Monday, September 26, 2011

Sensory Deprivation

We made a thirty hour passage from the Charleston Harbor (near Coos Bay, Oregon) to Eureka California, with dense fog during the entire journey. It was an easy trip in other respects: relatively little wind, a quiet sea. But the overwhelmingly gray world played on our spirits, and left us feeling a little sad, a little bereft.

I have never tried to photograph the effect of fog when offshore, but the Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto made a practice of photographing seascapes all over the world with a large format camera; his photograph "Ligurian Sea, Saviore" gives some sense of what that monotone world is like.

On the other hand, once we arrived in Eureka, the fog cleared, and we were delighted with the bright sun, vivid color, and delightful fraqrances of Northern California. We once again rented a car and hiked in the wildlife refuges around the fringes of Humboldt Bay. After that spell of sensory deprivation, we were nearly giddy as we hiked the marches and beaches!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Offshore Stargazing

Monday and Tuesday we made the thirty hour passage from Astoria to Coos Bay, Oregon.  The seas were calm; the Pacific Ocean swell, although ever-present, was under six feet, and the boat motion was generally comfortable. And the sky - brilliantly clear! Although there was some fog now and then, for most of the night the stars and the waning crescent moon were bright and beautiful.

The mate, it seems, has spent most nights of her life asleep indoors, so she hasn't learned much about the stars. The Captain, on the other hand, spent many nights awake, but most of those in hospital corridors and operating rooms. But now we have a built-in opportunity to make up for lost star-gazing time. Long watches offshore, nothing much else to do, night vision clear since the navigation instruments and minimal belowdecks lighting are all shifted to nighttime red lights.

But it's damn hard to read a star chart on a boat that rocks in the swell. I started with the Pleiades and Orion, which even I can recognize (they show up above on the detail of the start chart I was using). Where do we go from there?

My next plan is to turn to my favorite book about the star, The Stars and How to See Them, by H.A. Rey. (Yes, he also wrote and illustrated the Curious George books). This is his illustration of Orion. I figure maybe I can learn to hop from Betelgeuse to Rigel and on across the sky from one bright star to the next.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Waiting Out the Storm

After so many weeks of calm weather, the rain and wind that hit Astoria (and a much larger portion of the Pacific Northest) today was like a wake-up call.  Autumn is here, and this may well be the classic 'Equinoctal Storm' - the first of the long series of storms bringing southeast winds and rain.  It dictates that we delay our departure from Astoria.

Given that we are staying in Astoria, we made a visit to the farmers' market, where we found fresh corn, and a variety of fresh chilis that make it obvious that there is a robust Hispanic population here these days.

We had come from Portland with a largess of tomatoes from our friend Ron, whose love of tomatoes goes deep into his California youth. We bought a few fresh Poblano peppers from the market, along with some fresh corn, and returned to the boat. Still gray, still raining.

Combined all these ingredients to make a Tomato Corn Pie, with a Buttermilk Crust.  Made a bloody awful mess,  the kind of chaos that seems impossible, and then proves to produce wonderful food.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Break from Boat Travel

Indigo has been tied up in Astoria for a week, while the crew took a break from the boat. The mate traveled to Cascade Head, near Lincoln City on the Oregon Coast, and painted for four days around that remarkable headland. The painting above features one of the huge sitka spruce trees that grow there, with the dry, yellow grasses of the high seaside slopes in the background.

Meanwhile, the Captain solved a slew of small problems in Astoria. We met up in Portland, and had brief, but satisfying visits with family and friends.

Now we are both back on the boat, provisioning, cooking, and organizing in anticipation of the passages south. An early fall storm means we will wait until at least Monday to leave here, but we hope it won't be much longer.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Swell Kayaking

Last two days in Barkley Sound - perfectly clear weather, hot sun, calm mornings. Perfect for paddling out to the edge of the islands to play in the ocean swell where it rises and falls among the kelp and rocks.
We head for Astoria in the morning.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Barkley Sound

We have spent the past three weeks in Barkley Sound, which tops the list of our favorite places to "cruise". Cruising means some days under sail - whenever the wind blows, some days tied up in beautiful Ucluelet (pictured above) or wandering around the Long Beach Peninsula or Tofino.
But most days, we are at anchor, among the cluster of islands called the Broken Group. Given that it has been "Fogust", many mornings there is fog - sometimes dense and all encompassing, but more often drifting here and there. Wonderful effects occur when the fog begins to lift and the clear sky emerges
And then there are the evenings when we are occasionally treated to a sunset like this one, or to the full dark sky that lets us see the Milky Way. We'll spend a few more of these late summer days at anchor here, then head south for a stop in Oregon before we continue along to Mexico.