Messing About


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Messing About

Oar and Sail to Desolation

As a rower and dinghy sailor, I was pleased to discover a slim volume entitled Oar & Sail - An Odyssey of the West Coast by Dr. Kenneth Macrae Leighton. Leighton rowed and sailed his 14’ boat, sporting an unstayed standing lugs’l rig and a pair of nine-foot wooden oars, from Vancouver to Prince Rupert over two summer holidays. The first stage took him to Sonora Island, just north of Maurelle Island where we camp. Later, he launched at Port Hardy and completed the journey.

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A Summer’s Day on the Credit

Three boys, a homebuilt raft and a slow-moving river, launch a lifelong love of boats and the water. After owning our Spencer 35 sailboat for almost 30 years, Anne and I recently sold her with the intention of getting a roomier vessel for two teenage boys, an energetic terrier and us. Our old boat headed for a new life on Vancouver Island and seemed a good fit for the new owner. After helping deliver Sway to the island, I returned to the marina on the Fraser River where she had rested between our many cruises up and down this rainy coast.

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A Sparkling Sea

Whether you see it as fairy dust in the water or stars in the head, ocean bioluminescence is a fascinating phenomenon. I had my most recent exposure to the remarkable phenomenon called bioluminescence during our beautiful West Coast weather last autumn. It was a crisp, clear night and we were on a mooring buoy at Newcastle Island Marine Park in Nanaimo, when my husband spoke to my love of the night sky and offered to take me for a dinghy ride to see the stars.

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Passing the First Test

For an eager and experienced 14-year-old, passing the boater competency exam is just the first step in a lifetime of learning on the water. One of the toughest tests I have ever written wasn’t even at school. It was the pleasure craft competency exam. In contrast to the 30 minutes of studying I usually do for one of my grade eight exams, I spent weeks preparing for my boating exam. Every night during the weeks leading up to the exam, I would review a chapter in the study guide. I even took the guide to school with me to read when I had the chance.

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Sailing with the Wind

Is it the journey that counts – or the destination? My wife Sandy and I are avid sailors, although for many years we didn’t actually own a boat. To get our sailing fix, we simply chartered yachts in a variety of destinations. Typically, we would follow routes suggested by the charter company, always returning to the home marina within a week or two. And often, especially on our last day, our course would be directly into the wind, requiring us to beat, motor or both.

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