Brandon: Growing up in Comox originally my dad had a boat ever since I can remember - I’ve had a boat in my life ever since I was born. Every weekend we’d be going somewhere different, out to Goose Spit or to Hornby Island or to Tree Island or just anywhere. It was a great way for us to escape the house and get in the water and play around whether it’s cold or warm or whatever - it was a year-round activity just be with the ocean.
I started aggressively skimboarding as a kid (I think that was more my dad building the board and telling me, “Hey get out of my hair and go have fun over there while I hang out and relax”) because I just always drew naturally to sports. As well, I did a lot of freediving as a kid - at that point going swimming and diving down as deep as I could, going fishing with spears made out of tent poles and rubber tubing.
Freediving remains a big part of my life. I find a lot of peace with the water. Which I learned after reading James Nestor’s book, Deep, is tied to the notion of “the master switch of life”: how the second you put your face in the water your heart rate decreases, your blood pressure lowers - all those things just switch on instantly and it’s an innate human reaction to the ocean. It’s an unbelievable feeling. If I’ve had a rough day and I go down to the water - even sticking your feet in the water - I find it changes my entire day. Just having the calm - or even the storm - of the water has such a profound effect on my emotions. And then when you’re in the water and actually freediving, once you put your mask on and your face in the water for the first time and can look around and see the underwater world…it’s just so calming and so reassuring - that you are going to make it no matter what is happening around you in other parts of your life.
Gariele: My relationship with the coast started when I was a kid as well, though I actually didn’t learn to swim until I was seven or eight. It was my dad who influenced me, similar to Brandon. He’d sailed and kayaked his whole life - he sailed from Spain to Trinidad where we lived - and we lived on a boat for a year. So I would row my dinghy around and be swimming in the water and sailing and jumping off cannon-balling in the ocean. I just felt a natural connection to the water even though I hadn’t spent a lot of time in it as a toddler.
Similar to Brandon, the coast gives me a sense of peace, it cleanses my mind. For example, yesterday I was with baby Aria all day, it was a crazy day. But I went to the water at the end of the day to do some stand-up paddle-boarding and as soon as I put my feet in it calmed everything down.
Brandon: You had on the biggest smile I’ve ever seen after that.
Gariele: I was so happy - it just brings me renewal and happiness, being in nature. Especially when it’s warm! I’m not a cold water person, so getting in the water in the winter is a challenge, but I want to try to do that more. But once the sun comes out and there’s ocean nearby, I’m the happiest person.
Brandon asked me if I would be his girlfriend when we were kayaking. We’ve done snorkeling together, holding hands under water. We just feel really connected when we’re doing activities together - like anybody who’s in a relationship - ours just happen to happen in a really awesome place, where we’re weightless.
Brandon: I don’t know whether we’ve ever had a date that isn’t around the water.
Gariele: Yeah that’s true - it always ends with a scenic drive along this road along the coast.
Brandon: I like using every proposition I can for water - we’re either in, on, around, under, or over the water - for any of our dates.
Gariele: It’s so important to us to be raising our new daughter by the coast. We want her to be a water baby.
Brandon: A mermaid. Since Day 0 we’ve been calling her The Little Mermaid. And it’s not that we want to force her into it, we just think that it’s so important to have this as a part of her upbringing. All the things you can explore…I remember fishing for little bullheads and stuff like that as a kid…so many great experiences and I want to share those with little Aria.
Gariele: And the knowledge you can learn from the ocean is limitless. Just looking in a tidepool there are millions of little creatures and things to explore and opportunities for play. We don’t want her to miss out on that.