Prior to leaving I was enamoured with thoughts of all the exciting places I would travel to and see. I wondered how long I could go off grid, how far north or south would I go - could I go?
I did not really put much thought though into the people I would meet. I did not imagine I would meet other people like me, people with questions and uncertainties. I assumed anyone that was doing this was now and has always been an expert in sailing and adventuring in general. "Who is the new guy and what the hell is he doing?" That is what I imagine others say when they see me fumbling about and I have certainly been fumbling.
I am learning I am not just fumbling though with respect to sailing, I have been fumbling through life for a long time. Fumbling as a child to my parents, as a parent to my child, in relationships, work and yes of course now sailing and all the things associated with that. It is pretty hard to look at yourself and see these deficiencies but I think we have to if we are ever to improve ourselves.
This week I have been working with a top notch marine company that I can not say enough good things about ( Blackline Marine part of Canoe Cove Marina ) in what I have come to call boat Mecca. There is a shop for everything boat related here, if you need it fixed someone here can fix it and fix it well. But not only do they do that, they walk you through the process and show you how to do things without making you feel inadequate for not being born knowing how to rig a sailboat. I have been sailing on and off for 15 years and working on boats for the same amount of time, the two pretty much go hand in hand. I think though I have learned more in the past week than in all of my previous experiences combined.
While walking around the yard looking at boats I came across one of my favourite boats a Najad, they are stunning boats made in Sweden. There was a woman working on the boat which belonged to her. I commented on how I have always admired these boats, we had a lovely chat. I later learned the woman was non other than the legendary Jeanne Socrates. Born in 1942, Jeanne is the oldest woman to sail single handed ( solo ) around the world - non stop! Non only did she do this but she did it via the souther ocean, around all of the 5 great capes.
Myself and Jeanne
A few days ago I went into town to get groceries. If you have been following my social media feed you will know I sold my car prior to coming out here so if I need something I am relying on my feet for transportation. I found a great backpack on the boat that was left by the previous owner but I sill brought along my trusty blue Ikea bags in case it could not carry everything on my back. With my phone in my pocket guiding me back to the boat yard, I followed Siri's directions through some of Sidney's more affluent neighbourhoods. While trudging along underfoot with blue bags in tow, a man came out of his house and waived me down. I pulled myself over to hear what he had to say.
"Hello there, are you collecting bottles?"
"Umm… no, just passing through",I replied.
He followed up with, "Oh sorry I just assumed you were one of the homeless people collecting bottles with your blue bags..."
Shortly after I passed by a mirror at the end of someones driveway, I guess I can see it but still I do not think I looked that scruffy?
The homeless guy with really sore feet
Anyway, back to the people. My current boat neighbours here at the yard are great. Tyler and Kayleen have been a wonderful resource helping me find my way around, sharing tools and even gave me a ride into town in their really cool converted Sprinter Van.
Together with their friends Ben and Ally who also have a boat here in the yard, they are sailing south to Mexico at the end of the month. Both couples have YouTube channels documenting their travels. Prior to coming out here I had been researching sailing in the area and Ben and Ally's channel Breaking Waves sailing was one that I had watched a few times. Both couples were having their masts put back up on their boats and decided to have a party which was deemed their "Erection Party". It was a gala affair with the finest hot dogs and sponsored gin beverages.
Ben and Ally are a young couple, they have been at the yard for a month. It seems to be a common theme, the longer you are here the more afraid you are of "the bill" Boat parts are expensive, having boat parts and work done on your boat is even more expensive. Canoe Cove Marina is well known for it's top notch work but also for its high costs. It was really great to chat with these two about how they make it work and what they do to realize their dreams. Ally has an energy that seems to raise up everyone around her, she is constantly filming but clearly loving what she is doing. It was interesting to witness a debate between Ben and Jeanne about new ways and old as Ben and Ally recently installed Star Link ( high speed internet ) aboard their boat. At the end of the day both are doing "it" and both seem to have made their way work.
Ben and Ally from Breaking Waves Sailing
Kayleen has sailed to Hawaii and back and Tyler is a gold medal Paralympic Athlete. I would be lying if I did not tell you I have been struggling a bit being on my own and having to do everything myself. I do not discount my feelings, it is hard, but when I meet someone like Tyler who has to do all of the same tasks aboard a boat with prosthetic legs it really makes me question just how hard I have it. My daughter feels even further away than when she moved to Ottawa, I wish my partner Melinda were here with me ( and my dog Luke Skywalker ) but I need to stop and appreciate the fortunes I do have. I am so lucky to be here in this amazing place.
I had a great evening meeting new people and making new friends. I got to hold an actual Olympic gold medal in my hands, I know nothing about sports but I have to say it gave me goosebumps, knowing this tradition had been taking place for over a thousand years and here I was sitting on a boat at the edge of the world with a piece of it in my hands.
solid gold Olympic medal
At the time of writing this, Toyota is over on Tyler and Kayleen's boat making a commercial about Tyler. This is a typical "work" day for Tyler for me it is another distraction keeping me from the work I need to do on my boat. Not in a bad way, just that it is really cool and hard not to pay attention to!
Tyler keeps his medals safely stored inside hats.
As I am approaching the end of week two I am looking back and reflecting on all I have experienced already. I am sore, permanently tired, weathered and sun burnt. I am excited to start each day and equally so to end it. I am homesick and constantly questioning the choice I made but I can not wait to see what comes next.
It has been great to meet these people, to learn that I am not alone in wanting to do the things I want to do and to learn that even the most experienced people fumble at times, they have fears, uncertainties and questions about how to make it work. It is clear now that it is not just the adventures and experiences I have to look forward to, the people are turning out to be pretty exciting as well.