A Part of

The Good Life

And so my first winter aboard passed, and I lived through it. And suddenly it was summer. Nothing can compare to being on the ocean when the sun rises over the edge of the eastern sky and lights Vancouver harbor like a movie set. There must be a God and he must be a cinematographer. And of course, the soundtrack is pure Buffett.
"Yeah now, the sun goes slidiní Ďcross the ocean, sailboats they go searching for the breeze; Salt air, it ainít thin, it can stick right to your skin and make you feel fine, makes you feel fine."

Life Afloat

by Beverley Wood

There are channels to surf once you sail under the Lionís Gate Bridge. Make for starboard (north) and youíre off to the Sunshine Coast, turn to port (south) and you can make the San Juans (Washington State) fall in a few hours. But my own personal Margaritaville is the Gulf Islands, dead ahead (go west, young man) across the Strait of Georgia.

And getting there can be magical. On day crossings, escorts appear to guide us to our Mecca, a la Free Willie and Flipper. And on night crossings, we leave a trail in our wake -- a fine receding line of glowing phosphorescence marks our passage as we churn up the oceanís algae. Add a few falling stars for good measure, throw in a full moon and Spielberg couldnít create a better backdrop for an epiphany. Not a bad way to get where youíre going.

Thereís a beach near Nanoose Bay (just north of Nanaimo, on the ďbigĒ island) that has oysters from hell. Itís right next to a shellfish farm (no trespassing!) but unlike cattle, you canít fence mollusks in. Itís so easy it should be illegal -- just take your bucket and fill it up as you walk. Back in the dinghy, back to the boat, pull out the limes and tabasco (once youíve lived in Texas, you donít use lemons anymore), have your husband shuck Ďem (too dangerous for me), crack open a Heineken and youíre in heaven.
Now thatís fresh.
Fresh from the beach

More fresh seafood
Dungeness and Stone crab (caught in traps) are plentiful, too, and easy. Grab a pot full of salt water from over the side and set it to boiling. But for Godís sake, make sure itís either boiling really, really hard before you drop them in or get someone (like your charming husband) to kill them and clean them before you cook em (itís really much kinder, I think).
Weíll often keep oysters and crab alive in buckets full of salt water on the back deck until we get back to harbor Sunday night -- it makes the landing a little easier if you bring back the magic. Spread newspapers over a table, melt a pound of butter, give everyone a hammer and youíll swear youíre sitting at Joeís Stone Crab Shack in Ft. Lauderdale. The only thing missing is the palm trees and pelicans.

And in my head, Buffett's Tin Cup Chalice rings true;
I wanna go back to the Island, where the shrimp boats tie up to the piliní;
Gimme oysters and beer for dinner every day of the year and Iíll feel fine, Iíll feel fine


Troubled Waters. . .

How we became "liveaboards"

About the Author

Beverley Wood is a writer and marketing consultant who worked for 12 years with Maclean's magazine (as Operations Manager). She has published articles with Maclean's, The Globe and Mail (Destinations), Tribute, Kid's Tribute, Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim News Syndication Service (Far East dailies). She also writes screenplays, and provides clients in Vancouver with writing, editing and public relations services. She is currently working on the screenplay for
. . . a new fiction novel written with her husband, Chris Wood (Canadian pub date: Nov/97; USA pub date: March/98). In 1993, Chris convinced her to leave a sprawling Texas ranch and move onto a 48-foot boat in Vancouver's Burrard Inlet. She has never been the same since.

Click here to e-mail Beverley.
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Originally posted Feb 16, 1998. Text copyright Beverley Wood, 1998. Part of the original Sideroad.
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