As a young creative “Vancouver Islander” I learned many things going sailing with my family and this is by no means a complete story. I could write an entire book on the subject. In an effort not to bore you I’ll try to make it somewhat short.
I was two when my parents first started taking my brother and I out sailing for weekends and summer holidays. My parents have owned three sailboats at different times, an eighteen foot, twenty six foot and now a twenty eight foot. They kept moving up in size as my brother and I got older and could tolerate each other less and less. My parents still own the last boat and my father is out on it every chance he gets.
We would spend most weekends from May-October on the boat as well as four weeks in the summer. I stopped going with them all the time when I was about fifteen because I had things I wanted to do. I got a job, had friends, and boys I wanted to spend time with. It’s too bad I stopped going out regularly because I never realized how much I would miss it. I would go with them on occasion when I had nothing going on and they were going to one of my favourite spots.
The years were 1974-1987 and I spent most of my free time sailing during a time with no cell phones, internet, portable video games, and even though we could have brought a TV we went without. The only means of communication was a CB radio and later a VHF radio. We would listen to the AM/FM radio a lot when we could get reception and taped music when we could not. From this I learned about music appreciation at a young age and lucky for me my parents were into ‘modern’ rock music. Indoors, and while underway, we would draw, play games, read, fish, steer the boat, have lunch, nap, and just lay around. Due to the long hours of having to entertain myself I learned how to be quiet, mindful, observant, and tolerant. We would not go anywhere fast, and even once we arrived we still had to get anchored and often have dinner before we could row to shore. For some kids this would drive them crazy, for me it just made me accept the situation, just relax and enjoy where I was and who I was with.
I was lucky to see the places I did, and boy would I like to show them to my own kids. We sailed the Gulf Islands, the San Juan Islands (in the US), and north up to Desolation Sound. We used to fish for Rock Cod, crabs, shrimp, oysters, clams, and sometime perch on the local docks. Fishing for perch was one of my favourite activities. We would get a small line, a very small hook, a bit of bacon, and fish for hours off the edge of the docks. We would put the fish we caught in a bucket on the dock and all the other kids would come to look at them or go get their own fishing lines and join in. One day the fish were so big that we decided to barbecue some of them, and that is what my brother and I had for dinner. Two bite fisheswhich were good but a bit bony. One of our regular stops would be near a great beach to look for clams. The tide would go out and expose mud flats where we would then stomp around in bare feet and find the sweetest little clams ever. Other times we would catch cod in just a few minutes if we found the right spot, on the edge of a kelp bed was usually the best. We didn’t have the patience for salmon fishing as it took too long, was difficult off of a sailboat, and required too much equipment for our liking. My Dad knew that we would rather be on the dock fishing for perch or in a cove paddling around in the dingy. We had the privilege to see small communities, lakes, coves, and islands my other friends didn’t get to experience. We also did a lot of hiking, swimming, beach combing, dock wandering, staring off at the water or trees, and enjoying the surroundings. We were always together as a family doing activities at least when we were small. As we got bigger my parents would let us go off to the beach, park, or marina playground by ourselves. Sometimes we would go for a row around whatever cove we happened to be in that day. When we were able to get off the boat (not at sail) we would spend most of our of time exploring.
I think that the time spent of the boat fueled my creativity. I had lots of time to draw and would always have my paper and pencils on hand to fill in a quiet moment. I would just sit and look at things and see them for the beautiful simple things that they were; flowing water, wind, clouds, sunsets, sand, logs on the beach, trees, birds…I could go on and on.
I know now what my friends were missing out on and I would like my own kids to be able to experience what I did. Instead of spending the summers, and any nice day for that matter, around the house and at day camps, I want them to be out in nature. I also believe I learned to be the person I am today because of it. I believe that spending time away from technology and city life is beneficial for everyone, especially kids. I don’t take my environment for granted. I learned at a young age, through my parents, to appreciate all that nature had to offer. Time spent out-of-doors in a nature filled environment, with fresh air is so important for learning and growing as a creative thinking and conscious person.
So for now and the next few years we will probably limit ourselves to camping and then hopefully we can work on the boat situation.