Who can predict the people you’ll meet or the stories they’ll share in a given day in Oak Bay?
Last month at Oak Bay Marina when the 11-metre yacht Beasmaster tied up, it came with a boatload of stories.
Owner David Beasley brought the boat in for a diesel engine repair, having recently finished sailing around the world. He claims to have visited 102 countries in total – many from his Air Force days and more from this sailing experience.
Oak Bay Marina’s Jim Allen listened attentively to Beasley’s many tales from the high seas.
“This is representative of a person going out and doing what most people just dream about doing – (what) most people wouldn’t dream of doing in that boat,” Allen said.
Local yachters gathered on the docks chatting with Beasley while Charles Lewis, manager of Gartside Marine, worked on the Beasmaster.
“This boat is not designed for open ocean,” Lewis said. “This is more of a cruising boat to the Gulf Islands. There are far better choices, but he seemed to do it without issue. After hearing his stories I felt very privileged to live in this country and in this lifestyle compared to some of the places he travelled. He had no plan of where to go. He would just put the boat into the wind.”
Lewis was surprised to learn that Beasley had no rescue equipment on board. “He wouldn’t put another rescuers’ life at risk. He had a friend in the Air Force who lost his life in a rescue mission,” reported Lewis.
The tale of how Beasley wound up in Oak Bay began just before he hit age 40.
“I wanted to do something interesting and unique. The idea of sailing was interesting to me,” said Beasley, 47. “I took two years of (sailing) lessons to get educated and find out that this is what I really wanted to do. Six months before my 40th birthday I found this vessel (in Vancouver).”
He sold his house, car and possessions in Calgary to prepare for the trip. An avid diver, he had always dreamed of owning a sailboat and sailing around the world.
Prep work in Sidney included installing solar panels for power, a radar arch and a water maker, which desalinates the water by reverse osmosis.
He worked his entire career in technology doing radar support work. A handyman, he was able to handle the boat on his own and do most of the work to maintain it.
He chose to sail alone. “I had no schedule and no plan,” he said. “It’s not all luxury and fun. You have to be aware of the situation you are in. I’ve had problems with the sail ripping and not being able unfurl it, so I had to climb up the mast with climbing gear and come down onto the foresail to cut or unfold pieces of the sail.
“People always ask if I’m lonely. I think the worst thing that could happen would be if you came on deck and your partner was gone. That would be horrible.”
Even without a boat in sight you are never alone. “You always have birds with you. Dolphins are everywhere out on the ocean. It’s common to see 200 dolphins. They are so smart, so strong and so fast – you see pods of hundreds.”
Seals, turtles and whales were everywhere too. “All of a sudden, a turtle will come up beside you and scratch the barnacles on his back on the hull.”
As Beasley sailed to the South Pacific, he relied on the traditional method of using paper charts instead of a computer to map his co-ordinates. “I like the paper charts system so the whole picture is in front of you – not little blobs on a small screen – and it’s more accurate.”
During his extended sail he visited California, Mexico, South America and many islands of the South Pacific, he recounted. He said he survived 24-metre waves in a treacherous storm.
After six years at sea and now back in Canada, he told fellow boaters he plans to “enjoy (sailing) inside the Georgia Strait for the next year” then sell his boat next spring and return to the Prairies.
“I don’t know if I want to do anymore travelling,” he said.