It’s a good thing we like lemonade

It may sound cliche, but over the past year we have found ourselves with a great deal of lemons – those situations where things go wrong and you have two choices: let things get you down or make lemonade. We may not always have the best of luck, but we always make the best of whatever happens.

Having said that, I’m sure everyone is curious as to what happened this weekend! It’s a long weekend here (thank goodness for BC Day), and after camping for the last three weekends we thought it would be nice to be out on the water, and to check out the fireworks in the bay. We are still without a mast, but have a solid diesel engine so figured that motoring would be better than sitting at the dock. We wanted to leave Friday evening to go with the tide, so by the time I finished work, Alex had all the shopping done and the boat warmed up and ready to go.

It was a beautiful evening, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. There was a bit of wind, but nothing too crazy when we left. By the time we reached First Narrows, things were a bit different. The wind was gusting, and was blowing against the current. This is always a recipe for trouble, and we ended up battling 10 foot waves as we passed under the bridge (but at least we had plenty of clearance). Our engine had been getting a bit hot as we were in the turbulent bits, causing us to gear down to let it cool off. We weren’t sure exactly what was wrong with the engine, but then saw the water intake stop. This meant that there was no water cooling the engine, and we had no choice but to shut it off and hope it wasn’t already damaged.

At this point, things started to get dicy. There were a couple of other sailboats caught in the same waters, and all of us were just getting tossed around. Alex tried to hitch the dingy with its 25hp engine up to the main boat, to try to get us out of trouble, but the waves were too big and too dangerous, and the dingy (and Alex) were at risk of getting crushed each time we rolled. At that point, we had no choice but to call the Coast Guard for help. When they arrived, they were able to help the other sailboat who was also in distress and then come back and help tow us to safety. They helped us get to some mooring buoys just off Ambleside Park, then went on their way to rescue someone else.


The view from our mooring buoy

Once we were safe, we were able to take stock of the situation. Of course, everything inside was thrown around the cabin, even things we thought were safe. Once again, we had broken glass everywhere – but at least this time my Kombucha survived, and only a little bit of tea leaked!



Lenny and I were both pretty shaken up, and I was suffering from fairly severe sea sickness at this point. Alex felt broken, from all of the physical strain of trying to self-rescue with the dingy, but he was the only one who was able to go below deck and clean up the mess. Shortly thereafter we all crashed and tried to sleep: me on the settee in the main cabin (easier for me if I was sick), and Lenny in bed with Alex, as he required constant touch and comfort after that ordeal.

The waters were still rough, and the Gravol I took wasn’t enough, so by the middle of the night I had to use one of the motion sickness patches for the first time. It seemed to work well, and the next day (Saturday) I was weak but no longer sick to my stomach.

Since we were already tied up to the mooring buoy, we decided that even with the drama of the night before, we got what we wanted: to be away from the dock and to be able to relax on the water. There was an arts and music festival on the beach, and the weather was lovely for the entire weekend. It was also nice to be in an area where we had never stopped before (it’s just so close), so we decided to do some crabbing and fishing while we were there.


What else to do while stuck at sea?

For those of you who know Alex, you probably know that he likes to fish, and may even know that he hasn’t caught a single fish since leaving Ontario. Well, that all changed on Sunday! I was busy fishing with the crab trap, when all of a sudden Alex had a fish on his line. He pulled it up, and what a fish it was!


Once Alex had him on the boat, we had the chance to look at him – and couldn’t believe our eyes – this was clearly a small shark! Now, maybe I’m a bit naive, but I had NO idea that there were sharks around Vancouver. We wanted to make sure we did our research and figure out what exactly it was – and most importantly, if we were even allowed to catch them! We made him a temporary home in a plastic container, with a very curious Leonard standing guard:


Leonard and his new pet

After a bit of research, we found out that Alex had caught a spiny dogfish, and one that was small enough that we were able to eat him without much worry about mercury levels. Needless to say, once we had that information, Leonard lost his new friend. I’ll spare the pictures of him becoming dinner – but know that we some lovely grilled dogfish with guacamole on the side.

Shortly after the fish (which wasn’t really a complete meal), we were trying to decide what to have to go with it. Alex figured he’d throw the line back in the water, and lo and behold, got a second bite! This time he caught a sole:


Dinner round #2

We quickly checked the regulations again, and once we knew there was no problem keeping it, onto the BBQ it went! While Alex was dealing with this fish, we figured that I should keep the line in the water, just in case. I ended up with the biggest bite of them all… It was so big, I couldn’t get it in myself, and apparently wasn’t able to set the hook, because while Alex was trying to bring it in, the fish got away. The moral of the story: we can now say we saltwater fish successfully!

When we got up this morning, it was another lovely day. We started to fish and crab a bit after our morning coffee, and figured we would make the most of the day before calling to get towed back home. Alex decided to brave a dip in the water (although we decided the current was too strong to let Lenny in too), and I decided that a cock pit shower with warm water was more appealing to me. After washing my hair, it felt like I had gotten soap or something in my eye. When I went to rinse my contact, I got quite the surprise in the mirror – one of my eyes was completely dilated!


My eyes sort of freaked Alex out most of the day

We weren’t sure exactly what was going on, but found out that it can be a side effect of the motion sickness patch I had been wearing. I took it off right away, but the pupil issue was persistent so we decided to be safe and head home sooner rather than later.

Once we were back home and safe, I did what most people my age would do – I asked the internet about the situation. I am part of an amazing online community of women who sail, and they were the first (and only) people I posed the question to. Within minutes I had some great responses, and one situation that completely echoed my own: the water from washing my hair would have run over the patch (they go behind your ear at the hairline) and then down into my eyes. Now I know to be far more careful if I need to wear one again!

With that figured out (and knowing it was nothing to worrisome), some new wine glasses from the dollar store, and dinner on the BBQ, we both agree that although it got off to a rough beginning, the weekend was exactly what we needed. We hadn’t had much time on the water yet this summer, and that’s what this weekend was. Besides, it wouldn’t be a typical Shinwell family vacation without a bit of lemonade!

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