When we moved to Vancouver Island in 1981 it soon became obvious to us that the best way to make the most of this beautiful part of the world was to explore it under sail. We didn't waste time: we took a one-week “learn to cruise” course out of Nanaimo, briefly chartered a tiny Paceship, then a Catalina 27, and then started looking for a boat to buy.
Our test sail of “Squeek” (as she was then called) was not encouraging: the engine exhaust, leaking into the bilge, covered the batteries and we were nearly poisoned with clouds of chlorine gas, and a spreader fell off when we casually tugged on a flag halyard. But we liked the lines of this ten-year-old Swedish-built 27-footer, known as an Albin Vega, and the boat had a good reputation. We bought her, changed that horrible name to Tarka the Otter (after a much-loved children's classic set in the West Country of England) and immediately set about exploring the Gulf Islands of British Columbia.
There are a number of Vega owner associations; for a review please visit Blue Water Boats.
Soon we started to get ideas. Just to see whether we liked sailing offshore, we signed up as paying crew on a 32ft sailboat making the downwind run from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, in Mexico. We did like it, and spent the next summer taking Tarka on a testing 800-mile sail around Vancouver Island, just to be sure we had a boat that could handle the Pacific swells. We spent weekends the next winter and spring making some small modifications and stocking up on equipment: we reinforced the main cabin windows with Lexan; beefed up the rigging by one size; bought an Avon liferaft; an EPIRB; installed a windvane; added a tricolour light to the masthead; replaced most of the sails.
Tarka's Voyage Around the World
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