Words Of The Crew
By: Ethan Milne
Yo, my name is Ethan Milne. And this is my story aboard Sunpiper. -Quadra Island to San Francisco. FEATURING: Eve, Haven, Sylvain, Leo and Sunpiper. I had graduated a month before I embarked on this trip, gotten into a relationship and was fresh into the world. I knew little of what I was getting into. The only person I had met before was Leo, and even at that he and I didn’t know each other very well. I also knew very little about sailing, or how rough the seas could be. So, with that in mind, I climbed aboard a boat with 4 other complete strangers. And I have to say, it worked. I learned a lot about myself on this trip. Now if you read on, here is my brief story, which I could talk about for pages. I showed on the 26th of August with my bag ready to go. But there were still preparations to be made. After loading all of the food onto the boat the next day we left Quadra and sailed to Nanaimo, where we hunkered down in a well-protected bay for the night. The first half of the journey I had cell service and was very happy because I could stay in contact with everybody, and for an 18-year-old teenager, that is very important. It took us 3 days to get down the length of Vancouver Island, which we had relatively smooth sailing for, actually, there was no wind so we motored. The 30th of August is when shit really picked up. Before we had proper nights of sleep with a boat that didn’t rock too much. As we pulled out of the Juan de Fuca strait the swell had started to increase and we saw lots of whales. As soon as we got out into the open ocean and hoped to sail, we had absolutely no wind. It sucked and was frustrating. A day went by like this where we didn't cover much ground. Only in the evening did it pick up and we got up to 6 knots of speed. I started to feel a bit homesick after this because I couldn't talk to anyone as we lost cell service. However, with the crews’ upbeat attitude, we started our tradition of reading to each other a story a night of Stuart McLean. Now it is September 1st and I was feeling really homesick but tried not to let it show. On the 1st we actually started sailing, we were doing a rotation of two-hour shifts throughout 24 hours. Cooking was becoming a challenge with the swell picking up to 2-3 feet and us constantly swaying. We saw dolphin pods almost every day. On the 2nd my analogy was that this trip is like a rollercoaster that you live on and have to drive. It was exhausting. On the 3rd of September, shit picked up. The morning started out fine but in the afternoon swells picked up to over 7 feet and it was scary. By midnight they were over 15 feet, Leo and Haven at the helm as the rest of the crew sat and waited for them to carry us safely thru the gale. But despite the terrifying night that was unfolding if I glanced into the cockpit I could hear Leo and Haven laughing away and having a grand old time. Seeing them so confident in the middle of a gale brought me confidence. And that was something I learnt about myself. No matter the situation, you get to choose your attitude towards the events in front of you. That was the worst night ever. But it was exhilarating. We landed in San Francisco on the 7th of September. Ran into a few bumps along the way but it was all worth it. To sail under that bridge was absolutely stunning. People ask me if I would do this trip again, even though it was so terrifying for me. And my response is yes. I would do it again in a heartbeat. That trip was everything to me. It was beautiful, it was ugly, it was happy, it was sad. There is no real way to put it into words. I am so grateful for the whole crew for making it an amazing experience.