“What do we plant when we plant the tree?
We plant the ship that will cross the sea,
We plant the mast to carry the sails,
We plant the planks to withstand the gales –
The keel, the keelson, and beam and knee –
We plant the ship when we plant the tree.”
– Henry Abbey
Sunday September 1
Today…we are going sailing
( “Have you ever been to sea, Billy?”)
This is our first time under sail
(“No Captain Highliner, but I have been blown ashore many times!”)
We return to Gibsons…that's where Luke has 'Willow' moored. We cannot wait to see this boat. It's going to carry Luke from Gibsons to Australia. Alone. You would want a big boat for that.
Willow is a thirty footer (wow that's big)…which is about five times my length (that should be a big enough…right?)
We get to the marina in Gibsons and Luke meets us at the store. You have to pass through a locked gate to get to the boats and Luke has a pass. We enter, walk down the dock and there she is…
(seriously dude…you need a much bigger boat)
She's beautiful. Willow looks like she's ready to whip into action.
We get closer. Something is written on the starboard side of the boat 'The On Board Project'. It's fantastic. So many people have been getting On Board with Luke's sea quest and they have been incredibly supportive. Community. Willow my dear, you are pure magic.
Wendy and I have a ton of questions…
She's over ten foot in the beam (what's a beam?)
That's the width of the boat
Apparently for it's length, Willow is considered to be very broad in the beam, which makes her very stable (you're alone…on the Pacific Ocean…for 17,000km…i'm just sayin)
We get onto the boat on 'the port beam'. I pipe myself aboard…Luke asks me why I'm whistling.
He then invites us into the cabin 'down below'. I can barely fit my shoulders through the door frame
While we're below, Luke explains Willow's layout…you can sleep in a little space under the bow or in one that is amidships, next to the cabin door. That's where Luke believes he'll sleep because it offers easy access to the deck and the instruments. There is also a fold out couch on the port side of the cabin.
It's a lot like a little ocean camper. There is a fridge, a stove and a sink, a DVD player, a boom-box and plenty of space for storage. There's even a solar panel. Not only is Willow equipped with nearly everything Luke will need but most of it was included with the purchase of the boat.
We give Luke the one thing he's been missing…a tiny voodoo doll…it's very good Mojo.
The engine, which he'll use to slip in and out of the harbour (or in case of emergency), is a Volvo which is apparently very reliable. And…that's a good thing.
There are wooden pegs lying around…these are used plug holes in the hull (i can totally see why they kept peg leg pirates around)
I tell Luke he needs to buy himself a Captain's cap…he adds it to his 'To Do List'
Luke says' “So, do you want to go sailing?”
Back on deck, Luke makes preparation to castoff. He uncovers and checks his sails (which are actually made of canvas) and starts the engines. He swings the instruments out so they're facing the bridge (no, it's smaller than that)
…the wheelhouse? (even smaller)…
…the steering wheel? (there ya go).
Then he casts off the lines and we're free.
Luke pilots us through the channels and out of the marina.
When we're clear of the marina, Luke has to raise the sails. There is a lot to do and he'll need both of his hands to do it. He asks…nay, he commands…
“Steve, take the wheel!”
'Aye Aye Sir…Cap'n…Matey…Argh!'
(Not that anyone is asking…but it isn't easy keeping a sailboat on line with the engine in neutral)
As soon as the sails are up, the engine is turned off and our world goes silent. We're sailing!
From his station, Luke is making constant adjustments to the various sails.
It's a one man show…luckily Willow was made for him
We're tearassing across the sea. Flying on water. Spray on our faces and wind in our hair (hey, how fast are we going?)
Um…well, the indicator says 3.9 Knots (what's a knot?)
A Knot is a division on a log line used to measure the speed of a ship (so…how fast are we going?)
About 7.3 km/h
Before you know it, it's time to return to port. Luke tacks according to the wind and he reads that in the sails…if they're flapping it's time to 'tack'…or is it 'beat'? Oops…I can't remember
Near the entrance to the harbour, we stop. Luke has to lower the sails. The motor is kept on for this operation. Luke tells us that it would be unsafe to stow the sails and then find out you that you can't re-start your engine.
As we enter the marina, we spy an old tugboat at anchor. Beautiful and possibly unseaworthy
Luke still has much to do before he will be ready to sail to distant shores. He leaves next June…lots of time to prepare…lots of time to ponder
Wendy and I are Luke and Willow's first passengers. It is a tremendous honour and we thank you
We leave Luke and Willow at the dock together.
As it is meant to be.
“The Sea is lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
(with apologies to Robert Frost)
What a gorgeous moment this one is
Moose and Wendle