Letters hither and home

Letters from our time in BC in 2011. The first letters detail repairs; later letters meetings with friends and new discoveries. To read a brief summary of what brought us to this point, click on About Us above. To find out more about Quoddy’s Run–what kind of boat is she? What are her attributes and amenities?–click on Quoddy’s Run above.

3 June 2011

Dear Zebra,

Tried to call you this evening, but we’re in a dip between hills, and so the cell phone doesn’t seem to work. Will see if this does.  We hear you got the tail end of the tornado system that hit Boston–lots of lightening!  Here’s hoping your email wasn’t jinxed!  We know about this because the Vancouver Canucks are playing the Boston Bruins for the Stanley cup and all anyone talks about on the radio out here is hockey.  Oh and Boston, thus the tornado info.  And someone has a sweater–this is not a lie–that belonged to some famous hockey guy (but not our man Sidney Crosby) and it was….(drum roll please) STOLEN from the restaurant where it was on display and…oh the controversy oh the horror.

The local news here, 7000 kms away is so familiar we could write it.  Marike is disappointed by this–she was hoping people on the west coast would be a bit more slick–but I find it hilarious.  Why she asks? Because people who like those stories live everywhere, I say, but surely there’s a more clever answer.

We are in Montague Bay on Galiano Island–at a mooring set out in a marine park.  There must be 50 boats here! It is really a boat culture here–every kind of boat, hundreds moving around, ferries zipping back and forth, little tugs working log booms, sailboats, trawlers, crab fishermen….cargo ships, a drilling rig, etc.  We traveled about 40 NM today–you’ll need a map to follow along–through the Dodds Narrows just before slack–caught the last of the ebb tide and zipped up to about 9 knots in a windy narrow little channel, whirlpools and eddies all around.  It was rather fun really.  Have learned today to use our new in-the-cockpit chart plotter–a bit anyway.  We’re happy to have it–have been as I mentioned out from Newcastle Island and Nanaimo Harbour, through the Dodd’s Narrows, up into Ladysmith Harbour and back out, over to Wallace Island (around the N. end of Saltspring) to explore Princess Cove–didn’t like how narrow it was so back out and along Saltspring then over to Galiano to the Montague Harbour Marine Park.  A zillion opportunities to get lost or confused (are you confused yet by this description?), but the plotter put us to rights each time….It’s like the thousand islands, Marike says, or the North Channel–many tiny little rock shelves, then deep channels with strange currents….You can see the tidal bore move along, as we did in Grand Manan.

Gorgeous sun today–we dried out from the 24 hour rain we had…Though yesterday, a stupendous walk in the rain forest around the perimeter of Newcastle Island…beneath cedars and Garry Oak and big leaf maples and blooming arbutus.  Saw blacktailed deer fawns and dozens of young Canada geese being taught to feed, dive and swim by some baby sitter geese–while a racoon looked on and plucked and washed clams from the beach (pictures of all of that of course).  We just pulled on our wet gear and went for the walk, packed a picnic, brought our cameras….and walked through a meadow on our way back to the docks, thinking we’d clean the mud from our shoes…Instead our boots were smeared with green goose shit.  Lovely.  Oh well, it did all wipe up.

Tomorrow we’ll take a hike around Montague Park, then probably head out along the bottom of Saltspring and up to check out Cowichan Bay, to see the place where we organized that mooring. We were trying to arrange to stay there for a night, but then the cell gave out here, so we don’t know what the result is yet. Monday morning, we’ll head to Canoe Cove, just n. of Sidney, where we’re to be checked over and the damage assessed.  We’ll keep you posted of course.  Meanwhile, as at home, we’ve been tracking leaks and cooking crisp–that’s tonight’s strategy to keep the cabin warm til we sort out the heat….

It’s lovely here–green, rocky, mountains rising up in surprising places, wonderful sheltered anchorages, walks….Lots of rickety oldies younger than you are hanging worrisomely off of ladders and in general making a go of things.  Eccentrics everywhere.  And no boat too old to scrap–everything made to run, patched together every whichway.

We miss you terribly and send you lots and lots of love and kisses and watery dreams and love love love and to S and D too.  LOTS of dogs on boats, everywhere.  Please let us know what’s happening!!!

xoxoxox k & m

3 June 2011

Hi Mom, Hi Lisa,

Aren’t you supposed to be having a visit with each other soon?  Is it this weekend or next?  I couldn’t remember.

Well we finally got away from Nanaimo.  We’ve got the broken stanchions lashed up, and the sails tied down–we’re supposed to head to a harbour near Victoria for an inspection of the damages–ordered up the insurance surveyor, and we’re not supposed to sail except in an emergency.  So we’re pretending to be trawler, Marike jokes. And of course, today, there was wind!

We are in Montague Bay on Galiano Island–at a mooring set out in a marine park.  There must be 50 boats here! It is really a boat culture out here–every kind of boat, hundreds moving around, ferries zipping back and forth, little tugs working log booms, sailboats, trawlers, crab fishermen….cargo ships, a drilling rig, etc.  We traveled about 40 NM today–you’ll need a map to follow along what I’m about to tell you (google earth should work)–through the Dodds Narrows just before slack–caught the last of the ebb tide and zipped up to about 9 knots in a windy narrow little channel, whirlpools and eddies all around.  It was rather fun really.  Have learned today to use our new in the cockpit chart plotter–a bit anyway.  We’re happy to have it–today departed Newcastle Island and Nanaimo Harbour, through the Dodd’s Narrows, up into Ladysmith Harbour and back out, over to Wallace Island (around the N. end of Saltspring) to explore Princess Cove–didn’t like how narrow it was so back out and along Saltspring then over to Galiano to the Montague Harbour Marine Park.  A zillion opportunities to get lost or confused (are you confused yet by this description?), but the plotter put us to rights each time….It’s like the thousand islands, Marike says, or the North Channel of lake Huron–many tiny little rock shelves, then deep channels with strange currents….You can see the tidal bore move along, as in Grand Manan in the Bay of Fundy–the tides and currents are strong, strange and to be attended to!

Gorgeous sun today–we dried out from the 24 hour rain we had yesterday and the night before…Though yesterday, a stupendous walk in the rain forest around the perimeter of Newcastle Island…beneath cedars and Garry Oak and big leaf maples and blooming arbutus.  Saw blacktailed deer fawns and dozens of young Canada geese being taught to feed, dive and swim by some baby sitter geese–while a racoon looked on and plucked and washed clams from the beach (pictures of all of that of course).  We just pulled on our wet gear and went for the walk, packed a picnic, brought our cameras….and walked through a meadow on our way back to the docks, thinking we’d clean the mud from our shoes…Instead our boots were smeared with green goose shit.  Lovely.  Oh well, it did all wipe up.

Tomorrow we’ll take a hike around Montague Park, then probably head out along the bottom of Saltspring and up to check out Cowichan Bay, to see the place where we organized a mooring for ourselves–before the bang up. We were trying to arrange to stay there for a night, but then the cell gave out here, so we don’t know what the result is yet. Monday morning, we’ll head to Canoe Cove, just n. of Sidney, where we’re to be checked over and the damage assessed.  We’ll keep you posted of course.  Meanwhile, as at home in Quoddy, we’ve been tracking leaks and cooking crisp–that’s tonight’s strategy to keep the cabin warm til we sort out the heat….

It’s lovely here–green, rocky, mountains rising up in surprising places, wonderful sheltered anchorages, walks….Lots of rickety oldies hanging worrisomely off of ladders and in general making a go of things.  Eccentrics everywhere.  And no boat too old to scrap–everything made to run, patched together everywhichway.

We’re happy to be here, sharpened up by the challenges of navigating in a new space.  And rather pleased by how much provisioning for boats there is here!  We’ve never had that–whole areas designed to serve boats!  Wow. Had a leaky valve on the dinghy we’d been patching with silicon and plumber’s tape for years–walked up the road in Nanaimo to Big Island Inflatable and bought a new valve for $14. In stock. They knew just what it would be. Presto. Fixed. Love that.

More soon.  Lots of love to all, and some cool ocean breezes.

Have fun! Will trade breeze and Saltspring goat cheese for some heat…

xoxoxox k & m

4 June 2011

Dear Zebra,

Tonight we’re in a place called Bedwell Harbour on South Pender Island.  We tried to get a mooring in another Marine Park–Beaumont–but they were all already taken when we got here, so we had to anchor in 40 feet of water.  12 foot tides here and ripping currents–we had a 3.5 knot push as we came into harbour this evening, eddies and pools and strange bucking currents all around us…We’re very near to the US/Canada border, just inside a waterway called Boundary Pass, where the currents run very swiftly.  Tomorrow another walk we hope up to the top of Mount Norman, and then on to Canoe Cove, so that an assessment of Quoddy’s rigging etc can begin early Monday morning. Final surveyor’s report is contingent on this.  A good thing too–enroute we realized the pulpit was broken and all of the screws pulled out at the bow…And that the drum of the staysail furler had hacked not just the teak toerail, but over the sides, the hull too. Wind again, so we’re finding it frustrating to pretend to be a trawler, but given the damage that keeps showing up, it seems better not to test the sails before the rig has had a complete check.

A lovely walk around the Montague Marine Park & camping grounds late this morning–dogs everywhere (making us miss puppy even more than we extremely do all of the time!) Huge tumbles of rock, enormous trees, arbutus clambering out over the water, a bald eagle swooping, swallows scurrying, broom and wild roses and wildflowers of all kinds in bloom everywhere.  A riot of green, and the air is perfumed.  Finally clear enough today to catch sight of the gleaming peaks of the Cascades, and the mountains on the mainland.  The snow looks like a mirage, like clouds, and then you realize, up there, towering, those are peaks, covered in glistening, blinding SNOW!  Very beautiful.

The islands are tremendously populated; people houses and boats everywhere; the road out of the park on Galiano like a suburban outpost.  We feel a bit like savages–between NS and the Baja, we’ve not seen so many people…..for years!

Marike has sacked out asleep–this relieves me because I’ve been feeling very tired, and worried something was wrong with me.  We’re just not sleeping enough!  I relish these letters, though I’m so tired sometimes I can hardly see.  Still, the pleasure of putting words together, the sense that I’m talking to you.  Miss you terribly Zebra.  So much we see that you would love–small seals peering out, guillemots paddling in the bow wave, their orange feet tender and beautiful in the water, nishkus everywhere.  I think I don’t know what season it is–spring summer or fall….I think we had summer in Mexico so it might be fall, but I’m not sure…everything a bit out of synch.  Hope you’re feeling okay, and pumped “up” again.

Lots of love,

K (& for M)

5 June 2011

Hi Mom,

Hope you’ve had a quiet day without too much weather.  Here it’s been just about perfect.  A little bit of everything–cool, warm, wind, calm, dry, a few drops of rain…

We’ve arrived in Canoe Cove, which is the home of Blackline Marine, which is going to do the final assessment and diagnosis of the rig and fibreglass and stainless damage. A narrow cove filled with rocky reefs and HUNDREDS of boats of every description…the joke here is that the situation of the marina, in this reef strewn cove, makes more business for the fibreglass people here.  It’s JUST south of the MAIN ferry terminal on S. Vancouver Island, Schwartz Bay–walking distance to the ferry for Vancouver.  We walked over there after we arrived just to watch the ferries move in and out and to stretch our legs.

We proceeded VERY carefully through the narrow channels–boats zipping about all around us.  We timed things well today, and sometimes got a lift of more than three knots!  Eddies everywhere.  It’s extremely interesting.  In fact, this morning, at 5:45 am, came a knocking on the hull.  Turned out it was a nearby boat, Sundance, knocking up against us–kissing, as they say in the anchorage in La Paz.  Not a hard knock, but as the winds died and the tides and currents shifted, so did we. They on rope rode, and we on chain moved in different ways and so drifted together.  We all got up, us and them, and fended off until their boat slid alongside ours and popped out on the other side.  Later in the day when we were all truly awake, we began to talk, and even secured a line between the two boats so we could more nearly approach and not have to shout.  Very interesting and courageous people, from Washington state, but also New Orleans for part of the year.  Chris is a retired naval architect for the military, now teaching and doing a PhD in innovative design, and his wife, Debra, is a recruiter of high school students for studies in the sciences–gets them to build and modify various kinds of robots, which can operate underwater cameras and other things..  We had a grand time chatting together–they too want to head to Alaska next year–we really hope we’ll run into them again. Very free spirits.  They have a golf cart engine in their boat–electric!!–so it’s very quiet.  And a bicycle wheel for a winch handle–really marvelous characters.

Once in Canoe Cove, we were shown to a vacant dock by a man with the next boat over–he and his wife have circumnavigated the globe.  And were also a couple of years ago damaged in a Dockwise run. They like Blackline guys here very much, and gave us some hope that DW might cover the damages…that was their experience anyway.

Lots of tin BOAT HOUSES here, big covered floating docks for trawlers (no sailboats)–gives the place a strange, almost abandoned 19th C air.  Seems like lots of factory sheds over the water, which, in a way, is the case.  Eventually, all of the pictures we take will get up online, so that you can see them…Will have to ask about a wireless connection tomorrow.

Very very tired–I didn’t sleep so much, and only fitfully after the early morning knocking.  More news tomorrow–we should soon know what the prognosis and probable costs of various fix-it scenarios for Quoddy will be.  Maybe late tomorrow or Tuesday….Will let you know.

Have to sleep now.  Lots and lots of love, miss you!

xoxoxo k

8 June 2011

Hi mom,

Just checking in–so busy there’s no time to be online–and to get wifi we have to go sit in a cafe and eat something. Repairs so expensive don’t feel much like doing that!  I’ll try to call soon to bring you up to date.

It’s good to be in a good yard with competent people.  They’ve discovered a few problems we didn’t know about–a crack in the forestay chainplate–had that sheared with the sails out as they were the night the damage happened, the mast probably would have come down.  SO that has to be fixed right away too…..We suspected there might be some trouble there. Part of it is just the age of the boat. She’s due for a refit, which is one reason we were bringing her here.  Everything CAN be fixed, and in two or three weeks we’ll be good to go and much safer.  The decks have to be repaired too, but that will happen over the winter.  I’ll explain it all when I’m less tired–nearly head in the soup tired now….not sure how much longer I can spell…

But it’s beautiful here.  Cool, but very clear tonight.  Crisp air.  Swans that float up to the side of the boat and beg.  Islands reflecting in the calm water.  Taking pictures of it all!  Just have to have time to get them up!

Will write more tomorrow.  Thanks for your encouragement–lots of love, K & M

13 June 2011

Hi Mom,

Home again, home again?  It sounds as if you were having a great visit– I was so surprised and pleased when you and Lisa called!  Guess those kitties know who loves them!

Spent yesterday doing some (slow) errands and at the docs.  Evidently, like Lisa, I’m not storing my iron well.  My hemoglobin levels are fine, but the iron stores depleted.  So I’m to take supplements of iron with Vit C and B complexes. And they’re going to do some more tests–could be that as I’m entering menopause–and bleeding a fair bit between periods–that my hormones are a bit out of whack and all that bleeding is undoing my iron levels.  We’ll see.  Just hope I start to feel like my energetic self again soon…As Marike says, my get up and go got up and went.  Not good.  Just when I need it most!  Will keep you posted on all of this.

This evening came another sail boat of about our size up the channel and said, we were told by Brent (one of the Blackline bosses) to raft up to you…That means to tie themselves to us, so we’re at the dock, and we become their dock in effect.  What can we do?  Brent calls the shots around here on Blackline’s work dock. SO we raft the guy–name Lee– up–though it’s hard, because our stanchions and life lines are down, as is some of the rigging, so there’s not much to tie the guy to.  Finally we get some of his lines out on the dock too.  Turns out Lee’s headed to Mexico, knows some people we know–we make a date to swap info about good places to go, since he’s been many of the places we want to go here.  And together we stick WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY out into this narrow little channel that huge cabin cruisers have to squeeze through to get to their houses…Makes for some tense moments for them, but we all think that fair is fair, since they’re always throwing wake at us through narrow passages and knocking the wind out of our sails and tossing stuff around…Let them sweat for once around us!

Anyway, that’s the news here. Found a product that helps our aged canvas shed water and applied it, so tonight, since it has rained, we’re less wet, and we’ve tested the latest patch on the dinghy and rats, it didn’t work, the little bugger just deflated one of its pontoons again….

(The nonsense you get obsessed with…..) Otherwise, we’re fine, and having fun watching seals dry themselves out and groan on a nearby rock….

Lots and lots of love,

K & M

13 June 2011

Hi Zebra,

Thanks so much for getting Amy this morning–it was good–and I think important–to talk to her. Will let you know as soon as we have a communications solution that is likely to work!  As we all know, it’s so frustrating when it doesn’t!!!

We miss you more and more and S and D and trees and home (but not fog), XOOOXOXOXOXXOXOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOXOXOXXXOXOXOXOXOX

Lots and lots of love,

K & M

14 June 2011

Hi Zebra, Hi mom,

Today got use of a car (thanks to the man who rafted up to us yesterday), so did lots of “heavy” errands–recharging fire extinguishers, filling propane tanks, buying lots of wine, giving some more blood at the clinic for another test.  Marike meanwhile working all day, head in the bilge with the mechanic. Swapping out the leaky exhaust for a better system so we don’t die of CO now that the boat will be much more sealed up & getting the electrics cleaned up.  I’m dutifully taking my supplements and sleeping 8 hours if I can and eating lots of iron rich food.

A walk today–we went out to a point and stood on a rock and looked over Galiano, Saltspring, some of the smaller islands nearer to…a ferry passed, other boats, hardly a cloud in the sky. Gorgeous evening that goes on being light forever. Blessed space on earth; we are completely and utterly seduced by it.  At one point we were walking out on a pier and we noticed an ambulance parked nearby.  Then we realized that someone–an older man, wan, but conscious, was being off-loaded from a water ambulance–a tough little enclosed vessel–and onto a stretcher with wheels (wheels being just what you do NOT want on your stretcher on a boat) and taken up the ramp to the more usual sort of ambulance and thence to the hospital.  SO we hung about and talked to the boat ambulance crew.  Marike was full of questions–where does the ambulance go? (all the nearby islands.) When? (day or night on call) For what events?  (Anything that’s urgent but not so urgent or catastrophic that a helicopter is required. Heart attacks, broken limbs etc, that sort of thing.) How fast can the water ambulance go? (35 knots across the water).  How do you get to be an ambulance driver? (You get a captain’s license.) Then it turns out we’ve seen the ambulance–they dock in the same harbour where we are.  And they’ve seen us.  They know who we are. Oh, the guy says to Marike when she expresses a wish to drive the ambulance, here–after the voyages you’ve been on you could drive this no problem.  Then he says, Oh I’ll come by to talk to you. So I guess we’ll be seeing him.  Everyone likes the fact we’re from NS & many have east coast stories.  We even met a man today who has a copy of a little sardine, one of the small cast iron stoves the Lunenburg Foundry made for small vessels.  But here’s what happened. He stopped on the dock near us and said, hmm, Lunenburg.  I have a sardine. Luckily, we understood what he meant…

Okay, Marike’s asleep and it’s after 11 and the work will start up again by 8 tomorrow so to bed we must go.  More soon.

And lots and lots of love,

xoxoxoxox k & m

19 June 2011

Hi mom, Zebra,

Well, it’s in, the heater, and we’re basking in the heat (in fact, Marike has fallen asleep).  3 + days of wrestling with pumps, fans, hoses–taking every blessed thing out of nearly every blessed space on the boat to get at the necessary corners.  INSANE.  Today, the installer, his wife, Marike and I all worked all day to get the last bits installed. At 1, everything was done, we just had to put pressure on the hoses and tanks and get the water circulating in the system. For an instant, some gurgling and then nothing.  Nothing. Hours and hours of trying to blow or suck via a pretty strong pump in the system, bleeding lines, checking, double checking…Finally Marike had John draw a diagram and together they isolated the bit of pipe where the circulation seemed to fail and voila, there it was, the culprit, a cork, jammed up the hose, pickled in antifreeze–one of the few remaining elements of the original system. Once that was out, everything started to flow and so we fired up the furnace and bam! within a few minutes, heat!  Now, tonight, the radiators at our feet are toasty and warm, and the furnace cycles periodically to keep the temperature here, inside the boat, at around 70.  Warm warm at last!  And dry!  We couldn’t be more thrilled.  Now we can head north without fear of the cold!  We’re ready for you now Zebra. Don’t you want to come? There’s a radiator just under your berth and it keeps it really toasty.

I should get myself to bed soon too–will write more soon.  Tomorrow we’re supposed to see Lorie and Peter Thomson, Tara’s parents (Mom, Tara is Aaron’s wife–Marike’s sister Judy’s son)–not quite sure what we’ll do, but if it’s a nice day, perhaps spend it outside.  (Today of course, just when we could have used the extra space on deck to pile things, it was rainy & cold.)

Thrilled Z to hear the broadband is in for Amy–and the linden is in bloom.  Pictures please!

Lots and lots of love all around and big treats and snuggles for S & D too. xoxoxoxok & m

1 July 2011

Hi Mom!

Well, we did it, we got off of the dock!  And we met up with our friends Paul and Dee successfully–they sailed in to the customs dock from the US about half an hour after we arrived in the harbour yesterday.  It was a windy grey day yesterday, with some bursts of sun–we had a pretty fine sail here despite our rotten old sails.  And we signed the contract for the new sails before we left Canoe Cove–they should be ready in 2-3 weeks.  That will be fun!  Elisabeth is planning to come out too in a week or ten days, so that will be nice to have her on the boat again.  And it’s finally ready for her–warm, safe, cleaned up…..

We’ve had a wonderful day today with Paul and Dee.  We had a splendid hike through the rainforest to an incredible lookout–you can see many of the Gulf Islands and some of the San Juans in the US (I’m thinking that the photos you saw were probably taken from this spot or one near it at the top of Mount Norman).  Dee taught me about some of the plants–among them coast salal, horsetail ferns & Oregon huckleberry.  She also made a quick & lovely watercolour sketch while I took photos & we ate lunch there at the mountaintop, then headed back down to the beach, where we had some tea and watched the Canada geese train up their young.  Then we collected our bathing suits and shower things and went to this hotel/marina complex at the foot of the bay where we swam in a heated pool, sat in the hot tub and had wonderful long showers.  Then back to Paul and Dee’s boat where we had supper–oysters heated just to the point of opening on the barbecue (poor Marike, who’s allergic to bivalves, none for her, but whew, they were delicious!) then everyone else had pork chops & I just had an extra big helping of salad.

Now back at our boat, where we’ve got the heat on, are drinking sleepy time tea, and wondering where to go for Canada Day tomorrow.  Apparently there’s a big lamb roast on Saturna Island that lots of boaters show up for.  Maybe we’ll do that, maybe we’ll head to another cove and head out for another walk.  Then maybe to the Ganges Market on Saltspring Saturday–we’ll see. So much that we can do, and as Paul says, each thing is only a few miles away.

It’s wonderful to be off of the dock & mobile on the water again!

Happy Canada Day!  And lots and lots of love, xooxooxk & m

4 July 2011

HI Mom,

Oh, how frustrating!  I tried to call you back a few times–not even sure the call went through enough to ring.  I guess you’ll tell me.  Tonight we’re (again–we came here in early June) in Montague Harbour, at Galiano Island, and we’re shadowed by a mountain in the anchorage–it’s really hard to get a clear signal.  You have to row to shore and climb the road for a mile til you get high enough….& we were just cooking supper for our friends Paul and Dee, who sailed up from Oregon on their boat to spend a few days with us.  Tomorrow should be better–we’ll be on Saturna Island…will try to call when we arrive. I’m hoping some of the gang will still be with you on the 4th and that I can make contact.  SO sad–and you were so pleased to have found a service that let you call me.  Most days I’m in range, but some days, mostly thanks to mountain shadows in the anchorage, out of it…

I feel as if we’re finally having a holiday.  Sleeping in.  Visiting with friends.  Planning hikes.  Reading.  It’s wonderful not to have to take everything apart every day & have to put it all back together again.  Elisabeth is coming to join us on the 7th for a couple of weeks–finally!  It’s been several years since she’s been on the boat with us, several years since she had to be evacuated from Huatulco in S. Mexico because her blood had thinned too much & she was hemorrhaging. Nice to think that we’ve gotten things fixed up enough for her to be comfortable here.

Happy fourth of July and lots and lots of love to everyone!!!

xoxxoxoxoxoxo k & m

4 July 2011

Hi Zebra,

A real summer day—people were swimming! Yes, it’s true!  Unbelievable.  But yes, HOT this afternoon, quite wonderful really.  Perfect.  We’re so pleased you’re coming and so excited to show you this corner of the world!

We’ve been trying to compose a list of things to bring so that you’ll be comfortable.  Here’s what we’ve gotten so far:

We DO HAVE wetskins for you, but no rain boots.

DO bring your blue Helly Hansen jacket and rain pants.

Bring your grey polar pajamas

1 or 2 walking sticks

hiking boots

white soled running shoes as boat shoes

warm socks, slippers

shorts/ pants with zip off legs

comfortable loose pants

1 pair blue jean

gloves hat

sweater, polar

swim suit

2-3 long sleeved shirts

2-3 short sleeved shirts

a turtleneck

hat with brim, sunglasses

ie. LAYERS….temps range from 10 C at night to 18-26 during the day

If you have any questions, please ASK!!!!

Kiss puppy and Dante for us–we miss them so much.  Make sure they know we’re all coming back to them!

We love you and miss you and kiss you–kiss all three of you, xoxoxooxoxo k & m

PS m says “it’s a lot easier now that we’re in a developed country”–meaning we have heat and pretty much anything else that we can think of that we might need.

14 July 2011

Back in Montague Harbour

Hi Mom,

Sounds like you had a fabulous weekend in Columbus.  Funny to think of it as a bit of an exotic getaway these days, but that’s what it is now for both of us!

We’re having a wonderful time with Elisabeth on the boat–she’s “ravie” as she says, absolutely thrilled to be on the water again, & in very fine form.  We’ve been having a wildly social time–after we picked up Elisabeth we headed to Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island where we met up with Kristi, a friend from Montreal, from McGill (she’s the anthropologist we visited in Oaxaca)& her daughter Adaeze, who is a great big girl now, Rachael’s age and tall tall!  like her parents.  Piles of other Montrealers were there too, so we all had lunch in the park on the grass and everyone’s kids roared around chattering in French & we met Kristi’s brother David who lives out here and his kids, then had dinner on the mountainside with Kristi and Adaeze and her mother and stepfather in a splendid house her mother built.  Late at night back out to the boat with a haul from the farmer’s market, and then on the next morning up through a narrow channel to Maple Bay, on Vancouver Island, to meet up with friends Rick and Dawn.  We’d met them in Mexico & they were very persistent about encouraging us to come here and then helping us with the details.  A long day with them (incredible lunch of home smoked wild salmon they’d caught)–they sent us away with rafts of old charts, a crab trap, a bird book and tons of advice.  Met many more people, have been invited to join a sweet little yacht club there (great deal really–it’s the only way to get inexpensive moorage), some land travel & we’re finally back here in the rain.  A sweet soft rain, blueing the mountains and rendering the light dramatic and moody.  Time to learn to paint this landscape.

It’s lovely here-fresh cheeses at the market, just picked basil, wonderful breads, everyone out on the water or hiking or riding bikes….Have even seen people canoeing with bicycles in the canoe, a baby strapped to their chest and a dog in the bow!  It’s a blessed gorgeous landscape, and the boat is wonderful again–strong, everything working–even now a shower with hot water!!!!

Tomorrow to North Pender to a market there (we’re about out of milk and toothpaste)–have finally had a day to rest and to read and to sleep. Whew.

Will write more again soon.  We’re snug and warm and enjoying listening to the rain patter on the dodger…Reminds of me all the times we were camping and soft summer rain fell in the night….Somewhere someone has made a campfire and we can smell the smoke….dark everywhere, but for a few warm lights glowing on an island….

Hope all is well!  Lots and lots of love,

K (M & E)

16 July 2011

Back at Saturna Island

Hi Mom,

We’re anchored in a misting rain in a little cove on the last island in Canada–out there is the US, but in here, in this cove is a wild paradise, and we’re the only people here.  With us–giant cedars ranged up steep volcanic cliffs, beach-level summer school for adolescent geese, feral goats, seals, sea otters, giant kelp forests, tiny guillemots–little black and white birds with red legs–gorgeous peeling red-trunked arbutus, wild roses, kingfishers….We’re still looking for orcas, but have yet to see the pod that hunts here.  The air smells blue-green–like sea salt, like rain and like cedar.  On the land, the blackberry vines are blooming, and they tangle over everything.

Last night we were anchored in Port Browning, on North Pender Island.  Daisies grow in clumps at the sides of the roads, and here and there are farm stands that operate on the honour system: take a bunch of kale & drop two loonies in a slot; take a bouquet of roses and leave $4; garlic for 1.50, cukes a dollar, lettuce $2.50. Small black tailed deer walk the roads and seem quite unafraid of us–we even came upon a doe and fawn consorting with ravens…  Wonderful. Elisabeth is in a kind of ecstasy to be on the boat again, & we are very glad to have her. 76 is not too old for this sport!

So we are well, and in the wilds.  Thinking of you.  Lots and lots of love,

xoxoxo k, m, e

20 July 2011

Hi Mom,

We had a marvelous sail today AND WE SAW ORCAS–including three that surfaced and sounded RIGHT NEXT TO THE BOAT while we were sailing along the border….!!!! Finally!  They’re just beautiful–small for whales but big and powerful–dorsal fin black and straight up and their skin silky (they were that close).  So thrilling.  They’d obviously come over because we were sailing and not motoring–it’s a kind of whale joke to brush by & surprise you like that when it’s quiet & everything is going slowly.

It’s Elisabeth’s last night on the boat and we’ll be moored at Canoe Cove again tomorrow so that she can catch a cab late at night to the airport for her redeye.  Had a fine time with our pals Janice and Mary on Saturna Island (where we’re out of cell range). (J was one of my PhD students at McGill and often stayed at the Red House and looked after the dogs.)  Cool, rainy but gorgeous in its own way.  They came over from Vancouver on the ferry & we hiked and drove around and went to the Saturna winery for tastings and had a wonderful supper and picnics and ridge walks, where we saw lots of goats and deer and a fledging eagle and seals and all kinds of other things (mostly photographed and will be forthcoming soon).  Sweet visit & now M & E have had 2 days of feasting on a hunk of lamb from Saturna (the major enterprise of the island seems to be sheep farming)–just hiked the bones out the back of the boat this evening where they…sank…but someone will eat them.

We’re sad to have to send Elisabeth home–tried to get her to stay longer but she`s going to Italy next month and visiting her sister and niece and godson in the south of France, so she wants to prepare herself for that. We’ll spend a couple of days cleaning up and provisioning, then we’re headed north to the area called Desolation Sound–islands Cortez, Hornby, warm water, apparently wild and gorgeous sights.  Then I have to come home….alas to run a faculty seminar and to begin to prepare my fall classes….. Where did the summer go?  Wait, it’s not over yet.

Should be (finally!) posting some photos tomorrow (edited a few one rainy night) so I hope there’s something to show!

Miss you.  Lots and lots of love (and thanks for giving Lisa my phone number….It was their anniversary, hers and Don’s yesterday….!)

xoxoxoxo k (m, e)

31 July 2011

In Nanaimo—still (or is that again?!)

Hi Mom, Elisabeth,

Sorry we’ve been out of touch for a few days–they’ve been wildly busy.  Hoping you are well and that the summer is ripening nicely.

Here, early in the week, but a bit later than we’d hoped (the sailmaker was sick because he’d been out partying, which meant that the dock we’d been assigned and which really belonged to someone else had to be vacated by us early in the morning because its inhabitants were coming back and we’d not yet finished everything we had to do, etc etc quite a comedy really) we got the new sails–which had a few problems when they were delivered (some missing features making the mainsail impossible to reef etc) so we got that fixed (extra day) then slipped away Tuesday evening to an island just off of Saltspring.

Up early Wednesday to make the 45 mile run to Dodd’s Narrows at slack (currents were running at 6+ knots that day, so couldn’t run against them).  We made it through the gap just in time–and tried out the new sails…in very light winds.  A little bit of everything–and yes, I took photos.

We anchored off of Newcastle Island, in Nanaimo Harbour that night, and then were up early the next day to run errands.  This meant provisioning and purchasing 650 feet of floating line for a stern tie–some of the harbours north of here are deep and very narrow so you have to tie to shore.  Then we had to find a wheel for the line because–as we later experienced–650 feet of line can create a mighty set of snarls.  People here use those round wheels designed wind up 100 feet of garden hose–$30 at the hardware store as opposed to the $350 alternative for a steel wheel the shrimpers use to haul in their line.  OF COURSE the first hardware store we checked in with didn’t have what we needed.  We were sent a couple of miles along to another shop.  It too didn’t have what we needed, so we ended up on a 5 mile hike up the highway for the hose wheel, which we did finally acquire.  Whew.  Almost ready to go.  We stopped at the bookstore, picked up the charts and books we needed to go to Desolation Sound and some parts north, made it back to the boat for dinner, then sleep.  We were going to try to leave in the morning.

Thursday morning we were up early, motored to the fuel dock before breakfast, took on 50 gallons of fuel, some water, and then set out.  Marike raised the mainsail as we were leaving the harbour and then we realized, whoops, that northwest wind we thought would carry us well across the Georgia Strait is going to be on the nose for the next 25 miles because, turns out, the Strait runs quite E-W, not N-S as we’d thought. (My fault, slack navigating, though to be fair, we’d just gotten the charts.) Forget it.  We’re too old for that bash.  SO we turned around and spent the day at anchor rigging up various devices to handle the new sails–and getting that freakin’ 650 feet of blue rope on the hose winder.  HOURS AND MANY KNOTS done and undone later, it was a neat package.  Fit perfectly. But oh my.  I cut up a chicken and we roasted it and watched the night traffic in the harbour and went to bed.  Winds were to be moderate southeasterlies–PERFECT to ride north, so we were looking forward to a sunny, lovely sail across the strait.  A great chance to put the new sails through their paces.

Up this morning early (but this time we ate breakfast before we set out, whew!).  We raised the anchor, motored out of the channel and we just getting ready to raise the mainsail when there was a mighty rattle in the engine, the throttle dropped right back and black smoke started pouring out of the engine room. Yikes!  We shut the engine down immediately and unfurled the staysail so we’d have a little bit of steerage, since, OF COURSE, we were in the ferry channel.  (Naturally.)  What next? We quickly figured out that our problem was the raw water pump (this pours cool seawater through a jacket around the engine and keeps it from overheating.  You can’t run the engine without it).  The bearings in the pump had seized and the belt shredded. We had a spare,and spare impellers (the stiff little rubbery waterwheels that fit inside the pumps), but not all of the knowledge we needed (nor perhaps the hand strength) to fix this.  We couldn’t stay where we were–in the distance an approaching ferry was visible…AND OF COURSE, it’s the first day of a long weekend, a lovely hot sunny day, unlike so many this summer….

We ended up calling the coast guard, who put out a call to any vessel in the vicinity who could help us.  A lovely couple on a blue sailboat called “Reborn” volunteered almost immediately.  We threw them a bowline and they towed us behind them up the channel to the nearest open dock, a fuel dock.  Unbelievably, there was a spot off to the side where we could tie up for a time, while we hunted for mechanics.  No one was answering the phone of course….Finally we called our friend Jay, who lives here.  He’s a musician–we met him and his wife Anita in Mexico–and he said oh, I think I can help. So he came over and helped us pull the pump off of the engine.  Then we hit a wall. A missing 16mm socket–so Jay and I walked up the hill to one of those hardware stores Marike and I had visited on Thursday.  While we were gone, the folks who run the marina behind the fuel dock came to make us move, but when they realized we were halfway to a fix, they pitched in to help instead.  Some hours late (and a pretty hefty bill, but not so hefty as it would have been if we’d had to move and wait until Tuesday for a mechanic to come) we were up and running. Whew.  Something, Marike says, doesn’t want me to raise this mainsail.  Or it’s as our friend Paul Seamons says: Nanaimo is so hard to leave. But we’ve been trying. Really.

Tomorrow the forecast is for strong northwesterlies again, so I think we’ll go for a walk with Jay and Anita around Newcastle Island.  Or something like that.  Never a dull moment, but I could wish for some duller ones….I’d read a book or edit photos or write more letters…

That’s all the news for now.  Hope everyone is well and Z, that the toilet is fixed.  Yikes!  Poor Amy, poor you, poor Donald.  Don’t bother about the tires–we’ll sort it out when we get home (or I will…)

Lots of love all around and big hugs and kisses.  We’re anchored next to a “pirate” boat–a ketch painted black, with dive and pirate and Tibetan prayer flags flying in the rigging, a big potted garden around the stern, a dog aboard and three dinghies of various sorts, kayaks and canoes (all black), dive equipment, and a motorcycle on deck!  Quite the rig. These pirates seem very clean–we’ve seen them really scrubbing the decks.

MISSSSSSSSSSSING you.  Kisses to the creatures, love love love k & m

4 August 2011

Hi Zebra, hi Mom,

We did it, we finally left Nanaimo!!!!!  We took a day(Sunday), after our repair, to repair ourselves, and met up with our friends Jay and Anita–who kayaked over to Newcastle Island to meet us and go for a walk.  We were anchored (AGAIN!) just off of the island, near Nanaimo.  Another sunset over the city, then northwesterly winds kicked up, too hard to make it north, so on Monday we decided to test our sails, and sailed south.  Went through the Dodd Narrows at slack (ebb had been nearly 7 knots) then sailed down towards the Stuart Channel.  We tested just about every point of sail and even got the spinnaker out and flew it.  Beautiful blue starbursts of cloth against the sky.   Of course I took pictures!  Then the wind shifted and we raced back towards the channel–FAST!–for another slack (this time the flood was running 8 knots, so we waited, waited, then went and sailed by sunset back to the Newcastle Island anchorage, where there was NO ROOM, so we had to make do and anchor outside of the designated area–so more wake from passing boats. + 45 miles and almost all of it under sail.

Finally, moderate SE winds were called for Tuesday, so we got up in the rain and motored out the channel, past the point of our last break-down and out, out to the off-lying islands, where we raised the sails and set off across the Strait of Georgia towards the mainland and the Sunshine Coast.  A fine sail across choppy seas in grey weather. I shot some video footage, so someday, soon I hope, you’ll get to see what that was like.  Then, as we hit the halfway point, the skies began to clear and the seas settle a bit.  We turned up into the Malaspina Strait and suddenly had a screaming wonderful warm downwind sail. 7, 8, 9 knots!  Whee!  How wonderful to have new sails.    We passed Pender Harbour & decided we could aim for Blind Bay, further up the Strait. Again, fast fast, running along, rocky islets to our right and steep tree and snow covered mountains rising behind them, and to our left, the long steep eastern shore of Texada Island, a high green ridge running into the distance.  Of course the wind died too soon, before we were very far along Nelson Island, but we continued and finally arrived at Blind Bay and then steered into a deep and confusing anchorage–everything steep to, water very deep and then suddenly very shallow, and the place full of boats, some people stern tied, some not.  Just how do you do it properly anyway? We finally found a spot to drop the hook & ate dinner while others in this wild and gorgeous harbour screamed and carried on.  Finally after midnight, they went to sleep, but the mosquitos did not.  We’ve had to get out the bug screens.

This morning, up slowly & then out again into the Malaspina Strait. We tacked back and forth for several hours, shortening sail and slowing down when we realized that being heeled over so hard had made diesel leak out of the port side vents and roll all over the deck. Ugh.  Zebra, you will remember when this happened in Mexico.  Can’t have a rockin’ sail until you’ve burned up more than 5-10 gallons of diesel after a fill, which takes something like 15 hours of motoring or more, which, for once, we haven’t done. A design problem there. Disgusting and stinky clean-up.

Late in the afternoon, we anchored in Sturts Bay on Texada Island–site of a once (or is it still?) active marble quarry.  It’s a quiet place, full of characters–met a woman from Corner Brook Newfoundland who had just retired and was living here for a year and found it just too hot!  (It was hotter today on land than it has been, pleasantly so, just on the edge of too warm, so 24, or 79 degrees or so).  Lots of STUFF around–old machinery and nautical equipment–huge buoys, old log boom push boats, strange rafts, and everyone outgoing, chatty, teasing–quite a bit like the East Coast really. Pat Watt would have been quite at home. It’s the first island stop we’ve had where wealthy private owners haven’t taken over.

We did some shopping and walked around town–were thinking about staying another day and hiking up to a quarry lake to swim, but the weather report is calling for the NWlies to heat up and stick around for a few days starting tomorrow evening, so we’re now aiming to get up early and head out and make tracks north while we can.  We’ll stop in Lund if the going is bad, or make it to Desolation Sound or Cortes Island if the winds & seas aren’t too stiff.

It is REALLY beautiful here, just stunning, unbelievable.  Mountains rising up from the sea, treed near the shore and then rows upon rows of peaks reaching back to snowy peaks, everything deep blues and greens and then at sunset, golden and pink.  And so many people on the water!  Boats, boats boats everywhere.

We’ll write again when we can.  Because of the mountains, cell coverage is spotty; sometimes the phone works, sometimes it doesn’t.  Will try to call when it does, soon.

Exciting to be in new landscape and new waters.  Marike finally finishing The Curve of Time, so soon I will get to read it. Mom–this is a book by a woman named M. Wylie Blanchett.  She was widowed as a young woman with 5 children in the 20s & took a small vessel and explored these waters with them in the summers.  It’s a hugely famous account of being on the water in the landscape–everyone you meet here says, and have you read The Curve of Time?  Elisabeth did when she was on the boat, so perhaps she already knows more about Desolation Sound than I do! Oh Zebra, you will love it when we come next year!

More news soon.  And much much love,

xoxoxK & M

7 August 2011

North of 50 now

HI Mom, hi Zebra,

Yep, it’s true, we’re north of 50 degrees latitude, at 50 02.808 N and 124 45.225 W.

We are anchored right now in a place with a very long address–behind Jean Island at the edge of Grace Harbour on the Gifford Peninsula, in the Malaspina Inlet, which is in the Desolation Sound Marine Park. It is gorgeous-ribbons of water wind through steep tree covered rocky ledges leading towards snow covered mountains.  The waters of these inlets are deep–sometimes 200 feet near to shore, so anchoring can be a challenge–many people drop and anchor and then tie the stern of the boat to something ashore (a tree, say) to keep from swinging.

In the end, it was a quick run up here–just a few hours of motoring up the coast.  We never did see much wind enroute, so I guess we beat it.

This place, Desolation Sound, (we’re only beginning to discover) is full of surprises–again and again you turn the corner and there is an extraordinary mountain vista, an open valley, a cedar covered height that stretches up more than 1000 feet right beside you.  One of the older cruising guides we are carrying with us describes the experience this way:  “Yachtsmen rounding the northern tip of the Malaspina Peninsula are sometimes astounded by the view. In marked contrast to the harsh, burned and logged off barrenness of Sarah Point [no longer true, secondary growth has filled in greenly now] one is confronted by the startling prospect of incredibly steep mountains, the multivarate hues of purple and blue of receding headlands and hill slopes and the glistening far off whiteness of perpetual snowfields around a solitary cone-shaped peak–Mount Denman. The steep nature of the funnel shaped channel leading towards the peaks seems to draw one inwards and into Desolation Sound” (Wolferstan, 1987, 53).

Purple prose–since Vancouver’s meeting with the Spanish explorers, Valdes and Galiano here in June of 1792 (while their respective countries were at war in Europe)–the place seems to have inspired such effusions…to which we add our own.  Alas? It is hard to find language for such altitudes, so we over-reach and multiply our words, perhaps.  In any case, there is much to tell.  Z, we say this over and over again, all day every day: you will LOVE it here; we are eager to bring you next year.

We’ve been kayaking, hiking and even SWIMMING & then sunning on toasty rocks–the water here is the warmest salt water in the northwest because we are at the meeting point of two tidal streams, one running up Georgia Strait from the south and the other coming over the top of Vancouver Island and down Johnstone Strait.  The tides are huge (15-17 feet in spots)–so much water is forced up narrow channels and the currents can be fierce in places, but in fact a warm layer of water on the surface never moves much, and so creates a little holiday paradise.  Lots of cultivation of oysters, some other fish farming and (still) clearcutting in places that aren’t parks.  But there are also many many marine parks here, accessible only by water, and largely undeveloped on the land–so undeveloped that the majority of the “trails” are simply animal paths and overgrown logging roads.  There are no other roads into this space.  Despite that, it’s busy–there are ferries to a few of the larger islands, and float planes to and and from Vancouver.  Every sort of boat you can imagine plies the waters here, large and small.  Lots of families–it’s a fantastic place for kids. Warm, protected, lots to discover.

Tomorrow we’ll head back out into Desolation Sound proper, then explore several of the channels and sounds–Homfry, Waddington, Pendrell, Lewis, Teakerne Arm.  We’ll report back…soon!

We are lucky to have sun, light winds, cool evenings–and since there are no real settlements here, marvelously clear starry skies. Still watching for the northern lights, but we’re not awake in the wee hours…

Hope all is well, thinking of you. Kisses and much missing and special ear rubs and frisbee throws to Sheba and treats and cuddles to Ms. D. Hope you’re cooler now mom!!

Lots of love,

K & M

8 August 2011

Hi Zebra,

We LOVED your story about Donald, his grandson, Simon, Sharon, the dog and the catfish. Please say hello and thank you to all of them for us.  Donald has such brilliant ideas–to seed the pond with catfish to eat up all the weeds. And to teach his grandson. What a love he is! Sorry that it continues to be cold–we’d have thought NS would have heated up by now!  You will certainly have all of the heat you can handle, if not more, in Italy.  Missing you mightily today as we passed through and beneath snowcapped mountains in deep fjords filled with milky glacial run-off.

We are now in Frances Bay, near Bute Inlet, having motored out of the Malaspina Inlet and explored Galley Bay, Mink Island, Tenedos Bay, Otters Pool and Prideaux Haven, all very popular, especially with stinkpots. HUNDREDS of boats in Prideaux Haven–where there are spectacular views of the mountains, warm water and a short hike to a lake (though perhaps it is like the “lake” we saw yesterday on one of our two hikes, really a swamp filled with leaches–we SAW them wiggling about over a rock–smelled like a swamp too, so we left…) Nevertheless,very glad to pass by, peer in, and move on to the Homfray Channel, where we threw up the spinnaker and began our passage into the snowcapped mountains.  The channel is deep–more than 2500 feet deep in places, and steep mountains rise up on either side, snowcapped to the east, the mainland side.  Suddenly, all of the boat traffic fell away, and we were virtually alone. We made our way up to the mouth of Toba Inlet, where waterfalls rush out of the mountains, and snowy peaks gather all around.  We will return here with you and explore the inlet–it’s very very stunning.

We turned left here, and headed west, down the Pryce Channel, past Elisabeth Island (!) and more waterfalls and clearcuts, towards Raza Island, past Deer Passage and Ramsay Arm with its vast clearcuts and into the deep vee of Frances Bay, where there were just two other boats and the remains of a logging operation, framework of a boom, now the staging ground for a heron’s fishing operation. Sound of some birds we’ve never heard before.  And the sound of water.  Deep silence–if it weren’t for the wind tonight, I wonder what we’d hear.  I realize I’m listening for coyotes…for they’d be pupping and making all sorts of noise about now on the barrens at home.  Do you hear them?

It’s spectacularly beautiful, overwhelming–we’ve traveled 40 miles today, but feel as if we’ve traveled hundreds, the landscape has been so extraordinary, so changing.  Tomorrow if we can time it right, we’ll run through the Yaculta, Gifford and Dent rapids into the Cordero Channel….We’ll see.  We’ll let you know.

Missing you terribly.  We’re carrying you with us, anxious for you to see everything we see. Photos don’t do it justice.  My head hurts with all of this vastness! What wonderful country.  Splendid purple sunset.

Much much love, we miss you!  Kisses and misses to puppy and Dante too. and lots of treats.

xoxoxoxo k & m

8 August 2011

Hi Mom,

The journey continues. Today, we passed through and beneath snowcapped mountains in deep fjords filled with milky glacial run-off.

We are now in Frances Bay, near Bute Inlet, having motored out of the Malaspina Inlet and explored Galley Bay, Mink Island, Tenedos Bay, Otters Pool and Prideaux Haven, all very popular, especially with stinkpots. HUNDREDS of boats in Prideaux Haven–where there are spectacular views of the mountains, warm water and a short hike to a lake (though perhaps it is like the “lake” we saw yesterday on one of our two hikes, really a swamp filled with leaches–we SAW them wiggling about over a rock–smelled like a swamp too, so we left…) Nevertheless,very glad to pass by, peer in, and move on to the Homfray Channel, where we threw up the spinnaker and began our passage into the snowcapped mountains.  The channel is deep–more than 2500 feet deep in places, and steep mountains rise up on either side, snowcapped to the east, the mainland side.  Suddenly, after all of the boat traffic fell away, and we were virtually alone. We made our way up to the mouth of Toba Inlet, where waterfalls rush out of the mountains, and snowy peaks gather all around.

We turned left here, and headed west, down the Pryce Channel, past Elisabeth Island and more waterfalls (and clearcuts), towards Raza Island, past Deer Passage and Ramsay Arm with its vast clearcuts and into the deep v of Frances Bay, where there were just two other boats and the remains of a logging operation, framework of a boom, now the staging ground for a heron’s fishing operation. Sound of some birds we’ve never heard before.  And the sound of water.  Deep silence–if it weren’t for the wind tonight, I wonder what we’d hear.  I realize I’m listening for coyotes…for they’d be pupping and making all sorts of noise about now on the barrens at home.  I miss that lonely howl, and the shimmering sound the pups make as the fall starts to come on.

It’s spectacularly beautiful, overwhelming here–we’ve traveled 40 miles today, but feel as if we’ve traveled hundreds, the landscape has been so extraordinary, so changing.  Tomorrow if we can time it right, we’ll run through the Yaculta, Gifford and Dent rapids into the Cordero Channel….We’ll see.  We’ll let you know.

Photos can’t do country like this justice.  My head hurts with all of this vastness! What wonderful country.  Splendid purple sunset. You would love it!  I said to Marike yesterday, if I’d known as a little girl in Ohio that a place such as this, with water AND mountains, existed, I’d have wanted to come here. And so we are.

Lots and lots of love (hope it’s cooling off now!!!)

xoxoxox k & m

9 August 2011

Dear Mom and Zebra,

Well, we didn’t zip through the rapids after all, in part because we’d not really slept so well–the wind howled all night and so we worried, as we often do a bit, about the set of the anchor in this new strange place….but all was fine. Also because we were rattled and bothered by the racket of the windmill vibrating down through the hull all night.  It charges up the batteries, but sometimes it just makes too much noise. In part too, we didn’t leave because we were unsettled about where to go–we’d have liked to head further north, but realistically speaking, we are running out of time for that before we have to head back and get me to the airport (something neither of us really wants to think about, and so we try to pretend it won’t happen), and then too there’s the matter of wanting to meet up with our friend Brian Cullen and his partner and her daughter on Quadra Island–they’re supposed to arrive tomorrow.  So time to make the rapids ran out and anyway the coffee was so tasty and the sunlight so warm, the light golden on the mountains, who really wanted to haul anchor and go somewhere else anyway?  Terns swooped through the air crying sharply, then an eagle skidded across the water and took up watch on a tall cedar opposite us.  The wind had ceased and the cove was quiet, the water like a mirror….and somewhere on land we could hear a stream tumbling over rocks.  So we decided to stay put, and planned a walk later in the day to see if we could find the stream, and perhaps some berries…and of course, to see what we could see.

First however, we emptied and defrosted the freezer/refrigerator, sorted garbage so that we could take burnables ashore later, and did other housekeeping tasks of that sort–downloading and ordering photos and videos, backing up, etc… Happy to be HOT in the sun.

Finally we went ashore and walked steep logging roads (almost vertical in places–we seem to have climbed a kilometer at one point).  There were indeed berries–lots of juicy red thimbleberries–they resemble raspberries but are sweeter and seedier and round–and plenty of fresh bear scat around.  So we ate a few berries and whooped as we walked, as Brian taught us, so as not to startle the bears, and give them time to get away if they were there.  Really though, I think we sounded like a couple of Canada geese, calling calling calling, first one then the other, whoop! whoop!  whoop! whoop!  In any case, we did not see any bears, just massive clearcuts and more logging roads than we could imagine….and a sign marking off an area of the road that had been sprayed with herbicide in mid-July–part of a “conifer release treatment plan” (!).  It warned against eating any plants or berries in that section, and indeed, any leafy thing there was brown and dead or dying…part of industrial silvaculture’s bag of tricks–get rid of every kind of vegetation that they will not eventually want to harvest again.

Then back down to the shore, where we burned our paper garbage below the high tide line, found a hose bearing water from a spring (fresh water, for boats!), and realized that the water was warm and almost fresh at the head of the bay–we SHOULD have gone swimming!  But the mountain shadow was already falling over us, so…tomorrow….morning, in the sun.

Barbecued chicken for supper (in fact, fajitas), and we sat in the cockpit and watched the moon rise over the water then over the mountains in the purple light.  Another beautiful day in BC.

Lots and lots of love and many ear cuddles and kisses to S and D, xoxoxo k & m

12 August 2011

Almost time to come home…

Hi Zebra,

We are anchored in Teakerne Arm, a large inlet that bites into West Redonda Island, and the night sky is so light we can see the mountains reflected in the water.  Still so much light, and it is after 10pm on an August evening.

Teakerne Arm is famous for its waterfall, Cassel Lake Falls, which pours over a sheer black cliff with huge force–the spray creates shifting rainbows around the bottom of the falls. A large deep lake in the bowl of the mountains feeds the lake and you can climb up the hill to the lake to swim.  The water is sweet, warm, delicious–perfect.

Teakerne Arm is deep and the stone pyramids nearly straight up above the water, so finding a spot to anchor is challenging, partly because so many people were already anchored in the vicinity of the falls, and partly because there just aren’t very many ready anchorages in these fjords.  We finally dropped the hook in the easternmost arm of this two-pronged inlet quite a distance from the falls and environs in nearly 60 feet of water.

After watching our anchor for a bit, we put the engine on the dinghy and scooted towards the falls–crowded!–then climbed up a steep path to lake. The sun was still high, even hot, and lots of people were there arrayed on the cliffsides sunning, families, dogs, numerous kids leaping into the water off of the steep drop off.  We swam halfway across the lake and then back and sat on the rocks and watched the dogs play until we were dry, then came back to the boat. On the way back to the boat we stopped to speak to the couple–and their lovely wolfdog– on the only other boat moored in the cove with us, and they invited us aboard for a drink.  Lots of interesting stories–one of the best was about how one evening, going home after a cocktail party, Nona shot a moose and then field-dressed it right there in her blue sequined pant suit!  Never got a drop of blood on it, she claimed, though her husband, Brian, begged to differ.  They’re real northerners, know how to live in the bush and from the land, and love this country and love being on the water.  Very courageous, interesting, thoughtful people (though I know a story about butchering a moose doesn’t right off say “thoughtful”).

Like so many of the people we’ve met here.  And undertaking!  That’s lovely. Everything seems possible.

As for our indecision about where to go–the place our last letter left off–here’s what happened:

Tuesday, we’d sailed from Frances Bay along Raza Island to Calm Channel, which was indeed calm, so we brought in the sails and motored toward Von Donop Inlet, on Cortes Island, a deep winding creek really, into which people drive their boats.  We’d heard so much about this place we thought we had to go there.  But on closer inspection, it seemed likely to be claustrophobic and jammed with people–4 stinkpots headed in in quick succession during the time we were looking–so we motored on by.  We thought to go to  Evans Bay on Read Island and then decided just to head to Heriot Bay on Quadra with the hope of meeting up with Brian, Candace and Avi.

After a comedy of errors–no cell service on parts of Quadra, so figuring out how and where to find someone on a large island you’d not made prior (old-fashioned) rendez-vous plans with was a challenge.  In the meantime, we managed to get on wifi and I was able to change my ticket and we looked after very bits of business, and then went grocery shopping (ice cream! YUM!)  We finally met up with Bri and Candace and Avi Wednesday–we had a picnic, walked about town picking berries and talking, and then they took off to go kayaking with their friend Michelle, while we went back to the boat to start dinner.  They all showed up a couple of hours later in the kayaks–quite a hilarious circus getting 3 adults and one child stabilized and up the ladder to the boat (and then later back again), but we sorted it out. Great fun talking and laughing and plotting our next meeting (Brian and Candace are coming to NS in late October).

While on Quadra we managed to take on some water and book Marike a ticket home with me–another challenge since on Wednesday, a gravel truck had overturned, taking out power on the island, so no cell service, no internet, no wifi…I called and booked the ticket from a pay phone! (Imagine, a place that still has them and they work!)

So that’s much of our news…We may stay here another day and go swimming again (early, so longer), then “head for the barn” as Jay says…ie. back to Canoe Cove where we’ll ready the boat to be hauled and for the rest of the work to be done and then come home…..

Sad to be turning towards leaving this stunning countryside just as we are beginning to discover some of its wilder, more extraordinary spaces, but we’ll just have to dream about those all winter.

You must be preparing, mentally if nothing else, to leave for Italy.  How are you managing at Quoddy?  We miss you terribly–at every turn we say oh, Zebra is going to love this.  And you will.

More soon, lots and lots of love and hugs and kisses and ear scratches to S and D and they to you, well, without the ear scratches maybe…

xooxoxK & M

13 August 2011

HI Mom, hi Zebra,

Another day in Teakerne Arm–today we swam across the lake and back, probably close to a mile–wonderful!  But on our way towards the falls and the path up to lake, we saw that this silent part of the bay where we are was suddenly, at one end, filled with boats!  And then we discovered why: there were orcas and these were whale watching boats.  A male (huge! with a six or seven foot dorsal fin, tipped to one side) and a female and a young orca, diving, blowing, rolling–just lovely. We watched them for quite a time, mesmerized.  And then headed off for our swim.

When we got back to the boat a couple of hours later, our neighbours had plenty to tell us.  You spent the day cleaning your boat, Brian said to Marike, but now it’s covered in whale spit!  Turns out a female orca came in at high tide and swam all around our boats, dove under them, rubbed herself on the anchor chains (they do this on rocks to rid themselves of barnacles and parasites) & in general put on a show.  The visiting grand-daughters were excited beyond belief and also told us all about it.  We didn’t think, until later (now everyone is asleep) to ask, and what did the dogs do?  I’ve never seen the like in all my life Brian said.  And we missed it.  Not sorry for the swim, but wow, what a thing!  We both somehow knew as we were going away that the whales would come to us–hope they do again!

All day the loons have been calling.  Meant to ask if that presaged a change in weather here too, as it does at home, but the whale stories put that question clean out of our minds.  We’ll just have to listen (as usual) to the weather report.

Tomorrow we start the journey back south to put the boat up and prepare ourselves to come home.  It seems impossibly sad to leave this wonderful place in the world so soon, but we’ll be back!!!

Lots and lots of love,

xoxoxoxoxK & M

PS Z. Poor puppy suffering from hotspots. Have to make sure she’s very dry, esp around the hips and the spots.  We’re very very sorry to miss you–but will talk with you on the phone before you go to Italy, hoping you have a splendid time.  What else?  If Richard hasn’t started to paint the studio yet, please be sure to tell him to prime the “bald” spots with a metal primer.  M says, and I agree, that she thinks of how much you would love it here.  We count on you coming here with us next year!

15 August 2011

Hi Zebra, hi Mom,

We’re finally underway, back south, after a fitful start yesterday.  We’d heard the loons calling two nights ago and wondered, does that mean a change of weather, the way it would at home?  Our anchorage in the east bight of Teakerne Arm was calm as a cup of tea, utterly protected from the winds blasting elsewhere.  A wet southeasterly was building, one sort of weather people here fear–rain, storms, chop.  We turned the corner and had 20 knots on the nose and spray. Old enough salts finally we are to say, we won’t beat into this, and so we motored 5 or 6 miles down the Lewis channel to Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island, a place we’d thus far avoided like the plague since guidebooks said the cove could house “100 boats” on summer nights. It is also, however, a “good all-weather anchorage with good holding in sticky mud”–exactly what we were looking for.

When we arrived there were just 30 boats or so in the rather large basin.  We dropped the hook, ate a bite of lunch, read a bit (I finally finished Snow Falling on Cedars–a beautiful, moving book about the Pacific Northwest–I GET it finally!), slept a bit, and because it still wasn’t raining, decided to go for one of the hikes through the woods from this cove to Von Donop (another popular anchorage you’ll remember that we snubbed–we thought we’d go see what all the fuss was about).

We rowed to shore and set off.  Up hill, downhill, monkeybarring under and over HUGE cedar logs almost as wide as I am tall (here and there slots were cut into them so you didn’t slip downwards when the wood got slippery), ferns, hanging green moss, the scent of cedar, mushrooms, creekbottom, wolf…The walk went on and on, much further than we’d expected, but because it was beautiful, and raindrops whispered far above on the canopy and the squirrels called and chattered and so did an osprey, and anyway, we wanted to see where this trail led, we continued.

Finally we arrived at the Von Donop lagoon, which leads to the side off of the anchorage.  Still dank murky shallow water: a stinking swamp in short.  Okay, not much here to see.  On to the next (poorly marked) arm of the hike, to Von Donop proper.  2 miles and much monkeybarring later, we arrived there on an equally dismal swampy stinking shore, but this puddle was full of boats and sunken trees and trash.  I took a picture to remind us how glad we should be we didn’t go there.

Then back, up and down–it was now nearly 3 hours after we’d set out and we were getting tired and it was getting late.  Which turn did we take? Oops.  Backtracking, puzzling, finally we find it, and come to the next intersection…Luckily, despite our worries and the grey sunless evening sky and thick forest canopy, our senses of direction were intact–and I was carrying water, gatorade and a fruit bar–so we made it back to the dinghy four hours after setting out, a bit muddy, breathless, hungry and relieved–to find the dingy floating where we’d tied it, high to a branch along a steep shore flooded with tide.  Marike finally fashioned a huge tree arm to fetch the painter and draw it in so she didn’t have to swim to the vessel.  In she hopped, feet not wet at all and rowed over to fetch me.

Back to the boat–by this time 100 boats WERE in the cove and it was raining.  We grilled a pizza on the bbq and watched while one boat, decked out in umbrellas and dancing people with costumes, paraded around the anchorage playing music.  One full tour and then lights out–an unbelievably calm night.

Huge rains.  We spent the morning letting things dry a bit and waiting for the seas to calm–blueberry pancakes and bacon for Marike, Beethoven’s Quartets–finally at 11:30, after listening to the weather again, we decided we could make it to Sturt’s Bay on Texada without too much trouble, and so we have.  The last 2 hours were a slog against rising winds and currents and chop, but nothing too serious really–slow going more than anything.  Spots of rain–and in the distance, storms over Vancouver Island.  The worst thing was the wash from passing power boats (ugh) especially a huge one belonging to someone in the royal family, steaming out from the royals’ hideaway, Twin Islands, SE of Cortes Island.

The wind and waves have settled now, the tide has turned–we expect the NW winds to begin tonight and these should carry us back, well we hope.  The full moon has risen and glows, yellow above us and the dark points of the firs on shore.

We’re going to TRY to make it to Nanaimo tomorrow if the winds and weather cooperate–if not, probably Lasqueti Island.  We’ll let you know!

Lots and lots of love, & special treats and kisses and ear scratches to S and D!

xoxxoxK & M

16 August 2011

Dear Zebra,

We are disconsolate to have left Desolation Sound, and sadder still to be missing you.  So much to tell you and it will have to wait.  We are in Nanaimo now–anchored after a day spent mostly motoring–very very light winds and calm seas.  One more day and we’ll be in Canoe Cove, scrambling to get everything done.  The nights are warm now, and still long, lazy, sweet–so long as there is light, people are out in the harbour moving about in boats.

Thinking about you, wondering how you’re doing, glad that you’ve sorted things out with Betsy (okay, great to be picked up by her–we’ll call her and tell her the details)…Missing you so much and puppy and Dante.

Look after yourself on this trip, be careful with yourself–try not to beat self up or fall down or get hurt or too hot–we worry about you (and the ever speedy Francoise). Hope this is a lovely, beautiful interesting trip–we look forward to traveling vicariously with you on google earth!

M says the same.  And every day miss you and see things and say, oh Zebra would love that.  Can hardly wait to show you everything next year.  Give our love to Francoise, Jean-Gabriel & Paule, and ask them to take good care of you.  Remember to bring GOOD WALKING SHOES.

Bon voyage, and love love love love love love love love love xoxoxoxoxoxo K & M

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About Karin Cope

Karin Cope divides her time between Nova Scotia and British Columbia. She is a poet, sailor, photographer, videographer, writer, activist, blogger and Associate Professor at NSCAD University. Her publications include Passionate Collaborations: Learning to Live with Gertrude Stein, a poetry collection entitled What we're doing to stay afloat, and, since 2009, a photo/poetry blog entitled Visible Poetry: Aesthetic Acts in Progress.
This entry was posted in 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Letters hither and home

  1. Betsy Wilson says:

    I love this , keep them coming
    hugs to all
    L
    B
    july 8th/12

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