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Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Day our Flashlight Learned to Fly

First in a series of blog posts by Living Oceans Executive Director Karen Wristen, as she and her husband Jasper sail their 40’ Newporter sailboat “Viajador” north to Sointula.

Day one:  Bowen to Pender Harbour, “The Day our Flashlight Learned to Fly”

Some old salts may tell you that leaving port in a southeast wind is courting trouble.  But if you’re headed northwest and your boat weighs a lot, like our old wooden beauty, a southeast wind means you can hope to make some way under sail.  The weather forecasters were promising 10-15 knots rising to 20-25 as we left Snug Cove on Bowen Island this morning.

Like so many predictions, this one amounted to hot air.

We had the seas that go with winds that strong, all right; easily a metre, breaking waves on our hind end all day long, cockpit awash and spray coming over everything.  But the wind got up to no more than 10 knots at any point, leaving us wallowing madly under sail. 

It’s a bit disconcerting, when you’ve come to appreciate the basically inert qualities of your boat’s kit, to find them airbourne.  I found it challenging, trying to refine a fundraising proposal with Stephanie by phone, when a 2-lb flashlight that has lived comfortably on a shelf for six years suddenly decided to learn to fly.  At some point during the day, every locker on the boat opened itself and spewed some contents.

When I wasn’t picking up behind liberated lockers, I was scanning for great pictures of the voyage to share with you.  Evidently, marine birds and mammals had the day off.  Maybe they were just smarter than we mariners and stayed in port.

Grey skies opened for a moment to bathe the Merry Island Light Station in cheerful colour

We made Pender Harbour at about 6 pm and found it crammed with boats on the hook.  We managed to get the last spot at a tiny marina that we remembered fondly for its 6 knots of current, making docking a bit of an art.  At least there are no bumps in the water here!

Kicking back in our aft deck lounge, admiring the sunset some hours later, I heard a great whooshing of air just behind me and turned to find a great blue heron coming in for a landing on the dock not 5 feet from me.  As it landed, it must have become aware of us sitting there and it froze for a moment, checking us out.  We must have passed muster, because it proceeded to stroll the length of the dock with the nonchalant air of a tourist taking in the sights.  Nice recompense for a day without marine life!

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