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July 15, 2001

Latitude N 48 degrees 58.5 minutes. Longitude W 123 degrees 40.0 minutes.**

Sunny, clear skies, 85 to 90 degree daytime temperatures, no wind.

 

"In a calm harbor every ship has a good captain." Swedish proverb

Princess Cove on Wallace Island, is only 100 yards wide at best, and right now, it is perfectly calm. After maneuvering through a narrow rocky entrance we secured "Love of Liberty" in about 7 meters of water.(Depending on what you read or who you listen to around here, marine data comes in kilometers per hour, fathoms, feet, meters, and nautical miles per hour.) It is almost that deep right up to the cove's rocky edge. There are iron rings placed in the vertical rocks at the shore, so the technique here is to drop anchor out in the cove and place a stern line to the iron ring in the rock.

Enter a cove like this, and you provide no end of amusement for the other boats already anchored there. Of course, they're already nicely secured, between their anchor and their iron ring. They're smug. They're relaxed. They're talking softly. They're sipping a soft drink under their boat's awning. You, hunting for the idyllic spot for your boat, approach the cove. You enter slowly and so maneuver ... into their view. Therein lies the rub. Until you commit the inevitable blunder, they only offer casual glances from behind their dark glasses. You, after all, in their minds, COULD be really good at this and make this approach with no error. Noticing that would embarrass them, since they've never made - or have even seen - a perfect approach. Actually, the elusive 'perfect approach' doesn't exist. The other boaters await your Armageddon.

Should you decide to go for it, your mission is to slow the boat, compute the water depth, figure the necessary anchor rode length, find a suitable space that's not too close to the other boats, compensate for the wind, compensate for the current, drop the anchor and back the boat against the anchor chain toward THE spot. "Love of Liberty" backs like a Texas mule, sometimes going to port and sometimes going to starboard. I never know the direction ahead of time. She goes in the direction she wants, and I just deal with it. (Otherwise she's a perfect boat.) Once you get her back-end tamed and into position, get yourself into the dinghy, promptly row ashore toward an iron ring with the stern line feeding out over the dinghy's transom. I say "promptly" because, I have found, as soon I leave "Love of Liberty's" deck, she, lacking command, will inevitably drift towards the neighboring boat's freshly varnished cap rail or delicate overhanging stern flagstaff. You may notice someone on a boat adjacent to your spot, surveying your efforts, lowering fenders overside.

The boat is stopped near "your spot", you have rowed the dinghy to the shoreline, you adroitly step from the dinghy to the wet, slippery moss covered rocks, and hand-and-foot like a mountain goat, climb to the iron ring which is logically set above the tide's high-water line. Of course, the 'stern hawser' is in your tow over your shoulder as you move up the rock. For some reason, the existing tidal condition is usually tidal LOW-WATER thus forcing a 15 foot ascent up to the tidal-high water line, plus a little, to the ring ... and a 15 foot rappel back to the dinghy. Having secured the line to the iron ring in the rock, you release "Love of Liberty's" stern line, lower yourself down, re-cross the algae covered rocks, enter the dinghy and row back to the boat. Secure the dinghy, get back on deck, casually walk to the stern winch and take in the slack line. This winch pull will move your boat into its proper position. Ahhh, rest, sit back, relax, hide your Cheshire Cat grin and inconspicuously look for the next boat to come in. I've heard that if anyone aptly performs that task, with no hitches, in any Canadian harbor, the Queen will confer knighthood or some similar honor.

In Maine on Eggemoggin Reach, aboard the schooner "Silver Heels", sunset evenings were special occasions for us. Evenings at sunset here in the Gulf Islands are special as well. An ICED drink adds to the ambiance. I remember, before we left Anacortes, Ellen had searched out a company that makes ice trays. The company said their trays should fit our freezer's unique cold plates -- and they unassumingly called their trays "Dr. Ice". We bought two -- for $75 US!. Of course, they were sent without fittings, brackets or screws and had a sketchy set of directions. Through a tortuous, and labor intensive effort cutting and bending stainless steel, forging fittings and utilizing all my skills while I worked inverted in the ship's freezer, I installed these devices. Last night, I relaxed with an iced drink -- using Plymouth Gin which we found in the Canadian government-operated liquor stores. By the way, I think Plymouth Gin is distilled somewhere away from Plymouth, England, ... perhaps somewhere in tropical Ecuador. I don't know the markup, but I figure it must be a great buy for the government and then they add on the Canadian 17% GST tax to assure a profit. Oh well. Out in these beautiful islands, I was beyond caring about cost and quality of gin. The sun was setting across the Houstoun Passage, and a Bald Eagle landed on a treetop a stone's throw away. Wings folded, he rested about twenty minutes, majestically staring at us. (Ellen reminded me that Bald Eagles mate FOR LIFE.) A Canadian fishing boat had moored near us during the day. We began a conversation, and the captain said he had set a trap and caught some dungeness crabs. He asked us over for dinner. After all Ellen HAD baked fresh bread, and we could trade fairly.

Having been in Canada for some time now, I have come to believe that Canadians honor "those from the states" mostly for the money they spend. I will say that those who run businesses and those who work for the government in this province are amongst the most polite and courteous people I have met. Bring your boat into Port Sidney Marina and the wharfmaster promptly advises you of your berth number and how to get there. (In an Alameda marina you'd be directed to your new berth "out there on the barely floating side dock next to the old gray, wood Chris Craft.") Then, stationed at your berth are two or more dock "attendants" that help bring your boat alongside. They don't leave until all about your boat is secured. Afterward, about the docks, they say 'hello', and are there to assist when you depart. But, then they also charge - figured on a daily basis - ten times the normal rate for moorage.

It's July and we're nearing "Canada Day." It is similar to our Independence Day. The CBC noted that last year, on Canada Day, St. Paul's Hospital closed its emergency room because they "ran out of beds. They hope that it will not happen this year!" Some of the doctors are also going on strike. They want to be paid for their time "on call" as well as when they are actually called in. With their "slow-down" some life-threatened emergency patients may have to be sent to the U.S. There may be no one to treat them here in BC. If you get sick out on your boat or on one of the islands, volunteer EMTs take you by small boat to Victoria or perhaps Vancouver. Or, somewhat better, you may have emergency-float-plane-evacuation-insurance. If you're suitably insured, they agree to fly to your island or your boat, pick you up and quickly transport you to medical services. The numerous de Havilland Beaver float planes around here do this. They fly at 500 to 1000 feet AGL (above ground level) and are like buses, stopping at outlying anchorages and harbors all day long. I watched one of these guys in Montague Harbor. This single engine float plane was fully loaded. With take-off power on, spray was kicked-up and flying past the tail at least fifty feet astern. Engine roaring and mushing along at first, he finally skipped and bumped a half mile across the cove before getting airborne. Then, lumbering along, barely in the air, he banked, dipped a float again and disappeared up a cut between two islands. "Guess he's OK." I groaned. I advise you: DON'T get sick around here.

**Some have asked how I determine the latitude and longitude of our position so noted at the top of this page. I could go to a chart with dividers or rules and scale it off ... as did Slocum, Queeg, Ahab and Bligh. But, I reach about two inches over the edge of the computer and turn on the GPS receiver on the navigation panel. In a few seconds, it locks onto several satellites and gives me latitude and longitude including, but not limited to, sunrise time, sunset time and the time (and graph) of tidal changes. When it works properly, this GPS device takes the mystique out of navigation. I hate to reveal that! The GPS will show the course to steer you to a buoy's position within a few feet. If you watch this GPS thing TOO closely with it's little pointer arrow telling you where to steer (You're head down in the cockpit as they say.) you very well may run, on a foggy day, headlong into the buoy itself! It's that accurate. Years ago, in my boat "Sundance," I came up the California Coast with just a compass and a depth finder. I followed the 40 fathom curve on the chart. (A line on the chart showing where the water is 40 fathoms deep.) With the compass, I knew I was headed north and up the coast, relatively. Then, when the depth indicator showed water deeper than 40 fathoms, I steered to the right (toward the coast). When the depth indicator showed water shallower than 40 fathoms, I steered to the left (out to sea). That way I stayed a known distance, safely offshore, and I successfully made the trip around Pt. Sur at night in the fog, ... and now, older and a little wiser, I wouldn't even consider doing that again. So, today, the electronic gadgets make sailing simple and safe ... almost.

We're on to the Northern Gulf Islands, Clam Bay, Nanaimo then across the Straight of Georgia to Desolation Sound.

With best regards to all, Terry and Ellen

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