Monday, April 30, 2007

Mt. Norman Orchids

We are moored in Bedwell Harbour on Pender Island. In the summer, this is a crowded and popular moorage, but this early in the season we are one of only a few boats. We do, however, have wireless internet - a luxury in such a beautiful and wild anchorage.
From here there is a fine hike through a coastal forest to Mt. Norman, a knob of rock about 600 feet above the water. In the woods today we found these Calypso Orchids growing in small clusters from the duff made up of the needles of firs and cedars.
On up the mountain, we came upon Pinedrops, which are not really orchids, but seem similarly exotic. When we lived near the Continental Divide in Colorado, the Pinedrops grew near our house in the pine woods. These plants are saprophytes, and don't produce any chlorophyll; they have always seems a little sinister to me, but at the same time I love to discover them along a path.
From the overlook, we discovered we could see down into the moorage, and captured this slot view of Indigo.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Spring Water Colors

Bedwell Harbour, Pender Island, BC
Just south of Vancouver, the Fraser River spills into the Georgia Strait. In the spring, its water is especially muddy, and is a remarkable yellow-brown color that I liken to the paint pigment raw umber. It makes a sharp contrast to the intense blue water color to which we are accustomed, and to the blue sky and mountains. The boundary between this outflow water and the normal water is very distinct - it is like a line is drawn over the surface, brown on one side and blue on the other. The muddy water and the clear water don't mix immediately; often the boundary line is intensified by shifting currents as the tide changes.
We've left Vancouver behind, and had two fine days of sailing in the Georgia Strait and the Gulf Islands.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Four Days of Rain

Granville Island, Vancouver, BC
Under sunny skies last Sunday and Monday we sailed from Anacortes to Vancouver. Favorable winds gave us many miles under sail. We were able to tie up at Granville Island, enjoy some fine sushi, and witness Vancouver in the throes of Stanley Cup hockey fervor.
Then came the rain, heavier each day. With boots, raincoats, and umbrellas we hiked around the city, enjoying the acid green of new leaves on trees and the reflections in puddles. Cherry trees were weeping their blossoms, and the sidewalks were covered with pink petal mush. We ventured out to shop for food, then returned to the boat to cook for Vancouver friends. Great visits in the cozy cabin, while it poured outside. We we had long morning internet sessions in Pedro’s Coffee Shop and Internet Café. More than one person wondered if we were talking dirty to each other with our two laptops at the same table. Those Canadians, where are their minds?!
We were lucky – our short expeditions on these rainy days were into the charming network of streets, shops, and paths of Granville Island and the False Creek neighborhood – one of the finest urban places we have ever experienced.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Stowed, Shipshape, and Underway

Stowed, Shipshape, and Underway, originally uploaded by macatay.

We have transformed Indigo from a cozy winter camp into a lean, mean sailing machine. All the projects and paraphernalia that were laying around all winter have been stowed. Most impressively, the contents of the studio - shown above on shore - are now tightly packed into a few lockers. We are shipshape.
We are also underway, heading north up Puget Sound, and sending this post via single sideband radio.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Bill Point

This is a sketch of Bill Point, the sandy peninsula that juts out to protect the southern entrance of Eagle Harbor. For the past few months, we have been moored with this view of Bill Point, and I have admired the juxtaposition of the distant Seattle skyline with the nearby Bill Point industrial landscape.
For eighty years or more, Bill Point and its adjacent cove was the site of an industrial operation where timbers were treated with creosote, a preservative that was highly effective, but also turned out to be very toxic and persistent in the soil. For the past fifteen years, Bill Point has been an EPA Superfund cleanup site. The red line in the sketch is a high steel containment wall that surrounds the remaining contaminated soil on the point to keep the chemicals from leaching into the sea. This is just one of many extreme cleanup measures. The lovely curving beach between our marina and Bill Point has been entirely rebuilt; the sand that lies there was brought in from a river valley near Bellingham, replacing contaminated sand and soil that were removed. The shore and adjacent woodland have just been reopened as a park.
It’s been interesting to live with this vista, with the herons, eagles, ducks, and kingfishers that swarm over the bay, and the knowledge of the history of the land and seascape. Is the curvature of the shoreline, the perfect color touch of the iron retaining wall, or the exhilaration of the dogs and children on the sand more or less appealing because of what has gone before?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Finishing School

Eagle Harbor has been a fine place to spend the winter. The finest element, from my point of view, has been having a room on shore to use as a studio. I have been able to spread my painting tools out over several large tables, and work uninterrupted on many paintings. I’ve revisited and revised paintings begun during our travels, and translated a few water color sketches and photos into oil paintings. Knowing that the studio time is limited, I have pushed hard to finish as many pieces as possible. I’m learning that bringing a painting to completion requires a very different skill set from what is required to begin one; judgement, compromise, adjustment, refinement.
Here’s are snapshots of paintings nearing completion. For every painting I finish, the Captain has accomplished some major set of boat maintenance chores. While I worked on the painting of the wooden schooner, above, the Captain organized and cleaned the forward cabin.
This gray day scene is from Port Hardy at the north end of Vancouver Island. Float planes are common along the coast of British Columbia and southeast Alaska. I like their shape and the sharp bright colors they add to the subdued landscape. While I worked on this, the Captain wired a fancy new light in the galley.
This shoreline view is from a spell of warm, sunny weather in the San Juan Islands around the time of the summer solstice. I’ve been working on it far too long. The Captain has cleaned the entire main cabin, and climbed the mast, and it’s not quite done yet.
Finishing school will be over at the end of next week, when we will leave Eagle Harbor.