Sunday, October 2, 2016

I'm Your Captain/Closer To Home

They say the two happiest days in a boat owner's life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it.  While there's certainly some truth to that saying, as I so vividly remember when I took possession of "Contessa" I was also more than a little sad when I said goodbye to "Crown Jewel" after 15 years of boating. Boats are an expensive, time consuming mistress and, while they are certainly pleasurable, there's a sense of relief once they have left and you can return to a simpler, less complicated, lifestyle.

Contessa on the Sunshine Coast
Our first boat was a Monk designed, 24 foot teak and mahogany beauty named "Contessa". The time spent sanding, varnishing and painting her was truly a labour of love but, in return, she introduced us to the B.C. coastline where we spent countless hours discovering the magic of the Salish Sea. Whales and dolphins, picturesque anchorages and glorious sunsets seemed to accompany us everywhere we went.

Contessa in Desolation Sound
After 6 seasons we decided it was time to trade "Contessa" in for something that offered a little more comfort. "Crown Jewel" was in need of considerable care and attention when we found her but, once we got started, she polished up quite nicely and our cruising took on a new level. Our boat now had all the conveniences of home with plenty of room for our other toys. It also had more systems and components to maintain and of course it burned more fuel.

Crown Jewel
Inside Crown Jewel

Boating is all about compromises. Sometimes it's about balancing cost with the desired speed, comfort, sea worthiness, or gadgets that an owner wants. It can also be about deciding whether or not to proceed with a planned cruise after listening to the marine weather report. But perhaps the most important balancing act is riding the emotional high of a particularly exciting nautical experience with the lows of a mechanical breakdown.
Changing Crown Jewel's prop
In spite of us both taking the Power Squadron course we still managed to hit our share of submerged logs and rocks with both boats, had to deal with engine and transmission failures, snagged anchors, and a host of other annoyances and, in each case, foolishly thinking surely this was the last time anything would happen. But, as depressing as these events were, they never came close to counteracting the joy we had after spotting a breaching humpback, surviving a nasty crossing of the Strait, or spending a relaxing weekend on the hook.

Crown Jewel in the Gulf Islands

Crown Jewel in Howe Sound
The ocean is relentless in its determination to destroy all boats. Either by corrosion, rot, or weather it is constantly attacking the wood, canvas, electronics and fibreglass of a boat, not to mention your nerves when sea conditions deteriorate. You can choose to never leave the dock (which is what most boaters do) or you keep up with your maintenance and get out and take the good with the bad. We used our boat every weekend in the spring and summer months and even went out once a month in the fall and winter. In the process we covered every inlet from Vancouver to Desolation Sound, the entire east coast of Vancouver Island, all the Gulf Islands and even Barkley Sound on the west coast.

Crown Jewel en route to Port Alberni Inlet

Crown Jewel in Barkley Sound
While I enjoyed an active and fun filled boating career I also came to realize there are so many other places still waiting to be explored, and time was running out. We will always have the stories and memories of our boating adventures to share but, as much as we loved being on our boat, it's now time to step down from the bridge and base our travels on other modes of transportation. It was great to be captain of my own boat and have the pleasure of experiencing things most folks will never get to see. Thank you "Contessa" and farewell "Crown Jewel".

Nelson and Crown Jewel waving goodbye