Sunday, September 22, 2019

Most Beautiful Anchorage - Top Contender

Serendipity at Princess Louisa Inlet dock.
Today we left the furthest planned point of our Pacific Northwest cruising for the year -- Princess Louisa Inlet, British Columbia. It's an out-of the way spot.

In addition to a dock, its only "luxuries" are non-potable running water and two outhouses. Yet, it's arguably the crown jewel of Pacific Northwest cruising. We almost didn't go; we're glad we did (thanks Meaghan & Chris of Tangatatu & for encouraging us to go).

It's not only many miles away from phone and wifi coverage, VHF radio signals are only viable for other boats in the immediate area -- so get your weather report ahead of time and cross your fingers it holds.

We're wifi challenged and have quite a few tasks we need WiFi for in the next few days (and my AT&T phone hotspot's consumed all my high speed data access for now), so more soon.

Funny. We travel halfway around the world, yet some of the very best cruising of all is right here in our own backyard.

Location Location
We are currently parked in Garden Bay, Pender Harbour, British Columbia (N49 37.844 W124 01.506). Princess Louisa Inlet dock was (N50 12.230 W123 46.153).

Sunday, September 15, 2019

"You Gotta See This!" (Anchor Surprise #5)

Crab, stuck in our anchor chain, Port Browning, North Pender Island, Canada.
Wide-eyed, Wayne rushed inside as he was still pulling up our anchor in Port Browning. I was puzzled. Normally, Wayne directs me from the bow, usually with hand signals, to move the boat left, right, forward or reverse to cleanly bring up the oft-twisted anchor whilst not hitting anything (other boats, the shore, a dock) in the process.

"You gotta see this!" he said, beckoning me with his hand.

A crab was stuck in our anchor chain! Wayne was busy trying to figure out how to get it off, while I wondered if it was legal to eat! 

We were in a somewhat crowded anchorage, in a hurry to get our anchor up and head out. We possessed no Canadian fishing license. I didn't have a sense for what was or wasn't legal catch. For example I didn't know how to tell if the crab was a female, which would need to be released. How small was too small or how large was too large to keep? Were there any toxins I needed to worry about? 

Before I finished processing those thoughts, I suggested Wayne use the long wrench he used to release the anchor chain to nudge the crab claw out of the link that trapped it. Splash! Bye-bye prospective crab appetizer! 
Mud is another gift of the sea we periodically bring up with our anchor.
This muck is from Tongue Point, Astoria, Oregon.
While the crab was a first for us when retrieving our anchor, there are other unwelcome anchor-transported gifts from the sea.

Mud is particularly unwelcome, especially when it's thick, dark and stinky. Whenever possible, we avoid bringing nasty mud-coated anchor chain into our anchor locker, which rests right next door to one of the sleep areas in our boat, the v-berth. Mud can also stain the heck out of our boat deck.  Fancier boats have hoses to rinse their anchor chains off. 
Prony Bay, New Caledonia's muddy bottoms stained everything
Oompa Loompa orange. We learned to sail away,
dragging our anchor through the water for a while
before securing it onto our bow anchor platform.
For us, our mud removal options are

  • Dunk the whole mess back into the water
  • Bucket it off as or after it's getting hauled up (though currently we don't have a great bucket setup for this, like we did on our sailboat, Journey), or 
  • Make a rare visit to a dock as soon as possible with a hose to rinse it down

Wayne untangling anchored seaweed from Squirrel Cove,
Desolation Sound, July 2012.
Of often wish I was better at salty botany, as we've pulled up some whopper clumps of seaweed with our anchor. It would be nice to rejoice in my knowledge of that briny plant, mull over a factoid or two, and maybe even trim some off with a sense for a nutritious delicious meal I could make with it. Instead we either hand-pull off or poke it with a boat hook, freeing it to return it to its aquatic garden.
Unwanted, unintentional aquatic harvest at Tongue Point, Astoria.
Our most ironic anchor catch?
Image courtesy of Creative Commons, as I never got a photo of the one
Wayne hauled up attached to our anchor.
Wayne retrieved another anchor with our anchor! It was summer of 2018 at Sauvies. I was working, and Wayne's not one with the camera, so no photographic evidence exists of that catch. Wayne has a fanciful imagination, but I know him and boating well enough to recognize that's one tale he didn't need to make up. And as we're not into keeping anything we won't use, that anchor found its way to another boater.

All in all, we're grateful and incredibly lucky. 

Our anchor's delivered some good laughs and minor inconveniences. Amazingly, we've never had to dive our anchor to break free of our anchor or chain "fouling" (getting caught) in anything -- not coral heads, other anchors or anchor chain, underground cables or any other of a plethora of underwater traps.

We have asked for help retrieving our bow anchor roller when it snapped off. Drew, a less shark-averse and better diving cruising buddy was happy to bail us out
Drew, of s/v Firefly, graciously retrieving our snapped of bow anchor roller
in the shark-infested waters of Suwarrow, Cook Islands, in August, 2015.
Location Location
At the moment we're in Chemainus, a rare stay in a marina (N48 55.508 W123 42.847) to catch up with cruising friends, Larry and Nancy. Our last anchor surprise, the crab, was two stops ago, at Port Browning (N48 46.474 W123 16.313), off North Pender Island, British Columbia, our first overnight anchorage in Canada this trip. "That looked big enough to keep," Larry opined. Maybe. Ultimately, it was a lucky Friday the 13th for that crab.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

We're Here - Officially in the Great White North!

Wayne, passports in hand, festooned in the closest he could get
to a Canadian courtesy flag in Bedwell Harbour, Canada.
Wayne, gave me the a.o.k. to commemorate our official entry into Canada, as only the "master" was allowed off the boat until check-in was complete.  

Once again, we forgot to plan far enough ahead to secure a Canadian courtesy flag* for our boat -- we tried but they were out of stock at West Marine and we didn't pre-order one to be sure there would be one for us. Once again, there was no courtesy flag to be found in Bedwell Harbor, where we checked into Canada. 
*A courtesy flag is the flag of the country your boat is in when that country is not your native country. A courtesy is flown on your boat in addition to the flag of your native country.

"Woot! Sorry, we don't have any courtesy flags," Wayne claimed he was told. "They didn't really say 'Woot,' did they?"  I asked, know Wayne will sometimes not want the facts to get in the way of a good story (which is why I so often quote him as he's a far better storyteller!). "Well, we are in Canada," he replied, coyly dodging a direct answer to my pedantic question.

In  any case, Wayne bought the only thing he could find with a Canadian flag -- two in fact! A headband with double-header maple.
Me, aka "The Galley Wench," posing at Wayne's request in Bedwell Harbour, Canada.
"C'mon, pose Titanic style," Wayne implored, after handing me our double "courtesy flag" headband. It was only fair, given Wayne was willing to mug for the camera with it on, and his willingness to pose for a camera is rare event in itself. 

I don't recall Kate Winslet looking bowlegged because she had to straddle an anchor. Or maybe it just didn't look that way because she wasn't wearing jeans. Then again, Wayne's captained out boats halfway around the world and then some, without sinking. It doesn't make for blockbuster movies, but I'll happily settle for less drama and more travel.
Galley Wench (me) taking a swim in Greenburn Lake, shortly after checking into Canada.
Didn't have a swimsuit, but this is the land of maple leaves, right?
Previously, as we've cruised North into Canada, aka "The Great White North," it's defied normally presumed Northern hemisphere convention. Instead, both the air and the water are warmer. That's largely due to this part of British Columbia's Mediterranean microclimate

True to form, we left a chilly fog bank behind us as we sailed out of the San Juans. Entering Poet's Cove, Bedwell Harbor, Pender Island, Canada, we basked in the afternoon sun. So warm it inspired us to take a hike to Greenburn Lake. We found a trail around the lake, and I followed the lead of one of the locals and after heating up on some warm lakeside rocks, went into the lake for a dip.

Even here in British Columbia's Gulf Islands, it is September. We know summer is fleeting. Carpe Diem! Swimsuit or no.

Location Location
We checked into Canada September 10, 2019 at Bedwell Harbor, Pender Island. We are currently at anchor (N48 46.123 W123 16.313) in nearby North Pender Island, in Port Browning, British Columbia.

I will still be posting some photo highlight recaps of our week in the also beautiful (even if a little cooler, temperature-wise) San Juan Islands.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Lopez Island: "The Only Thing I Smoke Is..."

Randy O'Brien, salmon seller, Aleck's Bay, Lopez Island, San Juans.
"Started fishin' when I was twelve. Got my first fishing boat when I was sixteen," Randy told us. 

Hook, line and sinker, I bought his smoked salmon, the last of the season. Randy smoked it for seven days. "It will be two years before I'll have this again," he said, when I told him I'd be posting about him (and his sure-to-be-excellent salmon for sale). Still, I have a hunch if you swing by the Aleck Bay parking lot in the season, Randy will have something delectable to sell from the Salish Sea, ready to offer some good advice if asked, and share a laugh.

We chuckled over Randy's "Smoke salmon, not drugs," and my "The only thing I smoke is salmon," We all knew we ripped that off of the brilliantly droll Ketchikan Alaska artist, Roy Troll. Randy spent time in Ketchikan, as he fished in Alaska, too.

Troll's "Bless me Father for I have seined," fittingly, is Randy's favorite Troll masterpiece (it's the 4th row down, third over, of this page on Troll's humor page. Click on it for a better view).
Iceberg Point trail, near Aleck's Bay, Lopez Island, San Juans.
We'd just hiked the windswept Iceberg Point, an easy amble through a neighborhood, a wooded area and a vista ridgepoint. There, we saw this poem, likely written by a local, at a trail info marker. 
One day I could be
The old woman of Iceberg Point
Walking along, and slowly
A dog no longer at my side
Worried that I might fall down
But going anyway
I'll soon be confused about where I was born
Slow to remember my grandchildren's names
But when I get out here with
The long summer grass brushing my legs
And the tide sucking and spinning the kelp
I could feel a great contentment
Even a sense of home
--Georgie Muska
The poem reminded me of my Mom. Admittedly, she wasn't one for sandy feet, but she still loved a drive along the ocean, even after she'd lost her ability to call me by my name. She also loved flowers. Every time I take a picture of a flower, I feel Mom is still with me.
Flowers take root in the rocks along the Iceberg Point hike, Lopez Island.
Iceberg Point was one of several historical markers referencing the confusing treaties between the Britain and the US regarding who owned what in the San Juans. The rub was the treaty referenced a Strait without specifics as the dividing point. There were two Straits and it was unclear which of the two to use.
Iceberg Point 1908 treaty marker.
The Germans were the arbitrators who granted the San Juans to the USA over Great Britain.
The harbor seals were enjoying the sunshine, too. 
Harbor seals lazing off a rock at Iceberg Point, Lopez Island.
After we hiked and chatted with Randy, we hopped on our bikes and ogled the many spots with their "private beach" unwelcome mat. That included, to our chagrin, where we came ashore on our dinghy. That was a rather important detail our cruising info neglected to mention. Wayne added that tidbit to Active Captain, a cruising guide of sorts with community contributions.
It was too cold to explore whether the sign was more of a joke or for real. This was on an off-putting stretch of beach with a multitude of "private beach" along it. Lopez Island, Aleck Bay area.
It was time to go, though my purchase from Randy was a good reminder of our stop on Lopez Island. Our boat exuded a pleasant woodsmoke scent from Randy's salmon, until the last of my small but intensely flavored $5 salmon cake found its way into the second and final batch of scrambled eggs with neufatchel cheese and capers.
Anchor up. Yet another marine botany experience in the San Juans.
Location Location
This post was about our day on Lopez Island, September 4, 2019. We anchored at Aleck Bay (N48 25.622 W122 51.665). As of today we checked into Bedwell Harbour, Canada and are anchored in Port Browning of North Pender Island, British Columbia (N48 46.123 W123 16.313). 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Rodeoing San Juans' Rapids

San Juans in full flow tide feels more violent than this cool computer-generated displacement map. If you love it feel free to its creator.

Fortunately for us, this is not our first "rodeo" in the San Juans, and sallying across the Salish Sea. We learned a lesson or two since my "bowing to Captain Nemo" episode crossing the Straits of Juan de Fuca in 2012.
Going through the San Juans's Juan de Fuca Strait at the wrong time can feel like this.
Photo credit: Rene Schwietze 
Wayne's become particularly proficient timing our passages with the flow. Thanks to our new-to-us copy of Current Atlas Juan de Fuca Strait to Strait of Georgia* we knew when to time our passage across the Straits of San Juan de Fuca and through the San Juan Islands. 
Image liberated from ThreeSheetsNW review of The PNW Current Atlas.

*After paying $29.95 + tax for a used version of it, we found out there's an even easier-to-use app giving Salish Sea currents for a one-time fee of $20, The PNW Current Atlas.
Instead of our usual boat speed of 7 knots, we zipped on the wake of the flow tide, our peak speed hitting 12.4 knots. There was one "Whoa!" moment as the current had its way with where we went. Fortunately, we were far from the shoreline, rocks, logs, other boats or anything else a that could wreck your day with an overly close encounter.
C'mon -- we're not that slow! Tortoise, photo taken in our 2015 cruising stop in the Galapagos.
Our peak speed may seems a bit slow -- and compared to many boats out there it is.  Likely those other boats use a lot more fuel than ours does, ~1.6 gal/hour. However, for a little more perspective, our 3,000+ mile, month-long 24/7 sailboat passage from Galapagos to the French Marquesas averaged 3 knots. Most of us can walk faster than that.
San Juan Rosario Strait current at flow tide. Doesn't look that impressive,
but it nearly doubled our boat speed as we rode it.
Like most cruisers, we are able to time our visits to places when they're safe. 
Limpet and seaweed on a calm shoreline day in the San Juan Islands.
This was taken at Jakles Lagoon, San Juan Island, our first stop.
In the wake of hurricane Dorian slamming our former cruising grounds in the Bahamas, it feels almost embarrassing describing our recent "tough" cruising challenges, which are so mellow, comparatively. Our heart goes out to the kind folks we met who live in the Abacos (and those we haven't in the Grand Bahamas). If you are interested in what learning more about Dorian from the locals and you can do for the folks there, here is a good link (thanks to cruiser friend Rich Kallerud for finding this).
Christine Joseph and others await evacuation at a dock in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, on September 7
Marsh Harbour Hurricane Dorian evacuees. Image from Axios.
Location Location
At the moment, we are in Garrison Bay (N48 35.357 W123 09.574), off the island of San Juan, in the San Juans. We've been tooling (48 35.around the San Juan islands for a week now, and are a day or two away from crossing into Canada. More on our time here in the San Juans in another post or two.
Is GalleyWenchTales now more readable on your mobile, if that's how you read it?
Photo credit: Marco Verch
As more folks read just about everything on their mobiles, I'm pumping up the font size for GalleyWenchTales. Let me know how it works. Ultimately I'm mulling over what to do with this blog as Blogger is not that subscriber or comment-friendly or portable to WordPress. Suggestions are always welcome.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Lost Man Playing Jaw Harp Prompts Port Angeles Promise

My source of inspiration over an opportunity lost. Port Angeles, Washington.
There's a sense of irony that in my search for a current chart* a goth young man playing a jaw harp pushed me confront my cowardice. As is all-too-often the case, I admit with some shame, the real reckoning came after.

*In the San Juans and British Columbia, the currents are incredibly strong -- so strong passage timing is often dictated by the need to arrive within a half-hour or less window to make it through a narrow passage, to go with the flow when and where the currents get  the strongest. When we rented a sailboat out of San Juan Sailing to cruise the area, the boats always came equipped with a copy of Current Atlas Juan de Fuca Strait to Strait of Georgia, compiled by Canada's Canadian Hydrographic Service the nautical equivalent the US's  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Hikers enjoying Port Angeles Laurel Street Square mural and fountain.
At the time, the reason I stopped was to pick up an item at the Country Aire Natural Foods grocer. It was an unscheduled stop on my bicycle-powered errand. Wayne gave me a desired return time based on when we'd push off from our overstay at Port Angeles Boat Haven Marina. We wanted to time our passage to the San Juans with the flood tide. I didn't want to mess that up. I also wanted to capture a photo of Port Angeles' sweet courtyard fountain at Laurel Street and its steep stairs.
We scaled the stairs above this charming square the night before to pick up some groceries. Port Angeles, Washington.
I locked up my bike. Instead of heading to the grocer, I backtracked to the young man. The collection can framed by his "Lost" sign was empty except for two beer bottle caps. I wanted to take his picture. I gestured with my camera. He nodded. I stuffed a dollar into his collection can.

He thrummed, only once for a split second focusing his gaze beyond his play. His eyes were dark with flecks of caramel and he flashed a brief smile full or disarming sweetness.

I nodded thanks in my retreat. 

I finished my errands, and returned to our boat. I was early; though too late to catch up with Kurt, a local we met two years prior in Port Angeles, dropping by for a quick hello/goodbye. "You're early. You could've taken more time," Wayne told me when I arrived. 

It was then I made a mental note at my cowardice, cringing internally.

Instead of making a meaningful connection, I rendered a human presence one-dimensional with click of my shutter.
How was this jaw harpist "Lost" in Port Angeles? I was too cowardly to ask.
I could have asked, "Why are you lost?" "Where are you from?" "What are you hoping to find?""What are your dreams?""Tell me about the ink on your hands and fingers.""What is your name?""Can I buy you a breakfast?"

Much as I wondered, I asked none of those things. 

I was not afraid for my safety, but I was afraid of what emptiness, resentment, loneliness, depression, poverty I might encounter. Would I prefer a masked response? Or the potential uncertainty of how to respond to raw, naked vulnerability?

I also wimped out on seeing Cal again, the crusty-kind Boat Haven sailboat live-aboard gent who graciously boiled the crab Kurt and his wife gave us two years ago. I called his name at his boat, as a neighbor told me he was home. But I didn't push it when Cal didn't answer. Was I truly concerned about waking him up? Or more reticent to witness the ravages age wrought upon him over the last two years? Truth be told, it was more the latter.

Even at my own recent high school reunion, I reached out to only a small handful of the hundred plus folks there. Mostly, I stuck around with the small group of friends from my high school days, almost deliberately not pushing much beyond that small zone of comfort and familiarity.

Greater than any other period I can recall in my adult lifetime, we are living in a time where it seems we are suffering a terrible personal divide. I cannot deny that upon meeting others, that I size them up, wondering, "Are you my tribe[ philosophically]?" 

Can we at least find some common ground centered around what brings us joy, concerns us, or shared values or interests outside of politics, race, religion, sexual preference, commerce and consumerism?
Image credit to Drty M!nd.

My Port Angeles apology
I am sorry, young man playing the jaw harp, that I did not take the time and care to see if you wanted a genuine connection or nothing more than your privacy. I offered you neither. Cal, were you sleeping? Or in need of company, and simply didn't hear my call? Fellow former classmates, what might we have learned from each other?

Alas, I cannot turn the clock back.
Image by j Ha from Pixabay 

My Port Angeles promise
Going forward, I can promise to make a point of being more present, and not letting FOMO or my "schedule" rob me of travel's most precious gift, leaving myself behind to travel in understanding of another human being. This travel of the heart, soul and spirit is far more important than checking off our bucket list of places.

One person at a time, one interaction at a time, we can heal the torn fabric of our society. For me, it will take a different kind of courage, that I had once upon a time and let it slip away, Now is the time to recapture it.

Won't you join me?
Serendipity on a beautiful morning in Boat Haven Marina, Port Angeles, Washington.
Location Location
Tonight we're anchored off Jakles Lagoon, San Juan Island, San Juan Islands (N48 27.958 W122 59.075).
Yesterday's smooth-as-glass passage across the Straits of San Juan de Fuca from Port Angeles to San Juan Island, San Juans.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Mostly Forgotten But for the Halibut: Neah Bay

Cape Flattery Point is the Northwesternmost point in the Continental US. Neah Bay, where we anchor, is just around the corner.
It's a long haul from the Columbia Bar to the San Juans and beyond, 154 miles and nearly a 25-hour non-stop passage from Astoria to Neah Bay. From there to Port Angeles, it's another 58 miles and from there to San Juan Island, in the San Juans, is another 31 miles.
Neah Bay's "downtown" main drag as seen from the anchorage, It is as usual cloaked in mist. Thos cleared enough to take a photo.
We have a love-hate relationship with Neah Bay. 

We love that it's a place to take shelter and rest. We love that it's free to anchor and not hard to dinghy in. We love that when we strike up conversations we find folks to be open and friendly and kind.
Totems outside Makah Museum Neah Bay, Washington.
We hate that it's cold. We hate the cold. Wikepedia notes that Neah's average high temperatures there never hit the 60s, not even in summertime. When we were there two years ago and it peaked at 64 degrees, the kids were gleefully swimming "to beat the heat."

We love Neah's Makah Museum and Research Center. It's small, but nicely covers the Native American history and culture, including an excavation that reveals an amazing snapshot in time of tribal life.
Makah Museum doors, an appropriate nod to its dedication to tribal culture.
We hate that it's wet. We hate the wet. Neah Bay averages 6 1/2 feet of rain a year. We always get wet when we're there.
Neah's verdant plant life offers the much needed color in this otherwise mostly misty gray-cloaked land.
We love that it's verdant. All that rain makes for happy plants and trees. I was kicking myself for not bringing a container with me when I saw all the abundance ripe blackberries. I've been promising Wayne a cobbler when I pick enough. Our friend Brenda Robinson said she picked enough blackberries to make two pies when she was there.
While the Mahah Marina is chock-a-block with commercial and sport fishing boats, this Neah Bay boat's going nowhere soon.
We hate that it's gray. Neah gets 200 days of precipitation, so even when it doesn't rain, it's dark and misty, shades of The Piano, though it was set in New Zealand.
Given the size of the tree in these pilings and wrecked wharf, we're guessing it's been there a while. Neah Bay, Washington.
Even though we don't fish, we love that Neah's a fishing paradise. It's reputed to be the best halibut fishing in lower 48 of the States. The time before last a ambled into their fisherman's co-op and was charged next to nothing for fish and given some crabs for free, because their harvest was so bountiful. 

"Best smoked salmon, ever!" Brenda told us, after we'd left Neah Bay. "Ask around; they guy sells it out of his garage."

Also, just outside Neah Bay, we saw whales spouting so close to the shore, we convinced ourselves they were tidal blowholes. We realized later there that without any waves to cause them, so they must have been whales spouting after all. That area is known for them, particularly around this time of year. 
This boathouse was here two years ago when we stopped at Neah Bay, and is still here. Wish I knew the story....
We love that Cape Flattery offers amazing hiking, but we hate the fact that it's too far from where we anchor, we never have a car at Neah and that there's no mass transit that makes sense for that sparsely populated patch of the world. We've yet to see Cape Flattery up close and personal, as we've only seen it from a bit of a distance as we sail by.
Backside of sunk boat house - or whatever it is. Neah Bay, Washington.
Love or hate it, we'll likely stop back at Neah on our way back home. 

Maybe this next time we can figure out a way to hike the Cape Flattery trail, pick some berries if they're still ripe, and track down the guy who sells the best-ever smoked salmon. Regardless, Neah is a good place to take stock of the weather and time as calm as possible a passage across the Straits of San Juan de Fuca and the Columbia Bar. For that alone, we are supremely grateful to Neah Bay.

Location Location
This evening we dropped anchor off San Juan Island near American Camp (N48 27.958 W122 59.075 ). We left from Port Angeles, where we also stayed two years ago. In Neah Bay our anchorage was at (N48 22.224 W124 37.084).