds shifted direction and were funneled directly into the canyon. We were bounced around violently. Moving around the boat was like trying to stand on the back of one of those mechanical bucking broncos (I know, more poetic nonsense). Uh oh! Early in the morning we raised the anchor and motored to a more protected spot. Grace took it all in stride.
At the end of the week we dropped Grace back at the Bellingham airport and hung out for a few days resupplying, doing laundry, and dealing with some of that constant maintenance I mentioned earlier. This time it was a leaky propane hose, an empty propane tank, and getting our wifi amplifier fixed.
We set sail to go north again. Our last night in America was on lovely Suchia Island where we were treated to a breathtaking sunset. From there we continued north into Boreas’ home waters—Canada! Thankfully this time the border crossing was easy and we were soon on our way anchoring in different marine parks where we would dinghy ashore and go for a beautiful hikes.
Ahhh Canada! How we missed you!
We slowly worked our way west stopping to anchor at marine parks along the way to Butchard Gardens—a world famous attraction well deserving of its fame. The area had been a quarry and was painstakingly converted to a magnificent garden and then greatly expanded. Initially it was for private use but was later opened to the public. The grounds were well designed, well maintained, and obviously well loved. Photos don't do it justice. Anyway, if you can go, GO! And if you can go in a boat even better because the gardens have their own cove where you can tie up and walk right in. Boreas was too big for their cove so we went around the corner (literally) and anchored in the Tod Inlet—a very quiet and serene spot.
From there we continued to move north. We are members of the Vancouver Rowing Club (VRC) which has an outstation (i.e. they sort of own dock space at another marina) at Ganges on Salt Spring Island. Last year we stopped here briefly but didn’t get to explore their Saturday market so we made a point to go this year and were not disappointed. The variety of locally grown/made food and art was impressive and the vegan/dairy free options were everywhere. But the best part was reconnecting with some of the wonderful people we met at the VRC last year.
Oh Canada…How we have missed you!
Side Note…last year at Newcastle Island near Nanaimo a dock mate had a birthday so I sketched his boat and made it into a birthday card. We left before we saw him so I just put it on his boat and had no idea if he found it. Surprisingly he found us at Ganges and told me how much he enjoyed that card. In fact, he had scanned it into Photoshop and changed the message so that he could use it for holiday wishes to friends and family. I was and am honored!
We continued our northerly trek and are now in Nanaimo where we will gather a few more supplies before going on to Pender Harbor and beyond.
But getting back to the original question…”what is a boat”.…Rob rather agrees with Captain Sparrow and sees the boat as freedom.
As for me…well I have more of a “mixed bag” perspective. The boat is our home, a mode of transportation, and a chore to maintain. She is also beautiful, demanding constant attention. To be honest, I sometimes am jealous of how much time, energy and resources we pour into her. The other day Rob joked that we should rename the boat to “Knot Lucy” so he could tell people he had two women in his life: Lucy and “Knot Lucy” the boat.
But now that the boat is back to being a boat—taking us new places almost every day and supporting us and our loved ones on her strong back as we bob in the blue ocean—I see her as, well, as a rare gift.
(FYI: Scroll to the bottom to see a map of our progress so far)