Ship's Log
Sunday, July 16, 2000
Silva Bay to Sechelt

Romping Through The Strait of Georgia

    At 7am, I woke up and put on coffee. According to the weather report, the winds were going to be strong from the west with seas at one to two meters. By 8am I weighed anchor. Raising anchor single-handed is hard enough. But this morning I have two anchors and the wind is whipping through the bay. I began weigh the first anchor. Hand over hand I pulled the wet rope onto the deck. It turned to chain, then finally the anchor. My hands were wet and numb when I began to work on the second hook. I pulled most of the scope out of the rode but left it sitting on the ground. Then I put the engine into gear and raised the rest of the chain and anchor. As my auto pilot steered me into the crashing waves of the Straits, I managed to stow the lines and secure the anchor on the bow sprit.

But not before getting completely submerged in green water as the bow came down the back of a swell just as the next was crashing over me. I20000716_13.jpg (60173 bytes) managed to return to the safety of the cockpit without incident. I wrapped my hands around my coffee mug and nestled down for a long motor to Sechelt. My little diesel chugged up one side of the swells then the bow would crash down into the next. It became apparent that at three knots against the wind and waves, I was not going to make it and my motor was working harder that it could conceivably maintain. So, I set my working jib and off I went. Soon the motor was off and with only my smallest sail set, I was moving at six knots almost directly towards my destination.
In preparation for this day, I battened down everything. I made special tie-downs for the solar panel. Everything in the cabin and galley was secure. 20000716_14.jpg (52171 bytes)I was wearing my fowl weather gear, boots and gloves and it was a good thing. I sat nestled behind my new dodger watching the waves wash the deck and spray over me. All I kept saying was, "Well, at least the sun is shining." And it continued to shine all day. I kept the nausea at bay with ginger snaps and hot coffee. After four hours of pounding, I had reached the other side. The wind subsided, the waves did not. I motored up the coast until I found Trail Bay near the Town of Sechelt.

I guess you get what you deserve when you plan to meet someone in a place neither of you can pronounce in another country not even knowing if there is a marina there or not. I found a tiny cove in 20 feet of water, raised the chili pepper flag, and threw down the anchor. There were few beach houses but no real town to speak of. I looked at the chart more closely and realized that this particular town has two water fronts—one on the Strait of Georgia where I am and one on an inlet with marinas and all that good stuff. However, it would take me another 10 hours to get to that inlet. So I rowed to shore and walked inland. 

After a few blocks, I realized I was on an Indian Reservation. I didn’t realize it right away because I looked far better than any reservation I’ve seen in Washington. When I got to the tribal school, I used the payphone to check my messages: Nothing from Betsy. Not sure what to do next, I thought I would find a store and maybe buy ice. I took two steps down the road and hear my name. There’s Betsy—just like that. betsy.jpg (81010 bytes)We went out to dinner, got some provisions, found a place to leave her car for a few days and walked back towards the boat. The waitress told us the town name is pronounced (SEE shelt) but we don’t believe it. On the way back, we saw incredible totem poles and an old cemetery that Betsy had to explore. (My photos of it didn’t turn out. I will scan hers and place them here in the future.) We rowed back to the boat and got settled.

A man with a dog named Rudy (I am better with dog names than people names) rowed his dinghy over to us. He asked if the chili pepper flag meant it was happy hour. We laughed and explained how we miraculously ran into each other. It was just like the time in Moab, Utah in 1996. We were all going to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. I was on my motorcycle. Betsy left a few days earlier with my ex-girlfriend and my new girlfriend (it’s a long story…) anyhow, we thought it would be fun to meet in Moab and do the last part of the trip from the desert to the mountains together, and left it at that. Well there I was sitting on a curb when I hear my name and see Betsy waving from the truck. That was the beginning of a magical trip. I hope this is as well.

The man with the dog named Rudy said we should move over to one of the floats, because the anchorage here isn’t protected. So we raised the anchor before it got dark and found our way to a float with a bit of space and tied up. The sun was setting when another man rowed over. He was older and had a Scandinavian accent. He explained that these floats were private, but we were in luck because old Mr. Something was sailing for the week and the space is free. He introduced himself and said he lives there with the red roof. Then he launched into sailing stories beginning with that 43-foot ketch he built himself. He still has a set of plans for a 38-foot gaff-rigged cutter that he wants to build but his wife doesn’t want to give up her flowers in the front yard and "you can only have one mistress at a time. I am writing a book. You cannot write and build boats at the same time. Like Buddha says, ‘do one thing at a time.’ You don’t think about mortgages while you’re making love." Then he told us to get out there and do it, sail, explore, live. "I am doing it." I said, "Your it, I’m here aren’t I?" He told me to go to Hawaii then down to the South Pacific and really sail!

He explained that there are underwater volcanic peaks throughout the Pacific Ocean that spiral from Japan to Oregon to Hawaii and back to Japan and around and around and in the center is where all the debris floating in the ocean collects. If money’s the issue, simply make a stop at that location. "The first time I sailed there, I plucked 40 glass balls with the netting still around them. When we got to Hawaii, I sold them for $50 each. Then sailed to Fiji." I asked where a good place to sail around here was. I had four days with Betsy and I wasn’t sure where to sail to and back in just a few days. He said, "There’s nothing good around here. In the old days you could sail over to Lasqueti (la SKEET tea) Island and the maidens would come to the docks with special herbs. But they don’t do that anymore, or maybe I am getting old and they just don’t greet me anymore… Or you could go up to Powell River where they have a big marina by the pulp mill if that’s your thing." Now completely dark, we thanked him for the stories and he rowed away. We went below looked at the charts, looked at each other and decided to set sail for the maidens of Lasqueti.

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

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