Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Not a quilter! - 51° 05' 00" N 115° 21' 29" W

You may recall, back in the deepest, darkest days of COVID, I made a quilt! A perfect project for the time and you can read all about it here!

Fast forward a few months and we ordered our boat.  Still in the throws of lockdowns, limited travel, not gathering and all the other fun pandemic restrictions, I decided to make quilts for each of the cabins of our new boat.  And along with quilts for each cabin, I convinced myself we needed the matching pillow cases too. So trolling the internet for ideas and out comes the graph paper to work on designs.  Now, as an 'experienced' quilter, no tricky patterns for me.  Straight lines it is! 

It was off to Fabricland once more for fabric, batting, thread and other such supplies. 

Just how many shades of blue could I possible need?

Fabric, fabric and more fabric!

Cabin 1 quilt and matching pillow cases - complete!

Cabin 2 quilt - done! 

There was definitely a theme to my quilts - they are afterall for a boat.  Now while I was busy with the stitching and ironing and unpicking and resewing that seems to be part of my quilting process, my nephew Sam announced his engagement. I wondered out loud whether he would like a quilt as an engagement present and low and behold, the answer came back yes please!

Rather than come up with a whole new design, I made a smaller version of the one I had just finished, with a few minor variations. And I was madly stitching to get it finished so I could send it home with my nephew Tom who was over for a visit with his girlfriend Bec.

Sam and Emily's Engagement quilt.

And wouldn't you know it, while in Jasper exploring at Emerald Lake Lodge, Tom popped the question and Bec said yes.  He took me to Emerald Lake and gave me a diamond! - Bec Bray.  As I had just finished Sam and Em K's quilt, I had to ask if Tom and Bec would like one for their engagement too.  The answer was once again, yes please!  The theme of this one had to be a mountain lake.  Tom requested a canoe, in orange, because Bec wouldn't allow him to paint their house his favourite colour!

Tom and Bec's Engagement quilt

By now we are getting close to Christmas.  Tom and Bec have left, Mum is with us for months and Wendy, Graeme, Emily and Jack come for Christmas.  And yes, another quilt.  Whilst Em and Jack did not get engaged, we decided it would be a sensible preemptive move to make them one while I had the time.  Once on the boat, quilting would not be as practical.  So, a beach themed quilt was produced for them!

Emily (and Jack's) quilt

Now ready to hang up my quilting shears and Eyvan came to visit.  They were most impressed by my quilting prowess, something they know as Saiorse is a quilter.  Of course Saiorse has made them a quilt? Well no, it's a bit like the shoemaker's children and I found myself yet again stitching and unpicking and ironing.  The theme this time reflects the mountains and ocean where they live in the Gulf Islands in BC.  The cool thing about this quilt is it is made from scraps and bits and pieces.  I did not even buy thread to finish it.  It did help that Sean managed to tear two shirts in the right shade of green that ensured I had enough fabric!

Eyvan and Saoirse's quilt

Declaring myself done, we started the crazy task of purging, packing up our house and getting it rented in preparation for boat life.  In the interim, we are house sitting Adrienne's place while she and Ray are at the cottage in Ontario.  She once, half-jokingly, asked when I was making her a quilt.  Sitting here in her beautiful home wondering how we could ever thank her enough, and I realised that there was one more quilt in me.   

And the theme for this one is the view from her cottage overlooking the dock and Kawagama Lake.

Adrienne and Ray's quilt

We have visitors almost until we leave for Australia on 27 September.  My sewing machine will be packed up and stored at Rachael's, my fabric distributed amongst those who sew and my threads and pins and scissors packed for use on the boat.  This is definitely my last quilt.  It has been fun but I now let it go and will look back on my quilting phase as a very productive use for all that time COVID forced on us!

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Stow-on-the-Wold - 51° 55' 45" N 01° 43' 14" W

While Kate was busy with the Fastnet race, I was left free to explore.  Seeing as I was in England, I decided to turn some acquaintances into friends.

First, I had a few days in Portsmouth.  After doing some administration (finding the Customs office and working out where to pick up my hired car in a few days), I walked all 'round the port area.

It's always good to know where you are starting from.

Portsmouth is very much a working port, as well as hosting a huge naval base and international ferry terminal.

Good use of space for pleasure craft storage.

A waterfront promenade made it much easier to ensure
I was still as close to the waterfront as I could be.

Found the sailing club!

Still seems weird to have ferries regularly chugging past sooo close to the sea wall and footpath.

Old trolley tracks along the waterfront.  It wasn't always this touristy.

Pub lunch.

Loads of museums and ship on display.
I could have stayed three more days to poke around.

Robert Scott, Antarctic Explorer.
We have plans to sail south to see his grave
on South Georgia Island.

Nature adds its beauty everywhere.

... and a good message to send to the world.

After a few days of pottering around Portsmouth, it was time to get further from the water.  I rented a little car (an MG) and did my best to drive on the side of the road that everyone else was using.

Once I left Portsmouth, I was on my way to visit to the Harley family.  Martin, a musician, would be staying with us in a month or so in Canmore for the Canmore Folk Fest.  He dangerously offered that "if you are ever in the area, drop in to visit."

The lovely Harley family

The Harley family live in Cholesbury, Gloucestershire, on a little farm and have offered up their granny flat for me to stay.  They lovingly call it the Hobbit House because, as beautifully appointed as it is, the flat in the finished attic of a garage on the property and has a ceiling clearance of about 170 cm (5 foot 7 inches) - a bit challenging for someone close to 6 feet tall.  I truly enjoyed staying in such a well-set-up guest accommodation but did have to be careful not to spring out of bed.

Top-end accommodations ... for a person of a certain stature.

Great kitchen facilities. Next time I may stay for the winter!

Lucky me, it wasn't just great company I was in for.  Martin had a mountain bike that he kindly let me take it out for my first day there.  He even furnished me with a helmet and directions to one of his favourite rides.

The Harley Homestead

Touring around the area had me on roads AND trails.

My steed.

Nice day for a ride in Wendover Woods.

23 kms over 3 hours.  Very leisurely.

... and a Gruffalo.

After hosting me for two nights and sharing some delicious meals and delightful conversation, I was on my way with plans to see them all back in Canmore in less than two weeks.

Jo and Ed met us while Kate and I were snowhosting at Sunshine Village.  With just the two of them touring with us, we did enough chatting on the chairlifts to find out that they were sailors, too!  We mentioned that we were going to be spending a year or two in Europe - specifically in France/southern England.  They quipped that we should look them up when we are in the area so once again, I took them at their word!

Their lovely farm in the Cotswolds.

The view going down their driveway to the main road.  So very James Herriot.

Ed has lived in the area his whole life.  He still farms, but has found it is increasingly less sustainable to just work the land, due to industrialization of the agriculture industry.  Many of Ed's old neighbours - some generations into farming - have decided to sell their holdings and leave farming.  Their properties - too small to run as stand-alone farms, have centuries-old barns, animal sheds and other structures one them that Ed knew needed to be preserved, as they define aesthetically the look and feel of the region.  Ed and Jo have purchased the farms and are slowly converting the buildings into funky, well-appointed holiday rentals. They let me stay in one of them for the night I was visiting and took me on a tour of one of the old milk sheds that was being remodelled.

One of the old farmsteads they have converted to holiday rentals.  Ed and Jo will have five separate rental units (sleeping roughly 10 people each) on this farm when it is complete.

Ed and Jo are creating some cool holiday rentals.

The Drying Shed.

The old livery.

Amazing details that add to staying there.

In one of the outdoor dining spaces, he has suspended the chassis of an old
Jaguar E Type that was found in the barn. Now it is a light fixture.

Ed manages to find great items that have been left, and turn them into funky architectural details.

An old silo becomes a centerpiece for a courtyard.

As they are keen sailors and have lots of experience, we hope to see them on Chinook.

After Ed and Jo took me to one of their local spots for a lovely pub meal, I was treated to a good sleep in one of their holiday houses and the next morning a hearty farm breakfast at their home.  During breakfast, they recommended I introduce myself to the Cotswolds by exploring Stow-on-the-Wold.  Little did I know what a quaint town I would find ... complete with the oldest continuously operating pub in England!

Some of the shops are tourist-focused, but many are the standard baker/butcher/barber shops you would hope to find in a farming centre.  I happened to be there on Market Day.  What a treat!

Of course I had to have a beer here ... but just a half-pint (after all, I was driving).

Next stop: the ferry back to Cherbourg, France!

Friday, July 21, 2023

Preparing for The Fastnet Race - 49° 38' 54" N, 01° 37' 13" W

Woo hoo, we qualified!  And now the work begins to be ready for the start of The Fastnet Race! Wow, we are racing The Fastnet.

So, what's the big deal?? The Fastnet Race is one of the legendary ocean races along with The Sydney to Hobart and the Newport-Bermuda Race.  It has been running every two years since 1925 and is just under 700nm.  The 1979 Fastnet Race has gone down in history as a disaster that resulted in major changes to how the race is run and how its risks are managed.  Eighteen people died, 75 boats capsized and five sank. This, and the learnings from the disastrous 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race, is the reason for the strict qualifying criteria we had to meet.  This is not a race for the faint-hearted!

A very calm English Channel!

In calm conditions, we sailed (well, motored really) back across the English Channel to Cherbourg. In our absence, things had really ramped up.  A tent village of bars, restaurants, vendors and stages had popped up in preparation for the almighty party that would mark the end of the race.

Enjoying the The Race Village

We had a long list of things to do - from marking up tide tables and entering waypoints to provisioning.  We needed to figure out how to install the storm sails as it was a requirement to pass through an identity gate with them up. We had to read and understand the Sailing Instructions, swot up on the Rules of Racing, ensure we meet the World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations, check all safety equipment, check the rig, print out chart showing where safety equipment was kept, haul Emma out to clean her bottom, complete immigration forms, install jackstays, tighten battens, seize shackles and so on and on and on.

From the Sailing Instructions - these waypoints had to be entered into our electronic charts

The legendary Pete Goss spent a day with us giving us some tips on sail handing, boat management and tactics.  What an extraordinary wealth of knowledge he possesses and so willing to impart it. We had a really interesting day and were privileged to have spent time with him.  For those who have not heard of him, have a little read here.  He is definitely a guy you want on your team!

Can we ever get a photo with the full crew - Marie is missing from this one!

In and out of our preparations, we were interviewed for TV and newspapers. Garcia gave us team uniforms and started a social media campaign, making videos and taking photos.  Now we know what it's like to be super models!  We had a lot of fun making the videos.  You can see them here and here!  Marie volunteered to do our social media and she created an instagram account @sv.emma.on.the.fastnet. She did a great job with her posts and stories.

And again we are five - Rebecca is missing this time!

Adding to the fun, Marisa and Adriano had had their Exploration 45, Voyager, delivered earlier in the month and were across the marina from Emma on H Dock. This meant a few parties and gave us the opportunity to poke around on an EX45 and ask questions - did you get this? how does this work? what, that's not standard??!! Marisa has done a wonderful job styling the boat so she looks like a high-end NYC apartment!

Relaxing aboard Voyager

We attended a few of the formalities.  Each boat was introduced and the skipper answered questions.  There was lots of laughter so Clothilde must have been amusing but as it was in French, I hardly caught a word!

Introducing the boats - Emma racing IRC 2!

With the last few jobs complete, that is sending Clothilde up the mast to check the rigging and seize shackles, we headed back across the Channel to Yarmouth where we would spent the night prior to the start of the race.

Clothilde looking very comfortable up there.  Should we bring her down??!

Space was at a premium in all the marinas along The Solent.  Mark had organised us a berth on the River Yar.  To get there, we had to crept through the very tight, rather shallow and tidal Yarmouth Harbour, through the bridge, which opened just for us, down the Western Yar and into our berth.  Full credit to Clothilde's boat handling skills. Our space was just Emma-sized with no room to spare. Clothilde maneuvered her in beautifully - thank goodness for stern and bowthrusters!!