Our Beautiful Castilleja!
Life aboard our new boat is a big change from house sitting a massive cabin in the woods.
It’s been nearly two weeks at sea. I guess more accurately it’s been just over two weeks at the dock here in Victoria* but we were out for a sail last Sunday, and we had a lovely (if completely windless) journey from Squamish to the Southern tip of Vancouver Island. We saw a humpback whale and many pods of porpoise and pacific white-sided dolphins, before finding our way to our new slip here in this lively harbour.
It’s been another shift in lifestyle for us. Less than two years ago we were living on the opposite side of the planet in the land locked country of Malawi. Then it was months of travel on trains and planes and bicycles before a return home, a wedding, a winter in Nelson, flying around in helicopters to go skiing, and most recently a summer in Whistler house-sitting for Charlotte’s parents. Their lovely and rather large home was a great place to spread out and we had plenty of time to climb mountains and roll down them at great speed, and paddle passed them and sleep under them looking at the stars. For better or worse those days of frivolously piling things anywhere we please is now over and we’re being much thriftier with our possessions and even our packing.
The travelling cars are, in a modified sense, travelling once again; this time aboard our 35.64-foot long Cuthbertson & Cassian sailboat, Castilleja. While we are slightly more rooted to the harbor of Victoria than in some of our previous projects, we are living out a new adventure together. We have plans of course to sail the seven seas but for now Charlotte has a PhD to tackle and I need to find a job. Well one beyond the growing list of boat projects at least.
Our new home purchased only a few months ago is proving to be everything we hoped. With a frugal approach to life’s necessities we’ve managed to fit all the things we need, ourselves and peanut into our beautiful little boat. Castilleja is the latin name for the alpine flower known as the Common Paintbrush. It’s full name is Castilleja Miniata. Guess what we’re calling the dingy…
Castilleja Miniata in her element, up the Brandywine Meadows drainage.
When we bought her in June we quickly made a list of all the things we wanted to fix or upgrade, and the list looked daunting. We’ve quickly realized that the list was then quite short, the items that at first seemed a priority have slipped considerably, and despite a few concerted weekends attempting shorten it, it only seems to be growing. That’s okay though. We knew there would be work, and it’s still less work than a big house.
Castilleja, like many boats of her generation is overbuilt. Her fiberglass hull is more than an inch thick in places and the rigging overdesigned by today’s standards. For us that means she should be sea worthy for years to come. Inside she’s compactly but efficiently laid out. We have a comfortable ‘V’ birth up forward, which leaves enough room for Charlotte and I to stretch out with a view of the stars through the foredeck hatch. We have a small ‘head’, (bathroom, for you landlubbers) with no shower. The marina where we stay has facilities for that thankfully. The rest of the interior comprises the salon, with a table for seven in a squish, a nav station/office and a galley. Every thing is close to everything else. There is no room for two in the galley, and generally we have to dance around one another whenever we’re both on the boat. That said even when the ‘house’ is a total disaster from my latest wiring, or caulking project it never takes more than 15 minutes to tidy up completely. On top of all that, there are seven bunks for those odd nights when the dinner quests just won’t leave.
Not all of these lovely people stayed for the night, but they brought enough booze so we wouldn’t have minded if they did.
In the future we’ll share more about the learning process of engine maintenance, fiberglass and electrical projects, varnishing and caulking, and the ever evolving process of finding the perfect way to do anything on a boat only to learn that categorically that way was completely wrong and you should be flogged for even considering such a thing. But really it’s quite fun.
For now, when the wind picks up at night, I draw short straw. With a nudge, I slip on my jacket and re-secure a line slapping the mast. It’s a kindness not just for Charlotte and myself since the sound of nylon concussing a 50-foot tall aluminum pole has a certain resonance that carries quite well into our neighbours ears. As in any small community you will be judged for your transgressions. Charlotte is usually the one to get up in the night to admonish Peanut (our cat), for doing normal cat things at unreasonable human hours, and she saved something from blowing into the sea the other night as well.
Peanut hard at work navigating.
So far we’ve been casually getting to know Victoria. Our few family connections here have had us round for dinner or breakfast and we’ve been exploring mostly by bicycle. It’s been a long time since either of us was living in a city with bike lanes but its great to be back on my colourful commuter and charlotte has been happy to have a moderate 8km to cover from the boat to school. She quickly bought some nice new completely impervious to water panniers to make the ride survivable.
Peanut in full travel mode. She not so secretly hates us for this.
Some good friends gave us a gift certificate to a rather hipster little café called The Pink Bicycle. The PB has great house made burgers and a fantastic craft beer list but it’s fortunate that I ride a fixed gear and have a beard otherwise we would not have been served.
One of our samples at the Pink Bicycle
We’ve also figured out where the marine chandlery and good grocers are, as well as the laundry mat, and a few good running trails in this quite urban setting. Nothing, so far, appears to be more than a short ride or walk away. And it hasn’t rained too hard for too long yet.
Since our last post we’ve had many adventures and little time for sharing them in this medium. We’ve also been closer to home and with that felling more connected to our community in the sea to sky corridor. Though, truth be told, many were missed in the few months we were back on the coast. Hence the revival of the travellingcarrs posts. So look to us often for entertaining recounts of our seafaring blunders.
Till next we share a common port, fair winds my friends.
*For those of you who didn’t know we’ve moved again. We are now living in the provincial capital.
Castilleja under sail.
Just before we dropped anchor in a small cove on Prevost Island.