Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Other Coast

Crane Beach, Ipswitch, Massachusetts
Only through the magic of air travel could we find ourselves on the Atlantic coast. On this fine, windy Autumn Equinox day, we walked for miles on Crane Beach near Ipswitch. We are enroute to a wedding in Vermont, but can't stay away from the shore. The light is different here, less blue.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Winter Moorage

Eagle Harbor, Bainbridge Island, Washington
We are surrounded by a complex vista since we tied up Indigo in Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island for the winter months. From the cockpit we can see across Puget Sound to the Seattle skyline. Looking forward, the harbor offers a rich stew of marine activity – ferry traffic, derelict houseboats at anchor, fancy yacht clubs, kayaks, workboats, and recreational sailing. In the distance, we have the North Cascade mountains to the East, and the Olympic range to the West. The marina is friendly and just across the harbor from Winslow, an upscale ferry suburb. But since we use the dinghy to go do our shopping, we don't feel really suburban.
Yes, marinas are a little like trailer parks, but we are pleased with the place we have found and the odd mixture of nautical history and upscale convenience offered by Eagle Harbor. With time spent on the boat, we seem to be getting only more fascinated by life in the places where the land and salt water come together.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Victoria, originally uploaded by macatay.

We spent the past few days tied up to the Causeway Docks, directly in front of the Empress Hotel in Victoria Harbor. This is the very heart of tourism in Victoria, and it was like being in a fishbowl. But it was also delightful people watching in beautiful early fall sunshine.
Along the Causeway, artisans and craftsmen set up booths to sell their wares to tourists. Among them are several sketch artists who will do portraits in charcoal - caricatures, really. To advertise their skill, they have portraits of well-known movie stars hung in the booth. People pay to have their personalities captured, joking with their friends, answering the artists questions, posing, in every sense. The captain and I were strolling past one of these sketch artists yesterday when we saw a scenario that touched us both deeply.
The artist was bent over his drawing, rubbing out, retouching, really working, without the easy facility that characterized the cartoon-like pieces we had seen previously. Sitting in front of him was his subject, a young woman of the Mennonite or Hutterite faith, wearing a plain cotton dress, hair pulled back into a bun, without makeup. Her expression was solemn; she was resigned to sit, serenely, until the process was finished. She gave every impression of not being aware of what was apparent to all - she was utterly, and unaffectedly beautiful.
Her beauty and apparent innocence were exactly the source of the artist's difficulty. Caricature was unthinkable. He wanted to make a portrait this time - to use his skills to make art, instead of a cartoon. Behind him stood a young man who was clearly the husband of the young woman. His expression, too, was difficult to read, but we guessed that the complexity of the commission and its execution were of as much concern to him as they were to the artist.
We didn't stay to watch the process finished. It seemed too much like voyeurism. But extraordinary natural beauty and grace co-exist with crazy tourism and commercialism in Victoria. The photo above is the sailing ship "Pacific Grace", which leaves the Victoria docks most days with a cluster of tourist passengers, and gives them a taste of the beauty of sailing.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Feeding Frenzy

Victoria Harbor
I promise this is the last sunset picture for awhile - taken our last night in Barkey Sound, it seemed like a grand finale.
Yesterday was a long and eventful day. It began about three in the morning, when we were all awoken by sounds of splashing outside, and the occasional bump against hull or rudder. Our third crew member, Doug, spent time on deck and reported big shapes and little shapes, all magnified by the phosphorescence in the water, surfacing and diving around the boat. We guessed that the boat just happpened to be in the midst of a feeding frenzy, with salmon and seals snacking on a school of herring. No one got back to sleep.
We were up early anyway to leave Barkley Sound and make the seventy mile run down Vancouver Island's west coast. Currents, weather, and wind made it a fine journey. We coasted into the Juan de Fuca Strait with a rising wind behind us, and finished with gale force winds pushing us along with much reduced sail. We ducked into Sooke Harbor, a protected bay about twenty miles west of Victoria, in the late afternoon and found a place to tie up.
With secure anchorage in Sooke, we were able to achieve part two of our plan, and have dinner at the culinary mecca known as the Sooke Harbor House. While the wind continued to howl and the fog swirled, we sat inside and ate an elegant and rather elaborate dinner - another version of the feeding frenzy.
Now we are tied up in Victoria for a few days in order to catch up with our mail, news, and make plans.