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 Accidental Cruiser in the West Indies

Eagles and whales and bears. Oh My!
This journal is a log of all the messages from Susie & Lance. For pictures, please see the Gallery.

Sept 15 2006,Ahousat, Flores Island

Entrance to Klaskish BasinFresh from our triumphs over Nawhitti bar and Cape Scott, we spent a few idyllic days in the BC of the postcards. We anchor in Klashkish Basin whose entrance is so narrow the fish boats are advised to retract their stabilizer poles before entering. Lined all around by fir trees whose limbs brush the water at high tide and guarded by eagles, heron and kingfisher, this anchorage is a perfectly still mirror for the surrounding mountains. We disturb it only for a couple of kayaking trips and a drift UP the stream at the head of the basin on the incoming tide.

Ditto, Columbia Cove. Surrounded by the comforting cushion of fir trees, we don't feel a trace of the winds and seas building outside. The Canadian weather service is still issuing small craft advisories, but we heard that before... Off we went, determined to put some miles in the bank for increased play time down the coast. 200 yards around the island and into the bay, we felt the winds rise. 2 miles out, they howled. Triple reefed, we pressed on. 2 to 3 meter seas whose peaks were not much farther apart than the bow and transom rise around us. Snowdragon II does not leap and buck like Eaux Vives under these conditions. Instead, she shoulders through the waves like a bouncer wading through the mosh pit in a surprisingly smooth motion. However, green water rolling down the deck starts to spray in through the galley vent. The dinghy, swinging wildly in the davits, is positioned with the engine on the downhill side of sloping decks and the larger waves threaten to inundate it. Suddenly, Susie emerges from the heated cabin into the freezing rain of the cockpit complaining that the cabin smells of gasoline.

This is not good.

Columbia CoveWe swing around and start surfing back to shelter. The racket subsides almost immediately and it takes barely an hour to cover the distance we had gained in two hours of pounding. Before we know it, we are licking our wounds back in Columbia Cove where ripples from the gale barely enter and the very tops of the trees just move slightly in the wind. We start mopping up the bilge and cleaning up the dinghy fuel leak and try to restore feeling to the fingers and toes wondering at the peace here and the violence outside.

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In the morning we lash the dinghy on deck and the motor on the rail. We put stoppers in the galley vent and block its dorade. We double and triple check the vents on the dinghy fuel cans and close the galley sink drain for the umpteenth time. We are ready to brave the elements. With winds light and seas down, we motor all the way to Queen's cove where once again, the completely mirrored surface is disturbed only by a team of seals and the splashing of the fish they are hunting.

The west coast of Vancouver Island is slashed and carved with deep water channels in every direction and then sprinkled with islands. When the winds are up, one can often find a passage "inside" where the wind courses along steep tree lined mountains and the seas remain perfectly flat. Other places require a dash around a series of points thrust out into the Pacific. The same tectonic pressures that formed this wild land, has also produced a vast number of still and, at this time of year, empty anchorages. Screaming in on a beam reach toward the narrow opening to Hot Springs Cove, we watched the day trippers bouncing around in a large rubber dinghy dressed in identical foulies as they left. Making the turn and doubling back up the narrow channel to the cove, the seas immediately died. We were late enough that everyone had left the park where the hot springs are located and we had a wonderful walk down the mile long cedar boardwalk through temperate rain forest to the springs. Hot steaming water runs down to the sea at the point. The winds roar but we find a protected cleft in the rocks where the waters have been cooled to just the right temperature and fall from just the right height to make for a rigorous massage. Its a yin/yang thing.Susie and Francis at Hot Springs Cove

Things busied up considerably the next day. Old Haviland "beavers", 50 year old sea planes, taxi up to the floating B&B and large rubber boats deliver loads of tourists dressed in identical, colorful waterproof gear. Fish boats roar up to the attractive native village on the shore where the earthmoving equipment makes the piercing beep of all trucks in reverse. Somehow, the edge is taken off the noise by the fir trees lining the shores and the activity seems amusing rather than annoying.

These rainforests are as deep and still as those we find in the tropics. The floor is deep and soft with rotted wood and moss. Old, fallen and shattered cedar and spruce serve as platforms for perfect little topiary gardens. The tangle of roots and trunks form nooks and hollows perfect for wandering hobbits. Berries and wild flowers provide an occasional flash of color in the brown and green twighlight. We walk out to the coast to an open bay where the mile long beach is lined with huge logs thrown up by past storms. Shells and birds and a beautiful, high lattitude light dazzle after the hushed dark of the forest. Its beautiful.

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