Choppy waters, a brisk wind, the odd spot of sunlight and a “cosmopolitan crew”. What perfect autumn conditions for bundling up and heading for a sail through the Canadian Gulf Islands.
The Captain invited five of us aboard to settle into position on the 15-ton gaff-rigged yawl, Lorenda – built, owned and manned single-handedly by this captain, Don Mellor. As shown in the link’s photos, when all sails are unfurled, there are five billowing sheets powering this sleek 40-foot vessel.
Dianne, Don’s childhood friend from days in Montreal, now lives in Kansas. She and I sat in the aft deck. We had a clear view of the Captain as he moved about the vessel with the grace of a ballroom dancer – preparing, shifting, engaging and tightening lines.
Three other guests, Tom and Kath, from Seattle, and Tom’s sister, Kath, from Rhode Island, sat on the forward deck. They rode the rise and fall of the bow and bravely took the brunt of the wind. As gusts became more biting, one of them would scurry to the storage bin and hand out more warm gear.
The round trip from Ganges Harbour (Salt Spring Island) to Montague Harbour (Galiano Island), with a tea break, took about 4 1/2 hours. Tom or his wife, Kath, took turns at the wheel while Don moved forward to set or lower sails. Otherwise, Don managed the boom and trimmed the
mainsail while sitting behind the wheel. A good wind meant only we only needed two sails, the mainsail and jib. We set a good pace over the dark, choppy waters in both directions.
On the way home, Tom and the two Kaths joined us in the aft deck. We hunkered in, warmed by good company, and regaled each other with fascinating, personal and hilarious stories that can only be born of seasoned lives.
Once the Lorenda was secured at her familiar slip, Don, Dianne and I easily agreed to have dinner at the closest and warmest dining room. It seemed strange to say goodbye to our fellow crew members as they dashed off to their reservation at a more distant location.
Dessert was at my home. The day before, I had picked blackberries. I warmed them to their peak flavour. Generous dollops of Greek Yoghurt enhanced the taste of those deep purple buds of juicy nirvana. Conversation turned to sounds of “nom nom” and bowls were scraped clean.
The best news of all? The Captain accepted a second piece of my Banana bread.