“Will it be a pink drink or champagne?” inquired Stephanie, my good friend and fellow boater.
“Hmm,” I pondered, as I finished cleating off the line that rafted our two boats together. Our boat is a 40-foot sailboat. Stephanie and Greg Writeman, our best friends, have a 54-foot Carver cabin cruiser named Write-Now. This is significant because the shape and size difference between our sailboat and their powerboat make rafting together a challenge, but we’ve been boating with Stephanie and Greg for many years and have developed a system.
“It’s so peaceful,” I marveled aloud, as I looked around at the still water. We’d just finished the sometimes-tricky job of anchoring, then rafting our two boats together. “Pink drink—yes, that will be perfect to enjoy with this amazing view,” I finally pronounced. Our version of a pink drink is actually a lemon vodka martini with pomegranate juice. Stephanie turned, went inside her boat, and reappeared moments later with a shaker and two glasses in hand.
“What, how did you do that?” I asked, laughing.
“I had a feeling that a pink drink would be perfect to go with that amazing sunset,” she said, pointing off to the west.
“Mom, can I go out on the tube?” Katie my beautiful long-blond-haired 11-year-old daughter interrupted.
“Ok, but try not to get wet. It will cool off quickly.” Katie loved floating and jumping off the tube. “And tie the tube to the back of the boat: you never know what currents might be under the water’s calm surface.”
“A beer would hit the spot,” my husband Thomas’s voice floated back to me from the foredeck, where he was securing the anchor line. “It’s thirsty work setting an anchor.”
“Can I have a root beer?” Katie asked, giving me her cute look.
“Okay, okay; coming right up!” I called, as I descended the stairs into our sailboat.
A short while later, all the adults were comfortably sitting on the back of our boat, sipping our drinks and listening to Jimmy Buffet.
“Tomorrow we hike the falls first thing,” announced my husband in his usual CEO manner, which assumes that everyone will of course do exactly as he expects. This might work well at the office but not so much with family and friends, who are completely immune to his autocratic charms. Katie, who was back on the boat, immediately said, “You promised you’d take me tubing behind Greg and Stephanie’s dingy… ”
“So you did,” laughed Greg. “First we go tubing, then… we go out to Jervis Inlet and drop the prawn trap.”
“What about the rapids?” asked Katie.
To get to this secluded paradise, where we were anchored. You need to first, negotiate the Malibu Rapids. The rapids can be very tricky, with narrow turns and a current that can flow as quickly as 10 knots. That might not seem fast to a powerboat like Stephanie and Greg’s Carver, but our sailboat only motors at 7 knots. Being seasoned boaters, we always made the trip at slack tide and encountered no trouble.
“Slack tide is at 9:30 tomorrow morning, so we’ll go then. Anyway we should really do our tubing away from the other anchored boats so we don’t kick up a wake,” said Thomas, looking at his tide book and getting into the spirit of things.
My husband and his best friend Greg couldn’t look more different; Thomas is 5 feet 10, with thick wavy dark-brown hair and a powerful body. Greg, on the other hand, is well over 6 feet tall and lean, with a mop of straight blond hair falling over his right eye that he’s always sweeping back. Both were wearing the unofficial Yacht Club wardrobe of khaki shorts, blue and white nautical shirts, baseball hats, and Patagonia jackets. This type of fleece jacket is a must in the Pacific Northwest, especially in Canada, where we were cruising this year.
Over the stereo Jimmy Buffet sang:
Cheeseburger in paradise
Medium rare with mustard
Be nice Heaven on earth with an onion slice
I’m just a cheeseburger in paradise
I like mine with lettuce and tomato
Heinz 57 and french-fried potatoes
Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer
Well good God almighty
which way do I steer
for my cheeseburger in paradise?
“… Good God almighty, which way do I steer for my cheeseburger in paradise,” sang out Thomas and Greg.
“Okay, I get the hint! Steph, I’ll make the burgers, will you make a salad?” I asked across the boats.
We both disappeared to start our dinner preparations.
“Janeva, honey,” came Thomas’s voice, in that well-known tone that means If you really love me you will drop what you are doing and get me a…
“Our beers are broken… ”
One of the secrets to a happy marriage, I have learned, is not to point out at this point that they are sitting in the sun doing nothing while I am busy preparing dinner. The best solution is to smile and say, “Here you go” as I hand up two more Coronas with lime wedges and take the empties to store for future recycling. The downside of anchoring is that you have to store all your garbage and recycling until you get to the next marina that will take it for you, usually for a price, especially if it’s an island, since they have to pay to have it barged off to the mainland.
After a yummy cheeseburger dinner, we lit tea lights and settled down to watch the stars come out. Katie, Steph, and I spent a pleasant time with a Star Finder wheel, trying to identify constellations. But all good things must come to an end, and it was almost 11 pm—definitely time for Katie’s bedtime, not to mention mine.
“What is the rest of the world doing?” mused Thomas as we sat on the back of the boat enjoying coffee in the early morning sun.
“I love this time of day; it’s so peaceful. What kind of bird do you think that is?” I replied, pointing at a small black duck-like bird with a bright yellow beak floating on the calm water that shimmered in the sun, reflecting the mountains that surrounding our anchorage.
Ignoring the question, or perhaps taking it as rhetorical, Thomas continued as if I hadn’t spoken: “Halcyon; yes, that’s what today is— halcyon.”
“Probably a black scoter,’ said Katie, looking up from her book and glancing at the bird in question. “When are we going prawning?”
“Ask Greg, it’s his dingy.”
“But they’re still in bed!”
“Then you’ll have to wait.”
Fortunately for the brooding 11-year-old Katie, just then Greg emerged from his boat to stretch and wish us a good morning.
“Did I hear you’re ready to go catch some prawns for dinner tonight?” he teased her
“Oh yes, I’m ready! When do we cast off, Skipper?” replied Katie.
“I need coffee and muffin, then we’re off. Who else is coming?”
“Not me,” I instantly replied. “I’m going to enjoy this amazing morning reading and drinking great quantities of coffee to balance the great quantities of wine I drank last night.”
“I’m with Janeva,” came the sleepy voice of Steph from inside.
“Thomas?” Greg asked.
“What? Let the Skipper go out without Gilligan?” replied Thomas, reluctantly looking up from his iPad, where he was desperately trying to connect to the Internet to get his morning papers.
Laughing, I said, “Please, please take him away. The lack of cell coverage and, worse, no Wi-Fi is making Thomas a grumpy boy.”
Soon they were off in the dingy to get our prawn dinner and go tubing. I sent them with extra towels and settled down to do some reading.
“Mom, we went sooo fast!” Katie’s excited voice broke through my dozing. Sigh; so much for reading. The gentle rocking of the boat and soft warmth of the day, birdsong and the lapping of small waves on the boat, the quiet peacefulness of the morning had overwhelmed me, and I had fallen asleep.
“Mom, it was really fun to go through the rapids in the dingy EVEN though it was slack tide. There were so many boats leaving, and you can’t see around the bend so you can’t pass.”
I looked around the placid 5-mile basin that makes up the anchoring area under the falls, as Katie talked on so rapidly I don’t think she had time to breathe. I was surprised to see how empty the basin was; the night before it had been packed with anchoring boats. We had felt lucky to find enough space for us to raft together; the shore was full of boats anchored with stern lines to keep them from swinging with the tide and colliding with each other.
“Then,” continued Katie, catching her breath and holding up a can of cold Mugs root beer from the cooler as I nodded a “Yes” to the unspoken question of can I have the soda? “We found the perfect spot to put down the prawn trap. We were really careful to check the depth on the fish finder AND to make a waypoint on the GPS, so Dad can’t lose this trap,” she finished laughing and opening up her soda. I laughed too, as Thomas had a longstanding reputation for losing prawn traps.
“We will see tomorrow,” I replied laughing.
“How about hiking the falls now?” asked Thomas, in a way that we knew wasn’t really a question. “I could use some exercise after being on the boat all day yesterday; it’s a long day getting up here.”
“Do we have to?” whined Katie, who as a rule didn’t like long walks or hikes.
“How about I pack a picnic?” I suggested.
“Great idea,” Steph chimed in.
Katie looked around at the group. Realizing she was outnumbered, she decided to make the best of it. “Okay… if we can have some Cliff Bars.”
“Done! Now come and help me make the lunch,” I replied quickly, before she could come up with any other qualifiers.