I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I can't figure out how to work the space age looking clock in my room so I set my cell phone for 3:45 a.m. and turn out the light. I fall right off to sleep. The bed is SO comfy. But I wake up with a start and panic, thinking I slept in. I look at the clock and it's 12:30 a.m. I fall back on the pillow in relief and drop back into unconsciousness. I then repeat this process hourly until 3:30 a.m. when I give up and get up. I put on make-up, fix my hair and pack up the rest of my bits. I try to be quiet but Debbie hears me once I am up on the main floor and gets up. At 4:20 I still haven't heard from John. He was to call me when he was leaving his house and he said it takes 15 to 20 minutes to get to mine. So I call him and he says he is on his way and was just picking up his cell phone to call. I give him ten minutes and then drag all of my stuff to the curb and wait in the dark for him to come. He arrives about 5 minutes later and we load all of my stuff and drive off.

He's an older guy and really nice. A gentle sort of soul. We talk about work, or the lack thereof, in the past year. He has worked for this production company for many years. This is my first show with them. We make really good time to the ferry, and as we get close, the sign over the road says that our sailing is at 62% capacity. It's just after 5 when we pull up to the ticket booth. We park in our designated lane. There's hardly any vehicles waiting so that 62% must be mostly reserved. John goes inside the terminal to find a coffee and I put my seat back and close my eyes. My back has been really hurting these past couple of days and I try to get comfortable but it isn't happening. John comes back before too long and we sit and wait as the sky lightens as the sun comes up.

It's full daylight by the time the ferry starts to load. We get parked on the top level and so just have to walk up one flight of steps to the restaurant deck. John goes off in one direction and I go line up for the cafeteria.

A guy falls into line right behind me and he is on his cell phone. He has a great Scottish accent. He is done with his call just as the ferry begins to pull out of the slip and he makes a comment about how quckly we seem to be getting underway. I turn and agree, and then comment on his accent. We strike up a conversation that lasts right up until the line starts to move and we finally get to the counter. I order the waffles with strawberries and cream, as the bacon and eggs might be greasy and my stomach is still not great. His order is ready before mine and he goes off to find a seat. When mine is ready, I find a spot and eat while I people watch. There are 4 kids sitting at a table beside me and it's evident from their conversation that they are all off to their first year at a private school. The girl is still dressed in her pajamas. I wouldn't have dared to do that when I was kid.

When I am done with the delicious waffles, I go find a seat in the lounge area. I find one beside the window and realize that we are about to head into Deception Pass. This is the best part of the trip and I pull out my camera. Just as I do, a ferry appears at the other end and I get some good shots.

All too soon the announcement comes on that it's time to return to our vehicles and I make my way down to the van. John is already there and as soon as we dock we get on our way to the production office, which is right downtown Victoria. When we get there, he has to leave right away to pick up cast at the airport so I unload my bags while he goes up to the office to get his directions. There's nowhere to leave my luggage.... I don't want to drag them all the way up the narrow stairs to the second floor where the offices are. They're way too heavy and my back is far too fragile today. I pile them in the narrow hall leading to the steps and then go up to meet the production staff.

I meet Miles right away and he is as nice and affable in person as he sounded in all of his emails to me. I meet his assistants and then the Wardrobe Designer walks out of the back. I haven't seen Carmen since we worked together on The Collector, over 5 years ago. But we recognize each other and hug, exclaiming how great it is to see each other and how good the other looks. She truly does look amazing. I love her hair; a mass of barely contained wild curls. She has to get right back to work so she goes off and I go into Miles' office.

We go over some details about my paperwork that he should have ordered by now but hasn't. And then I go to the copier to make copies of the stuff they aren't going to order from the printer on NCR paper. Once that is done, I get two new scripts and go off into a corner to set up my binder. That takes all of 15 minutes. Now I am done and I need to find a way to the house that the production has rented for the wardrobe dept, the make-up girls, and me. It has a hot tub and I can't wait to get in it. Hopefully it will ease my back ache.

Miles gets me a chair to wait in his office and I sit there for the next four hours and watch the utter chaos of pre-production swirl around me. He's on the phone, on the computer, there is someone knocking on his open door every minute with all kinds of problems and questions. They say I have the toughest job on set. Maybe I do, but this guy definitely has the toughest job in the production office. I would go mental trying to do what he's doing. Cast needs lunch. Cast needs to be taken to the Dr.'s for their medicals. The Dr. is waiting and doesn't want to have too much time between. But the young guy who is playing the lead hasn't arrived from the airport yet. Then Miles' phone rings and it's the actor wanting to know where his ride is. Miles gets on the phone and calls John. John doesn't pick up so Miles leaves a message. Then the actor calls again and says he's ready to take a cab. Miles tells him John is there and looking for him - even though he didn't speak to him. He calls John again and this time he picks up. He's waiting at the baggage carousel and so Miles tells him to go outside and look at the cab waiting area. He tells John to stay on the line until he's found the actor. Thirty seconds later he say's "Great. Good. Thank's John." and that's another fire put out. His whole day goes like this.

He turns to me after I have been there a couple of hours and says that it's not going to be easy to get me a ride to the house. I ask about renting me a car. He gets his assistant to put a call through to the Line Producer, who is in Vancouver (?!) right at the moment, working on two upcoming shows. That is so unusual... one show at a time is more than enough chaos I would think. Anyhow, he's on the line and she hands the phone to me. I tell him I need a rental car but don't have a credit card. I ask if transport can get me one and then take it off my pay. I say it would be nice if they could cover part of it but he tells me they can't do that. He say's he will set it up with the head of transport. I go back into Miles office and tell him. After an hour he's not sure it's happening so he calls the car rental company that they are renting a few cars and trucks from, and asks for a compact for me for today. They say they will look into it and get back to them. About 20 minutes later, they call back and ask if we need two cars? Because transport just called and asked for a compact. Miles isn't sure if they are both for me so he tells the guy he will get right back to him and he calls the head of transport. They say that they are going to rent me the car, use it as a picture car (in the movie) and so their department will pay for it. I am thrilled as this just saved me $600. Miles is pretty happy for me as he calls the agency back and asks them to bring it right over.

Soon a guy shows up and he helps me get all of my bags into the cute ice blue Suzuki SX4. I need to take him back to the car lot so he gets in and drives there so that I can get my bearings to find my way back. When we get there, I go inside to inquire about a GPS unit. I don't know Victoria well and the thoughts of having to find my way to a different location every morning freaks me out a little. I can't be late. But the GPS is $12 a day so over $200 for three weeks. I could buy one cheaper, if I had the cash. I don't have the cash so I will have to use a map. They root through a drawer and give me a map of Victoria, and not a cheapie tourist one but a real map. I thank them profusely and leave.

I get in to drive and I love the way this car handles. It's smooth and fast and corners tight.

I head back to the production office and go in to find who has the address and keys for the house. The office assistant has a map already printed out for me and there's a lock box on the house and the code to it is on the top of the map. So I am good to go.

I drive to the house; the road turns into a highway and I watch for my cut off - Royal Oak Avenue. I find it and take the exit. Right at the corner is a small outdoor plaza with a grocery store, a liquor store and several other small shops. I make a mental note of it so that I can come back and get some food supplies. As I follow the map, the directions lead me into a very upscale neighbourhood with narrow streets lined with tall oaks and huge homes. I finally find my street and slowly make my way up the hill, looking for the address. I find it and pull down a steep short drive paved with red stones, and park. The house is grey and modern; very 80's.

I get out, punch the numbers into the pad, and take out the key. I unlock the double maroon colored doors and step inside to a cool grey interior where every level surface is either tile or laminate. Directly opposite me is a wall of windows with a view to die for. The water far below, and not a quarter mile in the distance, is Haro Straight and I can see San Juan Island and Mt. Baker in the distance.

No one is home so I walk around and get my bearings. There's three or four steps down to the main floor off of the entrance and the open concept plan contains the kitchen to the right, the dining room straight ahead, and the living room to the left. Through a door off the kitchen is a 2 pc bathroom and the laundry room. Down the curving open stairs are two bedrooms, one containing a queen size bed. This is where the make-up girls will stay. There's a huge bathroom off to the side in two rooms. One holds the bath/shower and sink, the other the toilet. On the other end of the floor is another bedroom that has two twin beds. This is where the wardrobe assistants are staying. Between the two rooms is a small TV room with a couch that pulls out into a bed.

Upstairs is a large master bedroom with a queen size bed. Off of it, is an open bathroom (no door) with a large sunken jacuzzi tub and a huge walk-in shower. This is Carmen's room and her stuff is all over the bedroom. At the other end of the floor, across a breezway that looks over the dining room, is a den with a TV and built-in bench seating. This is to be my room but there's no bed. Carmen had mentioned that I would be sleeping on the pull out couch but that we would probably want to move it into this room as the other room downstairs will have people going through it all of the time. I look outside for the hot tub but there doesn't seem to be one anywhere. Hmmm. I am disappointed as I was really looking forward to that.

I look around the house for a cupboard with some bedding but can't find any. I go downstairs and pull out the bed on the couch to see if it's already made up, but it isn't. There's just a mattress protector on it. Ok. So this is not going to work. I call the office and ask to speak to Miles' assistant, as there's no way I want to bother him with this after seeing what he goes through all day long. I tell her the situation. "Oh no!", she says, "There's no bedding anywhere?" "Not that I can find." I tell her. "And, at my age, I am not spending three weeks on a pull out couch. That mattress is about 2" thick." She tells me that she will see what she can do and get back to me.

Meanwhile I go back upstairs to assess the situation. I pull the 4" foam seats off of the built-in benches and lay them on the floor, side by side. I am thinking that if I take the mattress from the couch downstairs and put it on top, this could work. But I will need some bedding. She calls me back in about an hour and tells me that I can share a room in a hotel with Anya, the 3rd AD. I am not crazy about this option as I never share a room when out of town for work. My hours are long and I need privacy, quiet and sleep. But I tell her I will go for that and ask if she has checked with Anya to see if she's ok with it. She says she hasn't and will talk to her and get back to me. I don't have to wait long before she calls to tell me Anya isn't ok with that. In the interim I have gone through the house again, to try to find a cupboard that has sheets, and found one downstairs. I tell her this and that I will try to make the foam bed work. But if not, they will need to arrange something else for me. When I hang up, I realize that I really want to make it work somehow because I am looking forward to spending time with these women.

I can't drag that mattress up two flights by myself so I will wait until everyone else gets back here to enlist some help.

I bring all of my bags inside and leave them in the entrance hall just in case I am not spending the night here. Then I get in the car and head down to that little plaza to get some provisions.

I buy a few things but I have to be careful with my money. I only have $75 to my name and I realized on the way down to get groceries that I might need to put gas in the car before I get my first pay cheque. It's full up now and it is a compact car that probably gets great mileage, but I don't know how far flung the locations will be for the next week or so. I just get a few things and head back to the house. As of Thursday, all my meals will be on set, so I just need something for the next couple of days and the weekend.

I get home, mark my stuff with a Sharpie, and put it in the fridge and find an empty drawer for my dry goods. I find my iPod in my bags and plug it into the small stereo in the kitchen. The sound is great and I find a playlist that is mellow and settle down with my book on the bench seat in the kitchen window.

Carmen and one of her wardrobe assistants get home at about 9:30. Long day. Right away Carmen asks me about my sleeping arrangements and what I want to do. I tell her that I just need help getting the mattress upstairs and so we go down and she takes it up for me with her assistant. We make up the bed and she brings me the quilt that was on her bed because she brought her own. We lay it on top of the mattress to give it more of a cushion as it is thin and I can feel the springs in there and then put the sheets on. She gives me a blanket and I found a large lap one so I am all set up.

They make something to eat. I had warmed up a Weight Watchers dinner earlier so am not hungry. I sit with Carmen at the dining table and we get caught up on each others lives. She asks about my kids and I am touched that she remembers. I tell her about Ashleigh getting married and she wants to hear all about it. When I tell her it was a destination wedding, she wants to see the pictures. I tell her we can look at them tomorrow when she isn't so tired out. We both head to bed. The young assistant stays up with the other assistant that just arrived and, as I climb into bed, they are making popcorn. Oh to be young again. Because my room is open to downstairs, loft style, I can hear everything so I pull out my iPod docking station and find the track I bought of waves hitting the shore, turn it up, turn off the light, and I am gone in less than 5 minutes.

When I wake up during the night, my back is killing me. This bed is not going to work at all. By morning I am almost incapacitated. It's 7:30 and the other gals have left already. I get up and make a cup of tea and have a few spoonfuls of the lemon yogurt I bought. I was hoping it would be tart, but it is sickly sweet so don't eat much. I then head back upstairs and into the huge shower, hoping that some hot water on my back will ease the pain.

An hour later, I am showered, dressed, hair and make-up on, the iPod playing David Grey downstairs, and I am at my computer finishing up my one line synopsis of the script. That done, I send it off and my day is my own. I shoot off an email to an office PA to send me a cast list so I can look them up and see who I am working with, and ask for a phone call when my supplies arrive.

It's pissing it down outside, a real West-Coast rainy day. The cloud cover is so low and gathers through the next hour that I can't see the ocean anymore. I am hoping it gets it out of it's system before we shoot. I hate working in the rain as does everyone else but the challenge of trying to keep my paperwork dry is such a pain.

I make some pea soup out of a can for lunch and then settle back down with my book. I end up falling asleep on the bench in the kitchen and when I wake the rain has stopped and the blue sky is peeking out through the clouds. My back is driving me nuts so I go into the livingroom and lay on my back over a large ottoman with the upper half of me hanging off, trying to stretch it out. It doesn't help, in fact it feels like my back might go out so I abandon that effort. I walk around a bit and as I stand at a counter in the dining room to look at a book about the house and the area, I see an SUV pull up on the road outside the house, back up, and then pull into the driveway. The make-up gals have arrived! I open the door just as Tana gets to it and we laugh and hug. We haven't seen each other in ages and I have been looking forward to this as soon as I saw she was on the crew. Her assistant is someone I haven't worked with before, her name is Marjorie. We are all in the same age range, as is Carmen. I love it!

I help them in with the lighter of their bags. They are stunned at the house. Because this is a lower budget independent film, Tana was expecting that it would be a bit of a dive. I show them around and they are so happy. I ask if they were told it had a hot tub. Tana's face lights up and I have to quickly tell her that it doesn't. I explain that I was told it does but I think that the fellow was confusing a jaccuzi tub with a hot tub. Tana is ok with it as she didn't pack a swim suit. I packed two. Oh well.

She takes one look at my 'bed' and tells me that I need to call production and get them to buy a bed for me. "Two hundred dollars, and you have a bed. They can afford that. You can't be sleeping on the floor." I tell her that I am going to take the pull out mattress off because I could still feel the springs all night. She tells me to call production. I tell her I will give it one more night and if I am still in pain, I will.

I tell them that I just read in the book about the house that there are bikes in the garage for our use. Apparently, no one lives in this place, it's a rental for vacationers. Kinda like the villas in the BVI. Yes, it always comes back to that place in my mind. I can't help myself.

Anyway, we go out to the garage to see, and sure enough there are two bikes there. Tana opens a large cupboard on the far wall and finds a queen sized piece of 2" foam rolled up. Her face lights up. "Hey! Maybe this on the bed will help you out." she says as she pulls it down off the shelf.

I take it inside and, while they unpack, peel the sheets off of my bed and haul the mattress off and remake it with the foamie. I hope it works.

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