Posts Tagged 'Comox'

Log: Up the coast of “The Best Place on Earth”

This cheeky superlative comes is courtesy official British Columbian communicators, although its use may be on the wane. Combine unimaginable stretches of wilderness with a couple of North America’s more sophisticated cities and I suppose they have a point. In our eagerness to spend more time in Alaska, however, we decided to eschew favorite destinations we can reach on shorter trips. And with our sailing cousin Cruz Chouré along, we could make good time.

Tuesday, May 15 Bedwell Harbour. 48º45.07’N 123º13.87’W

Dry weather, light winds, and favorable tides took us across Juan De Fuca, up Haro Strait. and into the Boundary Channel. Opposite the Stuart Island light, Cruz put up the Maple Leaf pennant and we cleared customs at Bedwell Harbour. Snagged a buoy on the first try; later a cheerful park ranger crew would motor up to take our $12 on the opening night of their season. After lunch, Cruz and I pulled the inflatable out of the locker, put on the little egg beater of an electric motor and went to shore to stretch our legs. I’d never been to the top of Mount Norman; the view of what lay ahead was spectacular.

Wednesday, May 16 Protection Bay, Nanaimo. 49º10.71’N 123º55.76’W

Lovely weather. We tacked up wind with time to kill while waiting for the late day low water slack at Dodd Narrows. Just as we headed in to take advantage of the last minutes of the flood, a tug with appeared in the Narrows and fought the current with a large log boom. The raft was so wide that it got kept getting stuck, keeping a little sidekick tug busy unhooking it from rocks.

Finally we got through, motored into Protection Bay and hooked a buoy, eschewing the docks of this pleasant city because it was so late in the day. Instead, Cruz and I treated ourselves to good hoppy drafts at the famous Dinghy Dock pub while watching local boats race around those moored in the Bay. On the way back to Aurora, the motor faltered and quit, so we rowed.

Thursday, May 17 Comox 49º40.11 N 124º55.56’W

Maybe one reason we found Comox so delightful, again, is that it was hell getting here. The wind and weather would have been perfect for the open waters of Georgia Strait but since Whiskey Golf was active (with naval exercises) we had to stay just east the Ballenas Islands. We rocked and rolled and rose and pitched, our bow in the troughs, waves washing over the deck. We strung and jackline and clipped in.

With a great deal of concentration I was able to regain my stomach, just in time to find our dripless, engine dripping a cup a minute and the bilge full. The bilge pump was on but ineffective, as were attempted at manual pumping. In the end, I got down on my knees with and hand bailed, using several large bottles, hoisting them up the companion way onto the deck. and emptying them over the side. After doing this about thirty times, I was exhausted. We’d departed at 5:30am and it was nearly 8pm when we made fast at the Comox Harbour Authority dock. Fell into bed after supper, dirty clothes and all.

The next morning, Jack is up looking for answers to the bilge and engine issues long before anybody is up and ready to respond. In the end, Cruz and I figure out how to open the unit that filters the bilge water before it reaches the pump: you use the oil filter wrench! The inch-high cylinder of screen is all mucked up. Problem solved. As for the dripping dripless shaft, I get Jack to call Doug in Port Townsend while the fuel dock guy puts me in touch with the local expert, Glenn of Wills Marine. It’s a Friday before the May long weekend but he’ll send Travis or Haidar. He sends both in succession and then comes himself. After some diagnosis and a larger dose of charming local chat, we all decide not to worry about it. Glenn insists they didn’t do anything and refuses to charge us.

I do the laundry, check email and hit the supermarket for salad makings, eggs and a loaf of bread. Then Haidar and live aboard girlfriend Lara show up with beer and a crate of very live crabs which need to be consumed. We get out the pots and eat our way through them, hammering big claws, making a mess, having the best night so far.

From Port Townsend WA to Glacier Bay AK …… 2009 Cruise Summary

Here’s where the Aurora took Jack the Skipper and First Mate Baggywrinkles this summer.  We cruised a thousand nautical miles along the Inside Passage, north from the 48th to the 59th parallel parallel and west from 123º to 136º.    We sailed out of our former home port of Port Hadlock on Port Townsend Bay, Washington, on June 13th and arrived at our new home part of Hoonah, AK on August 1.

The year 2009 will be remembered for a magnificent summer that followed a monstrous winter. Our most difficult day was the very first – crossing Juan de Fuca Strait; our most difficult hour was also the very first, rounding Point Wilson for the umpteenth time.   As for the normally obstreperous waters of Johnstone Strait, Queen Charlotte Strait, Cape Caution, Milbanke Sound, Dixon Entrance,  and Icy Strait, they all behaved for us, as our endless stream of sun-filled photos show.   Next year when we come south through the usual rain, fog, or storms, we will have the vision of these spectacular vistas still in our heads.

Have a look at our pictures.  Those of the Skipper and First Mate together were taken by Piers Rippey, who brought welcome hands to our deck for ten days from Prince Rupert, BC and Auke Bay, AK.   The photos are arranged chronologically on one page; slide show takes 18 minutes.  No photo captions at the moment but here’s our route.

June 13             Mitchell Bay, San Juan Island, WA, at dock  48 34 N 123 10 W

June 14            Montague Harbor, BC on mooring buoy     48 53N 123 25 W

June 15            Nanaimo, at dock     49 10 N 123 56 W

June 16-17       Comox, at dock   49 40 N 124 56 W

June 18             Campbell River, at dock    50 02 N 125 15 W

June 19             Kamish Bay/Granite Bay, at anchor 50 14 N 125 19 W

June 20              Shoal Bay, at dock   50 28 N 125 22 W

June 21               Forward Harbor, at anchor 50 29 N 125 45 W

June 22               Lagoon Cove Marina, at dock  50 36 N 126 19 W

June 23               Laura Cove, Broughton Island, at anchor   50 50 N 126 34 W

June 24               Sullivan Bay, at dock   50 53 N 26 50 W

June 25                Blunden Harbor, at anchor   50 54 N 1217 17 W

June 26-27          Duncanby, at dock    51 24 N 127 39 W

June 28                Green Island, Fish Egg Inlet, at anchor   51 38 N 127 50 W

June 29-30         Shearwater, at dock    52 09 N 128 05 W

July 1                   Klemtu, at free dock    52 36 N 128 31 W

July 2-3              Khutze Inlet, at anchor   53 05 N 128 16 W

July 4                  Hartley Bay, at free dock   53 25 N 129 45 W

July 5                 Klewnuggit Inlet, East Inlet, at anchor   53 43 N 129 44 W

July 6-10           Prince Rupert, at dock   54 20 N 130 18 W

July 11                Brundige Inlet, Dundas Island, BC, at anchor   54 36 N 130 53 W

July 12-13           Ketchikan, AK, at dock    55 21 N 131 41 W

July 14                Meyers Chuck, at free dock    55 44 N 132 16 W

July 15               Frosty Bay, at anchor    56 04 N 131 58 W

July 16-17          Wrangell, at dock  56 28 N 132 23 W

July 18-19         Petersburg, at dock   56 49 N 132 58 W

July 20              Portage Bay, at anchor   56 59 N 133 19 W

July 21               Hobart Bay, Entrance Island, at anchor  57 25 N 133 26 W

July 22               Taku Harbor, at free dock   58 04 N 134 08 W

July 23-24         Juneau, at dock   58 18 N 134 26 W

July 25               Auke Bay, at dock   58 30 N 134 39 W

July 26-27        Hoonah, at dock   58 06 N 135 27 W

July 28              Bartlett Bay, Glacier Bay, at anchor  58 28 N 135 53 W

July 29               North Sandy Cove, Glacier Bay, at anchor   58 43 N 136 00 W

July 30               Sebree Cove, Glacier Bay, at anchor   58 46 N 136 10 W

July 31               Bartlett Bay, Glacier Bay, at anchor    58 28 N 135 53 W

Aug 1-present    Hoonah, at dock   58 06 N 135 27 W

Independent booksellers of the coast: Hats off to you!

 

Independent booksellers of the coast:  We salute you!
A tribute is in order.  If urban North America is starting to recognize their contributions to shared knowledge and community well being, how much more true is this for small towns and rural areas?
In Comox, British Columbia, for two years running, Martina Polson reader-owner-community activist, has made our experience richer.  The selection at Blue Heron Books blueheron@telus.net is not overwhelming.  In fact, the pickings could be described as rather slim.   But  Martina has read every single title and knows most of the authors.  In addition to a well-vetted selection of fiction and non fiction, she carries   books for children and young people and can inform parents and teachers of what is just right for their fledgling readers. She has post cards, a dying literary genre, and can give you the stamps to go with them.  She carries all the nautical charts and indeed the Canadian Coast Guard requires all mariners to have the printed versions on board.  
I choose Jeanette Taylor’s Tidal Passages:  A History of the Discovery Islands http://www.harbourpublishing.com/title/TidalPassages/, an oral history based work that complements the wonderful Desolation Sound that I bought last year.   Also choose (the choice is tough when Martina lays out the options) Cabin in Singng River, the autobiographic story of a woman who lived in the wilderness outside of Bella Coola, felling the timber, building a cabin and thriving for many seasons.  Today Chris Czajkowski lives on a high altitude fly-in lake in British Columbia’s Tweedsmuir Provincial Park and leads the Nuk Tessli Wilderness Experience.  www.nuktessli.ca  
“How about books on Alaska? ” I ask.  “That’s not ours,”  says Martina, librarian-like, with a slight frown, as if I hadn’t noticed the strict focus of Blue Heron Books.   But she’s got a foot on moral high ground:   it’s not right that the Russians and the Americans grabbed the coast, leaving the British with splendid rivers and upland, but minus access to the sea.   
Ketchikan, with its cruise ships clientele, doesn’t look promising for books.  But then I find Parnassus.www.ketchikanbooks.com  The small shop is up a flight of old stairs on Creek Street, a boardwalk over the Ketchikan Creek. 
I set foot over the threshold 25 minutes from closing and get a quick orientation from the owner’s assistant who tells me about the now very elderly woman who founded the business.  I leave with Joe Upton’s Alaska Blues.  The cover blurb by David Snow Falling on Cedars Guterson turns out to be dead on:  “…A beautifully written book about commercial fishing in coastal waters.  Joe Upton delivers the reality and romance of Southeast Alaska.”
In Petersburg has a 200 foot waterfront Chinatown known as Sing Lee Alley.  It’s not quite intact because at No. 14 is a Victorian bungalow that houses Sing Lee Alley Books.       
Tina, a fit, attractive, grey-headed fifty year old, is the owner bookseller.  We chat about environmental politics.  I mention that we lower 48 folks are sort of clueless.  What does she advise?    For local advocacy join the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.  For the rest: population.  Which one?  Humans.  ZPG essential.  Hardline.  Seems very Alaska.  
We leave with exactly what we need. Ocean Treasure: Commercial Fishing in Alaska by Terry Johnson of the University of Alaska and the useful, inexpensive State of Alaska’s Inside Passage Wildlife Viewing Guide put out by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the US Forest Service.
Descending Seward Street from Hertiage Coffee (and wifi) to the cruise ship waterfront of Juneau, I see Rainy Retreat Books http://www.juneaubooks.com at number 113.  I remember “Rainy Day Books” from something I’ve read.  “Used to be that,” says the burly owner.  He goes on to explain how some peevish mid-western bookseller of that name decided to sue the nine other Rainy Day bookstores across the nation.  “Rainy days and books,” he says, exasperated. “Isn’t that the point?”
Royce isn’t a native Alaskan; he’s from Syracuse, New York.  He and his wife had always dreamed of owning a bookstore and then one day there was ad in the New York Review of Books (I think he said, but it may have been the New Yorker or the New York Times).   After checking the business out and finding a climate milder than that of Syracuse, they moved 9 years ago.  They shelve used books right next to new ones, like at Powells.  
After Royce gives me a quick introduction to the best books of Alaska, I leave with two which become highlights of the trip (quite possibly because I read them in Glacier Bay). The Blue Bear is a beautiful autobiographical reminiscence by wilderness guide Lynn Schooler about his friendship with the great wildlife photographer Michio Hoshino, who is killed by a bear on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East. The other book is The Nature of Southeast Alaska: A Guide to Plants, Animals and Habitats by Rita O’Clair, Robert Armstrong and Richard Carstensen.  Beautifully written, this is not your usual field guide.  Instead, it focusses on relationships and habitats and teaches you to look with wonder.
The busy summers of these independent booksellers balance out the long lean winter months, when they read, host local authors, and help tie together the social fabric of their communities.  Hats off to them.

A tribute is in order.  If urban North America is starting to recognize their contributions to shared knowledge and community well being, how much more true is this for small towns and rural areas?

In Comox, British Columbia, for two years running, Martina Polson reader-owner-community activist, has made our experience richer.  The selection at Blue Heron Books is not overwhelming.  In fact, the pickings could be described as rather slim.   But  Martina has read every single title and knows most of the authors.  In addition to a well-vetted selection of fiction and non fiction, she carries   books for children and young people and can inform parents and teachers of what is just right for their fledgling readers. She has post cards, a dying literary genre, and can give you the stamps to go with them.  She carries all the nautical charts and indeed the Canadian Coast Guard requires all mariners to have the printed versions on board.  

I choose Jeanette Taylor’s Tidal Passages:  A History of the Discovery Islands, an oral history based work that complements the wonderful Desolation Sound that I bought last year.   Also choose (the choice is tough when Martina lays out the options) Cabin in Singng River, the autobiographic story of a woman who lived in the wilderness outside of Bella Coola, felling the timber, building a cabin and thriving for many seasons.  Today Chris Czajkowski lives on a high altitude fly-in lake in British Columbia’s Tweedsmuir Provincial Park and leads the Nuk Tessli Wilderness Experience.   

“How about books on Alaska? ” I ask.  “That’s not ours,”  says Martina, librarian-like, with a slight frown, as if I hadn’t noticed the strict focus of Blue Heron Books.   But she’s got a foot on moral high ground:   it’s not right that the Russians and the Americans grabbed the coast, leaving the British with splendid rivers and upland, but minus access to the sea.   

Ketchikan, with its cruise ships clientele, doesn’t look promising for books.  But then I find Parnassus. The small shop is up a flight of old stairs on Creek Street, a boardwalk over the Ketchikan Creek. 

I set foot over the threshold 25 minutes from closing and get a quick orientation from the owner’s assistant who tells me about the now very elderly woman who founded the business.  I leave with Joe Upton’s Alaska Blues.  The cover blurb by David Snow Falling on Cedars Guterson turns out to be dead on:  “…A beautifully written book about commercial fishing in coastal waters.  Joe Upton delivers the reality and romance of Southeast Alaska.”

In Petersburg has a 200 foot waterfront Chinatown known as Sing Lee Alley.  It’s not quite intact because at No. 14 is a Victorian bungalow that houses Sing Lee Alley Books.       

Tina, a fit, attractive, grey-headed fifty year old, is the owner bookseller.  We chat about environmental politics.  I mention that we lower 48 folks are sort of clueless.  What does she advise?    For local advocacy join the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.  For the rest: population.  Which one?  Humans.  ZPG essential.  Hardline.  Seems very Alaska.  

We leave with exactly what we need. Ocean Treasure: Commercial Fishing in Alaska by commercial fisherman and university professor Terry Johnson and the useful, inexpensive State of Alaska’s Inside Passage Wildlife Viewing Guide put out by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the US Forest Service.

Descending Seward Street from Hertiage Coffee (and wifi) to the cruise ship waterfront of Juneau, I see Rainy Retreat Books  at number 113.  I remember “Rainy Day Books” from something I’ve read.  “Used to be that,” says the burly owner.  He goes on to explain how some peevish mid-western bookseller of that name decided to sue the nine other Rainy Day bookstores across the nation.  “Rainy days and books,” he says, exasperated. “Isn’t that the point?”

Don isn’t a native Alaskan; he’s from Syracuse, New York.  He and his wife had always dreamed of owning a bookstore and then one day there was ad in the New York Review of Books (I think he said, but it may have been the New Yorker or the New York Times).   After checking the business out and finding a climate milder than that of Syracuse, they moved 9 years ago.  They shelve used books right next to new ones, like at Powells.  

After Don gives me a quick introduction to the best books of Alaska, I leave with two which become highlights of the trip (quite possibly because I read them in Glacier Bay). The Blue Bear is a beautiful autobiographical reminiscence by wilderness guide Lynn Schooler about his friendship with the great wildlife photographer Michio Hoshino, who is killed by a bear on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East. The other book is The Nature of Southeast Alaska: A Guide to Plants, Animals and Habitats by Rita O’Clair, Robert Armstrong and Richard Carstensen.  Beautifully written, this is not your usual field guide.  Instead, it focusses on relationships and habitats and teaches you to look with wonder.

The busy summers of these independent booksellers balance out the long lean winter months, when they read, host local authors, and help tie together the social fabric of their communities.  Hats off to them.

Got our sea legs back!

Four days of fine breezy days have taken us from Port Hadlock all the way north to Comox, in the middle of the east coast of Vancouver Island.    Here’s how we got here.  

Day 0:   Turn key departure and land transfer.  Doesn’t count on cruise log.  But still…  Cleaned up the apartment so it’s presentable for Scott, Douja and Inez when they visit from Tunisia, threw the leftovers from the fridge into a cold box,  and hopped into the car for the ride along the spectacularly beautiful Hood Canal to Port Hadlock.     Always good to chat with neighbors on the docks in Aurora’s home marina.   It’s been a long winter and we’re all ready.  

Filled the bilge with additional provisions while waiting for high tide so I could get the dinghy out.  She’s been tied up all winter in a little otherwise unusable space between the outermost dock and the seawall.  I’ve visited T/T (tender to) Aurora regularly to bail her out but it’s been nearly a year since she had her bottom properly wiped.   We thought about using a halyard to bring her up on the dock but our live aboard neighbors Doug and Sandi were broiling steaks, concluding a work party on their antique wooden trawler Vicki V. So not to disgust them with the proceedings, I laboriously (dirty bottoms are hell) rowed to shore, hauled the dinghy up halfway onto the tidal muck, pulling a top -of-the-tibia muscle in the process, and turned her over.  From her bottom I scraped off a four inch eco system, home to tough bivalves, squishy tomato-like creatures which exploded in my face and really creepy six inch long millipedes.    Exhausting.

Day 1:  Early departure from Port Hadlock under cloudy skies.   Point Wilson as obstreperous as ever.   Things didn’t settle down much at all as we crossed the Juan de Fuca Strait but at least the sun came out.  We pitched and rolled and yawled but the winds nonetheless moved us though it at 6 knots. Pretty much the whole way I felt sick, but pleasantly, dreamily so, stretched out on the deck catching the rays in my down parka and fleece lined hat, ear flaps down.  Jack was of course in perfect form as always, even though he’d drunk the same boxed cabernet that had been languishing in the bilge, seal broken since the last trip.  

We flew past Victoria and sailed up San Juan Island to the tiny, not very deep Mitchell Bay, populated with happy kayakers.   It’s shallow finger of water  and I was tired.  Not thinking too clearly, I misjudged the length of the anchor chain. In the late long afternoon, before we’d finished our G&Ts,  we noticed we were dragging anchor.  So we pulled it up and motored into the small Snug Harbor Marina just adjacent.  After a supper of Portland leftovers and a good night’s sleep, I spent and hour the next morning on an unfinished task:  pulled out the entir

e anchor chain, marked it at 25 foot intervals with plastic ties, swept two summer of mud out of the chain locker and put it back, ready to go.

Day 2:  By 8 am we were under sail under clear skies and perfect winds, rounded San Juan, Spiden and Stuart Islands before heading out into Boundary Channel, where Jack insisted on a proper flag ceremony.  

flag ceremony

Flag Ceremony

We stopped at Bedwell Harbour on South Pender Island and cleared customs.    No sign of the little blue Sea Robin and sailor friend Nelson Walker from Victoria, so we just carried on.  

The wind was absolutely perfect all day.   First we thought we’d stop at a favorite anchorage on Prevost Island but it was too early and the weather too perfect.

So we went right on to Montague Harbor, a truly fine Provincial Marine Park, which provides an enclosed shelter save for a gap in the high cliff that left us bathed in sun right up until it set, spectacularly, about 9 pm over the water and the islands beyond.

IMG_7326_2

Sunset at Montague

Day 3:  Early departure.  Oatmeal with cranberries en route.  Dreamy stillness.  No wind so we motored, with the intention of spending the day at Pirates Cove waiting for slack in Dodd Narrows.   But as we passed Porlier Pass between Galiano and Vladez Islands, we checked our tide tables and realized we were coming up on dead slack.  So we turned east into the great Georgia Strait rather than winding our way through the islands.   It was very still so we proceeded with the “iron genny” arriving in Namaimo about 3 pm.  Delighted to be in port that had been too crowded for us to stay the past two summers, we pulled up to the same dock where we’d first come with the Acquitted in 2006 and ODd on fish and chips in the Fisherman’s Market next to us.

Day 4:    Feeling great.  Yep. Sea sickness is only a Day 1 or 2 thing.   Then it’s gone!   Today on our 11 hour journey to Comox we had the pitching-rolling-yawling conditions similar to Day 1 on Juan de Fuca Strait,  but no prob.  I finished off overdue reading – the last two months of NW Examiner, the whole ReDirect Guide and even went below deck to cook three days of meals.


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