Captain’s Log – June 11, 2010
We are off on our second adventure, this time to Alaska! We arrived in Seattle on June 2, and proceeded to Elliott Bay Marina, which is located right downtown. A professional captain brought up our boat from Dana Point. Shortly after Odyssey arrived, its starboard door was damaged and required extensive fiberglass repair work. After six weeks in Seattle, wouldn’t you know that they didn’t have enough time to fix it properly? When it was presented to me as repaired, it was, in their words, “proud” about 3/8 inches. I didn’t think it was good enough and it will have to be redone when we get down to Dana Point in the fall. As the days passed by, we readied the boat for our trip north and acquired appropriate fishing equipment for salmon, crab and other northern species.
On Sunday June 6 we departed for Victoria, B.C. The trip was about 70 miles, which is about an 8 hour run for us. The weather was overcast and rainy, although we were cozy in our heated pilothouse. One of the most interesting things about boating in this part of the world is the extreme current. The tide is usually diurnal, meaning that there are usually two tide cycles per day, with the flood tide often in the 13-foot range. This produces currents up to 11 knots in narrow channels, known to the locals as “rapids’. Since we only go 8 or 9 knots, you can see that currents can be a problem. It is essential to plan a trip using tide tables specific to each local so as to transit rapids and narrow channels during slack tide. We noticed several places where the currents produced whirlpools in the water about 20 feet in diameter. I was surprised when the current pushed our 127,000 lb boat back and forth as we passed through the narrows.
As we cruised by Port Townsend at Admiralty Inlet we spotted a large naval vessel making its way out to The Straight of Juan De Fuca. Within minutes one of two Coast Guard vessels approached and hailed us on the VHF radio as “little white boat off my starboard bow”. They asked us to keep a 1000ft distance from the ship. Although this wasn’t really surprising given the experience with the USS Cole, it is more than a little sad. When I was in the Navy war ships didn’t have to be protected, it was the other way around.
We arrived in Victoria on Sunday afternoon. Customs in Canada is obsessed with alcohol and imposes atrocious duties on any amounts carried on the boat in excess of a couple of bottles. It doesn’t pay to lie either. On Monday, Kathryn flew in from New York after graduating from Harvard and finding a new apartment in NYC. Victoria is a beautiful place (pop 83,000, metro area 343,000) and capital of British Columbia. The city center is very lovely and the capital building is a stunning Romanesque structure appointed with copper domed copulas and a beautiful black granite statue of Queen Victoria. We toured the city and Butchart Gardens, and visited the Empress Hotel for High Tea, just as we did when Kathryn was 7 years old. The next morning Kathryn heard from her future employer, and learned that she was going to work in an area of the company that she hopped to work in, and that they were going to pay her more to move than she had anticipated. Everything is going great for her.
We shoved off for Sydney, which is about 25 miles up the coast. As we left Victoria Harbor, we spotted the aircraft carrier Ronald Regan (CVA 76) and her escorts in the distance. It was an awesome sight. This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Canadian Pacific Fleet and there is a big shindig in Esquimat Harbor (just around the corner from Victoria) and the home of the Canadian Fleet. We also saw a French frigate in Seattle that must be here for the same reason. Apparently they will all be hanging out together on anchor over the weekend.
Sydney is a charming small town with cute shops and restaurants and a favorite with local boaters. There are a lot of beautiful, expensive new apartment buildings along the water. We wondered who bought them all. It turns out that wealthy Albertans vacation here. While I polished some of the metal work on the boat, the ladies went shopping. That evening we dinned in watched a good movie. The next morning we moved on to Poet’s Cove on South Pender Island. Poet’s Cove is also a favorite with the locals. It is beautiful inlet and harbor, next to a provincial marine park. The harbor can handle about fifty sailboats and is operated by a four star resort on the water overlooking the bay. It is a picturesque spot done in the Adirondack style of architecture. Boaters can use the hotel ‘s facilities. We anchored out the first night and put out a crab pot. Just before dinner, a call came over the VHF. When I answered, a person told me that they recognized our “M” flag and knew that we must be well equipped including having a lime on board. The Canadian Customs had taken their limes, and his wife needed one for her cocktail. He was in luck, and came by in his boat with his wife Karen. They handed us a bottle of wine in exchange for the lime (completely unnecessary), and of course we invited them onboard. Marco was formerly a fisherman a la The Deadliest Catch, and knew quit a bit about boating and cruising these waters. His wife Karen is a surgical technician, so she and Rebecca had a lot to talk about. Anyway, Marco thought we ought to consider going to Asia via the Aleutian Island chain and recommended a consultant for our consideration. After they left, we put out our crab pot. A few hours later Kathryn pulled it up and we had netted the biggest Blood Star we had ever seen. Later, we caught a few crabs!