Grenville Slog

 

Grenville Slog
It runs like a bore hole across three charts.  SE to NW.  Relentlessly straight.  So long and narrow that the makers of planning maps have to cheat on its width to have it show up at all.  Grenville Channel is a slog.  Forty-five miles takes you from the isolation of Hartley Bay and spits you out in the Swiss cheese maze of mainland wilderness, where you are you still a long day’s journey from Prince Rupert and the north coast’s only connection to road, rail and ferry.  
We have 30 knots of wind on our nose.  The Channel receives northwesterlies without resistance; at least they dissipate fog and let in some thin sunlight.  The long, shinny waterway ebbs and flows from either end.  The closer you are to the end, the greater the effect.  All the more so on spring tides: the moon was nearly a perfect circle last night.  
To take full advantage of the flood, we leave on a negative slack, the water line below the grizzly-colored intertidal vegetation on the wet granite shoreline.   Out in Wright Sound, the slack is muddled by dizzy currents and winds that straighten up and fly right once in the channel.   
It’s a slog.   The stories in the new collection Portland Noir fit the length of my attention span.   I finish it off, distressed, impressed that these kids can write so well.  Like bands of indie musicians, I suspect they are pushing one another.  I’ll be back for more, Zoe Thrope.  
This is a slog.  My pencil wears down so I find a jackknife in the galley drawer to sharpen it. A struggle. I think of my grandfather and the perfect smooth cone he’d whittle to free a new length of graphite.  Then again, he stoned his knife with equal precision.  Somewhere aboard, but gone missing, is a good metal sharpener from Germany.  No makeup means no makeup pencils so no hope there.  Was it before or after the War, I wonder, when every school bound kid in the world was equipped with one of these smart, safe inch long instruments?  How things have changed.  Ball point pens took over from pencils and soon enough delete buttons would make erasers all but obsolete.  As for pen knife use?  Almost a terrorist act.
My notebook is very high tech.  You can use it in the rain!  Bob at Ocean Pacific in Campbell River, after finding me the PFD and tether for Piers, explained that the paper was developed by NASA and the and the yellow plastic covered  notebooks are popular with fish farmers.  From the large selection I eye a 4 by 6-inch one with a metal coil at the top for $4.25 from the large selection.  After all, it’s supposed to rain all the time.  There’s a special waterproof pen for $14.95 but Bob points out that Russian astronauts use pencil and so can I.  It’s a deal.  In fact, http://www.ritein theRain.com has the Baggywrinkles Blog seal of approval.  
The slog continues.  Grenville has narrowed slightly and the tide is adding two knots over ground to our boat speed of five  Nearby high peaks are sending down water falls on either side.  I wonder:  has anyone stuck a foot or a fishing line into the nameless lakes that are their source?  Or are they God’s gift to salmon and the other creatures of Salmon Nation about which we’d know nothing save for aviation and modern cartography?   Could be.
Talk about slog.  I can’t get my mind off the people who have done and will always do Grenville Channel under human power.   Most vivid is_______, a UW student who in the early 1930s rowed a dugout canoe from Puget Sound to Ketchikan.  Alone, living by her wits and the occasional kindness of strangers.  The rower’s ability to make do with the comparatively primitive clothing and camping equipment of the period was somewhat off set by the by the greater number of timber, mining and fishing communities along the route.   But still….a girl alone in the 1930s?
On last summer’s cruise, on the ever sound recommendation of the owner of Heron Books in Comox, I’d read Bijaboji.  So imagine my joy on a sunny September afternoon at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat festival, where there next to the tiny dug out Bijaboji, a very elderly rower-writer offered me her frail hand and then took my book and signed it.  
And somewhere behind us are Pearl and David in their green canvas kayak.  They appeared out of the blue in Shearwater, tied their modest craft to the dock and hauled their dirty laundry up to the laundromat like the rest of us.  Experienced outdoor types in their fifties, they were paddling from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island to Ketchikan!  They’d come from Corvallis and. environmentally committed Oregonians, had used public transportation to journey to their put-in point, where the burden of boat and gear shifted from their shoulders to the the water.   I’d lent them my laptop so they could check email and when they stopped by Aurora to return it, Jack and I grilled and peppered them with questions.   What about crossing Johnstone Strait?  You need a weather window.  There’s and island partway just big enough for kayaks.  We didn’t stop and reached the other side completely exhausted.  Equipment?  Hand held VHF.  We need to buy a compass; ours must have gone overboard.  Charts?   Good question.  After buying all those charts it was painful to cut them up into little strips of only the route we were taking.  Food?  Dehydrated backpackers’ packages.  Water?  From streams, purified by a hand pump.  
But their biggest challenge was finding places to pull out.  They need beaches and they are hard to come by in a landscape characterized by steep sided fjords.   You just can’t haul a kayak up on rocks without doing damage to it or yourself.   And while Aurora’s galley and head allow us to make passages of twelve hours or so without finding a place to land, kayakers need to eat or pee every three hours or so.  So while “cruising” to Alaska, Pearl and David opt for rougher open water because it produces more beaches and pull out at inlets of tiny streams, the same ones the bears like.   
So this slog is a luxury.  We anchor a single night in beautiful East Inlet off Klewnuggit Inlet and finish off Grenville Channel on a flood.  The entire length, we have encountered a couple of fishing boats and only one other recreational vessel, a southbound sailboat exiting Baker Inlet.  At the end we decide to take advantage of the calm, tolerate the fog that comes with it, cross the open water of Chatham Sound and go all the way to Prince Rupert. 

Grenville Channel  runs like a bore hole across three charts.  SE to NW.  Relentlessly straight.  So long and narrow that the makers of the less accurate “planning maps” have to cheat on its width to have it show up at all.  And it’s a slog.  Forty-five miles takes you from the isolation of Hartley Bay and spits you out in the Swiss cheese maze of mainland wilderness, where you are you still a long day’s journey from Prince Rupert and the north coast’s only connection to road, rail and ferry.  

GrenvilleWe have 30 knots of wind on our nose.  The Channel receives northwesterlies without resistance; at least they dissipate fog and let in some thin sunlight.  The long, shinny waterway ebbs and flows from either end.  The closer you are to the end, the greater the effect.  All the more so on spring tides: the moon was nearly a perfect circle last night.  

To take full advantage of the flood, we leave on a negative slack, the water line below the grizzly-colored intertidal vegetation on the wet granite shoreline.   Out in Wright Sound, the slack is muddled by dizzy currents and winds that straighten up and fly right once in the channel.   

It’s a slog.   The stories in the new collection Portland Noir fit the length of my attention span.   I finish it off, distressed, impressed that these kids can write so well.  Like bands of indie musicians, I suspect they are pushing one another.  I’ll be back for more, Zoe Thrope.  

This is a slog.  My pencil wears down so I find a jackknife in the galley drawer to sharpen it. A struggle. I think of my grandfather and the perfect smooth cone he’d whittle to free a new length of graphite.  Then again, he stoned his knife with equal precision.  Somewhere aboard, but gone missing, is a good metal sharpener from Germany.  No makeup means no makeup pencils so no hope there.  Was it before or after the War, I wonder, when every school bound kid in the world was equipped with one of these smart, safe inch long instruments?  How things have changed.  Ball point pens took over from pencils and soon enough delete buttons would make erasers all but obsolete.  As for pen knife use?  Almost a terrorist act.

My notebook is very high tech.  You can use it in the rain!  Bob at Ocean Pacific in Campbell River, after finding me the PFD and tether for Piers, explained that the paper was developed by NASA and the and the yellow plastic covered  notebooks are popular with fish farmers.  From the large selection I eye a 4 by 6-inch one with a metal coil at the top for $4.25 from the large selection.  After all, it’s supposed to rain all the time.  There’s a special waterproof pen for $14.95 but Bob points out that Russian astronauts use pencil and so can I.  It’s a deal.  In fact, http://www.ritein theRain.com has the Baggywrinkles Blog seal of approval.  

The slog continues.  Grenville has narrowed slightly and the tide is adding two knots over ground to our boat speed of five  Nearby high peaks are sending down water falls on either side.  I wonder:  has anyone stuck a foot or a fishing line into the nameless lakes that are their source?  Or are they God’s gift to salmon and the other creatures of Salmon Nation about which we’d know nothing save for aviation and modern cartography?  Could be.

Talk about slog.  I can’t get my mind off the people who have done and will always do Grenville Channel under human power.   Most vivid is Betty Lowman Carey, a UW student who in the early 1930s rowed a dugout canoe from Puget Sound to Ketchikan.  Alone, living by her wits and the occasional kindness of strangers.  The rower’s ability to make do with the comparatively primitive clothing and camping equipment of the period was somewhat off set by the by the greater number of timber, mining and fishing communities along the route.   But still….a girl alone in the 1930s?

On last summer’s cruise, on the ever sound recommendation of the owner of Heron Books in Comox, I’d read Bijaboji.  So imagine my delight on a sunny September afternoon at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat festival, where there next to the tiny dug out Bijaboji, the now very elderly rower-writer offered me her frail hand and then took my copy of Bijaboji and signed it.  

And somewhere behind us are Pearl and David in their green canvas kayak.  They appeared out of the blue in Shearwater, tied their modest craft to the dock and hauled their dirty laundry up to the laundromat like the rest of us.  Experienced outdoor types in their fifties, they were paddling from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island to Ketchikan!  They’d come from Corvallis and. environmentally committed Oregonians, had used public transportation to journey to their put-in point, where the burden of boat and gear shifted from their shoulders to the the water.   I’d lent them my laptop so they could check email and when they stopped by Aurora to return it, Jack and I grilled and peppered them with questions.   What about crossing Johnstone Strait?  You need a weather window.  There’s and island partway just big enough for kayaks.  We didn’t stop and reached the other side completely exhausted.  Equipment?  Hand held VHF.  We need to buy a compass; ours must have gone overboard.  Charts?   Good question.  After buying all those charts it was painful to cut them up into little strips of only the route we were taking.  Food?  Dehydrated backpackers’ packages.  Water?  From streams, purified by a hand pump.  

But their biggest challenge was finding places to pull out.  They need beaches and they are hard to come by in a landscape characterized by steep sided fjords.   You just can’t haul a kayak up on rocks without doing damage to it or yourself.   And while Aurora’s galley and head allow us to make passages of twelve hours or so without finding a place to land, kayakers need to eat or pee every three hours or so.  So while “cruising” to Alaska, Pearl and David opt for rougher open water because it produces more beaches and pull out at inlets of tiny streams, the same ones the bears like.   

So this slog is a luxury.  We anchor a single night in beautiful East Inlet off Klewnuggit Inlet and finish off Grenville Channel on a flood.  The entire length, we have encountered a couple of fishing boats and only one other recreational vessel, a southbound sailboat exiting Baker Inlet.  At the end we decide to take advantage of the calm, tolerate the fog that comes with it, cross the open water of Chatham Sound and go all the way to Prince Rupert.

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4 Responses to “Grenville Slog”


  1. 1 Helene July 17, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Well, we’re glad for a slog if it gives you time to write like this! Sending love to the whole crew!

  2. 2 helenerippey July 18, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Here’s good news!

    Mysterious Blob Off The Coast Of Alaska Identified As Algae

    For some time now, people watched the coast of Alaska with growing dread at the sight of the advancing, implacable blob of goo that was headed for the shore. It was stinky and creepy and it devoured the wildlife in its path:

    “It’s definitely, by the smell and the makeup of it, it’s some sort of naturally occurring organic or otherwise marine organism…”

    “It’s pitch black when it hits ice and it kind of discolors the ice and hangs off of it,” Brower said. He saw some jellyfish tangled up in the stuff, and someone turned in what was left of a dead goose — just bones and feathers — to the borough’s wildlife department.

    “It kind of has an odor; I can’t describe it,” he said.

    Yucksville! Luckily for everyone, the mysterious mass has now been identified!

    A sample of the giant black mystery blob that Wainwright hunters discovered this month floating in the Chukchi Sea has been identified.

    Not bunker oil seeping from an aging, sunken ship. Not a sea monster.

    It looks to be a stringy batch of algae.

    Just algae! Phew! I mean, obviously, one still has to wonder what it’s doing there, how it came to be and whether it means us any harm, but…still. ALGAE. You can get your head around that.

    And the upshot is that Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell is not nearly going to have as bad a first day at his new job as he anticipated.

  3. 3 Linda Wanitschek July 22, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Carol & Jack, yahoo I am so happy that you are having a terrific adventure, and that I get to enjoy it by reading your blog. This is awesome. Thanks for being such a terrific writer & photographer. looking forward to following your summer. Linda


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