What a beautiful way to start the year off! Thursday's Child was loaded with great wine and food and headed over to the VRC outstation on Bowen Island. There was no wind to speak of for the trip over but I wasn't complaining as it was sunny and to be honest running the motor isn't so bad - at least it keeps the cabin nice and warm! Upon arriving there was a sea of smiling faces from other boats with the same idea. I thought they were all being overly generous-- greeting me with the proverbial wagging-tail salute and rushing out to help me on to the dock. They didn't quite get to me in time and I quickly realized that their enthusiasm had little to do with their excitement to see me and more to do with protecting me from having to jump on the icy docks... Of course this epiphany hit me as I was already mid stride jumping towards the incredibly shiny dock. As you can imagine I landed with all the grace and composure of a drunk big-bird on roller-skates, and immediately found myself flat on my backside. Fortunately I didn't let go of the boat and the docks were too covered in ice to allow for any embarrassing slivers. All in all I would consider it a successful delivery.
All boats should be so well appointed!
The rest of the weekend consisted of great wine and amazing food aboard a host of boats, and an incredible gluten-free dinner at Tuscany, the local Italian restaurant. For New Years Eve we were all invited over to the VRC pirate ship Perihelion for an amazing dinner prepared by her ever infamous captain Evan Seyes - our gracious host. Throughout the evening we managed to successfully solve the world's problems, pontificate loudly, argue passionately (I was right and anyone who disagreed with me was clearly wrong); we also successfully tested and conclusively proved the aged old theory that both wine and scotch taste better aboard a galleon. At midnight the ships bell rang 8 times, we all cheered, toasted, and butchered “Auld Lang Syne.” As the evening went on all of the visitors from other boats politely excused themselves and in the end it was only Evan, myself and a sea of empty bottles. As the clock struck seven bells indicating it was three thirty I opted to excuse myself and start the journey back to my boat.
The commute home from Perihelion was a particularly difficult one. The usually stable docks seemed to be teetering crazily, swaying back and forth, forcing me to firmly plant each foot before contemplating my next step. Each maneuver had to be perfectly timed and calculated - the slightest mistake on the icy docks could be catastrophic. This was all happening despite the misleading and eerily glassy and calm appearance of the sea. I'm glad I only had to walk a short distance and was beyond relieved as I approached Thursday's Child. I was home.
Anyone who has ever laid awake in a tent at night listening to wildlife peruse your campsite will know that there is a sense of security when you're home regardless where or what home is. Despite any reason or logic even when in a tent, which is really nothing more than a thin layer of rip-stop nylon that likely wouldn't be able to withstand the advances of an irritated pigeon let alone something larger and more likely to eat you, you always feel safe, confident, and ultimately untouchable. This is also the case when you return to your boat - there is a certain sense of familiarity that allows you to let your guard down. After surviving my harrowing dock ordeal I boarded Thursday's Child a new man who had survived. I was proud - I felt I'd finally earned my ranks amongst the great survivors Tristan Jones, Joe Simpson, and Gloria Gaynor; there were no more obstacles in my way. I hopped aboard, stepping confidently down into the cockpit and found myself promptly and unceremoniously flat on my backside—a position that was becoming all to familiar to me at this point. This time I'd managed to smash BOTH my shins against the traveler, which is a large square metal bar, and crush four of my fingers trying to break my fall. I suppose on the bright side there was plenty of ice available to keep the swelling down... It later turned out that I fractured four fingers, which apparently take a long time to heal.
Blue Skies and Frosty Decks!
The next morning I awoke groggy and incredibly sore. I had to leave the dock early as I needed to get back to the rowing club to pick up my crew for the New Years Day Race. I couldn't help but wonder what I was thinking when I committed to doing this race - I suppose it sounded like a great idea when I registered. I put my life jacket on and very cautiously stepped out on to the deck, my aching shins and fingers reminding me of the fiasco of the night before. The decks and docks were all icy with a fresh layer of heavy frost. Oddly enough there were no signs of the virtual Armageddon between the sea and the docks the night before; no broken planks or warped decks, no torn out cleats or broken pilings. Everything was eerily intact, almost as though nothing had happened. I went to fire up the engine, wincing as I accidentally poked the start button with one of my freshly wounded fingers. After some coaxing and poignant words of encouragement I watched as a giant plume of diesel smoke came out of the back of the boat as the very cold and cranky engine started. Now all I had to do was cast off and head home.
As is always the case when in a rush things never seem to happen as you expect. I began untying the boat and it quickly became apparent that it wasn't going to be as easy as I had thought. The once wet dock lines had frozen to the dock forming a concrete-like bond of Herculean strength. The pain of my fractured fingers rendered them nearly useless and to top it off I had a hangover of biblical proportions. I opted to pour water over the dock lines and beat them to a pulp with a winch handle. I'm not entirely sure beating the lines was in any way productive but it certainly felt good! After a few attempts I was able to untie the lines, cast off and motor home towards the sunrise and VRC.