Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sailing Georgia Strait,Reading Robert Mackay and Gilbert's ball

I really must come up with better titles for my journaling of my weekend sailing. So far the excitement this trip has been reading Robert Mackay’s new novel, Terror on the Alert, a submariner story set in the Kennedy Missile Crisis.  I was so caught up in reading that I was a little annoyed by a ferry almost cutting “ME, MOI” off in Active Pass.
Reading and motoring or sailing is one of my joys with the trustworthy Raymarineautopilot holding course.  Normally though I wouldn’t want a book as engaging Terror on the Alert. I couldn’t put it down and the action from page to page had me glued. At least Tom Clancy lets one breath and look about. Not Robert MacKay.
Further , the characters, a Lieutenant and his wife, the resentful XO, and the  young captain are all so real with real depth. It was as if I knew them. Mackay got right into each of their heads.  He also got into the hearts of the Captain of the submarine and it’s men as they struggled to survive one catastrophe after another.  A former submariner himself, Robert Mackay really knows ships.
It was true human drama.  Nothing ‘cut out’ about this.  I really do look forward to the Hollywood movie.  The Kennedy Missile Crisis hasn’t been dealt with as it deserves.  The insights in Terror on the Alert of the time took me back to those Defcon 3 days.  Though I can see it with Brad Pitt as the young lieutenant and Angelina Jolie as the wife it will really need to be made as a Canadian movie, something more in the line of British and European flicks. The action is all Hollywood but the characters really come out of that early 60’s pre Beatles, duty and service era.  There’s something truly spiritual about that time of innocence before the skepticism post Vietnam and before the ressurection of  the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The love story is something I’d expect Bernice Lever to capture in her poetry.  It’s that kind of angels with earthly wings sort of love.  Bernice belongs in a group with Leonard Cohen and Irving Layton. She’s one of Canada’s finest.  Her images are words of the heart and speak to the many colours of the human condition. I have her latest book of poetry and was reading it on land.  Must remember to get it out on the boat. I have psalms on this boat but other than Robert Burns I don't think I have any poetry books.
Sailing is a time of thought and reflection.  The boat goes along merrily.  Gilbert, in his orange life jacket, had me throwing the ball down into the cabin from the cockpit.  He runs down the stairs, then dashes through the salon to jump up onto the bed where the orange and black rubber ball generally bounces.  The next minute he’s back again, tail wagging. He drops the ball on the chair beside my thigh then pushes the ball again with his nose, in case I don’t know what he wants me to do.

I got away on Thursday night after a full day of clinics. It was all I could do not to lie down and turn on the tv.  I’m glad I didn’t.  With the help of a friend on the dock I cast off lines and drove out of the marina, towing my AB Profile hard bottomed dinghy with the Honda 20 hp and centre console. I’d towed the Profile home the weekend before in 20 knot cross winds so figured it would do okay crossing the strait in most conditions.  Theoretically it should but if there’s something I can catastrophes about I will. I don't want the Honda to become a 20 hp anchor.  Still I love having a fast little runabout, one that's perfect for fishing too.
Towing slows me down a knot too so it took longer to go under the Lion’s Gate with 3 knots of current on the nose.  Despite towing dinghy’s  the new engine and the extra power of the 40 hp Volvo over the 26 hp Yanmar I really have been able to go through First Narrows without much concern for current speed.  (I love my new Volvo Penta D2 40)
It was dark and raining by the time I got out to English Bay.  Really stormy.  We’ve had so many sunny days I’d forgotten how stormy it can be.  I was glad for the radar and binoculars trying to sort out all the traffic. A couple of freighters passed me in First Narrows leaving little room to maneuver. Despite the inclement weather there were still lots of boats about.  Tugs were working.  Fishing boats were coming home. I was just glad to get to Kits Beach and drop the anchor. It’s was only 36 feet so a perfect depth. The wind was from the South East so the anchorage is somewhat protected.
I had picked up a ’True Blood” movie thinking it was the police show. It turned out to be this quite awful country vampire movie that I watched anyway.  Peanut butter sandwiches and ginger ale.  After that mindlessness I was ready for bed.
It was a bit chilly. When I woke a couple of times I found Gilbert'a little body pressed up against my back.  He’s so sweet.  The duvet was fine but Mida when she’d come by and tidied had left the blanket out for me. When she comes by and tidies she leaves these little thoughtfulnesses that are sotouching.  The folded blanket by the pillow touch. I loved the fresh sheets.
Next day I was up early. Still dreary overcast wealthier.  It doesn’t matter when it’s so warm though.  In winter it’s like this but the ambient temperature is cold.  Something about b weighing anchor in shorts and a tshirt makes a bit of drizzle irrelevant.  The deck was wet so I had to be a bit more careful, thankful for my Tevas.
Lots of boats were out fishing. A regular fishing flotilla beyond Point Grey.  It was 8 am and there was every kind of fishing boat there.  I had to weave my way through them.
I had planned to go to Porlier Pass but when I had the sails up I  found I could point to Active Pass.  It was a glorious sail across the strait.  I was on a close haul doing 5 knots with only 11 knots wind.  I had Robert Mackay’s book to read, the sun was out, Gilbert was taking a break from bringing me the ball, I had a cup of coffee, life was really good.
Laura was on Mayne Island with her artist sister. She texted me to ask if I was going through Active Pass or Porlier. I told her Active and she was down on the dock with her sister and their dog Jack, Gilbert’s playmate.  Active Pass has treacherous currents and it was running fast but still I was able to come close to the dock.  Gilbert heard his voice being called from the heavens and was very excited.  Jack and he play together. I think he could smell Jack and hear Laura but couldn't see them above.  Laura took a great picture of Giri which she sent. I was glad I didn’t foul with the plane that landed and took off while I was scrambling to get back in the main stream.
Just after that I was able to get through to Dr. Ney.  He’s sailing north in the Horizon Unbound.  His boat sleeps 23 and they have in the past had fathers and adolescents with addiction on board for a couple of week healing journeys.  This time it’s different as he’s having  mother and fathers and I think children too. It’s a Christian healing journey with lots of praise and worship. So I’m rather blessed to have been invited to join in.  I’d hoped to meet them in Victoria but Phillip suggested I meet up with them in Cowichan near where I already was. If I’d gone on I’d probably have only made Victoria at night.
Now I’m here at Cowichan waiting for them. It’s a beautiful sunny day.  I took Gilbert ashore last night and today. He’s a happy dog.  He’s sniffed and pooped and peed all over the back woods. Now he’s here beside me sniffing the wind, reading all the scents.  Sailboats are coming and going.  A couple have stayed like me.  I thought about fishing early this morning but began a cowboy novel instead.  I was thinking about what to do drinking the first cup of coffee when I saw it on the book shelf.  Half the joy of vacation is reading for me.
I’ve got the guitar and bongos along. Phillip is a great one for singing and playing guitar. He’s written his own hymn book with sea chanties. I think St Peter would definitely approve.
Now I might make a sandwich. I’ve got the generator working and put fresh gas in it so it’s doing better than the little outboard.  I think I waited too long between uses with the 4 hp Yamaha outboard and now am going to have to clean the carburetor because of the alcohol in the new gas. I don't think I'll get round to doing that.  I might fix something else today. I have a couple of cupboards that need some minor repair.  The door is sticking on one and on the other it’s falling open.
It’s lovely here. I’m sitting on the deck.  Gilbert is sitting beside me.  A seagull just flew over.  There’s a slight breeze which has my wind generator spinning happily.. The solar panels are doing their job today thanks to the breeze blowing the clouds away.  The weather forecast is sunny days.  We’re supposed to be sailing on to Desolation Sound.  I can sail along for a couple of days before I have to get back to Vancouver.  One day I might retire or at least take a couple of months just to enjoy more fully these glorious waters and islands.  We truly are blessed on the West Coast with this beautiful Inside Passage, and all the wonderful anchorages.

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