Sunday, February 17, 2008

Shiriri Saga#3 First voyage.

The problem with buying a boat on the mainland was that we lived on an island on the other side of the wintery Strait of Georgia and we had to get it home. There was a plus of course: it was a boat after all and could float across, but unfortunately that very low price was reflected in a broken engine and tattered sails. Before launching our new ship we painted her bottom with antifouling and as we did so we looked for the first time at the dinghy lying upside down beneath the hull. It was just a little 14` dory but we realized that here was the solution to our engine problem: with an outboard engine perched on the stern, this little boat could act as a tug to power the big schooner through the calm patches and in and out of harbour. The sails could be supplemented by ones borrowed from our catamaran. We had a plan, all we needed was a calm break between winter gales.

Heather`s brother Colin and I left the harbour one cool grey morning with the dory tied alongside for the long first voyage to the marina near our home. Our boat was large and the dory was weighted with beach rock as ballast but slowly the little ten HP engine brought us up to four knots. After several hours of motoring across the strait, the predicted northerly breeze picked up. We hoisted our assorted sails, and thankfully trailed our dinghy astern. Soon it was surfing behind us and cheerfully bumping into the splendid mahogany transom so we lengthened the tow line to calm it down. The ship felt fully alive for the first time as we lifted on the following waves and surged forward. At East Point we splashed steadily through the chaotic waves of a tide rip. I realized then that I was sailing a much bigger and more powerful boat than I was used to. She just heeled a little as we turned the corner south of Saturna Island, shrugged her shoulders, and kept going; no fuss, no muss. Only the little dory towing astern with a mighty bow wave and very wide eyes told us we were really moving along at a good pace.

The afternoon passed all too quickly as we ghosted slowly along in the lee of the islands that blocked a more direct route home and the winter night began in late afternoon. Soon we were motoring again very slowly against the tide as we groped our way through the dark between reefs and shadowy islands. I was very happy to see the marina lights at the head of our harbour at last. Happy too to have finally felt the steady and reliable personality of the ship that we would need to trust with our lives if we were to follow our dream into the bigger world.

No comments: