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Belay that rope and bundle up

I love boating. There’s nothing better than being on the water on a sunny day. As I stand shivering on the dock, I repeat this to myself, hoping it will stop me from clapping the heels of my rubber boots together three times and saying, “There’s no place like home.”

It’s our first fishing trip in our new boat, the boat my husband is contemplating calling the Rosie. I’m not sold on the name. Rosie was one of our cats. She lived to the ripe old age of sixteen, most of which she spent under the bed.

The maiden launch is a vision we’ve had for years. Now reality smacks me in the face like a landed trout. Yes, I’ve thought of this day, the sun sparkling on the water, the coconut smell of sunscreen in my nose. Reality is different.

Our first fishing trip is Kawkawa Lake in Hope, BC. It’s a small lake surrounded by mountains. As I stand and look around, I realize something, I’m going to freeze. The cold front moving across the lower mainland brought fresh snow to Whistler and bogged down the Coquihalla Highway. The same weather system dumped thirty plus centimeters of snow on southern Alberta. The mountains ringing the lake are sparkling, the water isn’t.

There’s no time to dwell on my error in clothing choice. The captain is backing the boat down the ramp into the water, barking orders, and likely picturing where he’ll put the gangplank. It’s time to cast off. Cast off — untie the rope holding the boat to the dock. My usual boating habit is to step over the side and find a seat, while the boat’s still tied up.

I’m a west coast girl. I’ve been on boats —sailing dinghies, ski boats, commercial fish boats. There’s a difference between being passenger and being crew. Now that we have our own boat, I can’t sit and do nothing. There are fenders to hang and ropes to belay. I need to know stuff!

Growing up, every summer we’d sail the waters off Vancouver Island with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. Six kids, probably between twelve and five, lined up like bowling pins in the heavy life jackets of the early seventies. We’d stand on the dock until it was our turn to be pitched into the boat. Okay maybe not pitched, but lifted up and over. I guess that's the reason for the handles on the backs of the jackets.

Before each trip, my prairie folk parents would warn my sisters and I of what befell kids who horsed around on the dock. My sea folk cousins had no such fears, no,deep-seated dread of the gap. No, not the store, the space of open water between the dock and the boat.

Now that gap is in front of me. The captain is holding the boat in place with the engine, waiting for me to step across and over the gunnel. One thing’s clear, if I stay where I am, the gap is going to get bigger. Sometimes you take a leap of faith. My arrival on deck isn’t graceful, but it will only get better.

Here’s to conquering new skills and wider adventures. What’s on your 52 Over 50 list?


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