The Skipper

Skipper’s Ticker and Clean Bottom

There’s more than a little maintenance going on with OMOO. The inspection on both top and bottom resulted in some required intervention.

The bottom came first, with some professional equipment and skilled labor making a dirty job a quick and easy fix. The Skipper was super pleased with the ease of getting up and in his boat with the full stairs set up by the yard crew. They handled OMOO with professional care and gave her a spanking clean bottom, just the way we like it.

The top fix was on the Skipper’s ticker, which was running out of battery, his pacemaker that is. With the clock running out, he was given strict orders to “stay put,” not what a sailor wants to hear in May. But, by the end of May it was all said and done and he’s good for another 10 years!!

OMOO was on the loose today, and with a grin from ear to ear, the Skipper and his cherished lady were running smoothly once again.

We were on a mission to get to the pump out, since some visitors recently helped fill the holding tanks. Well, the crew at the fuel dock never lose their sense of humor about their new job title, sewage suckers, EWWW!! Sophia has been graciously assisting the Skipper a few times this year, and gauging the success of the pumpout by the muddy, cruddy, icky sticky goo that seems to be getting a lighter shade of “gross.”

So a clean bottom, lighter holding tanks and a quicker ticker make for a nice little run over to Burgoyne Bay, even on a cloudy day!! Buckets of rain greeted us, but we didn’t care. We’re just happy to be on a boat, it doesn’t matter where.

The Skipper

Winter on OMOO

There’s alot going on under the snow!

Hershey works on his winter projects on OMOO. His current job is installing a new hold down to his battery bank. This space lives under the stern berth king size bed. With any boat project, it means folding his 6’4″ frame into 4’6″ places.

The Skipper’s pride and joy comes from designing performance and safety enhancements on OMOO.

The crew at Maple Bay Marina are battling the snow, making access to OMOO safe.

This back saving contraption to assist with lifting the batteries is a block and tackle attached to the rope secured through a port hole to the handle on the table in the cockpit, making it easy to lift approximately 80+ lbs of each battery. (left). Whew! That was a run on sentence!

During the last melt down of one of the batteries, acid bubbled out the top. This destroys the wood. This has happened twice, in spite of regular checks to top up the batteries with distilled water. As batteries age, they deteriorate. Both times the super smeller on Sideways Sally detected the problem!

The metal hold down for the strap over the batteries needs to be through bolted to the sides of the battery box.

The anchor for the hold down strap, which sits in position to be used. In the adjacent compartment (left) side of the battery box is the charger/inverter for the boat.

The black strap inside the yellow outline is attached to the brackets and now functional.

WARNING: For safety reasons the wood compartment for the batteries should be encased in fiberglass and epoxy.
Sideways Sally The Skipper

Life on the Ocean.

Life is like being deep under the water, salty, mysterious, adventuresome, dangerous. A constant flow with the tides, clinging on to beauty, releasing waves of emotion.

Mornings, waking to soft sunlight and smooth reflections leave a sense of wonder. What will the day bring? What will each moment feel like as it caresses or destroys the peacefulness within?

I’m joyous, in my bubble here in my cozy Saturday morning. I’ve spent the week supporting, propping up and caring. It makes me happy. I’m rich, not in the monetary sense that lambasts the eyes every time I open a screen or turn on the tube. I’m wealthy in shared human experience.

From the mad to the sublime, I live in that world. Connected, to the depths of unbelievable darkness and suffering, to the height of believable truth and light. Shining like the morning sun, into a small crack, letting the light in.

It’s a hurried and worried world out there. Rushing into unmanaged expectations, addicted to feelings. Reaching for the bottle, the pill, or the needle that gambles with the game of life. To get to that feeling. The feeling that life makes sense, has purpose and meaning. It’s a sham, that we can attain that with external pleasures.

It is the season of heightened longing, to feel love wrapped in a bow, with crumbling expectations. Year after year, seasons change and remain the same. The horizon visible, yet invisible. Challenging the perspective and the will to go on.

WOW, I’m rambling. Thanks for listening. It’s such a wild reality. I feel so alive uncovering all the layers of one week. In my mind and my soul I feel so grateful, joyful, and rich.

My wonderful Skipper is joining me for Christmas in a lovely condo belonging to dear friends. We will be pet sitting their precious babies as they entrust their home to us. The Skipper will be in puppy heaven, and I will be cooking and baking my heart out. Friends will come and share themselves and their life stories. Family will visit via video. Life is good.

To all our friends and family. Be safe, be well. We love you.

The Skipper

SAFETY FIRST with Fire Boy by Xintex

Hershey is working on his current project which is installing a propane sensor which turns the flow off in case of a leak. The way this works is the sensor is attached to the electrical panel which will turn the power off to the solenoid – a coiled wire that creates a magnetic field that has a shaft in it that has a spring that allows the propane to flow. When the power is off it turns the flow off. We always manually turn the breaker for propane off as soon as we are done cooking, while leaving the flame burning on the stove. This way we can see the flame die as a result of the solenoid closing the valve that shuts of the propane. This also is a way to check that the solenoid is working and in fact shuts off the propane. The sensor is an extra safety feature also has an alarm in it to warn of the leak.

Propane leaks are one reason boats blow up and why boats can be so dangerous. When propane leaks it collects in the bilge, in houses it settles in the basement, in an RV it goes through the cracks and holes and out onto the ground.

The wiring for this sensor which was placed behind the stove, runs under the floor over to the control panel, which is approximately 12 feet away and then up to the panel, which ends up to be 14 feet. The Skipper is following the path of the filler of the water tank, then the tubes for the hot water tank to the shower. The conduits with the existing wires are useful for adding more wires. The system the Skipper uses to get the wire through is to tie a string to the wire he’s trying to feed, then picks up the string with the vacuum and pulls the wire through.

Click “HOME” for link to Fire Boy – Xintex.

Sideways Sally The Skipper


3 THINGS… my life on OMOO with an amazing skipper, my beautiful family, and my career full of twists and turns. I keep learning from all aspects of my life. One thing I’ve learned for sure is to be happy with where I am, whom I meet and all the experiences that come my way. Especially important is that sometimes good things come from bad things.

Saturday morning and I’m relaxing with my favorite brew of coffee. I found myself reflecting on the week as I walked home last night, feeling so happy. I had just left my work family after our busy week and a happy hour with new staff. We welcomed them into our circle with warmth and curiosity about their journey in life. We are thrilled their path has brought them to us. I love that about us.

Our work is about the mystery of what will happen next, the exploring of the human landscape. We spend our week looking into our client’s lives, the mental health struggles, losses, successes and stories. They invite us into their vulnerable space, and we are tasked to support, assist and intervene. The connections of events and relationships between our clients and our team happen daily, with no two days alike. The bond we have between our team members is on a level we cannot see visually in front of us, but feel in our hearts and souls. We share the joys and sorrows as we care for the those who navigate through life with challenges in their way that most of us cannot even imagine.

The love of life and my people sustain me. Making my way back to my family after 18 months of separation during this pandemic lifted my spirit and put my life back in the order I’m used to. I was missing birthdays and holidays together. Kids grow up fast and I was used to spending time with them whenever I wanted to. I’d fly to the prairies for a visit, or have the family visit the West Coast to go exploring. The far away family in Australia are stranded for now, but as soon as the border opens there will be a trip planned. Floating between my life on OMOO with my Skipper, visiting my kids and grans, and doing the job I love is my life.

This year, while unable to travel far, another type of timing was everything. I was so lucky to have had not one, but two surgeries. A total knee replacement in January, and a spine surgery in August. My amazing team of Doctors are keeping me going so I can do all the things I love to do. How lucky am I? Immensely lucky, to have surgeries in the time of this pandemic, when many elective surgeries are postponed. I count my lucky stars each morning when I awake to face the day. Grateful cannot even begin to describe the feeling of relief from the pain that came with my advancing arthritis. I get out and about again, feeling elated with the ease of movement.

The good thing that came from bad things is meeting the spine surgeon. Dr. Brian Kwon met me after an unfortunate accident when I was working at VGH ER. In my Psych Nurse Triage role I was tasked with assessing the patients that came in to the ER in a mental health crisis. It was a fast pace where I zoomed around the ER meeting the patients, sometimes putting in 10,000 steps a day. I loved it. The ER Docs were so grateful that we could spend the time they didn’t have, to talk to the patients who needed Psychiatric treatment.

One morning I was busy charting at the desk, then turned to stand up and go to the next patient, when my feet got tangled in some computer cords that weren’t stored properly. I did a face plant in front of my charge nurse, in the middle of the ER. The whiplash effect triggered a gall bladder attack, and the pain went from my knees to my hips to my back and to my shoulders. I ended up in the hospital for two weeks, barely able to walk until Dr. Kwon met me and started giving me spinal steroid injections. These were effective for four years, and he always told me when they stopped working that he could perform surgery. I’m so grateful to have him treat me and give me back my pain free mobility.

The reason I am working in Vancouver instead of on Vancouver Island where I moved to twenty years ago, is because I had a wrongful dismissal from my job in Victoria. The settlement gave me the freedom to work casual for seven years, and sail the west coast. When I went back to work full-time it was after this fall in the ER and a wise union representative advised me to take a postion to bump up my benefits and get whatever treatment I may need for my advancing arthritis. So I did, and have been well looked after for the last five years. So another good thing came from losing a job, which was devastating at the time. So, I’m a believer. GOOD THINGS CAN COME FROM BAD THINGS!!

The planet we live on is precious and beautiful. Yes, there is lots to worry about, the future is uncertain. Every day is full of anxiety and insecurity. I am reminded of a famous quote from Helen Keller, “there is no such thing as security.”

Life can change in a heartbeat. Daily I feel and focus on gratefulness and love. It’s freeing and it’s life changing, not having to plan every second of every day, or complain endlessly about the current set of circumstances in the world. It makes for great connections with positive people, and draws on the resilience of the human spirit. To look for the best in every situation is a choice of perspective, which never ceases to amaze me. This is a joyful way to live. I have met many people along the way that have shared this perspective with me, the most positive is my Skipper Hershey, who has remained calm, cool and collected no matter what life throws at him. He is supportive, generous and kind with each phase of me getting to this place.

Maple Bay Marina

This website is dedicated to Harold Upham, and OMOO, and the amazing journeys we have on the water and in life.

I am pleased that two more articles have been published:

Pacific Yachting – October issue, Page 29.
Clam, Herring and Sibel Bay-digital copy available for $2.00.

OMOO Sideways Sally The Skipper

Ecstatic Loveliness

This is the summer that wasn’t. An unscheduled stop. A colosal disruption. 2021 is the year of the known unknowns, then there are the unknown unknowns.

OMOO and crew started unplanning the yearly voyage while patiently waiting for Covid vaccines and restrictions to lift. One thing led to another in the breakdown department. Undoing the doing we’ve done every summer for the last ten years came with some painful adjustments.

OMOO turned out to be requiring some maintenance and the Skipper was holding things together and doing the fixing, a constant happy occupation for his engineer’s brain.

After taking four new crew to Tent Island on a day sail, the Skipper headed back out with old crew to chase some wind and enjoy an overnight anchorage in Princess Cove on Wallace Island. After a delightful sail, the crew secured the boat with a hook and a stern-tie. A pleasant evening of chit-chat ensued and all was right with the world again. OMOO was thrilled to be doing all the things she normally does. It started to look like the post pandemic world was opening up again.

Nope, not happening… The next morning with the stern-tie released, the engine purring and the crew in place to haul up the anchor, the windlass called it quits, caputs, nada. The bolts holding the motor in place sheared off and it separated from the capstan. It fell onto the panel above the V-berth and went into a deep slumber. It almost died.

Well, OMOO is 20 years old this year so she’s needing some extra lovin’. The Skipper and crew hauled up 60′ of chain bit by bit, using the spring line and hook we have for anchoring. The spring line is actually a climbing rope which stretches and is perfect to take the load off the windlass. The rope is long enough to reach the electric winches in the cockpit. Up came the anchor bit by bit, and home went OMOO to get repaired.

Chris the boat neighbor/boat guru.

All the unplanning and getting stuck to the dock proved to be fortuitous. Being close to marine stores and repair shops comes in handy when the Skipper can hop in his truck and get what he needs. A few days later with alot of helpful advice from our talented neighbor/boat guru, away it went again, the windlass was revived.

Appropriately named, S/V Waitabit arrived on the transient dock so we waited abit and had a friendly welcome back impromptu cockpit party. OH SO GOOD!!

Ron and Laura from Knotty Friendship – they’re so naughty!!
Welcome back Beth and Dave. We missed you!!
Dave from Waitabit who brought the shade, (wink wink), Grant, who brought ALL the desserts, and Lesley who brought the smiles!

Sideways Sally was having her own existential crisis. In the middle of a staycation her back and legs stopped working. With a little help from a steroid spinal injection things settled down enough to move again. What made the crankiness set in was not being able to do all the things she normally does. This includes sorting and cleaning OMOO and going sailing. NONE OF THE ABOVE WAS HAPPENING!! She got oh so cranky. There was alot of discussion and some tears shed before the partial solution arrived. Her name is Tammy and she’s a housekeeper for boats. She came aboard and accomplished in three hours what it was taking SS to do painstakingly in three days.

On the bumpy road to this final outcome were all the days of fixing and figuring out stuff on the boat, which the Skipper happily plods (his word) along on. SS is safely over yonder on the other side of the pond (in Vancouver) where outta sight outta mind is her motto. When arriving back to the boat after Tammy did her magic, SS felt like she won the lottery. The boat was fixed, AND clean. Miracles do happen!

Then SS won another lottery. A call came in that changed the scheme of things in a hurry. Her spine Doc had a cancellation in the surgery schedule and her awaited laminectomy and spinal fusion (fancy words for fixing an old lady back) was booked in a couple of weeks, instead of a couple of months or more!! Excitement abounded and the hope for some smooth sailing returned.

OMOO, the Skipper and Sideways Sally snuck out for a few days to celebrate, and we were thrilled with life again. Being escorted by a stiff breeze and a pod of Orcas on the way to Clam Bay was so serene we had to pinch ourselves.

Once again we were consumed by the ecstatic loveliness of sailing in the Southern Gulf Islands.

Orcas along Secretary, Mowgli and Norway Islands.

I’m writing this ten days post surgery and I can walk, talk and smile again!! The surgery was a complete success and there’s so many pain free minutes in days that I can almost hop, skip and jump my way back to OMOO.

I’m lovin’ life!!

Hershey – unedited.