Today's mission was really a last minute choice between paddlefest and going out sailing. I had it in mind to paddle from maple bay to ladysmith, but the wind model was showing 15 knot headwinds just beyond the north tip of Saltspring Island. I called it yesterday and the paddlefest plans were scrapped. Instead it's sail today and some local kayaking on Sunday. I went down to the Royal Victoria Yacht Club to meet up with John, the skipper, and a couple of others who came by to join in on the fun.


I got introduced to the boat last week at a conference where I met up with John in the first place. It's a Thunderbird 26 in fiberglass by the name of Cool Breeze and she's a heck of a boat! She's rigged for racing control, with nearly every line led back to the cockpit and the stanchions removed to stop the foresail from getting bound up. One thing I immediately noticed is that the boat has a floating vinyl boatbath under it to keep all the sea goo off of the hull. Must be nice not having to bother with bottom painting.


John had already rigged up a lot of the boat before we got there, so basically I sat back and watched as we left the marina. The wind was a fairly light northeasterly in Cadboro bay and we were able to put up the sails almost immediately. I basically held us head to wind as John ran into the cabin to set the main and jib halyards. The mast on this boat is keel stepped with a nylon compression block inside the cabin at just about waterline. The main sheet is run to a pulley block in the center of the cockpit instead of a traveler and the transom is covered by an enclosure for the outboard.


We got out of Cadboro bay with almost no effort, the boat is very well behaved and sails gently even by the lee. The Turkey head race was on this morning and we could see the contestants coming around the Cadboro Point light. They were facing a 2 knot flood in Baynes by this point, but the finish line wasn't far off. A small power boat positioned just off cattle point was watching the race times. Our skipper decided to pay a visit to the finish line boat, Lobo, and I began to realize how connected the sailing community is around here. Everyone seems to know one another and the place is full of great stories. The finish line boat gave us a little checkered flag whistle just for kicks.


The wind piped up a little and we took a nice close haul out into Baynes. The boat got a lot happier as we began hardening the jib and main. looking to either side, the water was fairly calm, but the boat was still getting some great power out of 4 or 5 knots of wind. She likes to sail with about 12-15 degrees of heel, but we got the stories of 35 degrees+ which is something I'd love to try!


lo and behold, off our bow was a Cal 20 trying to make it through Baynes with almost no wind. It was Red Current with an older couple sitting in the cockpit. We passed her quickly and kept on a course out to the west point of Chatham/Vantreight Island. Baynes was pulling us north, so we crossed to Jemmy Jones and headed back into the bay. Off our beam was a small keelboat doing tacking techiques (to gain speed?) that looked like a bunch of mini capsizes. It was neat to watch and I have nothing but respect for people who can handle and maneuver those little boats with skill.


We got down to the beach end of Cadboro bay and went out for another hot lap of the bay. The wind had died a bit and veered east, so the second outing was for housewatching. I had no idea how many of these houses were owned by locals! Uplands is one of those places that I'd rather not look at for long, though. All the homes, with their 60' sailboat outside, makes me wonder if I'm in the right industry ;).


The current had also died a little in Baynes, so it came time to wrap up the day. We briefly met up with the race winner from earlier and her team were all smiles. I'm guessing they won it fair and square despite some much faster boats in the competition. The wind had veered even more toward the south and dealt out a few last puffs from the east. Once we got back to the marina, John quickly dropped all the sails and the day concluded with a little slice of heaven, sitting in the summer weather out on the RVYC grounds with a bit of food and drink. What a fun group, too! The 5 of us sat gabbing for a couple of hours about pretty much every topic under the sun.


I had a great time out there and thanks again to John for helping to develop my sailing addiction further! All that positivity in the club makes me wonder if it's not a bad idea to join while I'm still in the lower age bracket.

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