Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Currents

The moment we left the harbor in Nanaimo, we noticed that the water sounded different than it did in Mexico. For one thing, the water in the Sea of Cortez is quite saline, hence a bit "thicker". But more important is the current. While there are only mild currents in the Sea of Cortez, the waters around Vancouver Island burble and swirl with strong currents, especially during the new moon and the full moon. Prudent, sensible sailors (like us) plan passages to take advantage of favorable currents. Even so, there are still moments like the one photographed above, when whirlpools and tide rips push and pull the boat first one way, then another. Fortunately, 'Indigo' is large enough and has enough engine power to buck most currents.

We really experience the currents viscerally in the kayaks. We figure we can paddle at a speed of five to seven knots, at least for a short burst, so crossing or paddling against a current of 2 knots is OK for a short distance, but it can be exciting, and the moving water is always noisy. A bonus is that the plants and animals that live where the current is strong are much more varied, more plentiful and more interesting - kelp, anenomes, starfish.


Around some tiny offshore rocks this past week we encountered Harlequin Ducks bobbing in the swirling tidal streams. These birds love fast moving water: they breed and raise their young in the rapids in mountain rivers. Once the females are on the nest, the males come down to the coast, so this time of year we see them in large groups. You know - "the guys" - hanging out at the beach, riding the rapids.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those tide rips are a great place to fish salmon.

clw

June 06, 2009 10:56 AM  
Anonymous rob said...

It's been a while since I have been on your site, but as always, the pictures are beautiful as are the narratives. The National meeting was busy and I learned that you may be back in Portland for a jaunt. Hopefully our paths with cross. Please let me know if you get a hankering to travel to Maine to relax at my home in the mountains. Take care, Rob

June 15, 2009 6:20 AM  

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