Vancouver island is amongst the best places in the world for cruising in a sailboat and sailing is idyllic – until it isn’t.
At a certain age (late 60’s for me), things that were fun become less appealing and things that were interesting are now just a pain in the neck.
Having waves crash over you at the helm was actually kind-of fun even with water temperatures in the mid-50’s Fahrenheit. Then it became less fun and now it’s no fun at all.
Under the heading of interesting circumstances: you are arriving at a marina or an anchorage; you have turned on the engine and (maybe) taken down the sails. Then you go through some crap (maybe a tide-line) which plugs up the water intake for the water that cools the engine (in addition it inevitably breaks the impeller); the engine overheats and cuts out.
Rare you say? Depends on your definition of rare. I’ll give 4 quick examples – two were interesting and two were actually fun. Today I would simply rather not have to deal with it.
1. We were involved in raising some money so offered to auction a day-sail in our Catalina 27. The unsuspecting couple that put in the highest bid had never sailed before. After a few hours of sailing, we came into the Nanaimo Harbour under sail. I turned on the engine to dock and it overheated and cut out. Our unsuspecting couple seemed to be enjoying themselves; they were busy talking to Julie and hadn’t noticed that there was a problem so I sailed down the channel looking for an empty space on an outside dock. I found one, managed to dock and then had to go looking for the manager of the marina to let us out of the locked gate. The couple that was sailing with us thought this is what we did every day.
2. Julie and I crossed a tide line just as we were coming into Genoa Bay to stay at the marina. The engine cut out, so we sailed into the bay and anchored until the engine had time to cool down.
3. The entrance to Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island is quite narrow so sailing single-handed through the narrow passage and in amongst the boats to find a spot to anchor was quite challenging.
4. The most pleasant experience was single-handing back from Desolation Sound in the Catalina 320. After an overnight stay on Jedediah Island, the motor overheated and cut out before I had a chance to get the sails up. I had one of the most pleasant sails I’ve ever had back to Nanaimo and as I entered Departure Bay the wind died down to a few knots. I managed to go wing-on-wing (main on one side and foresail on the other) down the channel to the marina. By then the engine had cooled down and I motored into our dock.
Of course after any one of these experiences you have to clear out the water intake and change the impeller which is another thing that I prefer not to have to deal with.
It’s fun to look back while sitting in the comfort of our home, looking at the sailboats below, imagining the fun some of them may have been having and comfortable with the fact that it isn’t me.