SPRING IN THE HARBOUR
Spring is late coming to call in Pender Harbour this year. Does that make you in the north feel better? Now you should know that by late I mean the cherry blossoms are out, but the froths of pink flowers haven’t formed archways along the streets yet. This is the beginning of April. Looking up Gunboat Bay a few days ago, fresh snow was visibly clinging to the mountains as far down as I could see. The snow had almost made it to sea level but a gentle southern breeze fluttered in and melted the “fairy dust” as I have recently heard it referred to. I am appreciating that it has left quietly and without a trace.
Spring translates into rebirth and renewal for me. The miserable snow is gone and the sun is producing life-giving heat. Maybe not enough to warm your bones but possibly just enough to crisp your face, especially if it’s reflecting back from those sheets of ice that still cling to the lake surfaces for those of you in the Yukon! Here in the Harbour the rays are bouncing back from a sparkling ocean.
Renewal aboard Audrey means removal of old paint and varnish and strange green things that have grown up over the winter. When we first bought our boat a fern grew in the windowsill on the dash beside the gauges at the helm. I have tried to nurture and maintain a healthy looking fern through out a Yukon winter with difficulty and the fact that this wonderful piece of greenery simply and routinely chose our boat for its home was to me a wondrous gift.
The Captain ripped it out by its tender little roots and proudly displayed it to me trophy like…he could not comprehend the look of horror on my face, as my only ever volunteer houseplant lay mutilated in his hands. The fern has returned every spring since and I now pluck the beautiful parasite from the sill. Plant growth causes wood to deteriorate.
The captain is in the “troll hole” changing filters and maintaining his perfect Perkins engines, his engine room gleams white with cleanliness. Payback for the time he spends in the engine room is that we can turn the keys on Audrey at any time and the engines roar to life. The lines are cast off and there could be a new adventure in the making. Crossing Dixon Entrance or battling giant waves, the Perkins engines have never failed us due to his time and care.
I am the sander/painter. One of our inside jokes is that Rick is a welder and yet he possesses a wooden boat and is allergic to sawdust. Yes, I know that an allergy specialist should certify this. I love doing the work it is gratifying to bring back the shine on the bright work and Audrey starts to pose in the sunshine as the grime of winter is washed away.
Lying on the teak decks with the heat of the afternoon sunshine on your shoulders is almost perfect. Having a brush full of Tung oil and being able to smooth it out over the mahogany planks and expose the beautiful colour and grain of the wood: well with that and the G U elevens (Newfie for gull) serenading me, this is just plain heaven. I will take this over having to work inside any day.
The forecast for this Easter weekend is that temperatures should rise to 17c with sunshine all day long. It is already 6c at 7 a.m. so I’m thinking that we will beat that forecast today.
The hot tub is already in the water and will be floating in the sea beside the dock again today. We had a visitor the first night that we had the hot tub back in the sea. There was woofing and barking and much carrying on in water. The sound combined with the slapping of waves against the dock was causing us to wonder what was in the water with us. We could not determine whether it was a curious sea lion or a sea otter checking us out in the dark.
‘Damned tourists keeping him awake at night,’ is what I suppose he is thinking. I just didn’t want whatever was thrashing around in the ocean to join us in the much warmer hot tub. The gulls fly over the tub and seem to do a double take and come back for another look. I’m thinking we look like soup.
Spring is signalled in Pender Harbour by the white sails of the sailing clubs rounding Skardon Islands. These Islands mark the inside entrance to Pender Harbour. The Islands create the perfect course for sea trials for the sailboats. These boats gracefully do figure eights around each other, Ocean going ballerinas. The white sails are billowing like sheets on a line against a backdrop of a deep Blue Ocean and the soft green of the cedars.
This winter we were fortunate enough to participate in a Match cup sailboat race in Auckland, New Zealand. I had never sailed before and wanted to experience the “other” boating style. A sailboat race was the perfect birthday gift promised for a significant birthday; although I had never expected it to happen in New Zealand. We were racing with the ’95 New Zealand Americas Cup contender.
The saying goes something like ‘a bad boating day is a great sailing day’. Well after all of the extreme boating weather that we’d been through I figured that if you can’t beat the weather you might as well learn how to use it. IT WAS WONDERFUL! It’s like flying over the water, the 25knot winds filling the huge sails to the limits, creaking ropes, the hiss of the water racing by, I loved it…so now what to do? So many choices. The Captain took the helm during the race and I thought he suited it very well.
I have to trek up to the Grasshopper Pub in the Pender Harbour Hotel to hit a hot spot to email this storey off. Zipping over by zodiac to the Copper Sky café in Madeira Park is another great place to have a coffee and a chat with Scottie and the boys while the email heats up. But it’s a tough place to get out of and the afternoon will be biting at my heels by the time we are inspired to leave. The Grasshopper Pub wins out as the communication point of choice. The view is remarkable and I have been watching the hillside for the resident doe and this year’s fawn. The climb to the pub is extreme, but the chances of seeing the fawn are very good.
Daffodils show sunny faces on the hillside as I climb skyward to the Grasshopper. They are flashing yellow smiles throughout Madeira Park and Garden Bay. Primroses offer brilliant colours in unexpected places. The Easter Bunny will have to look for these special spots to hide her Easter Eggs. The Easter Bunny hops into Pender Harbour as well as Marsh Lake, Yukon Jianna Mia.
From my crow’s nest on the deck above the marina, I can see the tide churning out of Gunboat Bay at a hard-boil. When she winds up the tide runs at about 5 knots, and with the wind whipping against her it creates a small rapid. The deceptive Woman of the Sea, at slack tide the waters are placid and create the illusion of perfect moorage. There have been a few unwary sea goers who have dropped anchor here; everyone makes an effort to warn them that they will probably be swept away at tide change. Few ever spend the night; there are nice people here. The benefits of fast water are that it flushes the bay and keeps everything sparkling clean. It also helps to prevent growth from forming on your boat’s bottom and no one wants growth on his or her bottom.
Across the harbour is Garden Bay the serious transients are already arriving. Three sailboats have dropped anchor and set up house keeping there. By mid summer you could possibly walk across on the decks of boats anchored in the harbour.
A warm breeze is wafting the perfume from budding willows leaves and cedar and fir trees growing in loamy rich soil across the deck. The air is always salty; the clouds drift by in a deep blue sky. I can see the doe directly below me and what could be last year’s fawn, or maybe its a doe friend and they are out for a walk together, no new baby as of yet, its late in arriving as well. The tinkle of ice cubes in a tall glass while sitting out on a deck overlooking the Ocean is THE most definite sign of spring. Happy Easter everyone.
P.S. Bob and Kait I hope you have a wonderful Easter, you should be here…love from your mommy.