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“To Reach a port, we must sail; Sail, not tie at anchor; Sail, not drift.” ~Franklin Roosevelt

So I sat in my car today and I watched as a huge SUV tried to back into the tiniest of parking spaces.  I contemplated reversing and trying my luck in another row of vehicles further down, but decided there was no where I really had to be.  I was in no rush at all. So I just watched and waited and gave myself kudos on my *choice* to drive a small *economy* car (It’s an ’87 Jetta).

I patted my own back while wearing a smug look on my face, all the while subtly cringing at the nine-point turn the gas-guzzler was struggling through.  Who doesn’t know that it’s easier back into a lane or road than it is to back into a tiny stall?  Really.

As I had so much time on my hands to judge others and self-affirm my positive life choices, I also had a moment to realize an overwhelming sense of Déjà vu.  I swear I’ve done this before.  Actually, I know I’ve waited for this exact vehicle in this same parking lot…..I did this here…. I did this last year!  It was pre-Christmas.  I wrote about it!  Ah ha!  HA.

And so it is that I re-visit my little blog.

I had to have a look at what I wrote last year at this same time.  Where was I in my own head?  What was my mood?  I had just settled back down on Vancouver Island and I was surrounded by family and new friends and the excitement of living and breathing the snowboarding lifestyle and getting paid for it with a job at the mountain!  It was time for me to put down roots and explore a new community – how exciting!

The handful of entries I’ve managed to post since that time a year ago, don’t really give light to all that’s been going on in my life.  It’s hard to write about your thoughts and feelings and outlooks when you’re in one place and the people you see every day are directly contributing to your thoughts and feelings and outlooks.

It really ups the level of accountability when you don’t get to just pick up and leave every few days!

Although, in saying that, I did manage to move to Nanaimo briefly.  I got the opportunity to move in with fabulous friends and go back to school.  Well, actually, school fell through…. and after a few weeks (it was days) slugging through a less-than-stellar job, and the realization that we were all so busy I wasn’t even really spending time with my room mates, I decided to pack a backpack (it’s my default I guess) and go up north.  I had been asked by my uncle to help out as shore crew for the Van Isle 360 – a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island that happens every two years.  It’s an elite sailing race and I was happy to have the chance to be a part of it.

I arrived in Port Hardy ready to do the team’s laundry and cook them warm, hearty meals upon request.  Luck was with me – the boat was short-crewed and I must have struck them as the perfect Weight-Distribution-Specialist, as I was invited aboard.  This was amazing for so many reasons.  One being that I had entered (and lost) a contest just a few weeks before (see previous posting) where I was trying to win a trip aboard a sail boat.  Kismit or what?  This was waaaaaay better than any two-bit prize…. I got to do real sailing, in a real race, with my (yes, real) uncle.

Among an amazing array of other scenery, I saw the beautiful northern tip of the Island and spent a fun-filled night in Winter Harbour.  I’d like to say I picked up a lot in the way of sailing knowledge, but everything moved so fast, it was hard to keep up…on the water, and off.  Sailors really know how to party.  We had a night to recover in Ucluelet after being battered for hours and hours (one of the other boats broke their mast in the storm) on the longest leg of the race – 140 nautical miles – over the rugged west coast waters.  The wind was so bad and the rocking so incessant that two of the life-long sailors aboard our boat couldn’t move – couldn’t even sit up for over 12 hours.

We had the wind at our back as the danced into Victoria’s inner harbour.   And we got caught in the narrows for hours on our arrival into Nanaimo, but this was a great opportunity for the Coast Guard to deliver Tim Bits (donuts – to all you non-Canadians) out of pity, as we anchored and tried not to move backwards.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it was so perfectly timed (the whole trip – not just the donuts).  I got a much-needed reminder that I love the adventure – I’m always up for the adventure – and although I’m trying this settling down in one place thing, it doesn’t mean I have to settle.

I realized I didn’t want to live in Nanaimo.  I moved away when I was eighteen for a reason.  And although I’ve changed, and the city has changed, I wanted something different.  I missed the little life I had started to set up in the Comox Valley.  And so I returned to Courtenay, once again with a backpack on.  My family put me up, yet again, while I started looking for employment.  And employment I got.  All of a sudden I was ironing trousers and blow drying my hair.  Within a few weeks I had my own place… and my cat and I found ourselves living together for the first time in 3 years.  Sometimes these things happen that fast.  Well fast may be a relative term….

Anyway, we all move at our own pace and there’s no point in pushing it.  Things are feeling like they’re falling into place for the most part, and that’s pretty awesome.  This life has proved to be quite the incredible journey so far, and my guess is: it will only get more incredible as we continue sailing forward.


Airlie BeachStacey and I arrived in Airlie Beach and checked into a fully-stocked cabin in an RV Park. Pure luxury – all the amenities we could need…Tim Tams in the fridge. It was important for us to be comfortable, as we were still feeling Jucy-Van withdrawals.

We thought we should explore the town that evening and as we were getting ready to go out, we turned on the TV. I am proud to have watched a grand total of maybe five hours of television since arriving on the continent four weeks ago. The part I’m a little less proud of…: the entirety of my exposure to Australian television has been So You think You Can Dance: Australia. Crikey…! Well at least I can blame friends for ‘making’ me watch the first three episodes (thanks Alice, Megan, Cat…); I happen to be in Brisbane on three different occasions when it just happened to be on. Stacey got hooked during two of those occasions, so we not only watched the entire episode that night in Airlie Beach…we guffawed with the audience when Timomatic was voted off. Poor guy.
Anyway, we tore ourselves away from the riveting show (we waited until it was done) and had a fun night out. We were told later that it’s an unwritten rule that people get to A.B. and stay up late dancing and then have to get on their sailboat tour the next day. I like to think I already had my sea-legs on. I was swaying before we left shore! Ha, no, no, it wasn’t so bad…
The Condor

The Condor

We boarded the beautiful Condor, a well-traveled and highly adorned tall ship that reached her peak, racing-wise, in the 80’s. We met our crew: Aaron, Ange, and Adele, and the 27 other 18-35 year-olds we would be bunking with for the next two nights and days. After the administrative/rule stuff was dealt with, the sails were hoisted and we set off at a mad pace towards our first destination: Whitsunday Island’s Whitehaven Beach. This is a beautiful mass of white sand; swirls of light blue and white that spans over seven kilometers. We would would anchor there for the night. Unfortunately the mad pace to get there was more of a saunter as the sails billowed in an ‘S’ shaped – we failed to catch the non-existent wind. It was still beautiful as we slowly motored our way through the many islands (there are said to be over 70 of them). The lazy sunset suited the atmosphere of the boat and the feelings of the passengers. We ate our chicken dinner, and we all got to know each other a little better. Whitehaven

It was a long, hot and muggy night. The Irish boys were drinking goon until 3:00am and attempting to mimic all the bird sounds they had heard in their many months of travel. They were surprisingly talented, much to the chagrin of the 20 odd people listening below…. I would be surprised if anyone got any sleep before 2am.

I have to admit that although I make every attempt to avoid thinking myself a victim, I really felt hard-done-by with my particular bunk. It was a coffin! Stacey and I were ‘lucky’ to get a double bed. This meant that some one (by chance, a really charming bloke that was quite disgusted with the whole arrangement and made every attempt at making it easier on us) slept above the person against the wall (me)….less than two feet above… when I turned on my side, my hips would move the mesh of his hammock (and apparently give him a relaxing massage – but that’s for another blog). It was already stuffy in the cabin and the human sandwich that was me just couldn’t handle it. I crept onto the cool, dewy deck above, and managed to sleep a few. It was hard, and actually a bit cold with the sopping sheet that was my blanket, but the view was unbeatable!

The stars: wow. With very little interfering light and only a sliver of a moon, the stars were very clear and bright. All the constellations are upside down and Orion lies on his side down here in the Southern Hemisphere. The second night of the trip, with some forethought and the necessity of avoiding the dungeon below, I saved myself some pain and asked for a mat to sleep on. As I was falling asleep I finally found something I have been trying to locate for the last month or so: The Big Dipper. It’s here, it’s just turned upside down and only visible along the horizon for part of the night. It’s also really faint, so definitely not the superstar it is up North. I felt comforted by seeing a little speck of home and was able to sleep soundly the second night.The Boat

Anyway, we spent the next full day swimming and checking out Whitehaven Beach. We weren’t able to sail that day either, but as Aaron, our captain, pointed out: we got blue skies and calm water and intensely warm sunshine, so it was a bit of a trade-off. He said this after blaming us passengers for not doing the ‘wind-making dance’ well enough.A brief moment caught on film

On our way to one of the other bays we saw dolphins. They played in the wake of passing boats and provided much entertainment. We spent some time snorkeling and swimming and then watched the sunset from a small island made of sand. The second night was a little tamer (everyone had run out of booze) so it was a little more relaxed. We had to get up early to take advantage of being anchored in Blue Pearl Bay – also dubbed The Fish Tank. There are SO many fish. They swim around you like you’re the good looking one! The visibility wasn’t spectacular, but it didn’t matter because they are all so close to you. Sweet!

The Lovely Crew

The Lovely Crew

So that was our sailing trip through the Whitsundays. I would highly recommend it if you get the chance to get out this way. The boat was beautiful, the staff was really laid-back, but still professional, and the scenery was outstanding. My one suggestion: just ask for the sleeping mat right off the bat and save yourself the feeling of slowly drowning in a too-hot, stinky-foot-stew. Mmmhh….

Theme Songs of the Day:

Neopolitan Dreams – Lisa Mitchell, from the album Welcome to the Afternoon [note* this one’s for you Kim & Jenny]

Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Neil Young, from the album After the Gold Rush

Hospitla Beds – Cold War Kids, from the album Robbers and Cowards

Absinthe Party – Minus the Bear, from the album Highly Refined Pirates

Another Sunset, oh my

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