I’m On A Boat … S.O.S.

A few days ago I said to someone that my main regret about being an East Van person is that I rarely enjoy the ocean. I’m at the beach infrequently, I hardly head down to the seawall, and I’m never on a boat or in the water. I reiterated this story Saturday while I was on a boat in English Bay, minutes before the engine lost power.

If you’ve watched the Lonely Island video (above) you’ll have an idea about what I was hoping my boat experience to be like. Alas, there were no flippy floppies, or nautical themed pashmina afghans.

Here’s how I got there; Saturday morning I was supposed to be shooting a scene for a film I’m working on (low-budget/non-paying/ don’t get excited). We met at 9:30 a.m. and within minutes I was soaked from the miserable downpour that is a Vancouver winter. “You’re going out?!” an old man exclaimed, shaking his head at us as we headed towards a 30-foot sailboat.

After a few hours of unrelenting rain, the director called off the shoot. Some people went home, but lunch was being made, and I decided to hang out for a while. Ya know, to bond with the crew … okay, to get a free lunch.

The rain stopped around 1 p.m. and the suggestion of going out for a quick little cruise was brought up. Why not, I thought, I had nothing else going on that day, I might as well have an adventure.

Vancouver from a boat in English Bay.

Our team was down to four people: the captain of the boat, the director of the film, the make-up artist and me. A mini cast of Gilligan’s Island. The sun was starting to shine and the day was getting better. It was supposed to be a three hour tour, or less.

“We should have hung in. This is perfect weather for the shoot now,” I said to the director. Then we all shrugged.

I took a picture of the city and remarked on how beautiful it is.

I started thinking about what it is that people love about this city; the mountains, the ocean, the ability to rollerblade nearly every day of the year. These are things I often scoff about (especially the rollerblading) but in this moment, I got it. Vancouver is about enjoying the best of everything. It’s a city and a village. It’s being on the beach in the morning and hiking a mountain in the afternoon. It’s shooting a film and getting to hang-out on a boat when the sun comes out. It’s perfect. It’s not too hot, not too cold, not too big or too small; it’s just right.

Then the engine died.

It was then that our captain mentioned he’d taken it it in for service a week ago because this exact same thing happened before. Oy.

Close to a tanker in a little boat.

I knew we were going to be fine. I could see the Jerico yacht club. I could still see downtown. We were fine. But we were getting pretty close to a huge tanker … that was anchored.

Our captain made a few radio calls saying we needed a tow, but no one answered. A fancy power boat passed us speeding out of False Creek, ignoring our waves for attention.

Our options were to try and find someone our captain knew to tow us back into the dock, or pay for a tow. Being the low-budget project that we were, none of us wanted to shell out any money. Well, the director did offer to.

That’s when I jokingly said to my companions, “I’m going to tweet this.” And I did.

First Tweet to Save Our Souls

Apparently I don’t have any followers on Twitter that own boats. This is a shame. So, I put a message on Facebook. This got a better response. Mostly from friends who were taking this situation much more seriously than I was. “Call the Coast Guard” was the popular response from my stranded ‘check in’ at English Bay, after “are you serious?”

Picture from my phone of my Google Map location.

Forty-five minutes after our engine failure, various attempts to fix it, radioing for help, seeing the speed boat return to False Creek and ignore our waves again, one of my friends who’d seen my Tweets called the Coast Guard. They then put out a call on our behalf, which was then responded to by the Vancouver Police. Yay, we cheered, as this meant we were going to get a free tow from the experts, and not die at sea like I was starting to imagine.

Our Heroes!

The guys that helped us out where amazing. They were funny, easy-going uniformed men who could parallel park a boat. They towed us back to our dock, with no questions asked. As we disembarked their fancy ship we all shook hands, then thanked our lucky stars.

Two days later, I’m still a little land-sick, but very happy to be back on dry land. Maybe being an East Van girl does have it’s advantages. 

I’m going to end this post with a fantastic tweet from Scott Brown that summarizes this experience perfectly.

Scott Brown, sports editor at the Vancouver Sun.

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