Jazz Festival at Pender Harbour
Jazz Festival at Pender HarbourReport Abuse
Pender Harbour Jazz Festival
It was 1999, September 18th, log entry of 1320:hours to be exact. I was solo sailing my Lyle Hess designed 27 footer, OSPREY, south bound in the middle of Malaspina Strait in the British Columbia portion of the Inside Passage when a fateful decision was made by chance. My buddy boat, a 1966, 33’ Pearson Vanguard, skippered by boat builder and single hand sailor Larry Silva was, like myself, reaching along under a cruising chute in a 10 knot northerly. The delightful anchorages of Desolation Sound were in our wake. Our initial plan for the day was a long traverse of Texada Island. We had started out in Stuart Bay on the northern end and were planning to round Upwood Point, the southern tip of this very long island, and fetch Jedediah Island, a B.C. Marine Park before sunset. The simple, chance decision came via a VHF conversation betwixt us skippers as we made to pass Pender Harbour on the northern end of B.C.’s Sunshine Coast.
“How’s your beer holding out?” Larry asked via VHF. Hmm… Hadn’t checked the ice box since retirement last eve and it seemed like we had offered no few to the whimsical gods of wind and sail. Not long after that fateful question there was a shift to the wakes of the two vessels and the northern entrance to Pender Harbour were in the sights of both boats.
Pender Harbour, an amazing nautical place. How to describe it? For that I turn to OSPREY’S logbook entry from that first afternoon approach: “The harbor is a maze of water-ways & islands. It appears that at least three communities surround the harbor - Garden Bay, Irvines Landing and Madeira Park. There are half a dozen small marinas and many boats. Boats in the marinas, boats on private docks, boats in transit, boats at anchor. This appears to be a cluster of communities whose center is the water and boating as a lifestyle.” Often I write long notations in the open logbook on the under-the-dodger nav-platform.
OSPREY, being the smaller of the two vessels, took the lead as we closed with the public docks. Docks full of boats. Docks full of people. As I throttled down and eased into the orderly confusion of so many tied off boats gal called out, “There is a space back here, behind the black boat.” And another hailed us, “Are you here for the Jazz Festival?” Here for the “Jazz Festival”? Well sure, why not? The “black boat” in question was S/V MAKOOLIS, skippered, as we later discovered by Derek Hayden-Luck. As it happened Derek was standing by to take our lines. Moments later we had both OSPREY & SPRITE rafted together on these busy docks. How did we happen to find a slip? Timing is everything. The Harbor Master agreed and we soon had paid our $12 each for first-come-first-served moorage. When I offered Derek a less than warm beer for his assistance he smiled and came back to his cockpit a moment later with three iced coldies. Ever get those feelings that life just keeps getting better and better? This was one of those days. As we sat in the cockpit of MAKOOLIS, a 37’ Ted Brewer designed steel ketch and sipped cold brews, folks were wandering about, stopping to admire the boats and say hello. Derek wasn’t here for the Jazz Festival, but after a bit of discussion apparently Larry and I were. We left Derek aboard with a promise to share another brew after we took on provisions. And off we were for a short hike up the dock and to the grocery / liquor store.
Now, of course this has happened to many of you readers as well. You’ve been aboard for several weeks. Haven’t seen an automobile in all that time. Not been near a town or store nor made any purchases in awhile. I found myself standing in an unfamiliar grocery store full of weekend shoppers without a list and wondering what it was that I was here to purchase. “You look lost,” a female voice said to me. I turned to find a pleasant young lady with a big smile. A moment later after she had surmised I was from a visiting boat, she told me her story of living aboard and kinda’ gave me a guided tour of the store ending in a great deli. When I again crossed paths with Captain Silva we were both in the checkout lines and both had large cart loads of goods. The liquor store was next door and by the time we were done it was apparent that the hike back to the boat was going to be interesting with both of us toddlering along under large armfuls of provisions. “Are you guys heading to the docks?” a lady asks as she loads her one small bag into her car? What’s that old Beatles tune “Getting Better All The Time”… A moment later her trunk is full of our victuals and vitals and we are loaded in with her. She too had been a live-a-board. It’s just a few blocks to the docks but it was very nice of her to give us a ride. We found out later the store lets boaters take a shopping cart if they promise to bring it back. And on and on it went. Of all the ports I’ve hailed Pender Harbour is certainly somewhere I would love to live aboard for a year of so. That in and of itself makes this a worthy destination but coupled with the true friendliness of the locals, the abounding culture and a beautiful, scenic location, it is a haven! The music was good. We used the dinghy to visit pubs and other venues where the music was happening across the harbour. There was a local water-taxi with a saxophone player entertaining the riders as they crossed the bay. It was late in the night, no make that early in the morning before we followed the full moon path back to the Madeira Park Marina and found our two boats. Besides fun & music, friendly folks, lots of brews and dancing, the meeting of MAKOOLIS and her skipper Derek Haden-Luck was certainly a highlight of this by-chance chapter in our cruise. Before wandering off to pubs and music we spent at least two hours in the cockpit with Derek. After talking boat design, boat building and boating equipment we learned that the 72 year old Derek had just returned from a seven year near-solo circumnavigation. Finally, after several more brews Derek shared with us some of his stories; the South Pacific, the hurricane in the Indian Ocean & the challenges of the Suez Cannel but that’s all the stuff of another chapter yet to come…. Foster Fanning