Sunday, August 30, 2009

Heather the kids and I headed out on the boat again this weekend. We made it to Romance Harbour which is about 12 miles down the bay. It was a gorgeous weekend, one of the nicest of the summer. I thought it was a spectacular weekend. Our good friends George and Janet Diveky brought their granddaughter, Jackie and she and Cassidy became instant friends. There were a couple of boys about the same age as the girls on another boat and all the kids had such fun. Romance Harbour is a series of very small, fairly flat islands, so we just let the kids go ashore and run amuck. They had moss wars, and as the anchorage was very protected we let Cassidy, Elijah and Jackie row about in the dinghy. The other boys had access to a motor and spent hours going in circles around our kids who were perfecting their rowing skills.
We arrived about 3 in the afternoon on Sat. and after exploring one of the islands we set out to catch a fish. Elijah hooked a mighty jack and was in the process of landing it when the beast bit through his line and made off with his hook and his leader. Heather suffered the same fate a few href="">minutes later. Jackie was luckier, she managed to land one and after it was filleted by Janet the kids explored the intestines, liver and eyeballs of the about 10 pound pike. The fish provided about an hours entertainment and the shrieks from the girls every time it oozed some bodily fluid echoed over the water.
There were five boats in total and we all got together on Sat. night and had a pot luck with fish as the main course, the whole meal was outstanding. We finished off the weekend today by flying the spinnaker all the way into town under a bright sunny sky. Apparently the northern lights were dancing last night but after all the excitement with the fish I went right to sleep once my head hit the pillow.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Horseshoe Bay Bound

Heather, the kids and I headed out for Horseshoe Bay last weekend aboard Morning Star. There was a pretty healthy wind blowing across the bay, an easterly, unusual for Yellowknife Bay which is situated in a north/south direction, this means you can beam reach up and down the 12 mile long bay without tacking, a sailors dream. It was a tad difficult getting off the dock, if you want the full story on that you will have to ask in person, but once underway we just flew. What a ride, all we had up was the jib, and Morning Star was booting along at 6 knots, it is a very stable boat so there was very little weather helm and everyone was able to enjoy the ride without chanting the sailors lament, "Oh my God, we're all going to die!"
Once we had the anchor down, the kids were clamoring to get off the boat so a shore party was arranged. Heather valiantly rowed her family to a nearby island and they safely disembarked from the dinghy and did some fishing. 3 other boats showed up a bit later and we had a little community going.
The next morning was very dull and dreary, after we indulged in French toast Al La Cassidy, we played card games, a partial game of Scrabble and a lively game of
Canadian dice. ELIJAH'S MUMMY STARE Elijah at 8 didn't quite grasp the subtleties of the game of chance and would shake one die when he had 1500 points on the go. It was all fun especially when the game ended with Heather shaking a large score, me stealing it after shaking 2 die and then Cassidy winning the game on a lone die which rolled to a winning 5! The afternoon was spent trying to catch the elusive jack fish which would torment the kids by following their hooks right toshore. The kids also learned how to row, but Mom wisely nixed their wish to head off in the dinghy on their own, we weren't sure where they might end up. We lunched aboard diesel furnace heated Yola, an Ericson 34, scarfing down Diveky pancakes by the fork full.
I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and we finished it off this morning with another beam reach home. I was in my element while Heather and the kids snuggled below and read. Eagle eyed Elijah spied the nest where the resident bald eagle looked after her young as we left Horseshoe Bay. The call of the loon is still echoing in my mind.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My cousin Greg Kite flew into Yellowknife today from Holman Island which is north and east of Tuktoyuktuk, which is located where the Mackenzie River empties into the Bering Sea, it is really far north in other words. After some confusion on my part as to which hotel he was registered in, we found him and had him over for dinner. It was great to catch up on his family's news and share some stories. At the moment he is working for a company which is surveying from the air, he flies a Navajo PA 31, I think he said, and the surveying is being done for the Canadian government in part to prove that we have a presence in the Arctic as well as possibly identifying kimberlite pipes, which are an indicator of diamonds.
Greg has flown all over the Arctic over the years, cruising around over Iqualuit, Cambridge Bay, and he was recently doing a survey in our old hunting grounds around Uranium City. In order to do this survey Greg has to fly this plane at 500 feet, carefully following the contours of the ground. He has some super duper GPS on board to help him do this but he said that after a 6 hour flight at this height he is exhausted. He had some great stories to tell about the accommodations and muskox meals he was getting at the Arctic Char Inn, but apparently he has not had a meal of Char yet, how does that work?

After we had dinner we headed off for a trip to Walmart and Canadian Tire. Greg wanted a push broom so he could clean off the gravel from the runway so they didn't spew gravel all around when they started up the plane. He let us into the hanger so we got a chance to see his fancy plane. He had helped change the oil earlier in the day. Apparently the plane needs to be serviced every 50 hours, so Greg figured if the weather held in Holman he would be back in Yellowknife every 10 days or so. We finished off the evening with a sight seeing tour, showing off the boat yard and the house boats as well as the float plane base. Hopefully if he is able to come back this way he will bring a couple of Char with him and I could cook it up for him.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Well, the big 60th birthday weekend is over. Bruce and Marg arrived on Thursday at noon and left at noon today, Sunday. We had a blast. Bruce fulfilled his one desire and caught a fish. Bruce will have to supply the picture! Barry beat his brother in the 10km walk so he is really happy!!! Margaret and I had a great time comparing stories, hanging out while the boys went speed fishing, trying to get good pictures of dragonflies and embroidering.
We went to Bullocks for a fish feed on Friday night, it is one of the best places to get fresh fish anywhere and lo and behold they had pickerel on the menu, it was scrumptious. We had a wiener roast on Friday out at Prelude Lake and we toured the museum yesterday when it was rainy.
The Overlander Yellowknife Marathon just happened to be on this weekend so Barry got the brain wave that we should all go in it. Fortunately they had a 10 km walk category so we all entered. The guys were a hit, the Lange twins testing out their new hips. The entry fee included a carbohydrate loading opportunity at Boston Pizza last night and after we had finished that we headed back to our apartment to complete the process by devouring the birthday cake supplied by Bruce and Barry's Mom courtesy of the Co-op. The twin Harley Davidson motorbikes on the cake were a big hit!

The one upmanship was rampant over the weekend with speculation about the fact that the women would for once in their lives be able to out pace the men. Bruce and Marg had a plane to catch about 4 hours after the race started so we wondered if we would have to go and scoop Bruce off the course and race out to the airport. Barry fooled us all and set off on a blistering pace at the beginning of the race. There was no way I was going to let him get away but every fourth step I had to skip or hop in order to keep up to him. If I wanted to get a stone out of my sandal I would run ahead in order not to be left in the dust. Marg dutifully stayed behind with Bruce to encourage him to keep up a steady pace. I thought we would leave them in the dust with the pace that Barry had set but they stayed pretty close behind. We hit the 5 km mark at 44 minutes, leaving us thinking perhaps a 90 min 10k was possible. Barry fell off the pace a little and we finished in about 1 hour and 33 minutes. Barry was so competitive and he was making such rude remarks about my ability to keep up that I was tempted to sprint the last 100 meters so that I could beat him for once, but I guess maturity has dulled my instincts because we crossed the line holding hands.
I am so glad Bruce and Marg were able to come up, thanks to the cheap West Jet flights that are available. I don't remember them celebrating a birthday together since we have been married, so 60 was a good year to do it. Now that they are so mellow and can collect their old age pensions if they wish, life is good!!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Barry and I spent the weekend out on a sail boat, what a novel concept! A wonderfully generous friend of ours offered us his boat for the month of August. The boat is called Morning Star and it is an Aloha 27. It is rather beamy which means it has a lot of room below, which is great for Barry.
Barry was a bit worried about getting on and off the boat, not wanting to try and get into a dinghy, which can be tricky at the best of times, when you have a newly healing hip, it can be downright dangerous. I brought the boat up to the dock and Barry just had to step on, he didn't step off again until we returned to the dock.
He had a bit of trouble getting in and out of the V-berth on Friday night so on Sat. he just slept on the settee and that seemed to work just fine.
We had a wonderful time, we went out with another boat and they came over for dinner on Sat. night and on Sunday morning I went canoeing with Helen. We headed away from the boats towards a little island. Helen had been over there the night before and she had noticed smoke coming from the island, not wanting to intrude she did not investigate. I suggested that maybe we should make sure there wasn't a fire, but then again it was just a small island and if it burnt the fire would not go anywhere else as there was quite a bit of water between that island and the next. Helen said she would like to check it out because if we didn't she would always wonder. We went ashore and sure enough, there was a campfire that someone didn't put out properly and the sod was slowly smoldering. There was a couple of plastic bags in the canoe so we did our duty and poured water all along the edge of the fire. There was a tree, that had it's roots burnt and it had fallen over and the fire had consumed some of the needles. It had rained on Sat. morning so the fire was just slowly spreading. I like to think we saved that island. It seemed like a popular spot as there were several fire pits as well as areas that were quite trodden down where people had pitched tents. We certainly did our good dead for the summer and I can add another line to my fighter!!!!!
We had the best sail back. The wind was behind us at about 20 knots and as I mentioned the boat is beamy, therefore quite stable. We flew the main and the furling genoa and Barry very ably piloted the boat, wing on wing all the way down Yellowknife Bay. She just flew, hitting 6 1/2 knots with the waves just pushing us along. Barry got some colour in his face and I got him away from that nasty office where he spends way too much time.
Helen is going to send me some pictures from the fire so you will see what I mean. Another camera in my care has bitten the dust. The battery connection does not seem to work. It will not open any more and when it does it tries to tell me that I need new batteries when I have just put brand new batteries in. I tried all my tricks to get the connections to work but no luck, I guess cameras just have a hate on for me, it obviously can not be anything I could possibly do to them.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

F#%*ing Iain
CAUTION: This blog may contain coarse language. Parental Discretion is advised

There are 4 Ian's in our sailing club. When I told a fellow sailor I was going in the Commissioner's Cup with Iain, he asked if I was going with F#%*ing Iain, from now on this is how we are going to describe him. The reason being is that Iain has the ability to use that word in many contexts, he can use it as a noun, a verb, an adjective or any other part of speech you would care to think up! He can even use it to coin new words such as absofuckinglutely. Iain and I were on Misty II for 80 hours over the long weekend so we learned a few things about each other.
Effing Iain is a true northern character, he lives off the grid. Iain does not currently have a job, he lives on his sailboat in Great Slave Lake, which is North of 60. He does not have a phone, does not pay for electricity, if he wants running water he takes his boat out into the bay where the water quality is better and fills up his tanks. He is rough, uncouth and very very loud. His booming laugh is infectious, it is said that on one Commissioner's Cup race boats were becalmed, it was dark and they could not see each other but they could hear Iain's laugh. Iain was born and raised in Northern England so the Pommy Bastard has some peculiar traits. He likes cheese and pickle sandwiches, he farts very loudly and he has been known to ask the photographer to wait a second because he has to scratch his balls. Notice where Iain's hand is! ( I did warn you about the coarse language)
Effing Iain wanted to be an aircraft engineer, he has the brains, but he got on the wrong side of his headmaster in England. The first time he met the man, was in court where the headmaster had to testify on Iain's behalf on some charge, what the exact nature of the charge was, was not revealed. At the end of the school year the students were given a week off to cram for their O levels or final exams to get into university. Iain buggered off to air cadet school and got his gliders license, when he returned to take his exams the headmaster expelled him. This was the end of Iain dream of being an aircraft engineer! I am not exactly sure what happened after that but the next portion of his life that Effing Iain revealed to me was when he was driving truck for a living and emigrated to Canada six weeks after his wife suggested the idea.
From there Iain seems to have engaged in numerous pursuits in order to earn a living. He repaired aircraft, he tended bar for years, he was a Xerox repair man, he paints houses, basically he can do anything he puts his minds to. You would never know it to look at him but Iain is a amazing fellow, he reads extensively and can retain all sorts of useless information, he can converse knowledgeably on arcane subjects, he enjoys listening to Edith Piaff, he is an excellent chef and he loves dry English humour, he quotes Monty Python skits verbatim. That just goes to show you can not judge a person on appearance alone, that would be a huge mistake in Effing Iain's case. Oh and did I mention Iain loves to party, he is a pot head and every time he would ask me what time it was on the boat I would faithfully look at my watch and tell him the time and he would sing out, ITS BONG TIME! He gave up smoking but he might as well not because his lungs suffer just as much if not more from the amount of pot he smokes.
The man has a million stories the best one involved the fact that Iain was related in some manner to an old time Yellowknifer that was a geologist. This guy had discovered a gold mine and was very well off. A buddy came to visit and pick his brains about where he might find diamonds here in the Territories. Iain was asked to leave because the discussion was "Private", years later the man who came to visit was responsible for the huge diamond find here. Iain figures if he had played his hunch and bought shares he would be filthy rich. The other story involves arson. Iain was working for a small outfit that ran a fishing lodge. The owner had run the lodge into the ground and was hurting financially. Out at the lodge the owner decided to take things into his own hands. He had one of the fishing guides bring a barrel of diesel up to the lodge and then sent him away with a customer far away across the lake, weird!! When the guide returned the lodge had gone up in flames. The owner reported that one of the guides must have been smoking in the their cabin because the guide accommodations had gone up first and then the fire had attacked the main lodge. Well little did the owner know someone was flying over in a Twin Otter and saw the main lodge burning but the guide shack was perfectly fine. OOPS, I suppose if you are going to be an arsonists you should get your story straight.
I could go on adfinitum, but I think you get the idea. The CC race always leaves me with great memories. I will always remember Fucking Iain and his way with words!!!! I am extremely grateful that Iain allowed me to badger him into going on the CC. He has been in 10 or 11 races but never as Captain and it was great to see him win on a boat that has it's name on the Cup about 5 times. Jim would be glad that you carried on the tradition Iain!!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


The Queen's representative is referred to as the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories. He sponsors a sailboat race every year from Yellowknife to Hay River and back. The race is 120 nautical miles each way and I just love competing in it. The boats leave Yellowknife on Friday morning of the August long weekend and get into Hay River some time on Sat. We have a dinner and party that night and then sail back on Sunday, usually arriving in YK sometime on Monday. Okay enough of a history lesson.
This year I convinced this crazy guy Iain to take his boat in the race and take me along. There were only 3 boats in the race, par for the course. Misty II, the boat I was on, is a Tanzer 26, there was a Tanzer 22 and a X-boat that is 34 feet, I think. The X-boat is built for speed, a real racing sled, long, sleek, fractional rig, a thing of beauty. Misty II is a good boat but it needs a lot of loving care and attention. It has been neglected on the hard for 5 years, it leaks, the radio does not work, the sink was plugged, the rack for plates that was bolted to the inside of the hull came off causing the stove to become unattached to the piece of wood that held it down and tip dangerously, Iain spilled coffee grounds all over the inside of the boat and there they stayed sloshing around in the excess water from the leak that had overflowed from the bilge, yup, needs some love. The other Tanzer was shipshape, stripped down for racing, they took their stove off , so they would have less weight and the skipper is a no nonsense kind of guy.
We left for Hay River, wind on our nose, tacking all the way, the X-boat took off and after a few miles we could not see it any more. The Tanzers raced their way across, each going their separate ways meeting about 5 nm from the finish line. It was brilliantly sunny, winds were light and it took us forever to get across the lake. I was worried we would be late for dinner on Sat. night, we got in at 1730 and the dinner started at 1800 hours. The Commissioner joined us for dinner and told some jokes as I consumed my wonderful whitefish. The sailors swapped tales about the crossing and secrets were revealed. The X-boat was 11 HOURS ahead of us so we kind of conceded the race in our minds, how could we possibly make up 11 hours, but it is a sailboat race and anything can happen and often does. Xcapade has a very long keel and it had got stuck going into the shallow Hay River channel on the way in so we were kind of thinking that perhaps it might get really stuck on the way out and we would have a chance!! HMM, a sea anchor would also slow them down!!!
Sunday morning dawned, it was dead calm at 0600 hours when I woke up and it did not look good for sailing. After a wonderful breakfast supplied by the crew of Xcapade and after pictures were taken for posterity, we left. The wind had come up with a vengeance, it was blowing 30 knots, the waves were pounding from across the lake into the shallow shore and there were very steep 1 1/2 meter waves. Xcapade did get stuck even with 5 crew members sitting on the same side on the rails. It is just mud so they shouldn't have done any damage and all that happened when they got stuck was that a big wave came along and lifted them off and they powered up and kept going. They did find the bucket I had filled with water and tied to their stern to slow them down, hee, hee, hee!! Everyone was feeling really queasy, the waves were horrid and we were getting soaked as the rollers pounded into the boats and over the combings, we had a double reefed main and a small genoa and once again we were beating into it, unbelievable.
That wind decided to veer clockwise and die on Monday morning. We had beat all night and we had only made 60 nm. Once the wind died at one point we actually went backwards, the current in the lake took us towards the Mackenzie River, we should have gone to Inuvik! Iain played the wind like a pro, going 0.4 knots to 1.1 knots and back to standing still. Finally there was enough wind to put up the spinnaker, we dropped the main and we drifting towards Yellowknife. I flew the big blue and yellow asymmetrical for 20 miles, then we had white sails up heading home. We got within 3nm of Yellowknife and the wind died again. We sailed in this! It took us 3 hours to go 3nm!! I called Barry to let him know we had made it and he said the other 2 boats had given up the ghost and motored, we had no idea!!!! WE WON, unbelievable, what a saga! Iain couldn't believe it. We will have the record for the longest crossing for quite some time. It took us 48 hours to go 120 km, that makes our average speed 2.5 knots, hmmm, a real sailboat race.