( When I posted the last blog, the cyber gods decided to reformat it while whizzing out through the sky from Port Hardy. All the content is there, it was just reorganized. I decided not to tear it apart and put it back together again my way. If an idea has been reinforced for me at Shearwater it is that when something works, don’t mess with it.)
We left God’s Pocket with a forecast of gale force winds to help blow us homeward. That kept the sport fishing boats in the lee of the northwest point of Hardy Bay. As usual they tacked and swerved and wandered unpredictably with little sense of seamanship or right of way. We picked our way through the mob and set a course into the harbour of Port Hardy. I was standing on the starboard locker of the cockpit leaning up over the aft cabin bulkhead to keep a good lookout for more fishing boats. I woke up with the gentle swishing, crunching noise of clam shells and mud under the keel. Yep, goddamnit! Even old salts do it and a big finger to any armchair admiral who wants to say something sarcastic. At least I’ve admitted it and there was no damage done except to my pride. That, of course, was due entirely to luck and no good management.
Now to properly run aground you must do it in broad daylight, on the wrong side of a light, in the middle of a harbour you know well; and of course, on a falling tide. So I screwed that up too. It was a rising tide. We floated off and backed away as gently as we had arrived. I can tell you how hard it is to steer when you are my weight but only three inches tall! It’s healthy to laugh at yourself and it’s good to be reminded of how easy it is to screw up. For once I got off easy. No drama at all! Many marine incidents occur because somebody fell asleep at the helm. Yes, you can take that as a metaphor.
The gale warning was still up next day. We headed south in the late morning and arrived in Port Harvey, well down Johnstone Strait, in seven hours. That’s an excellent passage of fifty miles, our ground speed topped over ten knots at times. Then while dropping the anchor, the entire windlass electrical system quit. . , out went the chain, with only old Armstrong hisself to hoy it back aboard. A puzzler to troubleshoot, I slept on it. There was power in all the right places, but not enough to turn the windlass motor. Eventually I found a bad connection that had heated enough to melt some plastic which in turn rendered the continuity too low to work. My incentive was that 150′ of chain, plus a forty-five pound anchor to be humped back aboard by hand. The problem with repairing your own boat is that there’s nobody else to blame and no-one else to do it for you. Self-sufficiency, I say it again, is the mantra of a successful mariner.
After repairs in the morning, we travelled the short distance down Johnstone Strait to Port Neville. The wind forecast was correct. It blew like hell and the tide runs furiously there. I was plenty happy to have a fully functional windlass and let out as much chain as I wanted. There is a long inlet behind the famous old store and docks. It would be worth taking a few days to explore. There are some great petroglyphs in the area which will take some time to find and so I will return. It’s fun to discover the wonders of a place which you’ve been passing and ignoring for over thirty years.
Today we travelled from Port Neville, left Johnstone Strait and managed to transit five sets of notorious rapids. Yes five. Employing some old tug-boaters tricks we transitted The Wellbore Rapids, Greene Point, Dent, Gillard and finally the Yuculta Rapids. Now we are a few miles from the northern portion of Georgia Strait which is home waters. I want to stretch this voyage as long as possible. I’ve made the entire jaunt previously in seven days. On this trip, today is our eleventh and I’d as soon stay out for the entire month. We’ll wander southward and see where we end up. There’s always a chance of getting lost in a fog.
We found a tiny ledge to set the anchor on the edge of Whiterock Passage. In the morning we headed south again and were soontreated to the fabulous display of two humpback whales at play,,,or whatever it is they’re doing when they leap out of the water and crash down in an explosive, booming welter of spray. It is always an incredible sight even when too far away to photograph but we got close enough for a fine round of fluke waving. We stopped in Whaletown on Cortes Island, then toured the gorge in Gorge harbour and finally anchored for the night by the docks at beautiful Mansons Landing on Cortes. I’ve been aching for years to photograph a petroglyph a ways down the beach from here so off I scooted in the dinghy knowing full well I’d never it. By an incredible stroke of luck the sun broke through the overcast just as I looked up at this particular boulder and there it was! Shadows revealed the etching in the boulder which is monstrous, about 4 metres long, the carving was made as high as a man can reach. What I find stunning is that the rock is solid blue granite, the kind of incredibly hard rock with sparkly bits of glinting mica. However did they do it? What tools did they use and how long would it have taken? I’m guessing it is a talisman to summon spawning salmon but what does this white man know? We also discovered that Cortes Island has it’s own co-op radio station which plays some fabulous music in the afternoons and evenings. KPLZ 89.5 or online as Cortes Radio.ca from Cortes Island, “Where everybody has something to hide.” You’ve got to love that!
The following morning brought light winds,then a breeze right on the nose, but we motor-sailed the long grind down to Jedediah Island. This place, for me, is the centre of my universe. I spent two years helping to fight to save this fabulous island as a natural park from the provincial brownshirts. We won, and the island retains it’s magic and wildness, but that’s another story. If, when the time comes, there’s enough of me left to burn, I want my ashes spread from from Gibraltar Rock, the peak of Jedediah.
Friday morning dawns clear, calm and perfect. I don’t want to leave this place but another life calls, or should I say, demands. It has been two weeks since we flew to Vancouver to begin this tiny odyssey. Of course, it seems like two days. We drop the hook in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay a few hours later. On Saturday, the fifteenth, we arrive at the Maritime Society docks and are greeted by old friends with hugs and welcomes. So ends a chapter of my life spent aboard Seafire. I sit dozing in my easy chair listening to the sirens and Harleys Davidsons buzzing along the highway. How will the next chapter go?
Friday night, beginning of the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend. I finish work at five and ‘Seafire’ is leaving the dock by 6:30 pm. It will be dark in an hour and I need to have the hook down by then. I don’t want to be mooching around these rock-infested waters in the dark, no matter how many electronics I have. I sneak along the beach where last weekend I explored forest grave sites. Suddenly I see a light ashore and then in the gathering dusk, more crosses. I’ve just spotted yet another burial sight. It is an eerie moment seeing that solar light. I’m told that the next small island to the north is covered in gravesites as well.
By seven thirty I’ve got the anchor well-set and a few minutes later, total darkness descends. I write seeing my reflection in the darkened window across the cabin. The scribe alone in his garret, no-one else in the world knows where I am. Outside low peaceful bits of cloud drift beneath a waxing quarter-moon and a star-studded sky. Two miles distant the lights of the Dryad Point Light Station cast long reflections on the calm water. I am utterly alone, and lonely, but I am at peace cocooned in my little boat. I think of my wife and my dog and my friends and wish they could all be here. I’ve also made some wonderful friends in Shearwater this year, we’ll be able to help each other through the winter ahead. There’s comfort in that. In the morning I’m up at the break of dawn. I make some coffee and complete my morning ritual by writing at least a few lines. I’m free to go wherever I want and while I sit writing, I’m wasting precious daylight.
I anchor in mid-afternoon in Clatse Bay, a deep sub-inlet hooking back eastward from Roscoe Inlet. The entrance to Roscoe starts just above Troup Narrows, a divide between Cunningham and Chatfield Islands. I‘ve found very old, faded pictographs in the narrows and drawn onward I find one more at the entrance to Roscoe. There I enter one of the fiords which penetrate well into the interior of mainland Canada. The land masses on either side are now peninsulas, not islands. The only way out is the way I came in. The weather is glorious and I am compelled onward, reluctantly turning back a few miles until I drop the anchor here. I’ve travelled beyond the edge of my last paper chart for this area and prudence demands I go no further relying on only electronic charts. I have to practice what I preach. The water at the head of the bay is filled with detritus and covered with gull feathers. There are hundreds of birds and very many seals. I can hear the calls of gulls, eagles, ravens and crows all at once. Salmon are still spawning and there is a feeding frenzy at the mouth of the stream running into the bay. I take the kayak and video camera and inch my way forward.
Wheeling birds fill the air above me and I glide over the sunken corpses of thousand of fish. A pungent dead salmon reek fills the air, the water bears foam and bubbles from the excess of protein. Wary of bears defending this feast I paddle cautiously until the kayak is almost aground. Darting schools of salmon surround the kayak, thumping against it at times, in their frenzy to complete their life cycle. As the light fades and the tide begins to ebb, I retreat, awed as always to see this timeless drama. I leave the birds to gorge, knowing that within the thick brush all around there may well be both wolves and bears watching me depart the scene of their autumnal feasting. How I wish for a glimpse of them. There is a waxing quarter-moon tonight and a clear sky, the feast may well continue in the dark. The lean, cold, wet days of winter are not far off. Now is the time to be putting on the Ritz.
Thanksgiving Sunday morning arrives with the same clear sky. The stars last night were amazing. I sit in ‘Seafire’ writing and watching the shadowed silhouette of the mountain to the east slowly descending the face of the mountain on the other side of the inlet. When the line of brightness finally hits the waters where I am, the dripping dew will begin to burn away. Any dew in the shade will remain all day. That moment arrives nearly two hours later as the sun climbs free of the land. The mist dissipates over the water and the plexiglass windows on the boat gently click and pop as they expand within their frames. Sunlight reflecting on my computer screen makes writing difficult as I peer through it at the image of my wrinkled visage on top of these words. Birds over the mouth of the stream rise and swirl, calling raucously. All are species which are natural enemies of each other. Here they are drawn by their mutual fixation of plenty.
The season for painting brightwork has slipped away. Even on a day like this, by the time the wood has dried sufficiently to apply any sort of finish, it is already accumulating a fresh coat of dampness from the approaching evening. In the coming winter there will be many days with no sunlight at all. Keeping ahead of the ubiquitous black mould and green slime will be a constant chore. We’ll think it is a fair day when the wind eases to allow the rain a vertical descent. I may as well be content to simply savour this moment.
If I could I’d take the boat back south, haul her for storage ashore, then take my little trailer down to where the cactus and palm trees grow. If I had my druthers, uh huh! As it turns out, I may well have to sell my beloved ‘Seafire’ to break out of the spiral I seem to be stuck within. The thought breaks my heart but I know that as sacred to me as she may be, a boat is only “stuff.” Invariably it is our stuff which in fact owns us. Some of my finest memories are from times when all I possessed could be kept in a backpack and my pockets. My downfall was my first credit card. It seems I’ve owed someone money ever since. I don’t need money to enjoy the day ahead and that is what I’m determined to do.
I go on deck to savour the sun’s radiation on my old bones and bend to a repair on my kayak. It’s not really a repair but more of a pre-fix. I see a tiny crack and surmise that an application of special epoxy will prevent the blemish from becoming a serious leak. I apprenticed as a helicopter engineer and was indoctrinated that anything less than perfect was never ‘Good enough.” I muse now how that has so often taken me from a functional imperfection to a perfectly nonfunctional situation. I’ve also learned that “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and that “If it’s working, leave it alone.”
Einstein suggested that you can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it. I knew the parameters of life here and chose to come back anyway, a humble financial refugee. My experience and knowledge have to put aside and I just do my job. The hardest part of being here is dealing with a few people who demand respect which they not are prepared to reciprocate. It’s a small community and folks have to get along whether they like each other or not. There is a very long winter ahead. Negativity is often ambient here and I do my best to find humour in most things. That is my best effort at being positive and trying to buoy my fellows. I am reminded of Richard Burton’s response to a question about his success as an actor. “I say the lines, I take the money and I go home.” That, I tell myself, is a mantra to cling to as I strive toward my personal goals. I remind myself, the failed entrepreneur, that if I know so much, I wouldn’t be here in the first place working for wages. Enough thinking, enough writing, it’s time to weigh the anchor and see what’s around the corner on this beautiful weekend.
Being in this wonderful area is indeed a perk of my employment here. I head out and around the corner away from my workplace as often as I can. This weekend I’ve gone a few inches off the chart, both in my comments and where the boat is anchored, somewhere onto chart #3940, which I don’t have aboard. It is at the top of my grocery list. Fat lot of good that does me today. There is not a breath of wind. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to use my sails. I find more pictographs on the eastern side of Roscoe Inlet, and three hours after raising my anchor I’ve dropped it again in Morehouse Bay on the west side of an island named Chatfield. I’m not far from Shearwater and a Thanksgivng dinner invitation. I’ll make a bet that tomorrow the wind will rise and produce seas right on my nose.
While editing today’s photos I discover pictographs that I had not clearly seen while photographing them. They are so faded that they don’t show up until I enhance colour saturation. I am stunned and delighted. I wonder how many people pass by this very important first nations art and never know. I suspect there are many native people who themselves are unaware. How I would love to find an elder who can explain more than the little I know but the paintings truly seem to be a lost art. I do understand that many pictographs were painted as a rite of passage. That may explain why so many are found in places which would have been very difficult and dangerous to climb or descend to. Perhaps modern graffiti placed in conspicuous places such as on a water tower or a bridge-span crossing a busy highway or above a rushing river is a good contemporary metaphor. The daring-do of young people, especially males, declares “Look at me, I’ve taken this risk to tell the world that I am brave beyond doubt and I claim my place in the world. Don’t mess with me. Women should take note of this macho dude.”
Perhaps I’m over-simplifying the mystery of pictographs. They probably have many meanings. They may mark the edge of territories, or work as roadsigns or warnings. They may have simple commercial connotations. “Aunt Thelma’s Best Dried Berries And Oolichan Grease” or “Old Joe’s natural remedies,” or maybe, “Honest Jimmy’s Good Used Canoes.” I do know that if you look specifically for pictographs, you probably won’t find them. Look instead for the type of location where they are found. Occasionally these natural billboards will reveal pictographs. It is usually an over-hanging rock face, often covered in part by a yellowish type of lichen or mould. This seems to indicate a permanently dry spot that is seldom, if ever, washed with precipitation. The paintings are made by using ochre. This is a colouring (According to my Oxford dictionary) which is “A mineral of clay and ferric oxide, used as a pigment varying from light yellow to brown or red.” All that I have seen on the West Coast are evident in varying tones of brick red. When completely faded, there is still a dark undertone left behind. No-one has found a way of dating pictographs. In other locations around the world they are deemed to sometimes be thousands of years old. I am awed to see them, no matter what their age. I can’t explain my fascination with this primal art form but looking for more, as well as petroglyphs, is as good a reason as any to continue exploring this amazing region of twisting waterways, bays, islets, inlets and archipelagos. The images are from an age when indigenous people truly lived in acknowledgement of their environment.
Thanksgiving day finds me blasting back to Shearwater with all sails out before a steady north wind. I sailed a broad reach all the way home. Damn it felt good!
“The way to kill a man or a nation is to cut off his dreams, the way the whites are taking care of the Indians: killing their dreams, their magic, their familiar spirits.” …William S. Burroughs
“THIS JUST IN…”
That’s what they say during a newscast when a new story breaks. Today is Thursday the 13th, apparently close enough to Friday 13th. A pusher tug ran aground with an empty fuel barge in the wee hours this morning. The grounding was at the mount of Seaforth Channel, eight miles west of here, immediately south of the Ivory Island Light, in an area I dearly love. The ramifications will be huge, especially with the ongoing controversy about gas and oil pipelines and terminals here on the central coast. Speculations are already a fathom deep.
Once the muck and frenzy has settled and I can put together an accurate story, I’ll have the fodder for my next blog. By the way, the marine weather forecast at the moment is for gale force winds.
I’m beginning this blog late on Sunday afternoon. It is August 14th, and hot. The wind is blowing westerly, right on the nose, so here I sit anchored in Departure Bay, Nanaimo waiting for nightfall. Usually the summer westerlies drop off at night and later, under the light of a near-full moon, I’ll continue my journey Northward. I’ve had quite a day, filled with little mishaps and I suppose I should be content, it’s those perfect days which often precurse something nasty. So all’s well.
I’m so down and out these days I can almost will any darkness to happen. Thank the gods for my wife Jill. I went a huge part of this year certain that my marriage was finished but Jill has given me unlimited support when others have let me down and without her help, in every sense, I’d really be stuck. I wonder that I don’t understand being loved, I guess I never have, but I know that I am and I am deeply thankful. And so, professing my appreciation and love for Jill I leave her, and my beloved dog Jack behind. It is eight o’clock Monday morning. Jack will be asleep on the couch and Jill will already be at work, a few weeks away from retirement. I’ve never felt lonelier.
I arrived here in Anderson Bay on Texada Island at 0:200, creeping into this narrow nook in the shadows of the moonlight and anchored in eighty feet of water. I’ve crossed the Strait Of Georgia, now with the long miles of Malaspina Strait ahead with it’s rollicking winds and seas on the nose. I’ll weigh anchor in a few minutes and see how far I can get. The moonlight and the stars last night were brilliant. Blobs of bio luminescence tumbled past in the boat’s wake. The night’s chill seeped into my bones, a relief after the intense heat of the day. I love travelling at sea in the dark, there is a magic that I cannot describe. Now the warmth of the day is building and soon the winds will begin. Ravens croak and hoot as kingfishers chatter and dart in perpetual motion. A young eagle sits above the scene opening it’s wings to warm away the night’s chill. It is a new world already, the timber and vegetation and geology are noticeably different these few miles north. The subtle changes will continue as I move on until I find myself back in the endless up coast cedar jungle. It’s time to move on. To the south, the high ground of Gabriola Island is still visible on the horizon, the last sight of home waters. I turn my back on it and head north to new adventures.
In a few days I’ll be at work wearing my greasy coveralls, bent to some task of mechanical drudgery. Someone will walk into the shop and before I can straighten up and see who it is I’ll hear the dreaded words, “My punt sunk.” Ah yes, it’s a long road to Mexico. I head up the shoreline of Texada anxious to get as far north as possible before the forecast winds hits me on the nose. It builds gently and holds, a perfect sailing breeze, but nearly everyone going with it have their sails furled and motor on. It must be hot with little apparent wind on their boats! Alan Farrell, an old friend and iconic West coast nautical sage once said, “If you’re sailing against the wind you’re going the wrong way.” Dunno! The forecast is for several days of ongoing Northwesterly strong winds, the whole damned three-hundred plus miles. All that wind and I’m motoring against it. What the hell am I doing? I promised never to do this again.
The wind eases and the day becomes blistering hot. Eventually I arrive in a deep bay called Teakearne Arm where I used to work on the tugs making up log booms for the tow south to Vancouver. Now there is not one log in sight and yachts litter the shoreline. It is a poor anchorage, the bottom is all rock and slopes downward almost vertically, but each boat has a stern line, a thread to life ashore, and I marvel at the monkey-see monkey-do of poor seamanship. I anchor in the one tiny flat-bottomed spot I know. Some of the land-lubbers afloat must be commenting on my lack of seamanship; I’ve got no stern line out!
I left at 01:30, an old tug boater at home in the dark. The yachties in their white plastic shells slept in blissful ignorance of the meteorites and pulsing stars and revolving universe.
The night blows cold and I’m weary. I soon realize that I am too late and too tired to take on the notorious trio of rapids ahead in the dark. I had intended to be on my way at midnight but have slept too long. The tide will turn again in a few hours so I drop the hook in the only tiny bight suitable to anchor behind Bartlett Island. Bright green eyes in the timber ashore glare into my spotlight when I check to see that I’m not too close to the steep rocky shoreline. The anchor chain grumbles over the rocky bottom and I grimace to think of the wear to the chain’s galvanizing. I’m up at first light, brewing some stout coffee. The forecast wind is strong, and dead on the nose. As I advance and wait repeatedly, my anchor is going to be up and down, to use an old nautical expression, “Like a whore’s drawers.” Haaar! I’ve previously made this passage in seven days. I’ll make no predictions for this one.
The Yucultas, Gillard Pass and Dent Rapids can only be transited safely at or near slack water, the time when the tide reverses from flood to slack or back to flood. These are notorious and dreaded waters. There is a spot called the “Devil’s Hole” And I’ll leave you to speculate on exactly which hole that might be. As a former tug boater, I know them all too well. Oh yes, I have stories! Beyond lays two more tidal bores, Greene Point Rapids and Whirlpool Rapids in Well Bore Channel.
I grind on against the now shrieking wind and finally drop my hook in the serenity of Forward Harbour, all the rapids successfully behind me. My windows are all coated with a thick layer of brine but I know what awaits me in Johnstone Strait and I don’t bother cleaning them. What bliss! I’m anchored in mud, great holding and best of all, silence. There is no grumbling anchor chain and I slept the whole night through. At 06:30 a voice outside the hull begins hailing the boat. “Ahoy Seafire, are you awake?” Yes I wasn’t! The guttural Worshington accent holds no appeal. I roll over and pull the blankets over my head. The beseeching voice eventually went away. When I get up, there were no other boats left in the anchorage. There were no emergencies. Another long day lays ahead.
I have a strange fumblebum sort of luck. I check my engine bay regularly through the day while underway and thoroughly at the end of each day, before I make supper or do anything else. Three days ago, while doing the routine my cabin table slipped in the open hole. I’d put my lap top away but the mouse and pad both landed within a fraction of falling on down into the bilge. I smugly rescued them, then noticed my wristwatch was missing. I couldn’t see it and assumed the worst. There was no point in looking further. It was down there. A day later I find it laying on a little ledge on the opposite side of the engine from where I looked, poised to leap into the depths of the bilge. The rescue was successful. I look at it on my wrist, still smelling of bilge, and know I should stop writing and weigh anchor. Fumblebum luck.
Last night while doing my engine checks, I cycled the electric bilge pump as usual to confirm it was working correctly. Inadvertently the switch was not in it’s automatic position. There was an abnormal amount of water to pump and I began to investigate. A sinking boat, especially one you’re aboard, is always of deep concern. I discovered a leak where the stern tube enters the bilge. This tube encircles the propeller shaft and holds a gland called the stuffing box. In this case, it is a heavy rubber tube which seals out the ocean by being firmly double-clamped at either end. It was no emergency…unless the other clamp failed. After thirty-five years of being ignored, the chances were good. It’s buddy had just died. It was not something that could wait any longer. That I find the problem now, instead on the open sea further north…fumblebum luck.
I have plenty of spare parts aboard, except at the moment, those lockers have several hundred pounds of large toolboxes sitting over them. That huge mass of ferrous metal already has the autohelm’s flux compass behaving erratically. Now this. LOUD CURSES! Rummaging through various nooks I finally found two hose clamps, shorter than required and of two different widths. Finally I managed to fit one clamp inside the other and had a workable solution. I should mention that the clamp goes in a place, where by contorting painfully, I can just reach. To wrap the clamp around the tube, fit it’s end back into itself, tighten it sufficiently by hand so it won’t slip when doing the final tightening with a ratchet, align the ratchet correctly with the tiny clamp nut, twist the ratchet countless times without dropping it while slippery with blood, (yes bleeding is always part of this sort of job) stop the leak without dropping my tool (more cursing while fishing with a magnet on a string) nor did my glasses fall into the bilge, well…mission completed! I used to claim that I did my best work in the dark with my eyes closed. Enough said.
It’s a temporary but safe fix and I’m happy to have accomplished it here in a calm anchorage. I feel slightly smug with a hint of returning self-confidence. My back is sore, my hands are torn, I want to go back to bed, but there’s a certain masochistic romance here which is not eluding me. A simple flipped switch, a corroded hose clamp, it’s a combination of little things that sink you.
The third full day of the journey was uneventful, if sailing into the teeth of a gale is ho hum. I certainly enjoy having a pilot house with an inside helm There were few other vessels out in Johnstone Strait and none going my way. I am now miles above Knight inlet and firmly within the North coast cedar jungle. It’s predominant yellowish green is punctuated randomly with the now-odd fir, hemlock or pine. In a few days, I’ll begin to see Sitka Spruce. I’ve made my way northward today by threading an intricate journey along the labyrinth of passages between the islands of the coast. The route is tortuous but keeps me out of the teeth of the gale which continues to push ashore and hammer the coast. There is a massive high out on the North Pacific and the wind finds it’s way well inland up the inlets. Mu wind gauge leapt above forty at times as the boat shuddered. The rigging shrieked and the mast vibrated. The boat felt and alive and eager as a puppy.
At sundown I claw my way into Wahkana Bay on the Northeast corner of massive Gilford Island. I expect the wind to be howling but the small fiord is deep and almost fully enclosed. It is snug and peaceful within towering cliffs which enclose the anchorage. The contrast to the angry world outside is eerie. As I set the anchor I hear something crashing in the thick brush of the shoreline. Soon a young black bear reveals itself, having come to the ocean’s edge at low tide. It effortlessly flips large rocks and snacks on the small crabs beneath. It is as if I am invisible. Magic!
Thursday morning, day four. Well after sun-up I linger at my notes and photos. I’m tired, I don’t want to leave but my Presbyterian instincts urge me on. All too often the actual weather and the forecast are entirely different. I don’t want to find that I’ve wasted time sitting out a bad forecast. then I ask myself how sitting in an anchorage like this and just being, is any waste of time. Then I remember how I sat on a tugboat in one spot for three weeks, waiting for the wind to ease.That was in Allison Harbour, on my day’s route ahead.
Thursday evening, Blunden Harbour; a few miles short of Allison Harbour. It’ll still be there in the morning. Fatigue and a rapidly rising wind with a gale warning drove me in from open water. I did not want to find myself in a gale and in darkness off Cape Caution. So, another uneventful slog through beautiful country on a day of perfect weather.
I saw my bear on the beach again this morning, then dozens of dolphins, old haunts, beautiful boats, and I’ve sailed out of the winding labyrinth of the jigsaw jungle. I’ve met many other yachts, all vacationing while I’m grinding my way toward a job I swore I’d never go back to.
I did feel the same old life-long thrill of sailing out onto the open ocean. I could see to the open horizon. That was reassuring. The dreamer lives! Yet I wonder what the hell I’m doing heading north at this time of the year. This is madness. Tonight the sky is clear and the sun has set before nine pm. I swear I heard Sandhill Cranes migrating south this morning above the fog. Juvenile Bonaparte Gulls are flocking up and heading south. Leaves are turning colour. Salmon are spawning, I see jumpers (Salmon leaping clear of the sea) all day every day. Now in the cedar jungle, there is only the monochromatic yellowish green of a single species. A cherry tree ashore stands out clearly. Is it really the end of summer? Are we going to have an early winter? A recurring health problem has also appeared again today and I’m flummoxed about what comes next.
A good night’s sleep, thazwot! I went out on deck for a final check and there rose the August full moon. Requisite photos taken, it was into bed and up in the morning under a clear, calm sky. And so began day five of this little odyssey but that is another blog as the story and the journey continues.
“The difference between a fairy tale and a sea story? A fairy tale starts with “Once upon a time.” A sea story begins with “This ain’t no shit!”