July 1-5: Nanaimo to Neville
thumbnail June 29 -- Provisions waiting to be stowed -- OK, I overprovisioned a bit! but we weren't sure what the weather would be like or how long it might be between grocery opportunities. We approached the cruise with varied feelings. Jon was eager to go, full of anticipation, like a kid waiting for summer vacation to start; I felt more doubt and trepidation, knowing it would be challenging (for both of us, but particularly me) to be stuck in FM's small claustrophobic cabin for 6 weeks. Jon was more worried about possible Events (grounding, mechanical failure, weather), but I have great faith in our ability to handle a crisis well; I agree with Chekov that it's the day-to-day living that really gets you down, partiicularly in close quarters! Mostly I feared days of heavy cloud cover and rain; I had brought some books, but not nearly enough for a week or two of inclement weather. It seemed to me that six weeks on a small boat (that at least one of us didn't really love) could be a rather intense test of a relationship barely a year old. I feared that I might find it intolerable and have to bail on the trip somewhere along the way; I wondered if we would come back "divorced." (It's been known to happen in the maritime world)... Jon just worried whether the boat would sink.

thumbnail As we left, we saw our friend Terry Marshall in his junk schooner <i>Windcircle</i> (a Saugeen Witch in Corten steel), heading for Vancouver or maybe Gibsons. Alas it made my heart ache, wishing I were sailing Taz. <i>Full Moon</i> is a pretty little troller with tons of character and class; but she's not a sailboat (snif), and her accommodations are way beyond Spartan and over the border into "penitential" territory. However, Taz wasn't checked out enough to undertake such a long journey, and <i>Full Moon</i> was a known and trusted vessel.

thumbnail We also saw Jon's friend Kris with his lovely Wahl boat <i>Linda Gail</i>, with old Ray Sorheim (lifelong friend of Ken Singer, the original owner of <i>Full Moon</i>) along for a day's fishing. Ray gave us the big wave, out on deck sweeping his white hat back and forth at arm's length. I went out on our own afterdeck and waved back. I like Ray a lot; he's one of my favourite people on the waterfront.

thumbnail One of the very few comfortable places to sit and scribble in my journal: the cabin doorway.

thumbnail Fairly typical Strait of Georgia scenery. The first night we stopped at Hardy Island (not to be confused with Port Hardy!). I was rather homesick and tired and blue already, and when we anchored I discovered that the afterdeck had leaked, and sea water had rained all over my live vegetables in their plastic tubs; they were all standing in salt water! I was completely demoralised, fearing we had lost all our fresh produce before we even started; but I washed them off and refilled the tubs with fresh water from our tanks, and by some miracle almost all of them survived.

thumbnail Our next stop (July 2) was Savary, a lovely sand dune of an island barely breaking the surface of the Strait. Savary's known for its long unbroken beaches -- this gives you some idea... (photo by JK) I got off the boat for a few hours of blessed quiet and solitude, and we made a joint expedition for swimming and sitting in the sun a while (there wouldn't be much sun where we were going!).

thumbnail I confess I love Savary, even though it's a relatively crowded vacation spot encrusted with beach cottages. I love the extensive sandy shoals that reach out for a quarter mile and more in places. You can be in knee deep water quite far off the beach, as in some tropical atolls and banks. It would be fun to snorkel here -- Savary is a strangely Caribbean spot to find in the midst of coastal BC. Yep, I love it here and could have spent several happy days just wading and kayaking and swimming in the shallows. I resolved then and there to bring Taz to Savary this same summer. (photo by JK)

thumbnail After Hardy and Savary, our next stop (July 3) was Shoal Bay. Here the weather was idyllic -- hot and sunny -- and we paddled ashore in the kayaks to explore a bit.

thumbnail Shoal Bay is the home of a sociable, slightly eccentric gentleman -- Mark Macdonald -- who maintains a homestead, the dock, and a restaurant for passing cruisers. You can pay him for a meal with cash, or you can put in some hours of labour around the homestead; here we see visitors working in the extensive vegetable garden. Other cruisers were sighted with hammers, maintaining the walkways. We were invited to the pig roast that evening, but felt we should be moving on with the favourable tide...

thumbnail ... despite considerable temptation to hang about and relax. We were on a schedule; with only six weeks to make our round trip, we couldn't stay long in any one anchorage. In retrospect this was both a wise and unwise policy. It was wise because it would have broken my heart to run out of summer before I could get Taz out for a cruise, so I needed to get back by mid-August. It was unwise because we pushed ourselves hard (to the point of fatigue) and didn't get to fully enjoy most of the places we anchored. Next summer, I keep saying, I want to be far less goal-oriented, unscheduled -- just drift about aimlessly, spending as long as we care to in anyplace we enjoy. Hard and fast schedules are the enemy of happy cruising, I suspect; certainly they are implicated in many tales of total loss.

thumbnail Full Moon anchored off Shoal Bay. I believe it was here that the proprietor said -- in jest, but the compliment was sincere -- that he should pay Jon to keep the boat here a while, as she improved the view! Though I can find much fault with FM's accommodations and her damnable engine, I couldn't agree more about her lines and her looks. By some happy accident she is one of the prettiest trollers the Wahls ever built, and attracts admiration wherever she goes.

thumbnail July 4 -- We moved on to Port Neville, where one survivor of the original homesteading family still runs an outpost with a government dock and post office. We arrived just around sunset. [Perhaps I should explain that our arrival and departure times are largely driven by tides; this part of the coast is a maze of channels with quite strong tidal currents, and we can improve our fuel efficiency by some 30 percent (not to mention enjoy some fast and fun rides) by catching the favourable tides through various rapids and channels.]

thumbnail The bush, fern, or sapling trying to grow out of the top of an old piling became a visual signature of the central and northern coast for me. At first it caught my eye, seeming surreal or comical; but after a week or two it seemed quite normal for pilings and piers to be sprouting, turning back into forest. "Life wants to live." I find it encouraging, personally, to see human-made structures swiftly morphing back into forest.

thumbnail Government docks always have red railings. The dock leads straight as a ruler to the old General Store and Post Office, a log structure. (photo by JK)

thumbnail The more recent family farmhouse at Port Neville has a very cosy, homey look in the dusk (photo by JK). It would be hard to imagine a more idyllic setting for a homestead.

thumbnail Moonrise in Port Neville.

thumbnail July 5 -- From Neville we moved on to Crease Island in the Broughtons. This island group is much touted as a cruising destination; I suppose it is pleasant enough, but my casual impression was of flatness, mud, and mist.

thumbnail The breathless mornings, however, offered wonderful reflections of the rocky shore in mirror-still water. I am still convinced that the striking symmetry of these reflections must have had some influence on traditional indigenous art: Haida designs in particular observe a rigid, austere and perfect symmetry.

thumbnail Reflections became a recurring theme in my photographs.

thumbnail Some of the tiny islets were picturesque as a Japanese woodcut.

thumbnail Kayaking in these waters offered a series of perfect miniature landscapes. Often I would feel that I was kayaking through the sky. Beneath the water though, things didn't always look so good; I noticed some odd algal-looking growth, a change of colour underwater, a yellowing in places, overgrowth of some species and a paucity of others. The Broughtons are infested with "fish farms" -- a subject I'll come back to later -- and other kayakers confirm that they are seeing visible damage to the marine ecosystem there from the fish-farm effluent.

thumbnail Under way again, in mist and nearly dead calm. Jon thinks this is Minnie Island.

thumbnail The view ahead...

thumbnail ... and the view astern, featureless but for our wake. Motoring through flat calm I found rather tedious. Without incident or tricky navigation to distract me, I am plagued by <i>Full Moon</i>'s engine -- noisy as a pack of devils from the Pit! I spent our motoring hours wearing earplugs or industrial ear muffs, and even so it was fairly awful. I stayed out on deck (as far from the engine as I could get) whenever the weather permitted, but the engine noise was a constant strain on me and impaired my ability to enjoy the view. Jon seemed to find it more irritating than oppressive; but I found it quite fatiguing after 6 or 7 hours.

thumbnail The seascape becomes so soft and gray at times, the surface such a mirror, that it's hard to say where sky ends and sea begins. The only hard and defined line is our bow wave. These mysterious light and reflection effects were my solace during long hours of motoring in flat calm. (There is a horizon in this picture, but you have to look hard to see it!) It's getting cooler and damper as we cross into the new climate regime. Too chilly to stay out on deck for very long, and too noisy in the cabin to concentrate on anything; I can barely read a book in the constant din.

thumbnail Thank goodness -- in the middle of gray nowhere, White-Sided Porpoises arrive to play with the boat. These appealing small cetaceans enjoy fooling around with moving vessels; they can outswim a 6-knot boat like FM easily, and delight in crisscrossing our bow, jumping across our path and diving under the forefoot, etc. They never fail to delight me; all boredom and engine noise forgotten, I would race forward with the camera and try to capture their apparently joyous play.

thumbnail A porpoise "surfing" our bow wave.

thumbnail "Neener Neener," they seem to say, "We can swim faster than you can."

thumbnail Elegant little creatures, beautifully marked. Any sighting of any of the family Cetaceae makes us happy, and these jolly little acrobats are a particular delight. They would cheer me up instantly when I was gritting my teeth and counting the hours to the next anchorage!