I had a great opportunity for some research and hands-on experience today when my friend invited me out to Mosquito Creek in North Vancouver to help scrub up her sailboat. This lively and welcoming marina is owned and operated by the Squamish Nation. Her sailboat, the Seven-n-Half % is a well-loved 27′ beauty built in California in the 1980s.
My job was to scrub the winter soot off the white cockpit (without tripping over the tiller). I climbed the ladder and worked up top while she and her grandson prepped and painted the hull. I managed to climb out to the bow (without falling off) and scrub down part of the starboard deck before it was time to load her in a sling for transport. This is how boats are moved from “the hard” back into the water.
After she settled, we boarded, and my friend manoeuvred her under power through the marina, then backed into a tight docking space using the tiller. I can only imagine what she can do with masts and sails and a good wind on open water.
In To Sleep with Stones, Michael Stryker sails through Desolation Sound, then up past Johnston Strait into the Broughton Archipelago near the north tip of Vancouver Island. I spent some time working at light stations a few years ago, and have a feel for the marine landscape in and around Vancouver Island, but the actual plotting of that journey required lots of research. How far can you sail in a day? What are the hazards? What can happen out on the sea during a gale?
In book three, which I am writing now–working title, To Render a Raven–Estrada and his crew are forced to retake that journey, and many of the scenes occur on or around the boat. They won’t be taking a sailboat this time, though. Their power yacht will look more like this:
Who can resist a flybridge? I spent hours and hours searching online ads for boats until I found the perfect yacht. One of the perks of being a writer is that you can create wealthy characters with unlimited funds: white leather couches, full bar, a master cabin with ensuite…
Now I get to work out who is in this crew, what shenanigans will occur, and what misery will befall them. This was a most inspiring day.