Vancouver, Canada was a complete surprise. Not sure what we were expecting, as I guess Vancouver, as tourist destination is not always on top of people’s lists when compared to the more traditional choices of New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Los Angeles, Rome, London and Paris etc. I guess that’s why travelling the world by boat is so special, as one is forced into seeing pretty much all of it. One can stop at places otherwise perhaps missed due to time constraints etc.
Vancouver is a modern metropolis with everything any other major city in the world has to offer. First class restaurants, theatres, museums etc. What’s more, it’s a large city and one that is perfectly proportioned. It is also a very beautiful city and, might I add, so are its people. Even their Prime Minister is a bit Mr Hollywood (according to Claire).
As we arrived inside Vancouver Harbour and proceeded under the Lions Gate Bridge, we went around the famous Stanley Park which and gave us a view of the city that even Sydney Harbour or San Francisco would be hard pushed to beat. Vancouver was a surprise package which delivered on every front from Elizabeth Bay to Gastown, from Whistler to North Van (speaking like a local now, eh!) the city, the harbour and its people all seemed pretty much perfect.
Maybe, just maybe, if I am really forced to find a negative, other than the ridiculous cost of mobile data and the telecommunication monopoly that exists, it would be that the city was missing a certain grit and attitude that one finds in other cities. Maybe it was just too perfect after all, or maybe that’s the way the locals like it, but either way it is a very beautiful city and one I am hard pressed to criticise, try as I might!
As most would know we spent our time here at the very beautiful Coal Harbour Marina which is situated about as close to the city as one can get while still floating. The marina itself offered everything anyone could ask for from shopping close by, to high speed internet to even a reasonably well stocked chandlery on site. Pendana was in heaven and so were we!
While in Vancouver we had a number of people drop by to say hello. Our first guest was Kal Nemier, the very entertaining son of Julie and Andy Nemier on N62 Infinity, the lovely and most amusing Penny and Lawrence Talbot from Northern Ranger N46, the super fit Darryn and Kelly from Barrington N62, the charming Lisa, James and family aboard N55 MYAH, the dashing Cameron (a Richard Gere double) and Kim Kemp from N60 Sea Level II, the quintessential gentleman Mr Laurence Lovett, Cliff Rome from Oasis (a beautiful Delta 70) and his lovely dog, Joe and Renee from Aquilla Renee, the amazingly youthful Forie and Linda Watson, Don and Sharry Stabbert on MV Starr our former Hawaiian dock buddies from Waikiki, fellow Australian’s Johann and Henrietta Scholtz from Scolamanzi N60 whom we last saw in Prince William Sound, Calvin and Donna aboard N57 New Fidelity and we won’t even start in on emails and texts. It would seem that the Pacific North West (“PNW”) and Vancouver in particular really was Nordhavn central!
While in Vancouver we did all the usual touristy stuff with some of the highlights, or in my case low lights, being the Vancouver Suspension Bridge. All I can say is, simply terrifying. If you don’t like heights and swinging a few hundred feet above the ground then this may be one to miss. The children on the other hand loved it! Fly Over Canada in Canada Place was something else and simply superb! Granville Island was also lovely with lots going on. All in all, there is much to discover about the lovely Vancouver.
No trip to Vancouver would be complete without visiting Whistler. Whistler is a town north of Vancouver, British Columbia, that’s home to Whistler Blackcomb, one of the largest ski resorts in North America. Besides skiing and snowboarding, the area offers snowshoeing (whatever that is!), tobogganing and ski jumping, oh now that’s a good idea, may have to give that a go! The hub of Whistler is a compact, chalet-style (I use this word loosely as it doesn’t compare to the French, Italian or Swiss Alps) pedestrian village at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and while it was all very nice, it doesn’t compare with many of the alpine villages in the French, Italian and Swiss Alps. Whistler, while not in the same league did offer the distinct advantage of being a lot closer!
Something strange started happening once we were in Vancouver, well two things actually. One, the algae growth on the hull was as bad as I have ever seen it and, as such, a diver was called. Secondly, we were hearing a strange noise (enough to keep you awake at night) coming from our port stabilizer locker. I called the famous Dave Wright from Trac to discuss and he suggested adding a little oil to the bearing, which I did repeatedly but without success. When our diver arrived, I asked him to take a look and what we found was a rather large oyster growing away on the inside edge of our fin and when the fin was deflected its shell would rub on our hull. I am glad to say, while not good news for the oyster, our strange noise has been resolved and peace and harmony has once again returned to the master cabin!
There is never a dull moment when living on the water. A Viking 70 was asked to move slips the other day in 30kts+ of wind. This poor boat and her owners had to reverse down a narrow channel with wind and tide against them. It was clear that this was not going to be easy. After two failed attempts and one very close call (i.e. boat nearly hit the pier), I offered to assist with the tender.
With tender at the ready pushing hard amidships to counter act the effect of wind and current as they backed in the Viking 70 were finally able back into the narrow entrance in conditions that really were less than ideal. Once they were safely tied up they invited Claire and I over for a visit. Linda and Forie Watson on the Veritas 70 were pleased we were at hand with the tender and we enjoyed a few hours chatting about all things nautical, oh and of course politics which features high on the list with most Americans at this time. Being from Australia and knowing very little about US politics Claire and I always find it interesting listening to what are often, very strong views. As it turned out, we discovered that Linda did a number of Magnum PI shows in her youth when they lived in Hawaii. Who didn’t like Magnum PI, back in the day?
Every two weeks while in port, I fire up all of Pendana’s systems and give her the once over. Ninety nine point nine, nine, nine percent of the time all is 100% perfect but not this time. This time, I noticed a large amount of steering fluid (approx. two cups worth) sitting on the floor of the Lazarette. With calls made to see who I could get to help resolving the problem, Dave Wright from TRAC suggested I speak with Mr Keenan Lang (Ph 604-375-5243) who is a hydraulic expert and someone Dave said I could trust. Within an hour Keenan was on board. Within ten minutes the problem was identified and within another forty minutes problem was fixed, steering rams bled and system tested perfectly. What a guy! Bloody gauges that’s all I have to say.
We were also lucky enough to be invited to the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club for dinner with the Talbots and Kemps. As Don and Sharry on MV Starr were in town they were generous enough to invite them as well. Also joining us for dinner was fellow Aussie, Sue McKinney (former owner of Solana N64) as well as, Valerie and Bill, Vancouver locals. A, truly lovely evening was had by all in what is a very impressive yacht club.
PIZZA that’s right Pizza. I remember Dave Wright from TRAC, hydraulics guru to the stars mentioning to me one day he made some pretty fine pizza in his rather elaborate, purpose built pizza oven at his home in Bellingham WA. He mentioned that we should come and try it one day. Well, that day came and the Ellingfords drove down to spend time with Dave, his charming wife Gayle and family with their friends Karl and Nora at Dave’s home in Bellingham to sample, what is often referred to as the World’s Best Pizza! at The Wrights Copper Turtle. I am happy to report that Dave’s pizzas are the BEST pizza’s we have ever had and let me tell you I have had my fair share of pizza over the years from all over the world. Not only is Dave a genius when it comes to hydraulics he is also a great chef!
Bianca, god bless her, has become rather interested in doing make-up recently, no doubt as a result from the recent Vancouver Zombie Walk she went to watch. Anyway, Claire, Abi and I have all now done some modelling for her so that she can practice her skills. Not bad if I do say so myself.
With our time in Vancouver fast coming to an end, it was time to drive down to Seattle to meet with several boating firms regarding this year’s work list on Pendana. As always, we are super proactive in terms of maintenance required to keep the numerous complex systems on Pendana running flawlessly and, as such, take a military like approach to making sure everything is done in a timely manner as there is nothing worse than waiting for parts to arrive when on hard stand.
As we prepare to leave Vancouver for our next stop Salt Spring Island which is one of the Gulf Islands on the Strait of Georgia and in particular Ganges Harbour, we are reminded of how special boating really is. Is it the places we go, the time spent at sea battling the elements to reach safe harbour, the challenge of living in a confined space or is it the people that make this type of life so rewarding. I guess it is a mix of all of these things but one thing is for sure, the people we meet and the friendships forged are very special indeed.
We will then make our way to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia on Vancouver Island which by all accounts is stunning. We are truly thankful for the time we have spent in Vancouver and certainly appreciate the opportunity to visit what is, probably one of the most under-rated cities in the world. It certainly is a city that gets little attention on the global stage, but then again, maybe that’s the way the folks around here like it – EY!