Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Sailing this week, bracing myself in the galley, over the soup pot, which was tilting wildly as the stove swung level on its hinges, I found myself thinking about how we take unchanging horizons for granted.
We left our house on Protection Island last Thursday morning first thing, dragging our gear down to the beach to load into a borrowed skiff (thanks Graeme and Jane). It was a perfect morning and no one else was on the beach except my friend Denise, who came to see us off. (We had said multiple good-byes to other friends, including Protection Islanders who threw us a great party). As we pushed off the beach I took one look back over my shoulder at the house, gazing stolidly to the east, ready to shoulder the winter storms. Though I complain about the dark rainy winters I know there will be days this year when I long to be sitting in front of the fire, listening to the wind lashing the windows with rain. Days when I wish I was snuggled in bed watching the sun rise over Gabriola Island.
So far we have had a gentle introduction to our sailing life. We left Victoria Inner Harbour (last Sunday afternoon) and found ourselves motoring out the Strait of Juan de Fuca on smooth windless seas. By dusk a full moon came up. We motored all night and the next day until afternoon when a northwest wind finally filled our big blue spinnaker and we sped off at 9-10 knots, taking a route of about 20-40 miles offshore.
One of the advantages of sailing on the continental shelf is the incredible life which feeds here. We've seen pelicans, albatross, fulmars, and shearwaters. One morning a big gang of Pacific White-sided dolphins noticed us sailing by and charged over to play on our bow. I never get tired of watching them, they always seem eager to rush away from the dull tasks of life to play. Mixed in with this group were some dolphins I'd never seen before--which turned out, on checking a field guide here, to be Northern Right Whale Dolphins. It was fascinating as well to watch schools of Albacore Tuna, leaping like tiny dolphins.
We decided to stop in Newport Oregon for a couple of nights, as the winds have been so light we have had to motor quite a bit and need to top up fuel. There is a thin, cold grey fog blowing in from the sea which makes the town seem drearier than it probably is. Today we explored the waterfront, a mix of tourist shops hawking fishing trips and T-shirts, and docks crowded with crab pots, tuna boats and fish plants. On our way to the chandlery the sidewalk was embedded with dozens and dozens of plaques: the names of fishermen lost off this coast.
The weather forecast is for light winds for the next couple of days. Tomorrow we'll head out into tilting horizons again. I think about the boat stove. One could do worse than emulate it, lead a gimballed life, finding the level no matter how off balance life gets.
Thanks so much again to those who have provisioned us with poems, songs, good wishes and special treats we carry along with us. Talk to you soon...