Last summer we took the RV through Washington and the ferry over to Vancouver Island to introduce Callie to sailing on my brother Tom, and his wife Frances’s, catamaran. Tom built this boat when he was in his twenties, and Alfresco is still seaworthy after 40 plus years. Callie took to sailing like a duck to water and my fear of her going overboard were never realized. She loved boating and being on the water. It was very exciting when we were under sail, but Callie showed little fear. When we dropped anchor, she explored every nook and cranny. Only once did she slip while heading to the stern and when that happened, she made sure to land on the deck and walked away with tail high in the air, as if nothing had happened and she had planned it all along.
Tom and Frances’s catamaran- Alfresco, is a work of art. She is 38 ft long and 18 ft wide. When the wind is harnessed by the sail, she glides over the surface of the water with surge and power. The two hulls on each side of the boat keep her balanced and level so that they don’t heel from side to side. The mast is taller than the catamaran is long, and when you look up, the sail seems to billow out forever. Tom built her 41 years ago when he was only in his 20s. The lines of Alfresco are so streamlined and contemporary, you feel like you are looking at a vessel that is sailing across a vast ocean far off into the future.
We spent 3 days and 2 nights at Burgoyne Bay and walked along Saltspring Island in the morning to stretch out our stiff and achy sea legs. Callie did wonderfully and handled herself as a sea cat with grace, curiosity, and charm. This was her maiden voyage across the salty sea and I was a little nervous about her going overboard! It only takes one false move and over the rail, she would go. Michael and Tom saw her slip just once, but she landed on the deck and walked away with dignity as if it had all been planned and done on purpose! Every morning when Callie woke up, she investigated the boat with curiosity, checking out every nook and cranny in hopes that there was something new for her to discover.
After the third day, we headed back to Genoa Bay where Tom and Frances live. When we finished dropping Alfresco off at the dock alongside the float house, Tom took us back to the RV dingy. This time, Callie even sat up and peaked out over the water on our way back to the marina!
This is a gouache painting I did of Alfresco in 1985 when I was working on my BFA in drawing and painting at Cal State, Fullerton.
With a heavy heart, we must pack up today and head back to the RV. We still have a couple more days or so on the island, but sailing with Tom and Frances has come to an end. What an extraordinary time we have had with my brother and sister in law. Tom designed and built Alfresco 41 years ago, and it is an incredible sailing vessel. She is 18 ft wide and 38 ft long. Because it is a catamaran, they don’t pitch side to side, but only speeds up when the wind increases. Both of the hulls are sleeping quarters, as is the cabin area. It is a magnificent creation and the first of many sculptures Tom has created.
Frances played the ukulele for us in the evening and sang beautiful, old Nova Scotia songs with her soft, innocent voice ringing out across the calm waters. Callie behaved herself while she enjoyed the sailing experience, and her curiosity didn’t get the best of her. She wanted to jump over to the dinghy that is tied up to the side of Alfresco but had to be reminded with a slap on Alfresco’s side, that it wasn’t a good idea…
It is another smoke-filled day on Vancouver Island. There are 126 fires burning last time I checked- down from 200 earlier in the week. The temperature is warm and muggy and there is very little breeze blowing. Callie is doing exceptionally well and has taken to the catamaran as if she has done it all her life. I was somewhat worried about her going overboard last night, but she stayed close to my side and was here in the morning to tell the tale…
Callie is going to become a sea cat! May she grow sea legs and stay safe!
We are heading out this afternoon to go sailing in the bay! My brother Tom and his wife Frances are taking us sailing on their catamaran- Alfresco. They confided in me that their cat Gypsy did indeed go overboard once while walking across the boom. She fell into the water below and had to be scooped out by a net.
This reminds me of a story about Callie when we first moved to an upstairs condo in Encinitas, California. Callie was left unattended for just a couple of minutes when I sensed that she wasn’t around and went frantically looking for her. I checked upstairs and downstairs and all around and could not find her anywhere in the condo. Surely she didn’t go over the balcony I thought to myself?
I ran to the balcony and looked over the glass barrier and calmly observed that an umbrella had been knocked over and was lying on the ground. Glancing around further, I spotted Callie in the bushes below entertaining the thought about getting into a catfight with a neighboring white Persian called- Snowball. I immediately yelled at her and ran out of the condo and down a flight of stairs to rescue poor Snowball from having her eyes scratched out! Callie is the sweetest cat around dogs and people, but she absolutely despises cats. She even detests cats that are minding their own business and staying in their own territory. Callie had been known to run down tom cats a block away from the house when she lived in Redlands, California.
The distance from the balcony to the top of the umbrella was maybe 10ft and it had to have twirled violently before Callie released her claws and went flying out and across the yard. I wish I had seen when it happened! It would have been pretty funny once I knew she was safe, but scary enough for her because she never attempted it a second time.
So keeping Callie safe and out of harms reach will be a little challenging for me. Gypsy has to stay on the float house while we sail, but that won’t keep Callie from looking for trouble!