Category Archives: Travel

TENDER TUESDAYS

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WARNING: RACE TO BUOYS AT YOUR OWN RISK!

We can be spontaneous! Can’t we? Plans changed, our expected company cancelled, and guess what? A long weekend out on our Catalina 28 stretched before us (the first one all season, where the gods had aligned us with a free weekend and a perfect wind and sunshine prediction). At least, that’s what we envisioned…

With 4 free days ahead of us, we toyed with destination possibilities and settled on the nearest – Mark Bay (between Newcastle Island and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island) – a mere 2.5 hour sail away from home! My working senior husband was exhausted from attending corporate meetings in Vancouver and his retired author wanna-be wife was due for a break herself. GREAT TIMING!

We hoped to arrive in time to tie up to a mooring buoy, and actually “vedge” for a couple of nights before a final sailing day home. The Captain visualized himself taking the dinghy over to the Nanaimo Harbour and casually making his way up to his favorite marine store, Harbour Chandler. His crew thought they’d walk the Nanaimo Sea Wall and indulge themselves on French toast and lattés at Mon Petit Choux. Obviously hikes around Newcastle and Protection Islands were also on her list.

Naturally, we didn’t get away until work was put away for the weekend and the boat was provisioned for our relaxing water retreat. Not planning ahead, we hadn’t expected the entire Island to have the same last minute plan as us! Obviously they weren’t working on summer Fridays, as every single mooring buoy was reserved by the time we arrived mid-afternoon. DUH! Oblivious us forgot this was Nanaimo’s BATHTUB RACE weekend! Remember?

NO PROBLEM! We’re old hands at anchoring, I mean, really, who needs to be tied up to a buoy?

Evidently, the Captain did! We no sooner dropped the anchor, that he spied a familiar sailboat motor by us. We had just encountered this boat tied up to a buoy while searching through the marine park. Snap decisions were made! The race to the vacant buoy was on! We’d be tied up for the weekend, yet!  (Much more relaxing when one can never rely on accurate weather forecasts!)

The anchor was pulled up and the throttle aimed forward at top speed. As we bee-lined it for the targeted buoy, imagine our surprise when we found the sailboat’s dinghy tied up to it. He was returning to the coveted buoy!

How deflated we felt as the Captain veered away in search of open water (which was getting less easy to find) in which to drop the anchor, once again. The crew casually questioned the Captain about the depth we were in, as it was obvious that we were experiencing low tide (very, very low tide!). His calm response was, ” 3.5 feet, but remember, I’ve calibrated it to always calculate another 8 feet for keel displacement.”

No sooner were the words out of his mouth, KABOOM! CRUNCH! (Oops! Maybe there was a tad of mis-calculation on that calibration!) You can feel it, can’t you? Yep, we were hung up on some flat rocks about 3.5 feet under us!

 You know the saying, Some days you watch the show and other days you are the show!

Indeed! The tide was coming in, but the Captain was anxious to free us from our stony captor- the sooner, the better. (We really didn’t want to prolong the show, now did we?) Reversing just made us KLUNK into some other stony underwater grip. Once we stopped trying to dislodge ourselves, it took maybe 2 minutes tops and the incoming tide freed us and we motored out of the bay with our caps pulled down low and our collars pulled up high. (The crew half expected to hear cheers as we motored our way out of the bay…)

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Sitting on the TwoCan beside the haul out dock, waiting for morning to come to assess our damage, we couldn’t bring ourselves to call or message anyone about our embarrassing little calamity. But wouldn’t you know it? Our dear SCYC friends were on their way to rendezvous with the club’s Summer Cruise and caught the Captain’s request for assistance. They followed the entire radio exchange; of course they did! Words out and something tells me a nomination for the annual “MEMA AWARD”(Most Embarrassing Moment Award) will be forthcoming at the Commodore’s Ball this year…

The Captain is still shaking his head in disbelief. “S_ _ _ HAPPENS!@!” … Oops, forgive me, I meant to say “ACCIDENTS HAPPEN!” (Of course I did!)

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And the woman writing about this little teensy mishap on the water, is in the process of publishing, “WHO’S the CAPTAIN?” Perhaps when you read the AUTHOR PAGE of her nautical picture book, you might understand why this “hiccup” definitely could be possible!

I love cruising with MY CAPTAIN, how about you?  Maybe you’re the CAPTAIN yourself and have some interesting tales to share.  Remember, “misery loves company”! Share some of your stories by clicking on the LEAVE A REPLY (Enter your comment here) below the post. ( We really would feel better if you could top our MEMA moment!!)

 

 

TENDER TUESDAYS

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MEET INSPIRATION – Instalment #3

I know… I know…. it isn’t Tender Tuesday-it’s Marathon Monday.  That’s the point, I had to write my Tuesday post today…

I want to share how easily it is for me to relate to Dave Alavoine’s cartoons, as well as being inspired. In the PACIFIC YACHTING MAGAZINE (JUNE 2016 edition of COCKPIT CONFESSIONS), his cartoon illustrated a submitted story, entitled, SHORT WHITE WATER. The minute I read it, I was compelled to write about one of our early sailing experiences going through a pass in the Gulf Islands. (I’d love to scan this published cartoon here for you, but don’t want to break copyright.Please look it up!)

Several years ago, when my husband and I had just started sailing a 27foot Catalina, we docked for the night at Maple Bay Marina on Vancouver Island. Rather than start preparing dinner, after a long day on the water, we chose to go up to the pub restaurant. While enjoying our meal, we met a personable couple that were also sailing to Silva Bay (on Gabriola Island) the next day. We hit it off with these novice sailors, who were just like us! They had just bought a 24foot sailboat for some new adventures. He was an engineer and she was a judge and they lived on an acreage on Vancouver Island with their horses. Both couples were excited about being on the  water and we had some fun (and scary) tales to share with one another that evening. As we left the restaurant that night, we agreed to hook up with one another the next day at our new destination.

I’m not sure what they did after dinner that night, but my cautious husband had his charts and tide tables out, figuring out precisely when we’d be going through the Gabriola Pass. Apparently, it’s important to time it right so that you go through during slack water, as the tide starts to change directions.   So we followed our plan, and motored doughnuts at the mouth of the pass, waiting for the exact time that it would be safe to proceed.  I decided to sit up front and watch how my capable husband would manoeuvre the ON EDGE (The naming of our first boat is another story…!) through the pass. Well, didn’t I get a surprise, as we went through the middle of those tidal whirlpools at 7 knots when all 110 pounds of me took on air? Yep, I could have flown right off the deck onto the rocks, but luckily had held onto a halyard, as we approached. Being somewhat inexperienced, once we passed through and hit calmer seas, we both felt simultaneously relieved and exhilarated that we’d made it to the other side unscathed … (Okay, I admit I had a bruised bottom!) We couldn’t wait to meet up with our newfound friends to swap stories!

When we finally arrived at dock in Silva Bay, we spotted our new acquaintances sitting on the back of their small sailboat, sipping wine. They waved and shouted us over. We were shocked to see them docked and settled in before us!  How had that happened? When we inquired how they had managed to arrive before us, when one had to wait to go through the pass in slack water;  our question sent them into convulsions of laughter! Replying between gasps, “We didn’t know about all that, so we just went through when we got there. We shut our eyes and held on when it started to look dangerous and didn’t open them up again until we were spit out on the other end!” OMG! They cracked up over our incredulous expressions- I mean, really, who reads charts and tide tables? DUH! Obviously not this intelligent, professional couple!

I’m sure you’ve been inspired by experiences or artists, as well! I’m posting a print of a painting that Dave gifted me with during a visit to his home and studio (Polaris Design). It is not a cartoon, but a historical painting of the R.C.M.P.’s “St.Roch” – the first West to East transit of the N.W. Passage. This just gives you an indication of the depth of Dave’s artistic abilities. Tell us about an artist that has inspired you to react to their work in some creative manner. (Leave your story in the Leave a Comment section below.)  I hope you’ll look up the cartoon in PACTIFIC YACHTING’S MAGAZINE (June, 2016) to see Dave’s cartoon and understand why it was such a great prompt (and inspiration) for my story.

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TENDER TUESDAYS

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CRUISE SHIP BRIDGE

                               – YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO PLAY…

Welcome back to Part 2 of CRUISE SHIP BRIDGE. This segment introduces my readers to a whole new level of lessons. Let’s just say, it was a darn good thing that I started off with the instructors and the forgiving friends that we began with on the first leg, as the intensity was about to be ratcheted up by about 100%.

The first day that we were abandoned by all the fantastic friends we’d met and with whom we enjoyed playing and socializing, we felt somewhat lost. We knew we had all the Australian ports to look forward to and experience, but we weren’t entirely convinced we’d make the same special connections with new people onboard that we’d had the opportunity to make on our first leg.

Well, didn’t we get a surprise? Bridge was scheduled in the afternoons for a couple of hours for the advanced players … no that was not us! We tore up to the 5th deck immediately and pleaded our case with a most formidable Australian, Christine (the new bridge instructor). She agreed to offer an entire set of beginner’s lessons on sea days, and suggested that if we were super keen to practise her methodology in the bar in the latter afternoons, she wasn’t adverse to enjoying some wine, and offering our group further expert support. The first time we took her up on this, we were in the middle of a hand when she arrived, so husband Ryan just flipped her his room key to order her own glass of wine. She walked over to the bar, and in her somewhat brash voice, ordered a bottle of Dom Perignon! Of course she did! (Let’s just say, she caught frugal Ryan’s attention immediately!)

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There she is…the BRIDGE EVANGELIST!

The first lesson was jammed with novices and a few people, like ourselves, who had realistically come back to consolidate the previous lessons a second time, in order to start to make sense of the game (me, in particular!). Fortunately, the first two fellows that sat down at our table, remained our bridge partners for the duration of the trip. Rick (from Austin, Texas) had taken the first set of lessons, as well, and he was determined to learn as much as he could while on the ship. (It was his way of giving his wife her time; without him! What an accommodating husband!) Peter, an Australian gentleman (truly) from Melbourne, had a lot of card playing experience (I’m thinking maybe Black Jack…) and he kept us all on our toes with his special style of finessing! Christine (our instructor) kept reinforcing that we must be honest with PARTNER and provide them with only accurate information when bidding. Of course, unbeknownst to Ryan and I, our devious friend, Peter, had been bluffing while bidding and SHE caught him! OMG! She announced to the room that he lied to PARTNER! (A HUGE SIN!) He wasn’t being honest with his partner and giving accurate information in his bids, something unforgiveable to this BRIDGE EVANGELIST! Ryan loved the public humiliation of it all (only because it wasn’t directed his way….). After that, he constantly teased Peter, inquiring whether he was lying. Peter would just give him his sly smile, enjoying a little chuckle, never missing a beat…

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Our BRIDGE BUDDIES!

Christine had retired from teaching in an all boys Muslim School in Sydney. When she entered bridge class, she was totally in control and you knew you would be learning BRIDGE her way, even if she did try to soften her persona by referring to all of us as, “Darling”! She had no qualms about telling us of her wretched divorce and how she got rid of her husband. In fact, she tended to relate a lot of Bridge theory to PARTNER relationships… hence, the lack of empathy for anyone who wasn’t honest with PARTNER… You get what I’m saying, right? She confessed to us that she only took up BRIDGE, once her husband was out of the picture, and decided she needed a social outlet. She never encouraged the Beginner Class to get off the ship and join a BRIDGE CLUB immediately. No, she wanted to spare us the despair she felt when she innocently joined a club and was completely decimated on the first night. She recalled that she cried all the way home. However, our Christine was no quitter! Nope, she went back to the lion’s den and determinedly set out to master the game. (I’d say she pretty much reached her goal!)

Seriously, if she’d been the instructor on our first round of lessons, I would have folded after the first class. Christine was a force to be reckoned with! She was completely the opposite of the calm, lovely instructors- Wyn and Patti, on our first leg! Even the men were intimidated by this stocky, red-headed, brash Australian woman! One fellow actually confessed to the group, after being publicly admonished in her bold and forthright manner, “Christine, you scare me!” Of course, this broke up the entire room, as we all laughed but secretly thought how brave he was to say what we were all thinking…

Being a former educator, I totally loved her methodology of teaching. She had prepared color/number-coded cards, so that after the lesson, we could replay 4 hands until we mastered what it was she wanted us to learn. She didn’t follow the rules/conventions of the cruise line, in that she requested donations for setting up our duotangs and xeroxing the lessons. Of course, everyone was keen for her to do this! She also made Joan Butts’ Bridge Books available for purchase, as well. Our other instructors wouldn’t get involved in sales, making it necessary for us to scrounge for book stores in ports, trying to purchase these coveted HOW TO PLAY books. We were that desperate to improve!

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Christine was completely outrageous and that was her secret to keeping us all tuned in and learning. She’d tell you outright that she was the boss and when she served as bridge master in the afternoons for the Bridge Tournaments, one fellow became terse and called her a ‘b—-‘. She fired him! That’s right, the obnoxious man was banned from all bridge lessons and games forevermore.

This BRIDGE EVANGELIST gave us homework during lessons, such as, “I want you to go to your cabin and in front of the bathroom mirror, you must practice saying the word, “PASS”, I know you can do it!” (She was easily frustrated when people without any High Card Points, would bid regardless…) Christine’s words of advice, included: “In bridge you win on everyone else’s mistakes. The errors made by others provide opportunities for you.” I had no idea what she meant… but now I get it and she was so right!

Christine sat with us at dinner one night. We introduced her to the non-bridge players at the table. She commented that she figured she was the most misquoted woman on the ship. When we asked what she meant by that, she said that as she’d read her book in the lounge, she’d overhear people quoting her incorrectly from the lessons. Rather than addressing them and straightening them out, she’d just bend her head and bury it behind her book. It made me wonder if she was addressing us on that matter, as we always joined up for practice and spouted off what we thought we heard her say in class…

Christine’s last word of advice to all of the BEGINNERS, was to not rush out and join a Bridge Club the minute you returned home. (She knew they’d eat us alive… well at least the real novices in the crowd, like me!) She suggested that we take more lessons before frustrating the more advanced players with our lack of knowledge and finesse. (Good advice, right?) Of course, the entire time we had been away, we were sending out CRUISE NEWS emails telling our friends at home that we couldn’t wait to get home to start playing bridge with them. I’ll bet you think you know how that turned out, don’t you? You’ll have to read next week’s Tender Tuesday’s installment to find out whether BRIDGE is still alive and well in our lives, and that of our partners…

Remember, there is a FOLLOW button at the bottom of the BLOG ROLL (on the right hand side of the screen). If you click on it, it will subscribe you to my blog and you’ll receive an email, each time a new posting is up (in case you want to catch it). As well, at the end of each blog post there is some small print and in there is a place to click Comments. Many of you sent comments directly by email (which was awesome to receive- thank you), but it would be lovely to receive your stories and feedback right on the blog site for all to read and share. DON’T BE SHY! WE WANT TO READ HOW THESE POSTS RELATE TO YOU AND WHAT YOUR TENDER MOMENTS ARE! Thanks for visiting everyone!

 

 

TENDER TUESDAYS

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CRUISE SHIP BRIDGE

-The GOOD, The BAD & The UGLY!

Part 1

Last fall, my husband and I embarked on a trip of a lifetime. Our cruise ship left Vancouver, British Columbia and travelled through the South Pacific Ocean and Islands, ending up in Sydney, Australia. But that was only the first leg of the trip. We then circumnavigated the entire continent of Australia visiting Bali, Indonesia and Komodo Island, as well. The entire cruise lasted 58 days! And I know what you’re thinking… What could this couple possibly do on a small ship (1200 passengers) with all those sea days between ports? Well, let me tell you, we were never bored; in fact, husband Ryan often complained of being over-scheduled! (I think our activities and classes may have overlapped with Happy Hour!)

We met a wonderful B.C. couple from Tsawwassen over dinner on the second night out and, discovered that their stateroom was across the hall from us. And wouldn’t you know it? They played BRIDGE and mentioned that they were attending the advanced class on sea days, but the instructors would be holding a beginner class and we should try it. Now, you have to understand, my husband, Ryan was the kind of student that spent a good portion of his scholarly days in the University Students’ Lounge playing BRIDGE. (Of course he did!) I, on the other hand, the more studious type, never played BRIDGE (or any other card game for that matter). Our new friends convinced us to take advantage of this opportunity and promised to mentor us by playing practice games between lessons. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t reluctant in the least to sign up. I romantically visualized my husband and I playing with friends at home during the winter and in anchorages on long summer evenings. Fortunately, my somewhat brusque husband agreed to be my partner for the lessons, pretty much the only activity he did with his darling wife, without any grumblings … (Okay, so Cha-Cha wasn’t his thing!)

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In retrospect, I now see how BRIDGE lessons seemed to take over our cruise life. I had to be up early enough to squeeze in a workout and shower before our lesson, and Ryan had to be connected, via internet, with work. He always made time for a hearty cruise style breakfast and if possible, attended a guest speaker talk (You know… those engrossing series about astronomy, global warming, and all that other fascinating stuff…) In fact, he’d usually slide into his seat, just as the lesson would begin, munching on sticky pastries, of course!

On the first leg, the instructors were a married couple and they were very calm, patient and simply lovely. THANK GOD!! Never a harsh word, always supportive with dimwit Mary who hadn’t yet mastered shuffling cards! We were paired with Andrew (an Australian from Brisbane who decided early in the lessons that Ryan should join him for crib during the day, as well, and join his boat-building team for the big culminating competition). Let’s just say that Andrew was more than capable of mastering two games simultaneously! Our other partner was Sharon, a fellow Canadian from Kamloops. Sharon had played a lot of bridge and should have probably been in the advanced group with our friends, but we were thankful she stuck it out with us. Of course, we were all keeners. This meant that after our hour of lessons, we would stay on another hour and do some practice games.

Andrew_Sharon_Mary_BridgeBy the time we were done with bridge, Ryan and Mary would split up and go our many ways. As often as possible, I’d take my bridge book poolside, trying to figure out what the heck I was doing! This is where our friends who got us into lessons came in. We’d meet up with them before dinner and play some hands (How they put up with my total misunderstanding of the game, I’ll never know…) And then after dinner, we’d sit in the theatre before the live show began and play some more.

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Let me tell you, people were drawn to us. We were BRIDGE magnets! They’d drop by and check out our hands and interrupt my concentration. Everyone had advise to offer me. It was obvious that I was the only novice in the group and even couples from our lessons would stop by and start telling me how to play my hand. Our friends were incredibly patient with me and never made me feel like the big L (I felt) was tattooed to my forehead.

Ryan wrote home to all our friends and family stating that his wife l-o-v-e-d BRIDGE and had taken to it like a duck to water. I wouldn’t actually describe my learning curve that way, at all. I was proud to be risk-taking and loved the challenge of learning something that made one think. It was often seriously intimidating when I was so behind in card knowledge, that even sorting one’s cards in one’s hand was difficult. (I was caught several times with cards hidden behind others without realizing it, or forgetting which suit was trump, or laying down the wrong suit to begin with… you get the picture.) It took a village to keep me progressing…

When the first leg of the trip was over, and all of our friends disembarked, we looked at one another and said, “Well, what do we do now?” Our cruise life at sea was all about BRIDGE! Microsoft classes, cooking demos, zumba, movies/live shows, and overindulgent eating wasn’t going to cut it –without BRIDGE!

If you’re curious about the second leg of our Australian cruise and how BRIDGE was addressed, you won’t want to miss next week’s TENDER TUESDAYS! Why don’t you leave a comment about one of your new skills or games that you’ve recently learned. I’ll bet you have some humorous stories to share. Let’s just say, you’re going to love the people stories in next week’s segment.

Thanks for reading TENDER TUESDAYS (even though it never got published until WACKY WEDNESDAY….ha!)