4:30 Strike 2

Another rough night. The winds shifted again and our breast lines were too tight. Sigh. I am sure we will get it right eventually. See the previous entry.

We woke up and had some breakfast and availed ourselves of the showers in Chemainus Harbour. Tim graciously paid the moorage and we were ready to get on with our day.

We did some chart work and our checks on the boat. While we were working a 54-ft Selene came in looking for space. Tim discussed it with them on the VHF, but before we could make space for him the Harbour Master showed up and moved the utility boat that had been ahead of the big cat, and the Selene gracefully glided into dock. It had bow and stern thrusters, and the captain had a remote joystick he could bring out on the rail to guide it in sideways.

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Leslie and I headed up the hill half a block and picked up a few groceries, and then it was back on board and time to cast off into that shitty wind. Lucky for me it was Leslie’s turn. Under Tim’s patient guidance she eased us up against the commercial docks spun us 180 degrees and headed out of the Harbour.

We had spent the morning charting courses, so our goal was to pilot by the math. Leslie exited the harbor using the big ship’s transits and we took fixes along the way trying to hit our waypoints without the chart plotter. This entails maintaining a steady course and holding our speeds to the ones we had prescribed. I can’t say we did all that well, but our final position wasn’t that far off from our predicted one. Plotting is hard. Following a plot is harder.

The weather was looking good so we decided it was time for some MOB (man overboard) drills. Much to L’s chagrin Tim opted to throw a fender overboard instead of me.

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We played around for an hour or so and had the boat up to 12-13 knots for a while, weaving and ducking and generally watching that poor fender drown. In the end we arrived at the conclusion that my accuracy was better, Leslie’s math was better and we had best hope no one falls overboard when we don’t notice. All good fun and our boat-handling confidence is looking better.

We transited Sansun Narrows at close to slack tide and motored towards the Saanich Penninsula. Today we put on a lot of miles. I think we did 23 or 24 in total. We ducked our heads into Genoa Bay, cruised by Cowichan Bay and then set our course for Portland Island, our final destination.

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As we headed across to Portland Island we crossed by Swartz Bay and all the ferry traffic in and out of Sidney.

Crossing behind Tortoise Rocks we passed into Princess Bay, which anchorage is protected from the NW. We were going to get a good night’s sleep or else! The only downside was as the ferry passed from east to west from Tsawwassen, its wake would hit us several minutes later and rock the boat for a few minutes. Leslie remarked that it took Rockeroo to a whole new level.

It was a quiet anchorage that we shared with two sailboats. We had the shallow draft so we were tucked in pretty close to shore. After a bunch of math we got the anchor dug in solidly. Supper was BBQ chicken thighs with tomato salad: yum.

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We spent the evening catching up on some paper work and then it was off to bed and hopefully a calm night. Just before we hit the hay Tim dragged our stern docking line through the water and showed us the phosphorescence in the water. Beautiful!

 

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4:29 Missed it by that much

Special contribution from guest blogger: Happy XXXXXday, Bruce!

*****

Very busy day. Too busy to blog. Notes for future:

Wind shifted to NW mid night
So we had anchored in Pirates Cove, which is totally protected from the SW winds that were blowing when we went to bed. So of course the wind shifted to the north. Seems we didn’t take the weather reports into account. So all of us were up several times during the night to check the anchor in fear that we were slowly dragging onto the concrete dock astern of us. We found out later Tim was just as concerned as we beginners were. Eventually it was morning, the anchor hadn’t budged and we awoke officially to start the day in the choppy little bay.

Anchor issues
After a quiet breakfast we went to raise anchor. Leslie was at the helm and I ran the windlass. Unfortunately it was almost impossible to keep the boat head into the anchor and then the chain started to pile up in the locker, preventing me from raising it the last 8 ft or so. Eventually we got everything shifted around and finally could head out the narrow entrance to the cove, directly into the wind.

Motor in 3 ft seas to Degnen
Tim lives on Gabriola island in Degnen Bay; he has a marina there (all permanent moorage). We decided to visit, so after we weighed anchor in the windy cove, which was a bit of an exercise, we headed north into the wind. The waves were crashing over the bow as Leslie wound her way upwind. Lots of fun!

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A Little Talk
As we headed back towards Gabriola Island, we discussed some of the issues we’d been having and the importance of being aware of weather, tides, etc. Apparently Tim had been nervous about whether our anchor would hold in such strong winds and the usual solution (letting more rode out) wasn’t available to us since we were already too close to the concrete dinghy dock. If it wouldn’t have been equally problematic, we probably should have hauled the anchor out in the dark and moved the boat.

Motor to Telegraph
After putzing around the Gabriola Passage and Degnen Bay we headed back out and set a course south for Telegraph Harbour between Thetis and Kuper islands. It was pretty quiet there but between the stage fright and a bit of a head wind I royally screwed up the docking. I blame it on the fact the helpful marina owners came down to help and ruined my concentration, but frankly it was probably just a bad job of docking.

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Lunch ensued. We took a brief walk around, used the washrooms and boarded again to practice some more. After a much more successful docking practice session (Leslie is kickass at this stuff) we exited the Harbour and headed across the strait towards Ladysmith. Tim had recommended a restaurant there since we had decided to eat out that night. About halfway across we called ahead and found out the restaurant is closed on Mondays, so we decided to abandon that course. We changed course to 225 degrees into Chemainus.

On the way there it started to rain. One of the boat deficiencies we had already noted when Leslie was covering the windshields with spray earlier in the day, was that the windshield wipers weren’t worth shit. Thus we were left to enter a strange harbour in rain and poor visibility. To make it worse one of the ferries was just astern of us, and while I had the right of way we decided it was prudent to bear away and circle in behind him. Since the government dock is right beside the ferry dock, the ferry led us right in. That was the good part of the ferry.

We docked right behind a huge catamaran on the outside float with the hope we could shelter in his lee. Didn’t help. We were exposed all night to the NW wind and every time the ferry came in his wash would toss the boat around a bit to keep us alert.

So we had some wine. It pretty much solves everything.

We invited Tim to join us for dinner and headed into town. The skipper of the cat kindly lent us the shower key and told us the gate code so we were good to go until tomorrow when the Harbour Master was due in. We wandered up into town but it was pretty dead. The first restaurant we saw open was Odika, so it won by default. Perfect choice! The food was delicious. My salmon Wellington, Leslie’s soup and mussels, and Tim’s African-style lamb were all superb and accompanied by a great bottle of BC red. We finished off with some terrific desserts and wandered back to the boat stuffed and sated.

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Sleep was good, but our breastlines were too taut and we didn’t have the right length of ropes for spring lines. This means that the boat is basically banging and rubbing on the fenders all night as the wind drives the waves against our stern…where L’s and my cabin is … loudly banging … oh, and did I mention it was freezing cold?

Let’s see, three nights on board, freezing cold each evening, two with waves smacking loudly on the hull and the boat bouncing like a berserk roller coaster. Yah, we’ve been sleeping well, why do you ask?

 


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4:28 Gale Force Warnings

Time to get up!

I hopped (inasmuch as I ever hop) out of our warm bed and headed for the new kettle. I fired up the gimballed stove and made tea and coffee and then roused the holiday bed slug.

We turned on the VHF to the weather and listened to wind warnings and rain forecasts. Hard to credit given the beautiful sunny morning we are enjoying but I guess I will believe them. Anyway it looks like we are destined for the Gulf Islands unless we want to deal with a Georgia Strait passage in strong-gale winds.

Next up was a shower so I packed my kit and headed for shore. On the way I enjoyed our morning greeting committee of thousands of tiny jellyfish.

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A quick cleanup and it was back aboard to tidy up while we wait for Tim. Tim and his wife Donna showed up and, after a nice chat, we got down to business. We walked through most of the bits of the boat and talked about a lot of theoretical stuff. Eventually we headed up to grab some charts (looks like Gulf Islands) and headed back to the boat. We cast off and Tim demonstrated the maneuverability of a twin screw as we weaved our way out of the marina.

We headed at idle to the public docks and after a brief tour I took over and tried docking the boat a few times. Overall, I was pretty successful although I failed at three tries on docking on the leeward side of the dock. Leslie took over and did pretty good too. Afterward we headed over to the park across the harbour at Newcastle Island to try out some mooring buoys and a bunch more docking on the finger docks there.

Eventually we decided to get the show on the road and headed south. We talked about Dodd Narrows but the current was around 9 knots. Tim decided to take us through False Narrows instead, because it had transits and the current was 50% of Dodd Narrows. UNder his watchful eye, I piloted us through the 9-13 foot narrows without running aground and then Leslie took over and took us into Pirates Cove on the south end of DeCourcy Island for our evening anchorage. She stayed at the helm while I dropped the anchor and we were snugged in for the night.

Dinner was sausage and pasta with a bottle of red. Leslie and I unshipped the dingy and headed ashore for a walk around the marine park and Tim washed dishes. The windward side of the island has three-foot waves and whitecaps, but our anchorage is almost completely still .

Back at the boat a bit of chat and a bit of reading and that was that.

The Internet is really flaky so pictures will have wait.

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4:27 Windward Ho

5:30 a.m. Zzzz

Up and off to the airport for our annual checkup (or is that pat down?) and then we start the glorious hurry up and wait game that is modern air travel.

We hit YVR from ocean side, almost flying over our final destination of Nanaimo on our approach. We were at the front of the plane so were off in a jiffy. Then we wandered down the terminal exploring before deciding Bruce needed a morning weiner. After a satisfying hot dog, we headed to tarmac level just in time to hear our names paged at our gate. Seems they had finally assigned our seats on the Dash 8 and we needed to pick up our new tickets.

After a brief wait we boarded and 14 minutes at 4000 feet deposited us in Nanaimo. Lorraine, our contact from Nanaimo Yacht Charters, was there to pick us up. We soon grabbed our luggage and headed to Stones Marina, a stone’s throw from Departure Bay ferry terminal.

Lorraine handed over our goodies: a bottle of wine, keys to both the boat and their courtesy car and a pair of free hats. In turn we grabbed our log books and signed away our lives. She then walked us down to the boat, the 32 ft Bayliner At Last and bid us adieu.

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This boat is way bigger (taller) than it looks online and very intimidating. After we snooped around a bit, Ian (another partner in the business) dropped by to check us out on the electrical and heads. We unpacked and then wandered around the marina and ended up at the pub for lunch.

Afterwards we zoomed off in the Toyota Echo loaner and stopped in at Save-On Foods for supplies. Tired, a bit dozy and not at all confident we fumbled our way through. I really should’ve had She Who Cannot Be Named do up the menu. Better yet, dragged her along to cook. Anyway we survived the experience and likely will have enough to eat for a few days yet. Next up was the booze store but we tried to keep it calm and down to just a few bottles for now.

We popped into the dollar store in search of a cheap kettle. The At Last didn’t seem to have one. No luck. I have to say that the dollar store’s already esoteric clientele is all the more odd here in Lotus Land. Strangest group of customers I ever did see.

Back in the car we headed downtown looking for a bank. We found one and a London Drugs, which rendered up a kettle so we can now have tea. We cruised back to the marina to unpack. Leslie opted for a nap (it was 4 o’clock after all) and I went for a walk snooping at boats.

Marinas are really crowded. Not so much in the neighbours-are-too-close way but more in the how-the-hell-do-I-get-this-boat-outta-here way. I have to say my confidence is a lot lower than it was yesterday. But Tim Melville, our instructor, shows up tomorrow at 9 so I suppose it will all get better.

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After everyone rose and shone we talked boating and looked through our books and generally acted all nautical.

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Then we wandered over to the Beefeater for dinner: Leslie had fresh seafood cannelloni and I went for meat skewers. I had a glass of Copper Moon Shiraz to go with and it was delish. So now it’s 9 pm BC time and we are zonked. So we made up the aft cabin and it’s nighty night.

Nighty night…

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4:26 Addendum

Tomorrow I (we) embark on a week long Cruise and Learn from Nanaimo Yacht Charters to try and obtain our basic and intermediate powerboat certification as well as our coastal navigation certification. We will board a Bayliner 3288 Saturday and disembark a week later. The goal is to get all of our paperwork, on water training and experience in order to charter a boat later this summer and explore the coast. After this week all I should need is to pick upo my Marine Operators VHF certificate sometime in May. Medium to long range we want to add the sailing components as well but I will see how the week goes.

As a result the “It’s Novel” thread will halt until Sunday May 5. I will do daily posts, but I won’t promise to post them daily; you might have to wait until we make port somewhere with a good connection. In the mean time, just imagine me sitting in this chair, doing math in my head:

Bayliner bridge

4:26

4:26

Now let’s see. We started on the 29th of December, 2012 and have so far have contrived a hundred or so continuous daily posts.

The stats so far:
37000 words
113 posts
20+ characters
A half dozen plot lines
6 comments from the interwebs
5 poems (and I use that word lightly)
4 drawings
3 missed days (but I managed to write a few spares to cover them)

Hmmmm, not bad. Only 250 more to go… Oh. Fuck.

4:25

4:25

The beaver glanced down at a loose sheet that seemed to have been torn from a notebook.

Sunday, June the second, nineteen hundred and eighty-five

Fuck. Fuck. She’s not fucking here. The stupid fucking slut isn’t fucking here. Fuck.

Isn’t it just like a fucking woman to screw with a simple plan. I should have known, never, ever trust a fucking woman: whores or incompetents and usually both. It was going to be so simple. I’ve got her keys, her car, all the fucking data and account lists and even her god-damned passport. It was going to be easy street from now on. Suck the stupid bitch dry, spit out the remains and I’d be on an island by summer. All I needed was a tiny bit of cooperation from the silly cow, but no, she’s gotta fuck off to town on the one day this month I could make this work.

Now I have to put up with this shit hole for another month, smile at that smarmy cow’s chatter and worst of all, keep up this ridiculous dance with that ugly dog of a bank teller and her moron the manager.

Fuck. Twenty-eight fucking days. Fuck.

Ordo ab chaos
Barnabas

 

4:24

4:24

Rowan finished off the last of the dark ale Gareth had handed her an hour before. It was warm and had a bitter taste, but she supposed that was fitting given the day’s events.

“I gotta go, dude. Y’all gonna be ok? I kin come back later if’n that’s what needs to be dun. Easy-breezy, that’s me.”

Gareth smiled but shook his head and then brushed the hair back from his eyes. “No. But thanks,” he said a bit too quickly. “I guess I gotta deal sometime, huh. But I appreciate it. Christ, I appreciate all of it. I never really expected this much hassle and drama.” Gareth closed his eyes as just how much drama was yet to come started to add up in the back of his mind.

“Say, how about we hook up tomorrow after lunch and I can give you a progress report or something.”

“Sure thing, cowboy,” Rowan said brightly. “I’d like that.” She put down the empty bottle, and as she walked to the door she stretched her arms way above her head and let out a long contented noise. At the door she turned and let the smile drop from her face. “You call, right? You damn well call if’n this all started to skitter sideways. Ah mean it!”

Gareth nodded. “I’ll call. Promise. But it’s going be ok now. It’s all gonna be ok.”

A quick, sharp nod and she was gone. And Gareth stood, alone in his apartment, staring at the closed door and wishing she hadn’t left.

 

4:23

4:23

As Meredith stepped out of the cafe back in to the rain, she gave her head a little shake and felt a rueful smile crawl up her lips. Well, that was an experience, she thought. I swear old Crowley was just itching to make a beaver joke. I could see it in his eyes.

She took a quick look back at the truck and stepped off the landing and onto the wet sidewalk as she scanned the street. Nothing. Where could the beaver had gotten to? Was he gone for good? Why leave here, in the middle of town, when he could have wandered off anytime back at her place, close to the lake?

Meredith crossed the street and peered at the shrubs that lined the base of the old post office, then moved along the sidewalk towards the edge of town. I wonder if it was something I did? It was nice having someone around, even if he didn’t talk much.

She looked up the lane that ran to the alley along the east side of Main Street. God, what am I doing out here in the rain? I should have just stayed in the cafe and traded tales with Crowley and Esther. Given the little a guy some time to finish his business and then see if he was coming home or calling it quits. She looked up the street at the door of the cafe and snorted. But I guess that’s out now unless I want to make the front page this week. Like as not, the rumors of my sanity taking a hike are already halfway around town.

Meredith took a big step back as a tan-on-tan Chevy zoomed by, oblivious to the puddles, and it occurred to her that it was a hell of a lot drier in her own truck than it was standing out here in the wet. Mind made up, she crossed back onto the street and walked up the centre  to the old, ugly temple, her eyes sweeping both sides of the street as she splashed through the puddles.

As she slid behind the wheel she glanced up just in time to see the honourable Mayor of Magrath making a beeline right for her. “Great,” she muttered to herself. “I suppose he’s already heard and is coming to see if I’m all right.” Meredith briefly pondered the reaction to her locking the doors and pretending she couldn’t hear him before deciding that would most definitely make things worse.

She slumped down in her seat and waited for the inevitable.

 

4:22

4:22

Time and space are such delicate things: easily torn asunder by the forces of fate, susceptible to shifting and wavering by the slightest touch of both great and small. What is true is determined more often by the tiniest decisions of the most insignificant creature than by the supposedly insurmountable pillars of when and where.

This is not philosophy. This is not the result of fasting and flagellation in the search for truths or guidance. This is not a common belief system held together by a community of any sort. This is such a truth as to be commonly held by things spiritual and corporeal. It is a principle that exists above all disputes and below all knowledge.

And yet time is always immutable to those who cannot see, and space is the wall of that fortress that preserves for all who seek safety. All inhabitants of perception must abide by these caveats or be lost to the unordered and chaotic sea that lies beyond our perception. Except, perhaps, for those few. Those whose connection lies not within but without and whose paths have not beginnings and ending but are endless webs folded back on themselves again and again in innumerable layers. Except those whose bodies and organs and cells and whose tiny ineffable life sparks are the true definition of fantastic. Except those.