2012 Courtenay Cruise

2012 Courtenay Cruise


September 17, 2012

Now I know what retirement should be all about. The Courtenay Cruise was my first VCBC official duty after retiring from 46 plus years in aviation. What a way to start my new career.

Up until recently all the Vancouver Island VCBC events had been centered on the south end of the island around Victoria. Over the past few years I had received a number of requests from the up island Volvophiles for something up in their neck of the woods. So I decided earlier this year to follow up on an offer of help from Wendy and Gary Woodley in Courtenay. Not only did they have previous car club and rally experience, Wendy worked with several local newspapers and had a wealth of local knowledge and contacts. More detailed planning occurred over the course of the summer, most of which I spent at work flying helicopters around the Canadian arctic (but that’s another story). I’m just thankful for the internet where the Woodleys and I exchanged emails and finalized plans for the First (and hopefully annual) VCBC Courtenay Cruise.

Ol’ Reliable, my 61 P1800, transported Lucy and I north up the island highway on Sat 08 Sep to where we met Gary and Wendy at a lovely seaside restaurant in Comox. After lunch we reviewed the planned events for Sunday and being the very thorough person she is, Wendy had covered all the bases down to having the normally closed for lunch Silverado restaurant at the Crown Isle Golf Resort reserved for the Courtenay Cruisers and to having bouquets of Swedish blue and yellow pansies on each table. I later learned that the blue and yellow runs in her blood as her Swedish heritage can be traced back through her maternal grandfather.

Sunday morning dawned overcast with a threat of rain in the heavy clouds that could be seen rolling over the mountains just to the west of us. This is I guess is typical of the area as one of our major sponsors, Robert and Eunice Kirk of the Courtenay Car Center showed up in a lovely C70 with the top down no less! Actually, when we arrived at Simms Millennium Park, our rendezvous location adjacent to the Car Centre, Peter Sharples, ever the early bird was first on scene in his 57 444. In quick succession Chris and Marja Blasť arrived in their 96 850 followed in an 850 wagon by Peter and Maggie Gibson who had caught the early ferry from up on Quadra Island. Another of our constant supporters, Bill Paitson arrived from Nanaimo followed shortly in 70 122 by Bert Sherlock, another of our club directors, who was visiting the island on other business and had added in the Courtenay Cruise to his itinerary. Rounding out our 9 car group was Ralph Zbarsky driving, of all things, a fully race prepared and street legal 69 142S. Ralph, who hails from the mainland, was visiting son Mike and grandson Nickolai and brought them along to the start.

Nikolai Zbarsky

For many in the group it was a first time for introductions and it wasn’t long before some hoods were up and small groups were gathering to discuss things Volvo. We let this go on as long as we could but soon it was time to get things on the road. The driver/navigator meeting was convened at the appointed hour and Wendy went over the safety reminders and orders for the day then a brief outline of the route. Wendy and Gary had laid out the route and refined it several times so they got the bye and proceeded directly to the destination at the Crown Isle. For the rest of us, all new to the area, the chosen route turned out to be a lot of fun for drivers and navigators. Wendy had directed that I would lead off in the 1800 and others were to follow at discrete intervals. About 15 minutes into the drive we met Peter Sharples coming from the opposite direction. Being without a navigator we allowed that he could join in and remain in sight of the lead car. It had been a long time since Lucy and I had driven a route we had not set up and were totally familiar with. So I think we had more fun than most and with only one very short miscue we completed the route successfully.

Nikolai Zbarsky

I think everyone else must have done as well because it wasn’t too much longer and we were all gathered in the Silverado dining room with much animated discussion about navigation techniques or interesting things we had come across enroute. Once we were all seated and meal orders had been taken, Wendy started us off on the draw for door prizes. First, each participant got a goody bag, including pins from Courtenay/Comox, information on local sights to visit and discount ski lift passes. As Ralph Zbarsky had to depart early for business on the mainland I think just about everyone else got a door prize of some sort.

The Crown Isle lived up to its reputation as a luxury resort and served a delicious meal. The camaraderie amongst this first gathering in Courtenay continued well after lunch but soon it was time for us to start heading to our respective homes. Lucy and I decide to relax and take the old highway, a slower but much more scenic route to about half way back south to Victoria. The First Annual VCBC Courtenay Cruise must definitely be rated a success. A hearty vote of thanks to Wendy and Gary Woodley for organizing a great meet. We must make this an annual affair.