Posts Tagged 'Comox'

Voices of Comox

“Here! You should read this!”

Suddenly, a light blue paperback is thrust before me by a set of hands turning open the cover and luring me in. “You’ll love it.” The woman who’s sidled up up next me goes on, “Stories by 34 women who lived in Haida Gawai and other parts of the North Coast in the 60s and 70s. I’m Jane,” she says, snapping the volume shut and pointing to her name on the title page, “And I got these women to write about their lives.”

We’re at Blue Heron Books in Comox. On arrival I’d greeted the saleslady, telling her how good it was to be back and inquiring what about new titles for our shipboard library. Hidden in the art supplies corner overhearing our exchange is Jane Wilde, who masterminded a unique look at a period and place. By the time I check out Gumboot Girls: Adventure, Love and Survival on the British Columbia’s North Coast a is signed and waiting for me at the cash register.

Jane’s right. Great book. In our three days on the hook off Rebecca Spit I devour it along with Grant Lawrence’s Adventures in Solitude, stories of life in Desolation Sound over the past 50 years. Serendipitous companion volumes.

“When are you going to get rid of your president?”

At the Salvation Army store next to Blue Heron, I find a treasure trove of used forks, teaspoons, chowder spoons, and so many knives that I choose only the smaller bistro style ones. Ten cents each. When I’m ready to pay up, I spread I spread everything out on the glass jewelry case. The clerk wonders if I’m organizing an outdoor wedding, “Nope. This is to help save the Salish Sea! We’re getting rid of plastic at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival.” With so many schools and organizations going plastic free it’s hard to find good utensils I tell her. And yes I’ve left enough behind for a couple of households.

My colors revealed, my fellow shopper voices her distress. She looks a typical Port Townsend progressive. But she’s Canadian and Canadians are taking Trump really hard. They need reassurance.

Slowly and surely the wheels of justice are turning, I say. Meanwhile look at what’s happening at the state and local levels. People in the US are awake, learning the ins and outs of government and taking it back. State legislatures are stepping up to salvage social justice and climate action. And communities everywhere are launching new initiatives to strengthen democracy and local resilience.

“I’ve been here forty years and this was the worst winter yet.”

Jack and I are in line at the Comox Valley Harbour Authority to pay for another day’s moorage at the Fishermans Wharf we can enjoy the Sailfish catamaran races.
The sun is intense. The joy is palpable. Kids skip. Bounces in the steps of sandaled feet. Skin and ink everywhere. The weather out of the northwest seems to have finally vanquished the the unbroken wintry systems from the southeast.

The man ahead of us, shakes his head with a smile. He’s fished these waters – commercially – his entire career. Winter was bad. No, it wasn’t just imagination. Not just aging joints complaining. “Do you remember how it started? Before the end of September? Not a decent stretch of a few days until now.”

Comox2

The wharf on the seawall had music and a beer garden, the perfect place to watch the Seafest multi-hull races, which featured everything from professional trimarans to small cats crewed by very agile teenagers.

 

Log: 2017 Salish Sea Circle Cruise

Saturday, July 22, 2017 Watsmough Bay. 48º25.9’N

“Watsmough Bay: The most scenic anchorage in the San Juans?” asks the cover of the May 2015 issue of Pacific Yachting magazine. We think so. What’s more it’s the San Juan destination closest to Port Townsend. But never is it more beautiful than when hear an anchor drop and discover it’s Martha. Captain Robert Darcy waves. This century old schooner which recently did the TransPacific race lives in Point Hudson in front of the boat shop in the Northwest Maritime Center where owner Darcy is lead shipwright.

Martha.jpg

The century old schooner and recent star in the TransPacific race normally lives right in Point Hudson near our house.

Thursday, July 20, 2017. Bellingham 48º45.4’N122º30’W

Bellingham is a much bigger place than the Fairhaven district where we boarded the Alaska Ferry years ago.  Indeed the waterfront is vast and forever changing as the city tries to meet the demand for housing.

At the Squalicum Harbour office, where we pay our 75 cents a foot there is not so much as a free map. Figuring out Whatcom County’s capital, visiting friends and exploring its cultural sites will have to wait for another trip. I spend Friday at the library, trying to tie up the week’s loose ends. A stop on the way at the Chamber of Commerce nets an excellent pile of maps and information about the town.

Georgia Pacific.jpg

The old Georgia Pacific site on Bellingham’s long waterfront has just been cleaned up and is ready for development.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 Sucia Island 48º45.8’N 122º54.4’W

Have we not been to Sucia since a trip with Kinza years ago? Spanish explorers named northernmost of the San Juan Islands “sucia”, or “dirty” because of the the many reefs surrounding it. We tie up at a buoy and sleep through a bouncy night. To get Washington State Parks’ $15 per night fee to shore we hail a family with a dinghy.

Baker from Sucia

Our view out the wide mouth of Echo Bay on Sucia Island includes Mt Baker and a sweep of other snow-capped Cascades.

Monday July 17, 2017 Point Roberts 48º58.6’N 123º03.9’W

We raise the main among the 18 gigantic cargo ships anchored in English Bay and head out into the Strait taking the swells uncomfortably on the beam. toward the then rock and roll across the delta of the mighty Fraser River swollen with snow melt from far away BC peaks.

Of Point Roberts, Washington, a visitors’ guide writes this:  Locals call it “The Sigh.” You drive through the border, turn right onto Tyee Drive with it towering evergreens and “The Sigh”involuntarily escapes you. Point Roberts is an island of serenity next to the bustle of the Vancouver metropolitan area.

Point Roberts.jpg

Carved into a salt flat just a mile south of the Canadian border, Point Roberts is home to boats from all over the world but has lots of space when many are out cruising.

 

This sleepy, 5-square mile scrap of land that protrudes south of the 49th parallel, is home to 1500 people, many of them dual nationals of Canada and the US.  Point Roberts is an isolated enclave that boasts forests and farms and a sandy salt flat with a tear-drop shaped marina carved into it. The enclave borders Tsawwassen, whose busy port accommodates large ships and the BC ferries that connect Vancouver with the mainland.

Friday, July 14, 2017 Vancouver’s Coal Harbour

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In Vancouver’s back yard, Howe Sound is especially peaceful before the business day begins.

It’s been more than three years since we docked at Coal Harbour. Our Alaska cruises rarely leave time for it and two years ago smoke from the first fires flowed down the channels to blanket the city. Coal Harbour lies between Stanley Park and Canada Place surrounded on two sides by the city’s renowned promenade, which fills with skaters, skateboarders, walkers, joggers, cyclists and buskers.

 

We get active. Friday night we do to the entire waterfront – under Lion’s Gate Bridge, into the hot sun setting over English Bay, around Stanley Park, past little sand beaches, the bathing beaches adjacent to the vast public pool and back into downtown on Denman Street for our traditional Mongolian Barbecue. Saturday night, we cross downtown to Granville Island on Vancouver’s new separated cycling lanes before heading up the narrow sidewalk on Granville Street Bridge with its spectacular views. Have a bite (and refresh the scooter batteries) in the place adjacent to the theatre overlooking the dock with the tiny colorful foot ferries and the rest of the Saturday evening parade. One the way back to the boat we ask some cyclists about Burrard Street Bridge. They tell us eastbound line is still under construction but we can and should use it. Wow. Burred Bridge has full-sized separated non-motorized paths in both directions, with cars relegated to a single lane. On Sunday we ride through Chinatown and turn south on Hastings beyond Skid Road as check thrift stores for flatware to replace the remaining plastic at September’s Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend.

Gulalai and Habib come down to the boat bearing luxurious provisions from land-locked Afghanistan: dried white mulberries, giant golden raisins, enormous walnut halves and a season’s supply of figs. We catch up on the last seven months. Everyone is well except Gulalai’s mom, aging with paraplegia suffered in a hospital mishap several years ago. All her kids and grandkids live nearby but she is a quiet woman who loves to read. Gulalai is trying to find her recorded books in Pashto but Dari will have to do

Thursday, July 13, 2017 49º24’N 123º28’W Keats Island

We rock and roll down the coast. The motion of the water on the hull is enough to clear the barnacles and other gremlins from the knot meter, which suddenly – on day 36 – springs to life! We’d tried to pull the through hull and clean it off – always dramatic when the fountain of seawater covers the sole of the salon – but find that the sea creatures have cemented it in place. As the chart plotter gives us SOG – speed over ground – the knot meter is not essential. How nice to have something just fix itself like that!

We’re headed to the spectacular Howe Sound. Jack hands me the Waggoner Guide and says, “You choose.”  I expect the nicest wilderness coves on Gambier Island now have real estate. I eschew any waters that are constantly rocked by the many ferries that bind the Sound to the City. Samammish and the high peaks around Whistler are too far, better to save it for a future trip.

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Plumper Cove from stem to stern.  At right are new floats for boats that arrive too late for a buoy and the expansive views of Howe Sound and the Coastal Range.

So I opt for a mooring buoy in Plumper Cove Marine Park with its great view up the Sound. In addition to the seven mooring buoys, there are new floats on the dock. The family of Canada geese still come up to boats expectantly at supper time. We watch them cross the cove strategically to visit any boat where people appear in the cockpit, exercising their preference for barbecuers and children. Ah, the weedy creatures of civilization!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 Smuggler Cove 49º30.9’N 123º57.9’W

Lovely place but as Jack remarks in his log: “Stern tie from hell.”

Bow to stern panorama of Smuggler Cove, a gem of a safe anchorage off often angry waters.

Monday, July 10, 2017 Pender Harbor 49º37.8N 124º02’W

We fly down Malespina Street with only the jib, poled out.

We pole out the jib and fly down Malespina Strait. Dave and Jennifer’s Fisherman’s Marina is now part of John Henry’s grocery and fuel dock. The marina manager is an enthusiastic young women from New Brunswick named Randy. We cross the little wooden bridge to the Garden Bay Pub, where service is slow. I count ten other tables without food and only one with it. But it’s pleasant and a huge portion of french fries begs to be taken home for tomorrow’s poutine.

Jack wants to visit Garden Bay by dinghy. I know I’m up to rowing because another time, long ago when the electric outboard was working, we ran out of juice in a lovely estuary between the mountains off the Bay and I had to row back. This time, the plastic oarlock fails, though toward the end of the journey. If rowing an inflatable is hard work, have you tried paddling?

Friday, July 7, 2017 Powell River 49)49.9’N 124º31’W

I’m not eager to leave Desolation Sound but Jack proposes the Salish Sea circle: we head down the coast to Powell River, the Sunshine Coast, Vancouver, cross the Fraser delta and spend some time in Bellingham. Powell River, a town we have passed many times without stopping, is getting great reviews. We soon learn why.

No we didn’t take this picture. It’s from a poster invitation to Powell River, where active outdoor recreation rules. The Tin Hat hut, one of 15 along the Sunshine Coast Trail, is visited year round by locals.

The people of Powell River are fitness freaks and outdoor recreation nuts. The town spreads out on either side of the very short Powell River and its famous mill. There is no natural harbor. Westview Harbour is simply a very long seawall with a ferry dock in the middle. Mill operations are protected by the “incredible hulks”. Log booms and barges of sawdust are protected by a barrier of hulls from nine World War II battleships. As spectacular as is the shore with views of Vancouver Island and the north end of Taxeda, it’s really the town’s backyard. For the people of Powell River, their front yard is the mountains and lakes beyond and hundreds of miles of hiking, biking, and kayak trails that link their favorite destination. Powell River’s tag line “Coastal by Nature” is apt.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017 Laura Cove 50º08’N124º40’W

As the Gorge Harbour docks empty out after the double holiday long weekend, Tom and Terri move from boat to car, leaving thoughtful offerings of coffee, Wisconsin cheeses, pasta, and milk. Across the float, Wyatt and Janet’s tiny antique wooden Monk cruiser rocks as their kids jump on an off. More offerings. “Would you like some red snapper? Or ling cod?” They insist and pass us a three enormous snapper for the freezer. “We’ll just catch more on the way home.”

Flag flags, sails remain unfurled but Desolation Sound is as spectular as ever.

We head out, around the south end of Cortes and up into the spectacular Desolation Sound. There are a couple of boats in Laura cove, including a noisily happy one with about a dozen children. They splash around, perform stunts on the SUP, swing out over the water on a rope hung high in a tree. We drop anchor near the cove entrance with a view of the mountains of West Redonda. Much as we’d like to leave it there and just swing with the winds and currents, we stern tie, which Jack says is required. After all this is British Columbia’s most beloved and spectacular marine park and you can squeeze in a lot of boats.

We settle in with our books, taking turns in the bow on the zero-gravity folding recliner that was a Father’s Day special at Henery’s Hardware. The kids go home and do not reappear. I wonder if this mobile summer camp is regularly dispatched to a different cove everyday so that parents whose work falls so heavily in the summer can actually work.

Rereading the first chapter of Curve of Time brings me to dreamy tears before I start into Naomi Klein’s new No is Not Enough.

Saturday, July 1, 2017. Gorge Harbour. 50º 06.3 N 125º11.7’W

No sooner do we wind our way through Uganda Passage and shoot straight thought the narrow granite faced channel into Gorge Harbour, than it’s a homecoming.  Jon and Steph kayak over from Strangewaves’ anchorage in the bay and Terri and Tom  park their car after an all night drive from Portland and walk down the dock.  Cold beer for our reunion on the hottest day of the year and Canada’s 150th birthday!

Gorge

Tom and Terri have a car and take us to visit the spectacular Cortes Island beach at Smelt Bay.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017. Von Donop Inlet. 50º08.5’N 124.56.6’W

After a lazy morning at the spit we make the short but spectacular passage into to the wild heart of Cortes Island. Before the tied drops too low, we enter the long narrow Von Donlop Inlet, also known as Hathayim Provincial Marine Park.  More books to read.

VonDonop

We drop anchor near the trail to Squirrel Cove. As they paddle by before the 10 km hike, Rhonda and Jim stop by to say they are members of the Port Townsend Yacht Club.

Sunday, June 25, 2017. Rebecca Spit. 50º08.5’N 124º11.7’W

Another calm sunny morning with a very light wind. As we enter new territory to the east of Cape Mudge, four male orcas suddenly cross our path about 150 feet off our bow. Jack kills the engine and we watch them swim off toward Campbell River. One has the longest, tallest dorsal fin I’ve ever seen. It towers over those of his kin. In time a whale watching inflatable with passengers in red survival suits appears out of no where. Are these whales tag to tell their whereabouts? Have the whale watchers hacked into an orca’s geotag? Or do they just have good eyes?

We pass a large shellfish operation marked by yellow buoys before reaching the pristine Rebecca Spit which bounds Drew Harbor and provides some protection to Heriot Bay and the ferry dock. Note those coordinates: they are the perfect place to drop anchor.  We read books.

Thursday, June 22, 2017. Comox. 49º40’N 124º55.5’W

Light NW winds on calm seas take us Georgia Strait. We turn east behind Denman and Hornby and take Baynes Passage seemingly forever to the guest moorage at Comox Valley Harbour’s Fisherman’s Wharf.  We tie up in the basin that nestles in the spit. At low tide neighboring boats with good water under their keels appear to be in the middle of a desert dune.

Low tide along spit.

Low tide along Comox spit.

Finally the weather turns its back on winter. Jack’s favorite place is deck near the bow in his new zero gravity chair.  We also tour the town, work out at the Rec Center, enjoy the Seafest catamaran races.

Jack

The broad glacier-headed Comox Valley stretches out to the west beyond the Fisherman’s Wharf

Tuesday, June 20, 2017. Boho Bay on Lasqueti. 49º29’N 124º13.7’W

Calm seas. Some sailing through the lovely colors of dawn on Georgia Strait with Whiskey Golf inactive.

BohoBoat

Trim is a halibut boat built in 1945 and fitted out for comfortable living by Royce and Penny of Vancouver. Stabilizers kept them balanced in strong evening gusts.

 

Sunday, June 18, 2017. Nanaimo 49º10’N 124º56’W

After a pleasant transit of Dodd Narrows, we up among the fishing boats in what should be the thick of things. Dreadful cold keeps everyone inside.

NanaimoCoal

The coal mine at the Nanaimo Museum gives an unforgettable glimpse into the labors on which the town was built. Mined coal seams under the sea joined the city with Protection Island.

Thursday, June 15, 2017. Ladysmith. 48º59.8’N. 123º08’W

Ladysmith is always wonderful but the weather continues its bad behavior.  Still Ladysmith never disappoints. (Lots more in previous blog posts.)

Ladysmith

Mark at the Ladysmith Maritime Society Community Marina, says a member of his board designed their lovely floating cafe and boathouse. Showers, laundry and elevator to community room are in the rear.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Cowichan Bay. 48º44.5’N 124º37’W

Great sail around the light house and up Haro Strait. The Sidney Spit boring buoys are tempting but we can’t find enough water under our keel. Figure the winter storms have rearranged the sand. Later we learn that in the best of times there’s only one approach and it has a couple of doglegs in it.

We head to Cowichan Bay, recommended to Jack by Erica’s nephew Peter, who skippers the wooden ketch Thane in both races and twice daily summer sailings for visitors. Peter’s rightly distressed that the Victoria waterfront has lost its feel for maritime history and says Cowichan Bay still has it.

It does. Downright scrappy waterfront at the end of the road with a lethal lack of parking. People come for the fine bakery, cheese store, the community-rooted Maritime Center and a marine science center where dozens of kids, liberated from their school deals, were joyfully tracking low tide critters.

Cowichan

The Cowichan Valley community has preserved old marine ways as a museum and traditional working boatyard.

We tie up at Fisherman’s Wharf in the shadow of the bow of Arctic Fox, an old wooden fishing boat newly painted bright red. Soon Wharfinger Marc Mercer appears, musing that he must have been on the pot when we’d radioed. He’s a big handsome guy who spent his career piloting tugs, with a couple of years off to captain a two year sailing cruise up and down the coasts of the Americas timed to be in the Pacific during hurricane season in the Atlantic. Now he live in the vast fertile Cowichan Bay Valley and canoes to work.

Friday, June 9. Victoria Inner Harbour. 48º25.3’N 23º22’W

Close down the house, hop on my bike and catch up with Kinza on her way thought Boat Haven to Aurora. leave at dawn on a sail that’s just about perfect. Full sun, light to moderate winds, balanced helm, wing and wing until we make a single jibe to close haul right at 7 to 8 knots into the troubled waters at the entrance to Victoria Harbour.

Moor at the Causeway floats in front of the Empress and Parliament, after clearing customs. Jump into my Race to Alaska Minion tee shirt and onto my bike and head to Whitefish ?. This small boatyard that produces kayaks, paddle boards, and ocean rowing boats is hosting the party. I’d worked (picking trash) at the big pre-race Ruckus on Wednesday in PT; this party is for the teams and their groupies. After setting up to feed and float with drink a couple of hundred people, I join Penny and Kathleen at the merch table and discovered I love selling swag!

Spend the next day figuring out how each of the Race to Alaska boats worked and talk to crews about strategies. On one tour of the floats I look only at rowing stations; on the next only at pedaling stations. Every year there are smarter innovations. Amanda, Jeff and Ryder stop by. Jack hasn’t seen Ryder since his birthday party and asks Ryder what me remembers. “Alexa!” Ryder shouts. In the evening Kinza comes for supper with Nelson and Mona and a whole bunch of stories.

Vic

Lovely to look out the portholes on the British Columbia Parliament.

The Le Mans Race start is always thrilling. After watching the last SUP head out we turn to diagnosing what’s wrong with the solenoid switch for the propane, which had gave out only after dinner was ready. It’s a Sunday – such problems normally present on Sundays are when breakdowns happen – but we gamely bus around to hardware stores, whose clerks laugh at our ancient switch box. We pay another day moorage and are at TroTec Marine when they open at 8am. They order a rocker switch that fits the ancient housing that fits into the teak panel near the store and agree to have it solder up by COB. I pick it up, get clear on how to rewire and pay a grand total of $4 Canadian ($3 US). An awesome business! They were so busy with R2AK racers – who got seriously beaten up on the first leg – that next year they’re providing a shuttle.

Bus 11 every 15 minutes works for us. As soon as the switch is installed I get back on in the other direction and go out to Cadboro Bay to visit Erica, who I find installed in the garden drinking red wine and supping on Alan’s weekly rare cheese. Erica’s had a stroke and is mad as hell that they took her license away so she can’t drive up the hill to U Vic, but otherwise seems pretty fine.

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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