The Commandments of Ocean Sailing

As I complete my thoughts about our trip, I have realized that there are some basic rules and things to know before heading off on a trip like this. Here I shall share them with you. My commandments of offshore sailing:

  • Know thy stomach.
  • Love thy crew. More importantly, love thy skipper. Even more importantly, love thy chef.
  • Know thy medications and use them wisely.
  • Keep thy garbage on board.
  • Keep a log of the days sailed, unless one wants to lose ones’ mind.
  • Gaff thy tuna not within the confines of the boat, unless one wishes to look like a murderer.
  • Make thy food prior to storm arrivals.
  • When in need of food seasoning, remove the salt from the rails and apply to thy dinner.
  • Fill thy pockets like a hungry chipmunk so as to avoid unnecessary trips into the Galley of Lucifer.
  • Keep thy boat flat for the chef. Unless one wants food from the floor.
  • Do not break the head door. Unless one wants to do thy business in front of whole crew.
  • Look not for land. Let it find you.
  • If one stares at the horizon long enough, one will find all kinds of fun objects to see.
  • Look not to the top of the wave that cometh from behind. Look ahead and ignore.
  • Prepare thyself to be damp for the entire trip.
  • Love thy tuna.
  • Worship thy engine. It provides one with fresh water and escape from the becalmed sea.
  • Sleep when thy can.
  • Laugh from thy belly at least twice a day.
  • Have a Newfie on board. If unavailable, find an East Coaster.
  • Replenish thy snacks prior to Kiwi and above East Coaster discussing the meaning of life.
  • Remove thy fishing lines from the sea prior to shark hour.
  • Do not allow Curious George to open things without asking thy skipper first.
  • Do not throw water bird looking for a rest off the boat. It will not fly. It will land in said water with a loud splash (sorry Simon).
  • Showering is overrated.
  • Watching shipping vessels in the night will almost always guarantee that one thinks one is on a collision course.
  • Lightning striking within 1 km of boat is a good time to wake thy skipper.
  • Thinking the moon rise is actually a shipping vessel about to hit thy boat is apparently NOT a good time to wake thy skipper.
  • Be not surprised when a flying fish hits thy face.
  • When one returns to civilization, be not surprised when the home shower continues to move for several days.

Hope you enjoyed our journey and you have learned a few things to put into your tool box if you ever head off into the great Big Blue!

Captain Penny


Ocean Adventures: Heading Home

Aug 11 2018 – 48’7.33 N, 126’8.77 W

Today is Geoff’s birthday! And no one will let him forget it for a minute! Ha. Sound familiar? We have decided we are living groundhog day every shift. We have a “routine” of get up, get food, get dressed, look for land, take the helm.

We have actually noticed more air traffic going overhead so we know we are getting closer to land! Wren mixed up some hand squeezed orange juice for Geoff for his birthday and we polished off a bottle of wine while sitting in some sun.

We have spotted a couple of larger fishing vessels in the area and we have a rookery of Albatross hanging around (which is a bit odd since they like to be alone for the most part). We have also just received a tail wave from a whale! She surfaced about 50 ft away and then dove with her spectacular tail going right up int he air for us all to see. One more thing of my trip bucket list!

whale tail

NOTE: Not my photo. None of us were fast enough to get a photo, but this is what it looked like, but a bit further (thanks Pinterest)

Geoff is convinced that we are being watched. We keep seeing these large fins sticking up over the water and I keep thinking they are sharks. Turns out they are giant sunfish!! They can grow to be over 1,000 kg (2,200 lbs!!) and over 3m long. They hang out close to the surface eating the Vallela Vallelas (jellyfish – their primary source of food) and they use the sun rays close to the surface of the water to regulate their body temperatures.


Aug 12 2018 – 48’18.44 N, 123’36.36 W

Land ho! We can see Vancouver Island! Spirits are high as we know we are not far from loved-ones and hot showers. Traffic is picking up as well and we are enjoying listening to the Coast Guard hail a Russian ship that has a faulty EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon). There’s real confusion on the ship as to what the Coast Guard is talking about. It takes a couple hours, but the ship is eventually ok’d to continue on its way.

The Cape Flattery lighthouse leads us into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the excitement is building. We have not see this much action in 2 weeks and all of the various lights and radio chatter is causing a bit of sensory overload! We navigate the Salish Sea during the night and there are fishing boats EVERYWHERE. The boats keep putting on their spotlights wondering what the heck we are doing in their “territory”. It’s causing us to duck and weave about to avoid the nets and, unfortunately, Captain Travis is not getting much sleep.

48’25.23 N, 123’22.06 W


We have finally arrived in Victoria and the harbour pilots lead us in. If you have never boated or even seen the water traffic in this area, it is a must. There are ferries, whale watching tours, sea taxis, air taxis, tourism boats, and other recreational boaters. We are arriving in the Inner Victoria Marina and realize there are hundreds of people watching us arrive. What a welcome committee! Turns out, the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival is on!

We are greeted at the dock by Charlotte Gann who has been updating our FaceBook page for us. We tie off and head off to the nearest pub for a pint and burger. It feels so weird to be on land and I can’t seem to stop swaying. I miss the boat already and feel out of place surrounded by these land lubbers. I get reception on my phone and the messages start flooding in. Time to call home and book a flight!

This has been quite an adventure and I am sad to see it end. However, writing about it has let me relive it all over again and I look forward to my next big blue trip! Thanks to Travis for letting me join the trip and to all my fellow scallywags for a fun crossing.

Fair winds,

Captain Penny


Ocean Adventures: Sneaky Simon

Aug 7 2018 – 41’30.67 N, 140’32.32W

Today is my birthday and no one will let me forget it for a minute! Nope. Every time I get up for shift someone yells “Happy Birthday Penny!”. Ha. The first few times I felt really special and spoiled… now I have a headache 😉

Travis spoiled us with a “gimbled” baked brownie (slightly lopsided, but delish) and BBQ!!! The weather did not cooperate for us to have our halfway party when we wanted to, so we are having it today. Now I feel a little silly because Duncan and I bought leis for everyone in Hawaii (Wren’s idea) and now I am handing them out at my own “party”?! Whatever. We are all having fun and spirits are high.

We have had rain and cool evenings for a few days now. I am starting to really dislike heading up on deck for night shift. I spend my whole shift trying to stay warm in one spot. Heading down to sleep is not much better as I negotiate getting off damp layers and trying to get into my damp sleeping bag. My hands have been wet for days and have been peeling like nothing I have experienced before.

On another note, I had a glass of WINE! It was glorious.

Aug 8 2018 – 45’01.81 N, 134’48.68 W

We have been spending more time overlapping our shifts and chatting with Duncan, Paul, Travis and Kait. I have realized that Duncan is full of questions and curiosity. Wren has started calling him Curious George (Travis is “The Man with the Yellow Hat”), and there have been several times where he has gone to fiddle with something only to have one of us suggest that maybe that’s not a great idea! We have also started calling Travis dad and asking “Dad, are we there yet?”

Paul is quite the bartender as we have all realized that we might have a bit too much Costco-sized “drinks” onboard. We just need to knock the shoulders off of a couple of bottles, so our evening dinners now have a glass or two of something that Paul has mixed up. DJ Kait has been supplying us with dinner tunes and we have turned Turnagain into a great party boat! So far the neighbours have not called in a noise complaint 🙂

Aug 9 2018 – 45’55.75 N, 132’54.00 W

We are dead in the water. I think if we were not using the motor we would easily add another week to our trip with some of the doldrums we have encountered along the way. This is a good time to catch up on reading (I’m reading Red Sky in Mourning… who does that when they are sailing in the middle of the Ocean!?), and iPods have become a familiar add-on up on deck. We even had some sun today and managed to dry out some of our gear. I have been pouring over Travis’ charts and books and making notes on which ones I should buy to get to know the Coast better. The Hawaii to Victoria chart is pretty white (!!). Other than submerged cables and crazy depths, there is not much to look at!

During our night shift Geoff stepped on a bird. Yup. A bird. In the cockpit while we were changing the guard. I thought I had heard chirp chirp while on the helm, but I just chalked it up to losing my mind.

We have noticed a few smaller birds here and there flying around the waves. They never really got close enough for us to see, but apparently this one decided he needed a break. Stowaway! He proceeded to leave lovely white drops all over Turnagains teak decks and I don’t think Travis is going to be a fan of our new pet when we gets up on deck.

Aug 10 – 47’26.23 N, 129’08.12 W

I was right. Travis did not appreciate our feathery stowaway, Simon, so he was asked to vacate the premise. Curious George had grown fond of Simon and decided that he would gently toss him off the boat. He’s a water bird after all, so surely he will fly? Nope. He landed with a wonderful splash and Duncan thought he had drowned Simon for sure!

Afternoon shift comes along and we are back up on deck. Guess who is hiding behind the shrouds up near the bow? Yup. Simon! I’ve never seen Duncan so relieved…

What is not relieving for Team Cruising is the giant thunderstorm that we appear to be heading into. Geoff and I are warming up below, when Wren flies down the hatch to wake up Travis. Time to get the electronics into the microwave!

To be continued…

Captain Penny

Photo credit: Geoff Lugar, Paul Carrier and Author’s own

Holidays 2018!

Give the gift of sailing!

Have a special someone in your life who has dreamed of learning to sail? Why not give them the unique gift of sailing this Holiday Season!

Sail Nelson will provide them the instruction they need to make their dream a reality! Gift certificates can be purchased in the denominations noted below, or you can customize your gift to suit your budget and needs. All gift certificates are valid for 2 years from the date of purchase and can be put towards our ashore or afloat courses.

We offer professional, Sail Canada courses through our certified instructor, so invest in your loved-one’s boating education today!

Yes! I want to give the gift of sailing today for:

Gift Certificate $50.00


Gift Certificate $100


Gift Certificate $250.00


Gift Certificate $500.00



Please contact us  to confirm your purchase and to provide us details on whom we should send this gift of sailing to. If you would like to purchase a different amount, or a full course, please contact us.

Ocean Adventures: Privacy Issues

Aug 3 2018 – 37’8.60 N, 152’44.60 W

So we have lost the door to our head. Poor Turnagain is getting pretty beat up on this trip and I can’t help but feel for Travis as he tries to manage all of us and our “intricacies”. I have been dreading having to use the head to do my “morning business” as we now have no door and have to announce to the entire boat whenever we need to go. Walking in on someone is just a permanent thing at this point. Wren has been a door for me a few times (thank God she makes a better door than window!), but I don’t dare ask her to plug her nose and hang out for 30 min while I negotiate my business. Thankfully, someone has donated a towel and we now have a “door”. Geoff is lucky enough to be tall enough to look over it, which works well when Wren is asking him what he’d like on his sandwich (HAHAHAHAH … awkward!).

The amount of garbage that we have been seeing is really disheartening. I was hoping that the Great Pacific garbage patch was just fake news, but I have counted at least 10 pieces of garbage a day. Everything from car tires, to barrels, and even waffles (!?). The predominant type of garbage appears to be large abandoned commercial fishing gear. We have seen a couple of sea turtles along the way and they did not appear to be in distress. It’s no wonder these poor creatures get caught up in stuff if there’s this much junk floating around. Makes me angry and I wonder if there is more that I can do.

Aug 5 2018 – 40’0.29 N, 145’15.68 W

It is hard to describe what it is like to sail at night in complete darkness. If you have not experienced it, you have to. The total darkness is unbelievable. One night while on watch we saw a bright red light in the distance… tanker! Joe rushed to get Travis… only to have us realize it was the moonrise 😉 tee hee. Your mind plays tricks on you in the night!

I easily count 20 shooting stars a night. On some nights, however, we have no stars at all and the total darkness can make you a little uneasy. You have to trust that you are not going to hit anything. Not only that, every once in a while you hear a wave coming and you have to react to it as it hits the boat. Even better, the phosphorescence light up the waves as they crest about 20 feet above us! Yee haw!

Joe has been thoroughly confused as to how we are not sailing in circles. I don’t blame him. It is very confusing to feel a boat moving and sailing along under you and to not see where you are going. Meanwhile, you are staring at the red glowing compass the whole time. This is where I met Cheshire.

The glowing compass started reminding me of the glowing cat teeth in Alice in Wonderland… hence, Cheshire the Compass was born. Wren and I used to joke about how we only know how to steer by compass, not GPS. Well, thanks to the water maker we had a lot of time staring at Cheshire! We also had to use our headlamps on the night setting… something not all of us mastered (ahem Geoff).

Aug 6 2018 –  40’26.53 N, 144’05.91 W

We have managed to snag something on the rudder so Travis is using a release technique I have never seen before called the drive-the-shit-out-of-the-boat method. Man, Turnagain’s engine can GO. It worked well for removing the debris… not so well for our naps!

We had a great afternoon shift today and Wren spotted something funny off the starboard beam. Waves that seamed to be spraying straight up. Wait a minute! Whales! We did not get close enough to really see them, but we were able to see the spouts for several minutes. Was very cool knowing they were out there.

Tomorrow is my birthday and it has become clearly abundant that we are NOT making it home for that (something I was secretly hoping as I thought it would be SO COOL to have a birthday on the Ocean!). Just as I was settling in with my book Wren jumps up and shouts “dolphins!” Up to the bow we go to watch them play…

To be continued…

Captain Penny


Photo Credits: Duncan Cameron and Author’s Own



2018 Season Review

The 2018 sailing season was a great kick-off season for Sail Nelson! Spindrift joined us in Nelson from Montreal which enabled us to be more flexible with our schedule and offer as many courses as possible. Read about her cross-country trek here.

The water levels and weather continue to be a challenge as we get used to the Kootenay climate. We were hoping to start our courses in April at the Kokanee Marina, however we were unable to get into our slip until June due to low water levels. Also, we were hoping to go right to the end of October at Kokanee Marina as well, but once again, due to low water levels, Spindrift could no longer get in and out of her slip by mid-September. Something we will be keeping in mind for 2019 scheduling.

As for course offerings, we tried to offer evening Basic Cruising courses, only to find that there is not enough wind to complete everything. Next season we may look at a blended delivery that is over 1 weekend and several evenings. The 2-weekend Basic Cruising courses ran just fine and were our most popular option by far. For 2019 we are looking at adding in week day courses as well.

We ran several successful Intro to Sailing courses which provided students a good introduction to sailing including terminology, basic maneuvers and life on a boat for a day. We also offered a couple of seminars (anchoring and docking). We are looking at expanding those seminars for 2019 and also offering more Women & Wind sailing options.

For the 2019 season we will be offering an Intermediate Cruising level course out of Vancouver. Our instructor Penny Caldwell will be teaming up with some colleagues on the Coast to get a boat and will take 4 students to the Coast for a week of cruising. If you are interested in this course please contact us to be added to our interest list.  We will be confirming the schedule and course fees in March 2019.

We have recently learned that we can offer the VHF Marine Radio course as a home study course. We will be adding the details to our site soon, but if you are looking to get your license this may be a good option for you. Contact us for details. We will also be adding the Coastal Navigation course in the Fall of 2019.

Finally, we are having a year end wrap up at Torchlight Brewing on November 3 from 2 pm to 5 pm. This is an opportunity to get together and reminisce about this past sailing season and to meet some new sailors. Come on out for a pint and some swag!

Hope you all had a great season and happy Fall! Read our year end newsletter and keep an eye on the website for fun Fall and Winter events, we have lots of fun stuff in mind…

Captain Penny









Ocean Adventures: This too shall pass…

July 30, 2018 – 28’10.6 N, 158’28.08 W

We have been on a starboard tack for 4 days now. I don’t remember what it feels like to stand on solid ground and my hips are bruised from bracing myself against the counters and tables whenever I walk around inside the washing machine…

Thankfully, my avoid-getting-sick-even-though-I’ve-never-been-sick meds have left my body and I am back in tip top (albeit sleepy) shape. How did I get them out of my system you ask? Buckets of water and about 357 naps in one day appears to do the trick!  😉

The evenings are damp. And I mean DAMP. Everything is wet and the only way to find a dry place is to sit in one spot for your entire shift and soak up the dampness with your gear. I am quickly realizing that I have significantly underestimated how many pairs of base layers I needed. I go from damp/cold layers, to putting on damp/warm layers. Then I promptly cool them down again when I’m back up on deck. Not ideal. Thankfully my -20C MEC mummy sleeping bag is keeping me toasty warm!!

We are all acclimatizing to life on shifts. The shifts are as follows:

  • 0600-1200 Team Cruising
  • 1200-1800 Team Racing
  • 1800-2200 Team Cruising
  • 2200-0200 Team Racing
  • 0200-0600  Team Cruising

and so on… We rotate around and around and I have found my favourite shift to be the double night shift when we get off at 0600. There are millions of stars out here and I easily count 20 shooting stars each night. I watch the sunrise, have a bowl of oatmeal and then secure myself with my lee cloth for 6 hours of glorious sleep. It usually ends up being about an hour or two of sleep interspersed with reading, music and swearing about not sleeping, but I’m not complaining.


July 31, 2018 – 31’23.63 N, 157’25.33 W

I finally saw an Albatross! The prehistoric creature appeared off of our stern as I was helming. It promptly buzzed past us and took off to find something more interesting. It is amazing how low they glide over the waves. It was nice to have something to look at other than blue on blue and black on black though. We lost sight of Kraken a few days ago, but Travis keeps in touch with them via email. We have had several flying fish join us along the way as well, and I even had one hit my arm during the night. I almost had a heart attack!


Team Racing is managing to catch us a lot of tuna and Chef Travis is keeping us all well fed. Chef Paul is creating all kinds of wonderful dishes which I appreciate, as I am not a fan of fish (at least I wasn’t until this trip!). I’m not sure how they are managing that as it seems like they are grinding the winches every 2 min… joking (sorta), but I definitely appreciate the delicious, fresh, tuna.

August 1, 2018 – 33’33.48 N, 156’45.29 W

Geoff has seen the light and has been reborn! Yup, he has been out for several days. I threw him on the helm as soon as possible and started coaching him through the waves. We’ve been having wonderful winds and are easily cruising around 10 knots. The waves are an easy 10-20 feet at this point and are still a bit chaotic, but super fun to surf and helm. Once again, I am ever so impressed with how Turnagain rides it all. She has grace and style 😉

Our water maker issues appear to have caused our AIS / GPS system to go down, so Travis has resorted to good ol’ charts and his iPad (maybe not so old, but still). It was too bad as I was looking forward to playing around with the electronics as I don’t have many of these on my Spindrift. I’ll do an entire post on how we managed all of that another time…

When it is time for dinner to be cooked, we usually bear away and surf the waves a bit to help the Chef keep the pots on the stove. I have just woken up from an afternoon off and I opened my cabin door just in time to have the boat knocked by a huge wave and to watch Travis fly across the galley to the other side of the boat. There goes the head door… now what?

To be continued…

Captain Penny


Photo credit: Duncan Cameron and author’s own

Pacific Ocean Facts

One of the things that struck me during our trip is just how small we felt. We were on a 50 ft boat that weighed over 26,000 lbs… and yet, when the waves said up, up we went. It made me want to learn more about the Pacific Ocean so I started looking up some interesting facts:

  • The deepest ocean trench in the world is located in the Pacific Ocean. Marianas Trench is the deepest at 11,034 meters (35,760 ft), which is more than the height of Mount Everest.
  • The longest reef in the world is the Great Barrier Reef, located in the Pacific Ocean off Australia’s coast.
  • In the Pacific Ocean is a volcanic island called Krakatoa. In 1883 it erupted and killed over 36,380 people.
  • There are 55 countries bordering on the Pacific Ocean including Canada, the United States, China, Australia, Japan, and Mexico.
  • The islands in the Pacific Ocean include four different types: continental, coral reefs, high islands, and lifted coral platforms.
  • There are more than 25,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean, most of which are located south of the Equator.
  • The name Pacific originates from the Latin word ‘pace’ which means peace. Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, named the ocean ‘mar pacifico’ in 1521, which means peaceful sea.
  • The Pacific Ocean covers 46% of the Earth’s surface. It is shrinking by 1 inch per year due to tectonic plate shifts.

The Pacific Ocean is two times bigger than the Atlantic Ocean and also contains twice the volume of water: 714 million cubic kilometers and covers over 89,000 miles of coastline. It occupies an area of about 161,760,000 square kilometers and includes the Bali Sea, the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, the Gulf of Tonkin, the Coral Sea, the East China Sea, the Philippine Sea, the Sea of Japan, the South China Sea, and the Tasman Sea.

This year is an El Nino year. What does this mean? Every few years, in the South Pacific, warmer currents occur. This, in turn, causes higher temperatures on the coastlines around Chile and Ecuador. The fluctuations in temperature can be quite small, between 2 or 3 degrees or as much as 10. Depending on how much the temperature rises, it can trigger fluctuations in weather all over the world – and also increase the likelihood of extreme events like tornadoes, earthquakes and storms occurring in those countries which are most prone. The most severe occurrence of this was in 1982 when temperatures in the Pacific rose by 10 degrees. This brought floods to Chile, drought to Australia, severe storms to Canada and typhoons to the islands of the South Pacific.


The salinity of ocean water is variable and depends on three factors: winds, precipitation, and evaporation. High salinity values are when there are more than 35 parts per thousand or 3.5 percent and low values, less than 3.5 percent. Given this information, the lowest salinity is found in the extreme northern areas of the ocean (3.2 percent) and the highest occurs in the southeast, where the water reaches up to 3.7 percent. When there is more rainfall, the salinity decreases and when the evaporation increases the salt concentration increases too. [We felt that the water in Hawaii contained much more salt than Vancouver.]


The temperature of the Pacific Ocean is related to the “layer” of water. Each layer has a different temperature; therefore the lower ones are cooler than, the higher ones. The temperature of the surface layer, which is between 300 and 900 meters, are very different than the temperatures of the deepest layer, which may be near freezing. Average temperatures range between -1.4°C and 30°C, the latter present in areas close to the equator. In general, the North Pacific is warmer than the South Pacific.

In this ocean, there is a lot of volcanic activity and earthquakes because the “Ring of Fire” surrounds it. The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. In a large 40,000 km (25,000 mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes (more than 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes). The Ring of Fire is sometimes called the circum-Pacific belt (Retrieved from:

Ring of Fire__15

From May to December is the tropical cyclone season in South Asia, and from June to October is hurricane season in the American continent. The North Pacific surface currents move clockwise, while in the South Pacific they move counter clockwise.

Random Animal Fact:

Yeti Crab – The Yeti Crab is one of the most interesting creatures to dwell in the Pacific. It is a most peculiar crustacean, and was only discovered in 2005. It got its name because it does actually look like a Yeti with claws. It was first discovered near the Antarctic Ridge and tends to inhabit the ocean floor. As it cannot see, it is believed that the crab’s hair acts as a sensor so it can be aware of its surroundings. The crab eats mussels, shrimps and other shellfish.




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Images recovered from Google Images creative commons.


Ocean Adventures: Casting Off!

July 25, 2018 – Hawaii Yacht Club 21’16.35 N, 156’56.51 W

Tomorrow am we cast off and head to Hanalei Bay for snorkeling before our sail across the Pacific Ocean to home! I am very excited to get out on the Ocean and to see how Turnagain performs with these so-called “monstrous” Hawaiian waves. How rough can they be?

A couple of days before, I had decided to cut out coffee and alcohol. I knew that these stimulants were not going to be good for me on the boat and I didn’t want to push my luck. I have never experienced sea sickness, but I was not naive enough to think that I was immune to it. I had done a lot of reading and research prior to leaving for this trip, so I had an arsenal of meds on me.

And so, today I put a Transderm patch behind one ear just before bed in preparations for our departure tomorrow. That’s when things started getting a little weird…



July 26, 2018 – Hawaii Yacht Club 21’16.35 N, 156’56.51 W

We started off our day heading out for one last breakfast on solid land. We went to our new favourite watering hole, The Harbour Pub, for eggs benedict. We were all excited to get our adventure started.

I am generally not one to use a lot of medications as I tend to be pretty healthy overall. Meds tend to just get me confused and feeling “loopy”. So when we were having breakfast Wren thought it was a little odd that my left pupil was twice the size of my right, but I seemed to be coherent and in good spirits, so there was no mention of my “condition” at that point.

1300 hours – Casting off!

Off we go! We started off under power while Travis went over the safety briefing. Feeling good and the chop did not disappoint. Maybe these islands do refract and reflect the waves after all?


The sailing was awesome! We were easily doing 12 knots reaching on a steady 15-20 knot breeze. The waves were really something. I have never sailed in such chaos and it was really great helming experience. It was also my first time handling Turnagain, so off to the races!

My team was going to be first up on the overnight watch, so Wren, Joe, Geoff and I had some downtime before we needed to be on deck. The waves continued to toss us about, so naps were few and stomachs were starting to turn. However, I was excited to get a glimpse of the super moon on our first night shift. Wren and I were feeling nostalgic about the night sailing (and we discussed my pupils which were now normal again, phew), Geoff was feeding the fish off the stern, and Joe was getting tips from Coach Wren as he got to know Turnagain. Shift 1 under our belts and back below for naps.


July 27, 2018 – Somewhere around 22’27.73 N, 159’36.74 W

Shift 2 started up at 0200 hours and there were millions of stars to greet us. It was short-lived as some clouds rolled in and we were soon getting rained on. This is when I began to feel a little miserable. I was really needing some food, but I didn’t pack anything in my jacket. The last thing I wanted to do was go below to try and dig out some snacks. So, I decided to power through the shift. I made it to 0530 hours to when the next shift was getting up and decided I should have some water and Gravol before bed.

I may have overdone it… I woke up about 6 hours later, famished, thirsty, confused wondering where the hell I was and wondering why people were yelling “Dolphins! Dolphins!” What? We don’t have dolphins in Nelson…

To be continued…

Captain Penny



Photo Credit: Duncan Cameron & Author’s own

Ocean Adventures: Who’s Who?

Our trip was fantastic! What an expedition and it was a great experience overall. I thoroughly enjoyed being out in the Big Blue, and I’m already thinking about my next voyage…

Turnagain is a 50 foot Beneteau Oceanis and she was very well equiped for this trip. This was not her first time and it showed. She handled everything thrown at her and at no point in time did I wonder if she could handle what we were in. The crew on the other hand… 😉

There were eight crew on the boat including myself: Travis the boat owner, Wren, Joe, Geoff, Kait, Duncan and Paul. Wren, Joe, Geoff and I were on one shift, while Travis, Paul, Kait and Duncan were the other. It became pretty clear after a few shifts that one team was a little more laid back and laissez-faire than the other. And so, Team Cruising and Team Racing were born.

Team Cruising’s moto was “we’ll get there when we get there! Let’s enjoy the ride!” while Team Racing’s moto was “grind, grind, grind, drop winch, grind, grind, furl headsail, grind, drop winch, grind, grind, unfurl headsail, grind.” Good thing Team Cruising could operate on less sleep 😉  All kidding aside, the two teams worked out really well and we each brought something different to the table.

Cast of Scallywags


Travis – Da Boss

Turnagain is Travis’ “Lady of the Lake” and he has sailed thousands of nautical miles with her. I met Travis about two years ago during an Instructor course and he is a wealth of knowledge and experience. Travis has put up with my many questions over the last couple of years as I launch Sail Nelson and acquired my own boat. Ironically, Travis’ first boat was also an Aloha! Perhaps there’s a Beneteau in my future… one can only hope.


Wren – Bad Ass Gaffer

Wren is a local Nelson legend and she actually completed a Pacific crossing with her family when she was younger (also on an Aloha 32). She is not new to adventure and expeditions! Wren was a great resource and teammate to have on board. Wren also took charge when we hooked a tuna and we discovered she is a beast with the gaff.


Joe – Tea Master

Joe had me in stitches throughout our shifts, especially during our overnight sails. Joe could not figure out how we were not sailing in circles, as it feels like that when you stare at the compass for hours on end. Joe sailed Turnagain like a pro and had a smile on his face (almost) the whole time.


Geoff – The Gymnast

Watching Geoff try to wriggle his 6’4″ frame into his tiny aft bunk was something I will not soon forget. Especially since I would “tuck” him in by clippling in his lee cloth. It ended up looking more like a straight jacket! Geoff was our greenest crew, but his sailing abilities increased ten fold during this trip and I think he has a new passion in life.


Duncan – Curious George

Duncan was hopping and bouncing around the entire boat going through as many things as he could. I think he probably asked Travis over 100 questions per day and managed to get himself into all kinds of trouble while fiddling with things. Duncan is litteraly Curious George in Kiwi form.


Paul – The Master Chef

We were lucky enough to have Paul on board and he made us all kinds of magical meals with all of the tuna he, Duncan and Travis caught. Paul spent endless hours in the Belly of the Beast cooking up a storm and created several different dishes using tuna and mahi-mahi.


Kait – The Racer

This was Kait’s second crossing, as she also competed in the 2016 Vic-Maui race. She had a great crew of scallywags to work with as she was stuck with Paul, Duncan and Travis. There seemed to be a lot of laughing in between the grinding though, so I think Team Racing shared some good stories!


Penny – Miss MoneyPenny

And then there is me. I am the quiet observer who tends to let everyone sort themselves out and I only step in when required or asked. This was my first Ocean crossing, but not my first time navigating sailing shifts and crew dynamics. I thoroughly enjoyed watching everyone experience the trip. I also really enjoyed experiencing the trip for myself as a sailor and not an instructor. I don’t often get to sail for fun, so it felt really great to do this for myself and to experience the Big Blue with my fellow sailors.

And so, the cast has been introduced and let the adventure begin…

Captain Penny

Gearing Up!

So I leave Nelson on Thursday to head to Hawaii for the Vic-Maui boat delivery. I will be bringing Turnagain back home to Vancouver!

I am doing my last minute prep and packing and thought I would share what I am bringing along…

For a trip like this you really end up living in the same clothes over and over again. You are either in warm dry weather or cold wet weather. The key for me is staying dry and warm, so I’ll have 2 of each thing so one can dry while the other “ripens” 😉

Personal Safety Gear

For my personal safety gear I have updated my PFD and tether. Other than that, these are pretty standard items, and I am not bringing along a PLB (personal locator beacon).

  • Spinlock inflatable PFD + spare canister
  • Safety tether
  • Knife (a bit overkill on this one, but I cannot find my leatherman…)
  • Sailing gloves
  • Personal headlamp with red night light
  • foul weather gear (went with the HH Aegir set)


Personal Meds & Misc.

For this “category” I have the usual stuff like toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and some facial wipes. Then I have some extras including a plethora of seasickness meds and tricks (Gins Gins are delish for this!), as well as some bone broth and electrolytes to avoid dehydration.

I have also included an eye mask for daytime sleeping, earplugs, notebook, solar charger for GoPro/cell/camera, water bottle, coffee press, kangol hat, personal handheld compass (because I LOVE my compass and am a nav geek), and sun glass tether because my husband is convinced I am dropping my new Oakley Prizm Marine sunglasses overboard. No faith.

Base Layers

As noted above, I am expecting two types of weather: warm or cold. So my base layers reflect that…

So on the left we have my warm, thick base layers, and on the right are my lighter, cool base layers. Ironic how I hate being cold and all my thick layers are black… coincidence? I think not! Read up on base layer selection here.

Basically my thick base layers are heavy gauge MEC and Ice Breaker brands. I also included my Under Armour Heat tech running shirt since it has a hood with a ponytail hole and anyone who knows me knows that my hair is up 90% of the time.

My lightweight base layers are Merino cool wool and basically quick dry Lulu running shorts. I also bought a couple of new Merino wool bras which I am super excited about because they are so comfortable.

Other than that I have my kindle with the Game of Thrones series, Swell for Travis to read, a couple bathing suits for showers, sleeping bag, pillow, notebook for diary entries and some headphones for me time. Going to be an epic trip and I’m ready!


Captain Penny


Sailing Apps – Weather

Looking for some apps to help with your sailing adventures? Well, here are a few weather apps that I have started playing with recently…


SailFlow – Over 50,000 Weather Stations worldwide, which provide you with real time wind data. Nelson and Kootenay Lake are included in their data (although it seems to be off sometimes), but it provides a good idea of what you’ll be dealing with out on the Lake. There appears to only be one weather station reporting in the area so the quality and accuracy of the wind forecasting is lacking, however that seems to be an issue in the Kootenays in general. The coastal forecasting through SailFlow appears to be more accurate with about 15 weather stations reporting trends and supplying data.


Weather Bug – The WeatherBug app is a must-have! You get a lot of information with this app, especially considering that it is free. The information provided includes wind direction and speed, air quality advisories and UV rays, closest lightning strike withing 30 minutes, and radar maps of rain and cloud coverage. There are several maps that you can look at for precipitation and incoming weather. The wind meter also seems to be fairly accurate and the forecasting appears to be a bit better than some of the other apps I have used.


SailGrib – According to their website, the SailGrib app will provide you with Marine Weather forecasts, you can calculate tides, download of purchase marine charts, optimize your routes using the weather routing module, or just enjoy sailing towards your destination with the AIS and NMEA modules. Now, all that being said, they do not offer any reporting for the Kootenays on their free app. I did not purchase the $55.00 app to see if it has more information for the Interior. It may. If you have this app please let me know!


AccuWeather – The AccuWeather app looks and performs much the same as the Weather Network app. However, I only downloaded and used the free version so perhaps the paid version offers more options. I am not thinking it is really worth having both apps on your device. If I had to chose, I would probably go with the Weather Network as the AccuWeather app kept thinking I was located in Slocan Park and not Nelson.



PredictWind – So this is another popular app in the sailing world and once again it does not provide any data for the Kootenays. It is primarily for coastal cruising. However, if you decide to venture out on the Coast this would be a handy app to have on your devices. It is free, but you will have to register and set up an account with them. There seems to be a lot of weather stations available, so I would assume it has good accuracy.


There are also several websites that you can use to keep an eye on the weather. One of my favourites for the Kootenays is They have created a website that pulls together various resources for us to find in one place and use to make an educated decision about the upcoming weather.  The links to the airport and highway cams are also nice as you can then take a real time look at the clouds and figure out what is headed your way.

Another great website for information is Again this is a very popular website among sailors as it provides various types of maps for you to use (wind and waves, sea temperatures, precipitation, etc.). This site provides coastal weather information, so again not particularly useful for the Interior, but it is still a great resource to help you learn how to properly read these maps for future trips.


Overall, using several resources to compile your weather data is your best bet. Take the various pieces that are provided to you and fit them together to make your assessments on where you are wanting to go and what the weather will look like on your way there. Have fun exploring!


Captain Penny