Ship's Log
Wednesday, July 12, 2000
Sucia Island to Port Browning

Oh Canada!

    I woke on the grassy bluff to blazing sun.

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The morning clouds did not appear as they had been for several days. I went to check on the boat. There was a -2 tide at 8 am. I took a reading with my lead line to find out I had six inches to spare under my keel, just as I had calculated (and hoped) yesterday. I went for a quiet morning walk and thought about how nervous I was about this trip…The anxiety slowly gave way to excitement. "But how," I asked myself, "How am I ever going to leave this place?" I made my way back to our campsite. By the time I had last nights dishes finished, Tom had coffee waiting.

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When I was packing to leave Port Townsend, almost as an afterthought, I decided to strap my mountain bike to the back of the boat. It was a great thing to have on Sucia. 20000709_02.jpg (54476 bytes)I feel like I have done that island from every angle. The last morning, we were all a bit sad to be leaving this place and time. We said bye, they packed up the kayaks and paddled north to circumnavigate the island before heading back to their car on Orcas Island. I hopped on the bike to catch a few more trails before I sailed away. I didn’t have much experience on a mountain bike, except for in the city or around town. I feel like I really bonded with this machine today. I began to feel like I was wearing the bike. Controlling my center of gravity and hopping rocks and stumps. My legs welcomed the exercise after being confined to my 28’ boat for days. I road along cliffs and across grassy bluffs until I arrived a Ewing Cove. I sat and took a drink of water, just as Tom and Keith rounded the rock into the cove. This was the warmest of the three days. And yes it just kept getting better.

We each had different plans for the next month or so, and they all sounded great. From here, Keith and his girlfriend were going to road trip to California then through Oregon to the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. I of course was about to ride the wind north west for a few weeks. And Tom was plotting how to meet me for a kayaking trip to Quadra Island in Desolation Sound. These few days on Sucia, were really a great kickoff for us all.

We sat for a spell then said our good-byes again. An hour later I was back "home" and casted off without looking back.

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I didn’t want to leave the magic of Sucia Island. The journey to the Gulf Islands was long—no wind, flat seas. The current really wanted to push me to Alaska, but my little diesel chugged me into Canadian Waters by 4pm. I hoisted the Canadian flag on my windward shroud as etiquette would dictate. I hugged the coast of Saturna Island hoping to catch an eddy opposing the dominant current but the ebb was a consistent three knots. I arrived at Port Browning nestled in the snuggly armpit of North Pender Island. I motored right into a slip at a dock without quite knowing what the protocol was. (I didn’t want to get yelled at like in Roche Harbor.) I shut down the motor that I had been running for 6 hours. The fuel gauge still hasn’t moved off of full. I stepped off the boat and three older sailors and a fisherman came over to see how I was and where I came from. Very friendly—it’s like another country here! I walked on shore to pay for my slip and the only thing open was the pub. Every one greeted me with a smile. There’s no edge—a bit of a macho thing—but an overall feeling that it’s okay. I paid the bartender my $12 Canadian for the slip and asked about customs. They said I would have to go to the next town south the next morning. "Don’t worry about it. We don’t have any manpower in Canada. Then a guy behind me chimed in, "Do you have any bad American fruit on board?" "Well just apples," I answered. "Oh, well don’t tell them that." Sound advice. I thought, "I am glad to be here." And that’s good because I won’t be returning to the states for another six or seven weeks. As I sat there, I saw yachties and fisherman laughing together at the bar, kids and dogs playing in the field outside and people camping and picnicking. It’s like no one is caught up in class or status. That suites me just fine. I don’t really fit into a mold. 

I seem to be the exception to the rule more often than not. I am a hippie with a desk job, a professional with long hair, I listen to heavy metal while sailing my boat and I eat vegetarian food in smoky bars. I guess that is why I also have a hard time fitting in to one particular group. Somewhere along the way I learned to question everything and make my own way based on what makes the most sense to me. Some people get jealous because they see me not making the sacrifices they made to get where they are. Here, people look into your eyes when they say hello. I will learn a lot from this culture. An aspect of this trip I hadn’t even considered.

The weather report for tomorrow calls for rain. I will keep an eye on the barometer. So far the weather has been sunny and beautiful. I hope it holds out.

It's a small world after all. It's a small small world.

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