Reminiscence in Ballet Bay
Michelle called to say she and Graham had arrived in Ballet Bay, had the bay all to themselves and were now anchoring.
We were an hour or so away, sailing up from Secret Cove where we overnighted after a blustery crossing from Nanaimo during which our autopilot gave up the ghost.
By the time we arrived at Ballet Bay, things had changed. Others had arrived ahead of us, but there was still lots of room in the popular, protected anchorage.
And across the bay, there at anchor was the fleet-sailing Lightfoot, the 34-foot catamaran we had not seen since Yakushima in southern Japan.
We first met Michelle and Graham in Subic Bay, Philippines. They were sailing from Australia, where Graham, a Canadian, had lived for a number of years and built Lightfoot. We didn’t see much of them in Subic Bay, since I was installing a new AIS which Lynne absolutely insisted upon if she was going to be crossing the Bashi Channel, between Philippines and Taiwan, and which just about every ship in the world seems to be crossing at any one time.
Then we were tied up at the cruisers dock on the island of Ishigaki in southernmost Japan, when Lightfoot sailed in and tied up nearby. We became friends when local sailors decided the arrival of two foreign boats was just about the best excuse imaginable for a roaring dock party.
We met them at two other ports in the chain of southern islands, the last was Yakushima where we rented a car together to explore the lush and beautiful island.
It would be misleading to say we sailed together, as in a tiny convoy, since they had to give us lots of lead time. Lightfoot sailed roughly twice as fast as the then love of our lives, Quiver, a fantastically tough, amazingly practical, though antithesis of fleet, Vancouver 27.
From Yakushima we sailed off together, them angling westward toward Tanegashima and Canada, us north to Kyushu and a winter in South Korea, and they became a speck on the horizon that slowly became nothing. They would cross the North Pacific in about half the time it would take Quiver the following summer.
And then we saw Lightfoot, snug in the little cove on the southern shore of Ballet Bay. They texted that they had seen us arrive and would have tea while we anchored and settled. By and by, they came over, Michelle on her new love, a paddle board, Graham beside her in a gorgeous cedar strip dinghy he had also built himself and which of course made me feel inept.
It was like nothing had happened in the years between Japan and now, like they had not expanded their horizons, hadn’t taught or worked on PhD’s. We ate curry, played Wizard and laughed about the silliest things.
The next morning, after sailing through the shortcut into Blind Bay, and turning northward to Telescope Passage, Lynne emerged from a quiet spell to ask me a question. The tone of her voice suggested it was profoundly scientific. She asked what I thought it was that made Graham and Michelle so likeable.
I didn’t have an answer, but wished I did.
(Ballet Bay is covered in Salish Sea Pilot’s Cruising Guide to Georgia Strait and the Sunshine Coast)