Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Deep Blue Sea at Night, in the Fog---and Relief

Pardon my absence from blogging last night, despite the availability of Internet. I was recuperating, rebalancing my nervous system, and resting my tired body. We survived two days and a night of sailing straight through gray seas, rolling swells ranging from a few feet high to 10-12 feet, and heavy fog, with visibility as low as 100 feet from the boat. We could see seabirds swimming at our side, but that was about it. (Note: pictures do not capture the size of the waves nor the grayness of our surroundings.)


We had motored most of the day, in fog, but sailed all night--also in fog--in order to save fuel. Needless to say, the experience was somewhat stressful.

For three of us crew members, that was our first experience with both ocean sailing and with night sailing. We took turns sleeping, steering, and keeping vigil on the boat deck--watching for other boats, floating logs and kelp, whales getting ready adds to chomp on our rudder, and other potential obstacles to a safe and successful passage.

While out in the ocean, anyone who comes outside to the cockpit or boat deck wears a life jacket and secures himself or herself to the boat with a harness--a long strap with carabiner clips at each end. Not only is this an essential safety measure in blue-water sailing--a man overboard would not be seen for more than a couple of seconds in big waves and ocean currents. In the dark and in the fog, it also adds a measure of mental stability, especially for we novices.

We had pulled off the dock at Bull Harbor, Hope Island (see previous blog) at 6 am Sunday. Hope Island is at the northern tip of Vancouver Island. We never saw the sun, though the stars were visible for a brief moment during the night. Around that time, we saw the lights of a handful of large commercial ships, including a cruise ship, probably headed for Alaska. After another 3/4 day of slogging through fog, the skies began to clear as we docked in Tofino, halfway down the west coast, at 3 pm Monday, after about 160 miles of sailing straight through.

Tofino is a pleasant tourist town and a fishing settlement; the docks are populated by charter fishing boats taking clients out for salmon and halibut, later cleaned on the docks, and Vietnamese immigrants in metal boats catching Dungeness crab.

Tofino has shops, restaurants, and coffee shops; beaches; and a trail through the rain forest.

Tofino is sunny and warm. We are all smiles. We are so content, in fact, we are staying here two nights! Onward to Victoria next.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Amber,
    Tofino must have been very welcome after the stressful part of that leg. Beautiful photos of it!