Memories of the past

Pender Harbour had been welcoming the night before, lit up with the lights of the houses as Seileastar slowly chugged in, her little diesel turning over as smooth as ever. Nobody had turned up to oust me from the mussel-covered buoy that bobbed in the little bay where I ducked in, and so the next morning I had left bright and early, heading north towards Alaska again.

I hadn’t followed my usual routine of checking the Weather on the VHS, but the water was calm, the winds gentle, and the skies clear. I wanted to be out, farther towards my destination, not listening to the drone of the automated messages from my static-y VHF with its unmounted antenna: “Victoria, 12 knots. Sand Heads, 19 knots, gusting to 25 knots. Nanaimo, 16 knots “. I threw up my blown out main and slightly chafed jib, and slowly sailed off of the mooring.

Outside of my little bay, I threw the helm over and made way for Discovery Passage, impatient to be off. Wind was filling my sails, but I was a little uneasy as my little boat passed the last few islands before I got to the channel.  “Funny”, I thought, “Those look like whitecaps”.  Seileastar pitched and rolled as she took the winds on her beam, and I braced against the cockpit coming as we came out of the shadow of the last island. It was blowing 25 knots, gusting higher, and the waves were growing. I pushed the help down, and downwind we went, scudding along at 7 knots.  This late in the year, the water had turned from the pale green to a transparent grey, thrown foaming aside by the bow as my home pitched herself down the waves and shouldered up from the troughs.  The seas cast little bits of foam from the tip of their crests, and late in the day a flying fish flew from a crest, high into the air, and back in the face of another rushing fall of water. The porpoises were out in their usual force; one or two playing in the wake occasionally, other times their fins showing above the foamy water in my wake.

By early afternoon, the winds had increased more, spray was flying more, and I wasn’t too happy thinking about starting up my engine. Only a quarter tank remained, and I was as broke as ever: wasting fuel on a mere 30 knots wasn’t quite cricket, with the remains of the typhoon due through in a few days. I peered at my charts through the spray-covered plastic I wrapped in it for just these types of days, and noted a tiny, unmarked bay just past the point of Texada Island. “Should shelter me just a bit”, I mused, and shifted my course towards the little break in the trees.

Half an hour and one set of gnarly breakers later, Seileastar nosed into a bay even more sheltered then I had dared hope. A small river stream babbled out from the edge of the trees, after falling down a small waterfall into a crystal clear pool a few feet deep. None of the waves that still raged and roared out in the passage made their way into the little nook I had discovered, and my boat dropped her anchor in 8 feet of water, a school of little fish ducking and weaving around the anchor chain. After a shore landing to wash a dozen dishes and one dirty dude in the little pool, I sat out in the cockpit with my nightly plate of pasta, watching for the fluorescence as my little dinghy bobbed on it’s painter.

It had been a good day.