Monday, July 28, 2008

Leaving Canada

We dropped Sam and Kate off in Ucluelet yesterday at midday, then sailed late into the evening in order to stay ahead of bad weather. Our reward was this sunset view, accented by fog, off Carmanah Point, just at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

This passage was a bit sad because we are leaving Canada, after five happy years of part-time residence there. The coastal waters of British Columbia have become like a second home to us; we know the ports, the passages, the anchorages, and the weather. Or we have begun to know them, in the way that any visitor claims acquaintance after the second visit. We will miss the sense of returning to familiar spots, and guess that we won't see many anchorages or passages as pristine and unspoiled as those in British Columbia.

In anticipation of further journeys, we are gathering the items we will no longer be needing on the boat. We are accumulating a pile of books, charts, and navigation information specific to Canada. A look through our stores reveals how attached we have become to a few Canadian goods. The Captain is grim at the thought that he will no longer be able to buy Canadian maple syrup, and I will miss my PeekFreans ginger cookies. But I won't give up my Canadian baking powder! I've stocked up so that my galley will never be without poudre MAGIC!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Indigo Under Sail

Finally, after 12,000 miles of travel, we got a few photos of "Indigo" under sail. We accomplished this with the perfect combination: it was a sunny day with a light but steady wind; we had our son, Sam, and his partner Kate Gigler on board; and Sam is an experienced dinghy driver. This is the kind of messing around in boats that has characterized our month in Barkley Sound.

A postscript: we tried to post this blog entry using the single sideband radio, and the photo didn't find it's way to the blog. Now that we have a good internet connection, I am posting the original photo and one more. We are becoming aware that there is a world of difference between the beefy internet that is called broadband (the norm in most of the wired world these days)and the simpler forms that support messages of around 300 to 800 bytes to be sent from remote locations. For comparison, check your normal email, remembering that kilobytes are bytes times 1000!

The Great Tide Pool

With four people on board during our last week in Barkley Sound, we reached expeditionary force. This was important, because we wanted to make an assault on the Great Tide Pool, one of those destinations that seems important if for no other reason than its name. This is a strange area of shoreline on the exposed south shore of Wouwer Island, at the west side of the Broken Group Islands. High rocks ring a low tidal basin; the surrounding rocks deliver rising and falling tide in rushing streams. Given the surf and current, there is no easy way to enter by boat, and we had yet to find a trail.
So traveling with our flotilla of small boats - kayak and dinghy - we covered the four miles from our anchorage, then forged a trail from a safe beach landing up and over rocks into the Great Tide Pool. Once inside, we poked into small and large tide pools, and spent an inordinate amount of time watching the waves slither in and out throuh the outer ring of rocks. A great expedition.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Our Footprint

You might think, Dear Friends, that we are just lazing around out here. But, in reality, we have been trying to figure out how much energy we use on the boat, how much fuel we consume per mile, how many miles we travel by sail as opposed to miles traveled by motor. This is more difficult than you might imagine. Today, for instance, we had a very brisk downwind sail until we reached a narrow and treacherous spot between Hankin Island and Single Rock. Anticipating trouble, we turned on the motor while leaving the sails full of wind. Just at that moment the Captain's hat blew off, we initiated man-overboard procedures, circled around for the cap, the wind changed direction, and fifteen minutes later, we turned the engine off because we were happily sailing in an entirely different direction, without the hat, sadly. We need to work on that man overboard thing. Now for the calculations: how many miles were sailed by motor, and how many under sail?
This business of the carbon footprint took on a new dimension as I was reading a book about the threatened ocean the other day, and learned that the trace of a fish or whale or seal who has dived under water is called - a footprint. Clearly, our very smallest carbon footprint would be the trace we would leave as we disappeared under water. We have decided to reexamine these calculations.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Back in Barkley Sound

Happy to be back in Barkley Sound, where the sea is snow melt aquamarine.
Cool, foggy mornings; sea calm
Brisk, sunny afternoons. Paddle into the wind.
The Captain beaches his kayak on a sandy islet, and claims the territory in the name of Stevie Ray Vaughn
(listen again to "Little Wing")
The mate lags behind, staring at the kelp, yellow ochre and raw sienna, elegant shapes.
Freshly caught crab...cakes and the Modern Jazz Quartet
Sunsets throws its arms around distant mountains and Altocumulus clouds,
bringing them into our anchorage as warmly welcomed friends.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Time Warp

The fine weather continues. This is generally good, except that during these good summer weather spells, the west wind blows a gale through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We are trying to travel east through the strait as we head for Barkley Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Yesterday, we were motoring directly into 25 knots of wind, taking lots of salt water over the bow, when we encountered the scene above. It was like entering into a time warp (except, of course, for the red pilot on the left, which is definitely a 21st century craft). We had the good fortune to end up in th midst of a dozen or more tall ships which had just left Victoria.

We traveled with the ships for several hours, and the wind and seas continued to build. Snapping photos was a challenge, as we were continually dunked and slapped around by the waves. But our strong diesel motor gave us a steady course directly into the wind, while the tall ships had to tack back and forth. It was awesome to see the feats of sailing.
Once we were anchored in Port Angeles, we walked to the city pier where a half dozen of the ships were tied up and open for visits from the public. Most of the crew members are college age, wearing outfits that combine 19th century sailors garb with 21st century climbing gear. We felt as if we had sailed into the past.

Port Townsend

Late last week, summer broke out in the Pacific Northwest, bringing us a string of picture perfect days with the deepest and clearest of blue skies and warm breezes. We were making a stop in Port Townsend to arrange to have a cruising spinnaker made and have some other work done on our sails. The photo above shows 'Indigo' docked at Point Hudson, with the sail loft in the background. Port Townsend in general, and this small boat harbor in particular, are places where a sailor can feel fully at home. There are people everywhere messing around in boats - kayaking, rowing, sailing. There are more classic boats and handboats per square foot of water than anyplace else.
Our rambles around Port Townsend on land were also satisfying in the beautiful weather. The gardens were overflowing with bloom, and even the back lots were covered with wild poppies. There were high points - a terrific farmer's market, and an opportunity to sit at an outdoor cafe and enjoy live blues on a warm evening in the last of the summer dusk.