High Winds

Okay, when I decided on the phrase “Everyday Adventures at Home… Hurrah”, I had in mind some pretty safe adventures; looking at and living life creatively and openly – not adrenaline thrills.  This Saturday, though, I found myself on more of an adventure than I had expected.

It was the last sail of the season – the day when we sail the boat for a couple of hours, from the marina where we keep the sailboat for the summer, to the marina where the boat gets hauled out of the water and stored for the winter.

I’ll admit that, unlike my husband, I am not a natural sailor. I am an active person – I love walking, swimming, and bike riding – but a rather passive sailor.  Maybe that makes me more of a ‘passenger’?  I enjoy sailing as a unique way to connect with nature, for relaxation and fun.

We’ve had our boat for about 6 years. At 22 feet, it is not a huge boat, and one can certainly feel the motion of the water and wind around it.

So, Saturday’s sail started out well enough. Quite promising – a sunny, warm day. It was windy, just enough to keep a quick pace (or so we thought). As we headed out (my husband, a family friend, my son and I), it looked something like this…

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Lovely, right?

Well, it turns out the winds soon grew stronger, at points at least 70 km per hour, with the waves becoming frighteningly high, and jarringly choppy. The boat was leaning sharply, getting slammed every which way.  It was hard to control, and we were getting splashed as the cold water crashed against the deck. All this made it difficult, and dangerous to balance on the bow of the boat in order to raise the sail, and the fabric ripped with the force of the wind, though it was still intact enough to move us forward.

We have been in large waves before, but they were gentle, rolling waves.  Kind of lulling.  Saturday’s waves were sharp, driven by a hard wind, repeatedly lifting us up high and crashing us down.  It was the first time that I was seriously worried that we might come to harm.

Fortunately, between my husband, and a good friend of ours (who often joins us on sails), we managed to reach our destination, unharmed.  My husband took the helm, both literally by steering the rudder, and figuratively by directing our efforts.  Our friend worked the sails and GPS.   My 12 year old son and I helped by being an extra pair of hands – holding the GPS, passing ropes and ties.  Most importantly, we tried to stay calm.

I did manage to take a few, very quick snapshots in between the really scary waves. They were all taken from the same vantage point – I didn’t move – so the horizon changes in the pictures because the water was swelling, and we were rising and dropping, very fast.

Honestly, these pics do not capture the size of the waves, nor how violently they were tossing the boat around. Nor the shrill hisses and howls the wind produced. Nor the deep, straining groans of the wood, as heard from the hull (where I spent a lot of time, both to stay out of the way and to hold on for dear life). I braced myself with my legs and took these quick snapshots from the doorway that goes below deck.

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These pictures were taken from the doorway going down below deck. The boat was slamming up and down fast, with strong winds making it hard to maneuver.

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From a wave this high (above) to a wave that low (below) in what felt like one second, repeated again and again…

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Eventually, we had to insist that my son come down into the hull with me, though he wanted to be out on deck where he felt safer.  He was getting wet, and we didn’t want to chance him falling in the water.  I was more worried for him than for us throughout the ordeal.

Toward the end of the trip, as we struggled to get the sail down, wind flailing it violently, we saw the coastguard heading out to make sure we were okay. I actually felt immense relief. Even though we managed without their help, it was such a reassuring sight. I was grateful to all those brave souls in professions that risk themselves to help others.

By the time we arrived at the harbour, the wind was howling so strongly that it was hard even to walk on the dock. The boats parked in the marina were rocking, some of their cables flying lose in the wind.

In the end, I am happy to report that we are all safe and sound. I don’t exactly regret the escapade, either.  I’ve learned some lessons, and it stretched us, brought out our courage, and tested us. If one sails, I suppose one has to be prepared to accept high winds and learn how to handle them. Some people thrive on that excitement.  Not me.  While I like to step outside of my comfort zone by learning new things or being outdoors, I definitely don’t need that much danger to feel alive.

Still, the unexpected happens.  We had to accept the situation and just do the best we could with the experience we had. My husband had been in a thunderstorm once when he was training to sail, so it was some comfort to know that this was not his first experience with very challenging conditions.  I guess one is bound to encounter difficult weather sometimes, in sailing as in life.  I am really proud of us for pulling through this one.

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Safe at port.

“If we are strong, and have faith in life, and its richness of surprises, and hold the rudder steadily in our hands, I am sure we will sail into quiet and pleasant waters…”

Freya Stark – Brainy Quote

Sweet Summer Winds Are What I’ll Remember Most.

Post by Carina Spring.

Stand By For The Weather…

“By all these lovely tokens, September days are here, with summer’s best of weather, and autumn’s best of cheer.”

Helen Hunt Jackson

This is the last weekend of the summer, and what a send off. We couldn’t have asked for a more radiant Saturday.

I went for a bike ride to enjoy this beautiful Saturday. Birds gathering to migrate, colourful trees, unbelievably blue skies.

We were so lucky this summer.  The weather here was wonderful – lots of sunny, hot spells and soft breezes – basically, the kind of weather I love most.  I mean really, really love.  (Honestly, the air conditioner doesn’t get much use around our home).

Even when it rained, the storms lasted only a few hours, maybe a day or two, and then we were back to heat and sunshine for a good stretch of time.   The thing that was strange, though, is that the storms we did have seemed to be so powerful.

We had very few ‘soft summer rains’.

So, while most of the days were like this…

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the storms that came and went were electrically charged, with strong winds, and  heavy rains belting down rather fiercely.  You could see plenty of evidence of these powerful storms in the lake region near Winnipeg: Felled trees and branches throughout the area.  Parts of the main beach at Winnipeg Beach were closed off for the whole season due to the damage.

Strong storms causing damage in the Interlake Region.
A common sight this summer – strong storms causing damage in the Interlake Region.

In fact, one afternoon out at the lake, when we were inside, a crack of thunder pierced the air so loudly that I froze (ears covered- ouch). It seemed to keep on going… a white light iluminating the whole room while the force of the sound seemed to rattle everything.

When the storm was over, we went outside to see what had happened.  Remarkably, there wasn’t any significant damage. None!  Yet the lightning must have struck extremely close.  We thought for sure we would find a charred tree outside the door!

 

A reader, Julia, shared with me this pictures of a stormy morning out by lake Winnipeg.
A reader, Julia, took this picture when she was out for a walk by Lake Winnipeg on a stormy morning..

There have even been several tornadoes in the province (…not entirely unusual in the prairies).  One funnel cloud touched down in southwestern Manitoba for around three hours.  Now that is rare.  In Canada, funnel clouds normally only touch down for a few minutes, at most.   The tornado lashed trees, farmlands, and roads.  Miraculously, despite its duration, it did not go through any towns or cities, and caused no major injuries.

We also had a funnel cloud touch down near Winnipeg Beach.  They call it a waterspout when a tornado happens on the water. This one also briefly made it’s way to land.  Again, thankfully, no one was hurt and there was only minimal damage.

I am so glad that there were no major injuries caused by the severe weather, though the trend is worrisome.

Have you experienced any extreme weather in your area?

When I look back on summer 2015, though, soft warm winds are what I will remember most.

One spring day, four colourful, huge kites were dancing in the soft wind, against a radiant blue sky.
One spring day, four colourful, huge kites were dancing in the soft wind, against a radiant blue sky.

Thank you so much for stopping by!  I can’t wait to share my next post with you!

Summer’s Ghost

 “We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming.  We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are.  They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse.  But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.”

Gary Zukav

Welcome back!  Hope you have all had a wonderful summer.  I have missed you, and I have missed blogging for the last long while… Looking forward to catching up.  I have a lot to share, and despite of the fact that the months ahead will be very busy for me, it is the season to get back into regular writing.  I can hardly believe that we are almost at mid-September, but (I think) I am finally embracing the idea of autumn and its routine (maybe).

July and August of 2015 are now behind us, and when all is said and done, I look back on a special summer.  Many out-of-town guests, one road trip to Alberta, a brief stay at the mountains, some time at home, time at the lake. That is the synopsis that describes my summer, but hardly captures it.

It was not a perfect or bump-less summer (literally… I recently suffered a mild concussion.  Please don’t worry, though, I am much better already).  But there were so many beautiful moments – and I am glad that I remembered to notice.

Northern lights, a big round moon, the stars. Fireworks.  Hot days spent swimming in cold water, cool evenings spent by the campfire.  Farm fields, trees, birds.  Mountain lakes.  Laughter, family and friends.  Aaaah.

I miss summer already… and I have lots of stories to tell, but I won’t try to relate my whole summer in one post.

Swimming off one of the many charming public piers. The picture taken at Winnipeg Beach by Julia, a reader.
One of the many charming public piers around Lake Winnipeg. Picture sent in by a reader, Julia.

Hopefully, some of the experiences and thoughts that I’ve been wanting to share with you will find their way into my blog posts in the months to come.  As I’ve heard it said, “In September, we know we’ll welcome summer’s ghost.”

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

John Lubbock

A serene moment on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, image captured by reader Julia.
A serene moment on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, captured on camera by reader Julia.