Thursday, August 24, 2017

17 days and 372 miles in British Columbia

A few days ago we returned from our voyage north into British Columbia. It has taken a few days to get my bearings on land, and to adjust back into syphilization. It is not an adjustment I ever experience easily, or without anguish. This particular journey was longer in time than some we've had recently, as our schedules allowed the sort of expansive time any real and safe boat journey requires. And this extended time allowed for the transition into those other versions of ourselves that we love so much. For some reason, we find the lifestyle of sailing, hiking, reading great books, playing cards, swimming in the ocean and in lakes, jumping off rocks and hanging out in dramatic wilderness conducive to us being 100% alive and happy:

 
This is Elliott jumping maybe 25-30 feet at Smugglers Cove. A beautiful setting. He later jumped a couple spots much higher in Teakerne Arm and Walsh Cove. 


This is the Teakerne Arm jump. You can see the lovely Cassel Lake falls in the background. It doesn't look too high on video, but he is nearly 6' tall, and you can count how many of him it would take to reach the ocean below! 

Due to the length of this trip, and my appetite for narrative right now, I will render some stories as highlights and bullets. It was an incredible, unforgettable three weeks. A reminder of all that is innately good and happy and free in each of us, and of the majesty of the Salish Sea.



  • We left Friday Harbor, spending one night at Reid Harbor, and then going up Sansum Narrows for the sheer beauty of it. Caught flood help most of this day. If you haven't gone up Sansum, you must. It is the most dramatic and rugged place in the southern Salish Sea. 
  • The smoke from the fires started the next day, on our way to DeCourcy Island. This smoke persisted for most of the rest of the trip, reducing daytime temperatures and glare, but also reducing the temperature of the waters a bit. We never could see the high peaks around Desolation Sound.
    Really?
  • Due to high NW winds we enjoyed a layover day on Newcastle Island. We were reminded what a magnificent island it is! I'm grateful to those city fathers and mothers of Nanaimo for setting aside this island long ago. The little putt putt ferry is super handy and so we enjoyed dinner in Nanaimo after a day of frisbee and hiking around Newcastle. 
  •  Whales, whales, whales! We had humpback whales all over the Desolation Sound area. Never have we seen them like this, so numerous and frequently. Incredible.
    Humpbacks all around. Flukes, tails, blowing!
  • When we crossed the Straits the next day, there were still 20 knot NW winds. And Whiskey Golf was said to be active. This prevents a crossing from the Nanaimo area over to Texada or Thormamby islands area. You must either motor north of Ballenas islands, or go way south, practically to Vancouver, and then beat back north again. So we, along with others, started pounding into 2-3-4 foot waves around Neck Point. It's slow going, but as you painfully get north, you get into the lee of the island chain near Nanoose. Neck Point is always a rough spot in my experience. But after an hour or so of doing this, they announced a change and Whiskey Golf was no longer active! Every sailboat around just raised sail and tacked over to their destinations. For us, it was Smugglers Cove. The waves were now more or less on the beam and we were close hauled, which on Aeolus means the seas cannot be felt. A great crossing. The winds died near the mainland, and we motored the rest of the way to Smugglers. 
  • The Mantus Anchor continues to be a real warrior for us. On this trip we had to anchor in several tight spots, sometimes with cross winds, and in notoriously bad holding locations, but I've yet to have that anchor drag. 
  • We made it up into Desolation Sound, and spent the next week at all our favorite spots. Amy flew up to join us this week and we picked her up in Refuge Cove. Swimming, hiking, reading and eating great food. What a lifestyle! 
    Entering the meadow on Jedidiah...A perfect moment.
  • On our way back the highlight was Jedidiah Island, as always. Enormously grateful to Mary Palmer and family for donating most of the island's value to future park use. And to think she was from Los Angles! Like Connover over on Wallace. BC has a unique history of people from Los Angeles having owned and later donated major island parks to the BC province. Jedidiah is intoxicating to me. Ancient trees, rugged coastline. Quiet. So quiet. The boys and I hiked up Mt. Gibraltar, which is the highest point although only 3-400 feet high. We went for runs, and had the most amazing frisbee games. It is paradise. 
  • Our journey back to Friday Harbor was uneventful and gorgeous. We stopped at Wallace for our next to last night, and enjoyed that old friend immensely. And then, in a flash, we are on a ferry to Anacortes and back home in the blink of an eye. 
  • There is no happiness, like this. Top of Mt. Gibraltar on Jedidiah. Another perfect moment in space/time.









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