My husband fell in love. She is a fourty somethin’ years old beauty with soft curves and a strong build. She had some “work” done and it looks good on her. Her golden accessories shine against her satiny skin, glistening in the sun. She is an athletic type, loves the water and cuts through the gentle waves with style and grace, her tall white sails blowing in the wind. Her name is Isa Lei and yes, she is a sailboat.
Isa Lei was designed by the famed boat builder William Garden and built in 1969. After a few flirtatious love affairs she was lovingly restored by her previous owner to its current authentic and elegant state. Sadly, at some point the bank repossessed Isa Lei and my husband, who followed her online for a couple of years (as boat lovers do) finally bought her from the bank. She could not be in better hands and I feel that Isa lei has found her home.
“Isa Lei” is the title to an emotional farewell song Fijians sing to departing visitors. It expresses sadness and sorrow over the loss, happiness and joy for the memories that linger and hope for reconnecting once more. Here is the first stanza, or paragraph:
In Fijian language: English translation:
Isa Isa vulagi lassa dina Isa, Isa you are my only treasure;
Isa Lei, na noqu rarawa, Must you leave me, so lonely and foresaken?
Ni ki sana vodo e na mataka As the roses will miss the sun at dawning,
Bau nanuma, na nodatou lasa, Every moment my heart for you is yearning.
I couldn’t help but notice that my name appears in the first line of the song in Fijian. Is it serendipity?
This boat takes an enormous amount of work but my husband seems willing to invest the time and effort and I have never seen him happier. He strips and varnishes, fixes and builds. He comes home at night dusty and disheveled, bruised and scratched but as happy as can be. What can I say? He is in love.
He purchased the boat on Vancouver Island and had it shipped to the Okanagan Lake. This is an ocean going vessel, built to sail the high seas, but I think for us it is better to have the boat here. Maybe some day, once he gains experience sailing it, he can move it to the ocean, but for now it is perfect and safe and sufficiently challenging on the lake. When the wind is blowing he puts up the sails (there are 3) and they unfurl and blow in the cool wind.
I learned to help with a couple of things on the boat but really, my favourite position is horizontal with a book, a sunbrella shading me and a cold bottle of water Beside me. This is my kind of sailing. If you know me you know that “roughing” it for me is slow service at the Ritz. I am also not the type that doesn’t mind dragging baskets of foods around but I relented and naturally I am in charge of food on the boat. How can I not be? Food is my thing and makes every experience better. So I found a system and make food part of what we enjoy on a sail. Potato salads, just baked pizzas and flatbreads, tartines, crudités or breads and cheeses with grapes, olives and the like. I feel at home around food.
A few weeks ago I had purchased tickets for a vineyard dinner at God’s Mountain Estate B&B above Skaha lake, an event put on by God’s Mountain and the fabulous catering company Joy Road Catering. More on that below. I have been interested in attending one of these dinners but the events are sold out early in the season and I could only get tickets for that Sunday. We thought this would be an opportunity to take the boat out to Penticton, perhaps stay on it for a couple fo nights and attend the dinner on Sunday.
My husband was in charge of getting all the logistics for the trip organized. Reserving a slip in Penticton was easy as there is reciprocal arrangement between the Penticton and Kelowna Yacht Clubs. We were promised a slip that’s easy to get into and could use the shower and bath facilities at the clubhouse. The boat details were hopefully looked after by my husband and I planned a simple menu for the few hours trip there. In Penticton we were going to eat out so I didn’t have to worry about too much food.
D day arrived and I was packed and ready to go. It’s only a couple of days and on a boat, but I have a lot of stuff to take. One bag for clothing. I need something to wear to the dinner on Sunday, something to wear the next day, running shoes in case I get to exercise after sitting on the boat for several hours and a couple of jackets because it’s getting chilly out there. I need my camera bag with the lenses, can’t leave that behind. I need my electronics, not the laptop but at least the iPad, Kindle and iPhone with chargers for each device. A cosmetic bag for bathroom “stuff” and cooler of sorts for the lunch food we are taking that would not fit in the fridge. Then we need beddings: sheets, pillows, blankets. Some kitchen equipments: knives, plates, a thermos and a couple of ceramic mugs. He has paper plates and plastic cups on the boat but I prefer real plates and what if I want to take pictures of the food on the boat? Paper plates would not work. Before you know it we were hauling all these things to the car and then to the boat.
At the marina there are blue two-wheel carts that one can use to transfer “stuff” from the car to the boat and back. We piled our belongings into one of those and took it to the boat. In short time everything was loaded onto the Isa Lei, bags in the back, kitchen stuff in the kitchen, bedding folded and set aside and we settled in the covered cockpit ready for the adventure.
The weather forecast was for rain but it didn’t rain. In fact it was a lovely cool early fall day, with blue skies and a very light breeze. We pushed of the dock, dragging the little wooden tender (dinghy) (it also has a sail, would you believe it?) behind and begun the sailing adventure. Once we were settled and on course my husband went out and put up the main sheet. The sail caught the wind, unfurled and looked beautiful against the blue skies. The captain managed it pretty well, tacking when needed to stay on course with the wind and the boat was cutting through the water elegantly and steadily.
A while later he wanted to put up the jib, a second sail. I was a bit apprehensive because I feel this is a boat for two experienced sailors, not just one (I am only a passenger, remember?). In any event up went the jib and sailing became a little trickier having to manage both sails. All went reasonably well until we passed Peachland and started to head southeast where the lake takes a turn. The wind suddenly picked up and I was getting a little nervous. The boat was heeling 20% and I was leaning hard on the tiller trying to keep it into the wind while the captain was outside taking the sails down. It was not a comfortable situation but once the sails were down we were back to normal. The waves were high and wind was strong but it’s a heavy, 8 tons boat and it is pretty stable in a storm. The wind subsided the further south we went and after 6 hours of motor-sailing we finally arrived in Penticton. The marina itself is easy to locate. The entrance to the marina is a little tricky to find but once we got closer it was easy to get in, dock and tie up the boat at the slip.
We got settled, cleaned up and went into town looking for a place to have a quick dinner. We walked down along the city park on the beach and then back up the Main Street where most of the restaurants are located. We settled in a little Greek restaurant named, aptly, the Cubby Hole. The restaurant was clean, staff was friendly and the food was good authentic Greek food in generous portions. We enjoyed dinner, drank a lot of water and soon thereafter headed back to the marina by foot. We were pretty tired from the adventure and got the bed organized for sleeping.
We got through the first night but some “technical difficulties” with the bathroom overnight resulted in us checking into the Lakeside Resort first thing in the morning and into the comfort of a real bed, real bathroom and yes, even a TV. Did I mention that I am not one for “roughing” it? However, moving into the hotel was a mutual decision.
One more surprise awaited us: there was no diesel filling station on the lake for the boat. Only regular gasoline. This was unexpected. So I stayed at the hotel while the captain rented a car and drove to a gas station to pick up diesel in a jerry can and fill up the tanks on the boat. Note to captain: check to make sure you can fill up the boat at the destination. I think he had to make a couple of trips to get this done and by late afternoon he came back to the hotel and crashed into bed pretty tired.
Before we knew it it was 5:00 pm and time to get ready to leave for the dinner in the vineyard. The weather had turned already and it was clear that the dinner was happening but not outside. They indicated that they had the option of moving it indoors.
To be continued HERE.