Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Portland Island is magnificent, and Stuart too!

Sailed all the way from FH to Portland on one tack!
The boys and I are just back from our three day get away and as always I wish I could stay out there. On Saturday morning we slept in and then headed north. In our new era of Nexus cards I had already called ahead and acquired my Canadian clearance number from the nice people in Ontario. They have absolutely no local knowledge and so when you say you are going to Portland Island they don't even have that in their system. You are required to tell them the name of the nearest reporting station, which in this case happens to be Sidney.

The forecast SE winds were indeed what was happening. We had the most magnificent sail from the entrance to Friday Harbor, on one tack, doing 5-6 knots, broad reaching, all the way across the border and to Portland Island! That's about 18 miles through the twists and turns of the islands.

Could it be any more beautiful?
Once there, we anchored on the north side due to the forecast southeast winds, and Royal Cove is the spot. There are stern tie rings on the shore and this is required for courtesy reasons given the small anchorage. The boys and I got out and immediately began our walk around the island...

There is no way to express how wonderful and beautiful and meaningful this walk was. Spring has sprung, and the boys ran excitedly from one cove to another marveling at the wildflowers and views. An ecstasy of green. An explosion of life. Even our adolescent 13 year old was like an innocent child in his enthusiasm. As a father, there is nothing so precious to me as these happy times in nature with my boys.

It is about 6 miles around the island. Easy single track trails wind through the varied habitats that differ based on their sun exposure and wind. We saw lots of birds, and stopped here and there to play. Easy time. Loose time. Deep time.

At the lovely shell beach, north side of Portland Island
On the north side of the island, near Royal Cove, is a wonderful beach and camping area. I had stayed at this very beach when I kayaked up the Inside Passage back in 1996. It is special to me for this reason. A great place to swim in the summer, though the water is still cool compared to points further north. I love saying that, as I think it confuses the hell out of people who do not have local knowledge of how the water gets warmer as you move north toward Desolation Sound.

In the morning we headed back across the border and went to old friend Reid Harbor on Stuart Island. Anchored out, we did our favorite walk to a nearby hillside and basked in the sunshine. The wild goats were there as usual, and my favorite tree, the One Tree, is budding out for another year of growth. The boys ran wild and feral, and I laid around trying to absorb every ray of sunshine. We then walked cross country back to the trail and spent a leisurely afternoon reading on the boat.

A trip absolutely like many others, and yet the story is fresh in the living every time we do it. An affirmation of life itself, and wild things, and ourselves, and each other.

Elliott wanted to steer the boat for an extended period--A sign of his maturation

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