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Anne Yeadon-Jones

Cruising guide authors must sometimes feel as though they can't win. They get more abuse from sailors angry that their secret anchorages are publicized than from boaters maddened by omission of a well-known mooring spot.

Laurence and Anne Yeadon-Jones occasionally get complaints for recommending out-of-the-way beauty spots in their Pacific Yachting articles. "People say `Oh! That's my little place,' "said Anne. But despite the thousands of boaters, west coast waterways are not yet as congested as highways on land. "We've been back (after writing about places) and there's still nobody there," said Anne, whose rationale for writing is simple. "We feel that people are going to go up there anyway, and they're going to want to discover what's there, so we make it easier for them and safer."

The two sailors are sharing their enthusiasm for the favourite cruising destinations in a new book, Desolation Sound and the Discovery Islands. It's a companion volume to their book on the Gulf Islands, published in 1998.

Anne thinks of herself as a modern explorer, the George Vancouver of the cruising set. But instead of taking soundings, collecting flora and looking for a trade route shortcut, the Yeadon-Joneses discover snug little one-boat hideaways or anchorages near idyllic beaches. To them, a great destination can be a vantage point for lovely sunsets as well as a place to refuel and buy supplies.

Writing the sailing guides -- they are planning a Sunshine Coast volume next -- is an adjunct to the couple's day jobs as designers. Anne, 45, is a fashion designer who created stylish apparel for such clients as Marks and Spencer and Mothercare in England. She is presently creating a line of women's clothing for a chain of boutiques called Current. A British-registered architect, Laurence, 48, designs everything from schools to indoor water parks.
The couple has taken an intrepid approach from the first sailing adventures in the mid-1980s.

Born in Durban, South Africa, Anne spent summers aboard her father's 100-passenger tour boats. It wasn't until she married Laurence that she began dinghy sailing and sailboarding.

"Living in London, we needed something to get us out of the stress. One day we said, why don't we buy a boat and really learn how to sail?"

A year later they bought a 36-foot She design, a sloop from legendary British designers Sparkman and Stephens. They called the boat Dreamspeaker.

After only a year as boat owners, they set out on an offshore adventure, crossing the Atlantic by hopping from Portugal to the Canary Islands and then the Bahamas. They cruised up the Intracoastal waterway to Maryland where they hauled the boat out. Then the couple opted to cross Canada by train to have a look at the west coast (Laurence had visited before). They loved Vancouver's waterfront setting, a place where they could combine their love of urban living with their passion for sailing. "In London we used to have to drive for three hours to Southhampton, sail for the weekend and then drive back," said Anne. "To us this was paradise."

It wasn't long before they had Dreamspeaker trucked to Vancouver. Now they live within cycling distance of their boat moored at Coal Harbour.
They published their first cruising guide in 1998. Their books take a different approach from that pioneered by Bill Wolferstan in his classic series of cruising guides first published in the early 1980s.

More than 200 hand-drawn and coloured shoreline sketches of the anchorages are both accurate and whimsical, all approved by the Canadian Hydrographic Service. Laurence animated each of his illustrations by pencilling Anne rowing a dinghy to point out the rocks or navigational hazards. "It's a bit like `Where's Waldo,' " said Anne. She admits that a dinghy offers more than exercise after spouses grow weary of a long passage in a confined space. "When you've just about had enough, you can jump in the dinghy and row around," she said.

The drawings are so popular, the couple has started selling original customized versions showing the clients -- rather than Anne -- rowing around their favourite anchorages.

The book is focused very much on the present. Instead of historical information about early Spanish explorers, the couple mentions every art gallery, bakery and general store in the small harbours. Says Anne, "People have to realize when they're travelling that you've got to support the local industry."

Other travellers value the Yeadon-Jones books. "We like our books to appeal not only to boaters," said Anne. "We get a lot of people buying our books because they are informative. And you can get to most places by car."

The couple has acquired a second career by design. "I always loved the water. It's funny how if you do something you love, it eventually becomes your career."

Susan Down cruises the coast herself when she's not working at the Times-Colonist.