Monday, September 16, 2013

Leg 4: The Canadian Inside Passage

Posted from Port Hardy, BC, just shortly after crossing the Sound...

The Canadian Inside Passage: “Fog, logs and dogs.”

In this blog post you will find a string of Giselle’s journal entries, a new addition of “Clif Notes,” and some awesome pictures from Canadian waters. Also, check out our new page (above in the tabs) “Galley Time.” Because, naturally… we have to have a food blog.

 First, Some Silly News…

We realized we were low on fresh water when we were in Prince Rupert, but couldn’t find a spigot to attach our hose to, so… we’ve been washing our dishes in seawater and giving them a quick hot water rinse afterwards. Unfortunately, this routine of hauling/dumping soapy water out of our 5-gallon bucket made me loose the only two forks we owned!! Sadly, we are now fork-less and ate dinner with spoons (and one plastic fork I found leftover from Clif and Rob’s trip north).

Doing some salt water dishes outside in the cockpit.
We also broke the majority of our plastic cups the first day we left Juneau in heavy weather, and I stepped on one of our plastic dinner plates while hauling in the jib yesterday….
Moral of the story is: We need some nice new stainless steel cups and plates (and more forks of course), which we will purchase in Seattle.

(*** after note: We have fresh water now. We filled the tank in Klemtu.)

From Giselle…

Bored on the boat...
Every day since leaving Prince Rupert, we have had some period of fog. For some reason the Canadian side of the Inside Passage as been more susceptible to fog banks than the Alaskan portion. Tonight, we arrived in Klemtu, fueled up in beautiful sunny weather and saw that there were no open spots at the small dock. We made the decision to press forward to a bay that was 1- 2 hours away that was an excellent anchorage, but no sooner did we leave Klemtu, the wind picked up, the waves picked up and a thick fog bank rolled in on us. We turned back around, back to the Kelmtu dock (15 minutes backward), and were able to tie up alongside a big powerboat “Solitude.” The father and son onboard the boat were extremely nice and helped us in our first “tying up experience” (attached to another boat). So there we sat comfortably: thankful for the safe moorage, and hoping for better weather in the morning. Woke up when it was light (which is happening now around 7am with the time change): thick fog, but no wind or rain to speak of. We left Klemtu, Clif driving, and I standing at the mast keeping watch for logs… yes, many logs.

Logs have been another navigation challenge in Canada. We literally crossed the border and began seeing logs in the water… everywhere. Sometimes to the point of me having to stand in the shrouds and point out large logs and yell back to Clif: “log!” We have both made the mistake of bumping into (thankfully small) logs while it was our turn at the helm. It’s a harrowing experience, hearing something bump the boat, even if it’s gentle. It’s bound to happen, winding our way through all the bull kelp and driftwood in these channels, but we do our best to help each other keep watch and steer the boat out of harms way. Coming out of Klemtu, it was like the storm during the night has pulled an entire forest into the water. We were all ears and eyes, all the time—even with the motor on.

The other sighting that has increased in these last two days is jumping salmon! I have never seen so many jumping salmon in my life. After we docked in Klemtu, we went on a nice long walk and walked the hundreds, if not thousands of Dog salmon swim upsteam and jump all over the place. One salmon we watched jump across the water like a skipping stone twelve times in a row! To which Clif exclaimed, “Holy Dogs!” Too bad all the salmon are spawning and nasty.

The absolute BEST day in Bishop Bay…

Roof of the Bishop Bay hotsprings.
One of my favorite photos. Clif enjoying the surrounding of the hotspring.
We purposefully got up early this morning, wide-awake at the prospect of getting a bath today!! We motored out of Lowe Inlet and began to sail the rest of the way down Grenville Channel downwind! These past two days in Grenville Channel have both been excellent downwind sailing, which is the first we’ve had since we left Juneau. We arrived at Bishop Bay/Monkey Beach Conservancy around 3:45 in the afternoon (an early day for us) and immediately attached ourselves to a mooring buoy and rowed to shore for our prize! On shore is a small little fresh-water hot springs, cut into the rock (similar to Tenakee’s), but with a roof over the top and a deck to view the bay. The hot springs seems to be a very popular stop for BC cruisers coming up from Seattle or down from Alaska. The roof was laden with trinkets and ornaments left by previous hot springs bathers: buoys with names and dates, shells, beers cans, and a myriad of other crazy boating items, all bearing the names of folks who had been to the hot springs and wanted to leave their mark. The water was an absolutely PERFECT temperature for a bath. We got the pool all to ourselves in the afternoon and didn’t want to get out. The only reason why I could get out and go back to the boat was the prospect of going back to shore at night and bringing flashlights and candles for a late night bath.

The late night trip to the hot springs was even more magical. We rowed ashore in our little dighy and watched the paddles and wake churn up bright green phosphorescence! We brought a large candle from the boat in addition to the little tea light candles that were already left at the bath. The stars were out and we could hear the breaths of the humpback whales carrying across the bay to the bath hut.

On the whale front… written in Bishop Bay:

I had another peaceful, almost meditative moment with the whales tonight. I lay in the v-berth, window completely open, allowing a light cold breeze to flow through the v-berth into the main cabin of the boat. I set all the pillows up against the anchor box as to make a perfect reading nook. I’m about ¾ through (now finished, once I’m posting this online) Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and love sneaking back to this comfortable quiet place when we are anchored or moored up silently. But tonight wasn’t so silent: every minute or so (sometimes more frequently) one could hear the burst of the humpback whales across the bay taking a breath. It was rhythmic, methodical, and if there was a period of time when couldn’t hear them gasping for air regularly, I’d pop my head out into the sunset sky and wait for a sighting, as to know my evening companions where still present. I imagine that feeling being something like the experience of new mother listening to her baby breathe while sleeping, making sure there are no irregularities.

Every once in a while, I was lucky enough to hear, echoing through the hull of the boat, the grunts, groans and squeals of our nighttime visitors. One load whale call in particular rang off the sides of the steep mountains surrounding us, making me freeze in my place, in awe of how loud that whale song had become.

I would do well in life if their songs and chatter were always my lullaby.

I believe, along our journey, that whenever the humpback whales are near, I will feel the comfort and simple joy of being home. I hope they follow us all the way down to Mexico.

*** Also, as an afterthought, for Dad (and maybe Sarah C., if you read this), I’m thinking “Whale lullaby” would be an excellent nighttime children’s book idea (ala Goodnight Moon). ?? For those who don’t know, I want to write and illustrate a children’s book… more ideas to come. Feel free to comment and bounce back ideas.

Here’s to another addition of…

Clif Notes

Lots of motoring has been done. We are making good time on our way south. The long days we have been putting in seem worthwhile. We can already tell the air is getting warmer…maybe, hopefully, kind of, unless it is another foggy morning. In all reality, the days have been fairly warm and a couple of times we noticed a rare warm breeze blowing, but from where the warm breeze is coming from, we have no idea. After all, it IS fall in Canada, even if it has been an unusually sunny and dry one.

For those of you who don’t already know, we have a DeLorme InReach Satellite Tracker with us. This allows everyone at home to keep an eye on our progress (see the tab above “Track Us!”). It also lets us send and receive text messages when we are out of cell service. We have been in the habit of sending a message to close friends and family every night letting them know we are safe and sound. If you would like to be added to the message list just let us know via email and we can add you. Most of our messages are preset to say “Everything is ok,” but if the need arises we can send custom messages to arrange logistics, or any info we need to share while out on the water away form internet of telephones.  Although our outgoing messages are limited, everyone is able to reply via email for free! We have been receiving email/text replies from friends and family almost everyday. Each morning, instead of reading the paper, we have been turning on our InReach to get the latest news and well wishes from everyone at home. These have been very welcomed messages and we look forward to seeing who has written us. So please keep the messages coming, even if we don’t respond, know that we enjoy reading them!

Prince Rupert Harbor at sunset.
One of the main questions we get is what do we do with all of our time, and whether or not we go stir-crazy on the boat. For the most part we have been staying busy keeping up with simple chores like taking turns at the helm, putting up the sails with every puff of air, only to take them down shortly after because the wind died, and playing with the sail trim with every shift in wind direction. Cooking, cleaning and repeating at each meal also take time out of the day. Other things to bide our time have been plotting our course for the next stop, and lots of reading. Plotting our course has been fairly easy, keeping in mind tide and currents through the day as we travel down one channel and through another body of water. We still have the benefit of lots of places to stop and anchor, but few places to fill up on fuel, water and warm showers. Giselle and I have been trying to read some classic books. She has a long reading list for me in hopes of making me “well rounded,” seeing as I haven’t taken many philosophy classes, and she studied theology and art history. I started reading Moby Dick, which seems like a fun read while on the water. Other than that, I have been reading a lot of manuals and how-to books. I have been learning how to better use the radar onboard and I have been practicing during the sunny days and testing my new skills during the recent foggy mornings. I have also been reading a lot of sailing journals and an 800-page study guide for getting my captain’s license. Once I get through the study guide and feel comfortable with the amount of time and skills I have on the water, I hope to take a test with the U.S. Coast Guard to become a certified captain for hire. I doubt this will ever make be much money but hopefully it will help in getting a fun job driving other peoples’ boats.

I almost forgot to mention that this week I've seen a humpback whale fully breaching out of the water as well as an orca. The orca was small and at first I thought it was a great white shark. I guess I've seen too many episodes of "Shark Week" on the Discovery Channel.

A sound boat.
Lastly, in trying to bide my time, I even have been reading the dictionary. As you all know the name of our sailboat is Sound Discovery. I thought it would be fun to look up the many definitions of “sound,” and here are a few that seemed fitting for us:

sound1 (noun)
            - any auditory effect, a noise, musical tone
sound2 (adjective)
- free from injury, damage, defect or disease. In good condition; healthy; robust: a sound heart; a sound vessel
- competent, sensible or valid: sound judgment
sound3 (verb)
            - to measure the depth of water by a lead weighted line
- to plunge downward or dive, as a whale
- to make investigation; seek information
sound4 (noun)
            - a relatively narrow passage of water between larger bodies of water or between the 
              mainland and an island.
            - an inlet, arm, or recessed portion of the sea: Puget Sound

So here is to soundly sounding new sounds aboard Sound Discovery!
(Translated to “competently investigating new inlets of the sea on our boat”)
That sounds like our new mission statement.

Rowing dighy, tied up at Bishop Bay hot springs.

Clif in the hotsprings (also a cute shell mobile hung by a cruiser family in the foregorund)

One of my favorite photos thus far! Clif's legs, kicking under the boat. He went down to look at the prop and rudder.

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