UNPLUGGED #14: Sailing Howe Sound – Snowflake Series


PLACE: Eagle Harbour Yacht Club (Click for Map)

LOCATION: West Vancouver, B.C.

In my experience, there is no activity that better exemplifies the UNPLUGGED mindset than sailing. There is something Zen about moving swiftly across the waves powered solely by harnessing the wind, the only sound being that of the waves lapping against the hull and the rustling of the wind in the sails. It was this endorphin inducing rush that prompted me to seek my ASA Basic Keelboat certification in 1997. After completing this exam barely a week went by where I could not be found down at LSA on Lake Lanier North of Atlanta, Georgia learning, sailing and generally having fun.

Sadly, in 1999 I moved to Pittsburgh which is land-locked (unless you count the rivers) and my sailing life was put on hold. That is until moving to Vancouver in 2008.

The calm, protected waters of The Straight of Georgia offer a unique salt-water sailing experience that I have been patiently waiting to take advantage of for three long years. Luckily, one of my co-workers is a sailor and graciously invited me to crew along side him and several others in the final race of the 2010-2011 Snowflake Series out of Eagle Harbour Yacht Club in West Van.

Preparing for the Race

Our vessel was the 30′ Olson 911 named Nunnehi pictured above being prepped for launch by father and son combo Norm and Eric Wiederick.

5 Knots

The winds were not extremely strong so we averaged about 5 knots for first half of the race which took us deep into Howe Sound and back out into the mouth of the newly named Salish Sea.

Checking the Telltales

Light winds require constant small adjustments to ensure optimal sailing speed. Above you see Eric Wiederick and our skipper Andrew Crane checking the telltales and adjusting accordingly.

Gaining on the Competition

As we approached some of the competition things were looking pretty good for the crew of the Nunnehi.

On a Tack

Then the winds died down it became a game of who could best position to capture what was left of our natural power.

Jib Sheet Bowline

We ended up making several sail changes, twice changing the jib and twice more flying the spinnaker.

Lazy Hiking

But alas, the wind decided to quit and it left us hanging out (in the case above it was Norm Wiederick and Tim Grady doing some lazy hiking) and awaiting word from the folks running the race as to whether the course would be shortened.

Norm Working the Bow

In the end celebratory beers were hoisted as Pacific white-sided dolphins played along side our boat (ok, they didn’t come out just as we cracked the beers but they were there playing along side us during the entire race) and the day ended with smiles all around as the Nunnehi finished in the middle of the pack. I wish to thank our entire crew; Norm Wiederick, Eric Wiederick, John Powell, Tim Grady and Andrew Crane for inviting me out on this incredible adventure.

Now you may be thinking to yourself, sound like fun Mike but I don’t own a flippin’ yacht! Well, that may be true but that does not mean you can’t sail. There are tons of sailing clubs scattered around our beautiful city just waiting for you to pay them a visit. The time is right with Spring having sprung so what are you waiting for? Get out and learn to sail and enjoy a truly UNPLUGGED Vancouver experience.

Remember, if you have any suggestions for an upcoming UNPLUGGED please drop me a comment below, via email at michael@vancouverisawesome.com or on Twitter at VIAUnplugged. Also, feel free to share your thoughts on this feature or anything else (within reason and sticking to the VIA commenting policy of course).

Until next time…Happy Trails!


All images copyright Michael Tedesco.