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Sailboat ownership was new territory for Prairie Girl. She was so busy getting the new school year launched, that she barely had time to perseverate on the fact that they now owned their very own Catalina. Warm, fuzzy feelings descended upon her whenever she’d mention to her colleagues and parents at her school that they were now proud sailboat owners! (Oh yeah, she was still locked into her rosy vision of the beautiful people sailing in white, flowing nautical clothing, sipping champagne in the evening under the stars.) Obviously not grounded in reality! DUH! Instead of seeing a Catalina 27 that had had better days, she was transporting herself down the coastline on an imaginary 50 foot yacht. Something had to burst that bubble!

Reality hit the day husband announced they’d be moving their boat from Granville Is. over to a marina in North Vancouver, just a couple of blocks from their apartment.   He wanted it close by so that he could check it often and work on the boat projects that were needed. (By then, husband had quite a list, as being a German, he has a thing about all his possessions being kept like new.) Of course, Prairie Girl had no idea what moving the boat entailed, so she innocently invited her youngest son and his friend (who did know something about boating) along for the crossing.

They no sooner got out into English Bay with the current running against them, that husband experienced abrupt motor failure. It was an outboard motor that had to be hand started (you know, like a gas lawn mower), and then it appeared that he had flooded the thing from too many pulls. It took a few minutes to realize that the towing rope for the dinghy was not a floating rope, and as husband had slowed down, it had tangled in the prop. Within seconds (not minutes), it was apparent that the current was pushing us toward shore. And to make matters worse, husband was preoccupied with trying to steer a boat without power and holding up the outboard motor with his other hand so that Prairie Girl’s son’s friend could hang over the stern, trying to get the rope untangled. (Imagine her sudden realization that there was more to sailboat ownership than interior design and popping champagne corks!) Her son was equally traumatized, having had no experience whatsoever on a sailboat, either! Safety had never crossed her mind, as husband was always so calm and controlled. Thankfully, they somehow got the motor prop free, once again, and the engine miraculously started!

By then the winds were whipping them around, the motor was revving against the incoming current, making it difficult to make any headway, whatsoever. They’d missed the slack water opportunity and were forced to cross under the Lion’s Gate Bridge at less than an optimum time. In fact, they shot under the bridge like an out of control rolling log! What Prairie Girl envisioned (a calm, lovely picnic in the bay) and the reality of getting the boat into its resting place, were completely polarized.

Approaching the new marina was tense for the crew struggling to find the entrance, let alone the slip they’d been assigned. Of course, this marina had boathouses in it where people actually lived! Prairie Girl could see the crowd gathering as the motley crew attempted to dock and half expected a cheer to go up that they had made the perilous journey safely. (Actually, they were just concerned boaters realizing that novices were docking that could cause damage to their vessels.)

YKNOT'S_New_ Home_copy

Husband and Prairie Girl sent the boys on their way and locked up their boat. They trudged home in silence, prepared for bed, and fell fast asleep from exhaustion. It was only 6:00 pm.!

Could Prairie Girl be having second thoughts about sailboat ownership? Blimey, they hadn’t even hoisted the sails yet!


The SHOW is over! Everyone’s back in their boathouses.

Do you remember your first boat? Did you have second thoughts about your purchase? Were you so traumatized that you NEVER SET FOOT ON ANOTHER SAILBOAT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE? Please, leave your stories for us. We want to hear all about those infamous maiden voyages. Just click below where it asks you to LEAVE A COMMENT and enter your adventure in the box. Also, leave your email address for notification, as the most humorous, entertaining story received will have a copy of WHO’S the CAPTAIN? mailed out to them upon printing. (You will want this collection of Dave Alavoine’s family sailing vacation cartoons, as the celebrated cartoonist of Cockpit Confessions in Pacific Yachting Magazine.) If you know any boaters that might have a story to tell, please send them this link, so that they can also share their story. http://www.twocandobooks.wordpress.com

 Thanks for visiting and sharing TENDER TUESDAYS!





One Sunday afternoon, as husband (that’s right-no longer boyfriend) and Prairie Girl took a walk around Granville Island on a hot summer afternoon, they ended up in a boat broker’s office. What a surprise! Of course, husband had been checking out sailboats for a very long time! (Prairie Girl was too busy to notice…) The broker just happened to mention that there was a one-time owner Catalina 27 languishing in a slip nearby that would be reasonably priced and encouraged them to go aboard to check it out. They had nothing better to do, so Y Knot?

Y KNOT purchase copy

This is how we found the Y Knot.

One could tell that the boat had been much loved by its former owners. They were in their 80’s now and just didn’t have the steam to maintain and sail it any longer. Husband checked it over thoroughly and felt certain that it was in great condition- besides the old, tattered upholstery and curtains. (That’s what Prairie Girl zeroed in on- of course she did!) The important stuff like the condition of the gel coat, mechanical  functions, out board engine, hull, keel, sails, sunbrella canvas… were basically all in tact and looked to be in good shape. Even the tiller had been protected!

They sat on the back of the boat that lovely afternoon and romanticized about what it would be like to own their very own sailboat. Of course, Prairie Girl kept envisioning the Lotto Max ad again, being the romantic that she is. Husband prattled on about the practicalities… the project work he could do on the boat himself, the costs involved, the appropriate offer to make, … you know that boring stuff that guys love to talk about. She liked her daydreams better! She’d already picked the new color for the upholstery that she’d redo the cabin in. And a new head would certainly be one of the first priorities. You see where this is going… Their innocent little stroll, became this huge decision to be made, within a couple of hours!


See the lovely worn and tattered upholstery.

They returned to the boat broker and had him write up a low-balled offer to the owners and went home to digest what they’d done. The owners had till noon the next day to let them know if they’d accept it or not. Prairie Girl can still see them pacing their North Van apartment, waiting for that phone call. Husband, who often likes the chase/search more than the actual purchase was already touting that he wouldn’t counter. Romantic Prairie Girl already had the boat upholsterer chosen and was poised to make the booking. … Of course they’d take their offer!

The phone rang and within two minutes, they were the proud owners of a Catalina 27. The owner was a retired chef from the Hotel Vancouver and he made an appointment to meet with husband (CAPTAIN to CAPTAIN) and share any and all memorabilia and equipment that they had in their home related to the boat. Amongst the stuff was a calendar where their boat was featured on the cover in all its glory from earlier days. The couple were overjoyed to hear of husband’s plans for refurbishing their Catalina and his enthusiasm for getting it out on the water.

Prairie Girl started to wonder what in the world she was doing owning a sailboat?!) THE DEAL WAS SEALED…

Some of you have probably been in situations where one gets caught up in the spur of the moment and make a fast decision on a BIG ticket item. (TELL ME YOU HAVE!!!) Romantic Prairie Girl and husband, really did make this huge commitment within a day, or at least that’s what he contends to this day. What do you think? Please leave your comments by clicking on Leave a Comment below. Prairie Girl needs to hear your stories!



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.





                        –“BORN TO BINGO”

We have a 92 year old BINGO QUEEN in the family. She has a Sunday/ Monday routine that includes prep for BINGO Mondays. Sunday evenings, she makes her lunch, has her bath, and her BINGO day outfit is laid out in preparation. Her daughter calls this their “Girls Day” outing together. This is great, except the odd hiccup may occur with this scheduled date. Her brother is never going to set foot in the BINGO HALL (that’s understood…), so guess who is the next best thing… that’s right- her daughter-in-law- ME!



I never realized what a serious business playing BINGO is, until my sister-in-law handed me a written plan, well in advance, detailing how to assist her mom throughout the “Girls Day”. She actually included a sample of the individual cards that must be glued in a certain way so that the card identity number still shows… SERIOUSLY! I wasn’t sure, as an educated woman with a Masters Degree, whether to be insulted or amused… (It turns out, her little cheat sheet was invaluable! Who knew?)

Read the rest of this entry




OKANAGAN FALLS  hosted a RAISE A READER visit on Friday, Nov. 22nd. This was the first class to be introduced to  the recently published novel, FRENCHIE DIVA- FOLLOW the BLOG. The students were entertained by some of Ethan’s (the 13 year old main character) blog entries to FBF (Frenchie’s Best Friend). Stories were shared explaining what inspired the Frenchie series, as well as a YouTube video that encouraged the writing of FRENCHIE DIVA. The students shared how they personally related to Ethan and his Frenchie, friend, school and family drama, as well as his teen-age angst. Everyone understood why blogs are written and what essential ingredients are crucial to writing a powerful blog. It was a pleasure to visit Okanagan Falls and sign each student’s personal copy of FRENCHIE DIVA!

ImageThe students were left with a Blog Post Challenge. These are some possibilities for postings:

  • an opinion about the Raise a Reader presentation or the Frenchie series introduced
  • a short review of the Frenchie series
  • a recommendation of Mary Laudien’s Frenchie series to other readers
  • personal connection/s the reader made to the novels/blogs/ characters.

The two most informative and entertaining blogs will qualify for FRENCHIE prizes and the two winning blog entries will be shared within the next week.

There is nothing that I enjoy more than sharing my series with tweens. Meeting with classes and inspiring blog writing and reading for fun is the best part of the writing process for this author. Anyone interested in booking a visit can contact me through my website: http://www.twocandobooks.com.  I encourage schools and libraries to use my books for a fundraiser and 15% of sales will be donated to the SPCA.

What are your thoughts about the Raise a Reader program and the blog challenge after the visit?   I value your feedback and would be pleased to have you leave a comment.

Remember, you can purchase BOOK #3 of the Frenchie series (Frenchie Diva- Follow the Blog) from Red Tuque Books:

Phone: 778-476-5751

Website: http://www.redtuquebooks.ca

Order by Email: orders@redtuquebooks.ca

You know you want to read it…and not just for the adorable photos of the Frenchie puppies in the FBF blog posts.

Deer “Doo-Doo”


I’m a professional career woman. (And yes, I’m retired.) I keep wondering if this is my “just deserts” for being an elementary school principal in my other life… I mean, seriously readers, who would believe that an educated, career-minded woman would end up strategizing time in her day to pick up deer pellets scattered throughout her less than pristine yard! It has become such a joke, that I have taken to introducing myself at Frenchie author visits in this way, “Hello everyone, my name is Mary Laudien. I live in Nanoose Bay with the deer and occasionally, my DEAR (husband Ryan). Days in Nanoose are spent scooping up Bambi pellets and replanting the appetizing shrubs dined upon nightly by my horned friends. But most significantly as a designer-clad, dog-sitting grandma expert, I have a blast writing novels of puppy chaos and love.”

And what has actually occurred is that this author has become an expert as the in-house “deer ‘doo-doo’ picker-upper”. It’s sadly true; no one in the neighborhood has a system like mine.  There is technique to the “dirty deed“, so read carefully:

1. Mandatory Equipment– surgical gloves (the “doo-doo” must never touch one’s skin), a sturdy bio-degradable shopping bag lined with not one, but two paper grocery bags, a small hand shovel, a garbage can with a lid, and of course, rubber boots

2. Time your disgusting pick-up job when it is coldest and driest (firm pellets are desirable). It’s no fun picking up mush!

3. Know the paths the deer take and be cautious as you walk (“doo-doo” presents itself in several formats):

  • the buck’s pellets resemble giant logs,
  • the constipated doe’s pellets are similar to a small dog’s offering,
  • a pile of individual droppings remind one of a gigantic handful of chocolate covered peanuts,
  • a gooey mass of loose droppings has the consistency of diarrhea,
  • and most commonly found are the rambling “doo-doo” streams (that one is bound to step in while walking through the grass).

Just take a look for yourself.  Does this look like a professional woman doing something important for mankind?


Frenchie’s Best Friend Give Away in the Mail


It was so great to receive the following response when I emailed the winner of the draw from the Author’s in Bloom Blog Hop!  It is obvious that Mel and her family are dog people and that they’re keen to read the humorous stories about Ethan (the 13 year old main character) who embarks on a devious scheme with his quirky grandmother to own his very own French Bulldog (unbeknownst to his overwhelmed single mother)!  I hope that the first two books of the Frenchie series provides the family with belly laughs and helps to ease the pain of losing their Krunchy.  Who knows?  After reading the novels, they may be just as Frenchie crazy as many of us are and decide that a French Bulldog is what they actually want!

YAY!! Thank you!  I told my boys about Frenchie’s Best Friend and they are sooo excited.  I even showed them your blog!  Isak and Riley can’t wait to read about Frenchie. We are BIG dog lovers.  Literally! Both of our dogs are very large.  Krunchy was a shephard/chow mix and Hemi is a pit bull/chow mix.  Both were rescues.  We just lost Krunchy after 12 years.  It has been the hardest on Isak.  He is also the most excited about reading the Frenchie books. It is so neat because we are looking to adopt an English Bulldog this summer.  I can’t wait to read them with the boys.  I can’t thank you enough!!!
Thank you!!

As I write this, I am just about to load a ferry over to the Lower Mainland and dog sit my Frenchie grand-dog, Cecile, for five days.  Could anyone resist this little cutie?