Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I sure wish I could vote out here

I realized yesterday that we’re smack dab in the middle of the riding where Elizabeth May lives.  She hasn’t been elected by these good people yet but that doesn’t say anything about their sanity because they haven’t been tested yet either.  In Buchanan Gary Breitkreutz will get in by acclamation so our vote won’t really matter but there just might be enough loony-tunes out here to elect this very stupid woman.  I’d love to be able to vote against her.

American readers won’t know who Elizabeth May is and that’s your good fortune.  I won’t bore anyone with details of her wasted life because she simply isn’t worth the bandwidth.  Suffice it to say that she’s a really stupid woman who is currently milking the publicity out of getting excluded from the leaders’ debate again.  I suppose the media will roll over – again – and let her in.  There should be a two person debate between Harper and Iggie.  They’ve got the only two platforms that matter unless we’re to believe that this will be the year of the big Lib collapse and NDP breakthrough. 

One thing’s for dead certain sure.  No matter what happens on election day Elizabeth May will still be stupid the morning after.  And her opinion won’t matter any more then than it does now.

I love Google

I freely admit that I’m a fan and I’m hooked.  If Google is taking over the world then I’m a pawn in their path and I’ve been taken.  It’s a rare day goes by that I don’t use Google software at least once during the day and usually multiple times.  And of all the things they give me I love Picasa the most.

Picasa just finally finished identifying all the faces in the thousands of images I have on my hard drive.  On the weekend I still had over 5900 “unknown” faces but tonight that number is down to around 200.  That seems like a manageable number.  5900 was intimidating because, wonderful as Picasa is, it still requires some user input to figure out who everyone is.

It was fun to watch as Picasa sorted everyone out.  Some of the connections it made were obvious.  Mother was a Dickey and the 5 Dickey sisters all looked a lot alike.  Sometimes I have to look at old photos a couple of times before I’m sure if I’m looking at Mother or one of her sisters.  Some of the connections weren’t so immediately obvious though.  Even when I couldn’t see the similarities the software often identified an image as a different family member which seemed understandable.  Then there were the extreme outliers like when it identified an image of Karla as my mother.  I’m sure either of them would have been flattered by the error but its hard for me to see where the similarity came from.

What always amazes me about that software is how it can take images of me at 10 years old and reconcile them with current images and still relatively consistently continue to recognize both as being the same person.  It is exactly that age progression that prompted this post.  Once I got the images sorted by person I let it make some collages of a few family members, deliberately selecting an assortment of images over the lifetime of the person in question.

As I watched Picasa sorting through the pictures I was struck by how we remember people according to our most recent image of them.  Our parents are old and gray and stooped in our mind’s eye, yet for the largest portion of our time with them they were none of the above.



I didn’t bother doing a collage of the cat – he doesn’t change much.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Really big things

It’s a western Canadian thing I think.  In our travels around North America we have occasionally seen really big things masquerading as tourist attractions in other areas but western Canada seems to be obsessed with really big things.  I expect the conversation at the local economic development meeting goes something like this:

“We need more tourism because all our farmers are dying off or moving to the city and we don’t have any other real economic drivers”

“But why would anybody in their right mind come to East Overshoe when they could go to some really cool place like Vegreville or Davidson?”

“What’s so cool about Vegreville?”

“Well ………………………..…. they’ve got that really big egg.”

And the conversation deteriorates from there until Lars the local welder gets hired to build a really big overshoe out of scrap iron. 

Fans of Corner Gas will remember the episode where the lackluster mayor of Dog River proposes that the town should build something really big to attract tourists.  The mayor’s desire for a really big thing is in response to neighbouring Woolerton’s construction of their own really big thing.  As the plot unfolds, or perhaps I should say “unwinds” the town decides to build a really big hoe to commemorate the residents’ love of gardening.  This of course leaves plenty of room for the local sophisticates to make bad puns about the choice of a big dirty hoe as the town’s chief attraction.

Several years ago now the Nipawin Chamber of Commerce came up with the wildly original idea that the town should have a really big jackfish.  In Nipawin’s case the town already has a tourism industry and a large part of that tourism is driven by the lowly jackfish (“northern” or “n’athuns” to my American readers”) so there was a certain logic to the unimaginative notion.  But come on – who really wants to see a giant rusty jackfish leaping out of the unmowed quackgrass by the roadside?

Parkside’s lily is a good example of what happens when the initial enthusiasm over the idea wanes.

The sign is weathered and the lily is starting to fade but its still there and successive village councils will have to either scrape up the funds to keep it looking attractive or figure out how to gracefully retire it.  One of the main charms of real lilies is that they look nice for a week or so and then have the grace to die and fade away forever.  Welded lilies have no such consideration.

The giant coffee pot at Davidson is one of the more bizarre “attractions” we’ve come across.  Davidson’s main claim to fame for the last 50 years has been that it is a convenient place to pee midway between Regina and Saskatoon.  For years the town managed to resist efforts to move the divided highway outside town but time moved on and the town became just another prairie town that was bypassed by the freeway.  Its not hard to imagine the logic which concluded that hiring the local welding shop to build a huge coffee pot would restore the town’s reputation as a stopping place.

I don’t have a picture of the mining truck at Castlegar but it’s a good example of a real really big thing.  Real really big things seem more honest.  At least they look authentic and they usually have some direct connection to the town’s history.  At the other extreme would be the giant plaster moose standing beside #1 highway outside Moose Jaw, SK.  An obvious play on the town’s name the moose is nevertheless woefully out of proportion.  A real moose confirms that the creator has a sense of humour.  The real moose looks like he was assembled from spare parts left over after the rest of the creatures were created with spindly legs that look woefully inadequate to hold his ungainly upper body.  The plaster moose suffers from no such problem.  His legs look like redwood stumps and are clearly up to the task of supporting his misshapen body.  Just to keep everything in context the moose stands next to a fighter jet.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Nav 101–Track Made Good

We dealt with some serious currents in Haro Strait going to and coming from Anacortes.  I’ve known about track made good and how to calculate it since I was about 12 years old but I’ve never seen it so clearly illustrated as it was on this trip.  Father was taking ground school and I used to study his lessons with him in the evening.  I always loved the logical certainty of geometry and conceptually its pretty simple to plot a course but its weird to see it in action.  When the current vector is close in size to the course vector then its really dramatic.  If you’ve already taken navigation then this is going to be pretty elementary and you may want to watch the news instead.  If not, read on.


Don’t get intimidated by big words like “vector”.  That’s just a 64 dollar word for arrow.  The direction of the arrow represents the direction of something – your course or the current in this case.  The length of the vector is scaled to represent your speed.  If you were doing this exercise ahead of time, which would be the most useful way to do it, then you would plot these in a different order but I think its easier to understand how it works if we start from the end and work back to the beginning. 

This morning we started at the exit of Guemes Channel, on the east side of Rosario Strait.  That point is the “W” in “We start” on the drawing.  The first thing we know is the current, in this case it was about 4 knots out of the north so we draw a blue arrow 4 knots long, pointing south.  Don’t get hung up on how long 4 knots is – it could be 4 inches, 4 centimeters or (if you have a really big sheet of paper) 4 yards long.  It just needs to be 4 somethings and then you need to use the same somethings for all the other measurements.  We had to steer significantly north of west in order to actually travel a little south of west, which is represented by the red arrow pointing west northwest.  Our speed was roughly 6 knots so this arrow is 1-1/2 times the length of the blue arrow to keep everything to scale. 

The brown arrow on top is just the sum of the other two arrows.  You could measure it to see what your actual speed over the water was and in this case it would be roughly equal to the boat speed.  The direction is determined by the current flowing down and the boat going generally west. 


I took the picture above somewhere in the middle of the strait.  You can see that the bow of the boat is no way pointing toward the channel which is visible in the lower left corner of the windshield yet that is in fact exactly where we were headed.  If you look closely at the nav screen there are two lines.  The top line is the plotted route with various waypoints in it.  You can distinguish it from the second line because it bends to follow from one waypoint to the next.  The lower line is a predictor line that the software creates based on our actual travel direction.  It takes the direction we are actually moving and projects that out 30 minutes ahead of us.  If you can make all that out the bow of the boats is pointing maybe 20 degrees north of the channel but the predictor line says we are actually moving directly toward the channel.  It was a pretty clear demonstration of crab steering.

Now in the real world you would solve this drawing a little differently.  You wouldn’t know where you had to point the boat in advance.  In fact calculating where to point the boat would be the whole object of the exercise.  In that case you would draw exactly the same drawing.  You would draw the blue line for the current and starting from the exact same place you started the blue line you would draw the brown arrow for your desired track made good with the length of the line representing your desired speed.  Then you would connect those two lines (with the red arrow) to determine what direction to point the boat and how fast to power it.  If you ended up with a speed that was impossible then you would have to adjust the length of the desired track made good vector.  Or in other words, you wouldn’t make as good a speed as you initially wanted.  QED as father used to say.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Anacortes boat show

There wasn’t much to the boat show but we really didn’t go there for the boat show anyway so it wasn’t any great disappointment.  We went there primarily to get fuel, which we got in Roche Harbor immediately after clearing customs.  There wouldn’t have been any reason to go on to Anacortes except that there was the boat show, which didn’t turn out to be all that special and there was Chuck.

Chuck, you may remember, is one of the former owners of Gray Hawk and was our pilot from Seattle to Anacortes back in January when we moved Gray Hawk home.  We had been looking for an excuse to go back to Anacortes to see him and his wife.  As it turned out Gail was off to Hawaii with Alaskan Air so we didn’t get to see her but despite Gail’s assurances that Chuck couldn’t boil water he fed us a fine meal of barbequed ribs the night we arrived.

That was Saturday when we arrived.  Sunday we wandered around the floating part of the boat show.  Not that there was much show beyond the floating part.  Then we retired to Chuck’s current boat, Bolero, for drinks and visiting. 

I’ve been watching the boatyard in Anacortes build tugs like the one in the photo above for a couple of years now.  For a while I thought it was the same boat with very little progress being made on it but now I realize that it has been a series of tugs built to the same design which I have just happened to witness at similar stages of construction.

The yard in Anacortes looks to be really busy.  This morning when we walked uptown to the second hand store there were dozens of vehicles parked outside the fence at the boatyard.  The recession doesn’t appear to have hit that yard.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


In Douglas Adam’s own words “the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy itself has outsold the Encyclopedia Galactica because it is slightly cheaper, and because it has the words "Don't Panic" in large, friendly letters on the cover.”  That advice seems particularly apropos in the week following the Japanese earthquake as we listen to the ongoing nuclear disaster that some would have us believe is occurring in that country.

The graphic above captured from PassageWeather.com illustrates the problem for those of us in North America and particularly those of us on the west coast of Canada.  Disregarding the two disturbances off the BC coast, the general flow of the wind is east to west from about La Paz and west to east starting at Japan and following the Aleutians around to Vancouver Island.  If something bad happens in Japan the wind is clearly going to bring it to us.  Those of you that are inland are likely OK because the rain will wash it out of the atmosphere as the wind comes over the coastal mountain ranges but those of us out here on the wet coast are going to get the radioactive fallout if the worst happens.

The big question though is what is really going on.  Leaving aside for a minute the distinct possibility that the Japanese government and their nuclear generating companies may be deliberately misleading the media, we are still subject to media misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the situation. 

“Nuclear” is such an emotional word which makes it hard to trust at face value any news report involving the word.  As near as I can tell the shutdown procedures at the reactors worked as they were designed to which means that the rods got inserted to shut down the reaction.  What I don’t completely understand is the physics and mechanics of the process after that happens.  Some talking head was on the radio this morning claiming that “7% of the reaction” continues indefinitely after the shutdown.  That was his explanation of why the core continues to generate heat even after a shutdown but it doesn’t make sense.  If that was really true then you could never stop a nuclear reaction, ever.  And that simply isn’t logical or consistent with history.  We know that reactors have been shutdown and decommissioned so that explanation is either just wrong or so over-simplified as to not be useful to me.

Actually the correct terminology for what happened in Japan is that the reactor was “SCRAMed”.  SCRAM has been adopted in engineering lexicon for any rapid shutdown but the original etymology is Safety Control Rod Axe Man (some sources say “Safety Cut Rope Axe Man”)Originally SCRAM referred to the guy standing above the Chicago Pile (the first nuclear reactor) with an axe.  His orders were to chop the rope holding the control rods out of the reactor if the shit hit the fan. 

According to Wikipedia the post-scram problem is the secondary products of decay which continue to emit neutrons.  Emitted neutrons striking a nucleus are what keeps the reaction happening.  A reaction becomes self sustaining or critical when the emitted neutrons are sufficient to generate new fissions which in turn generate sufficient newly emitted neutrons to split another nucleus.  Fission creates primary decay products which account for the bulk of the by products and much smaller amounts of secondary decay products.  As those secondary decay products live out their half lives eventually their neutron emissions will drop below a critical level which to my limited understanding would be the point where the reaction stops being self sustaining.

What I have gleaned from all this is that when the news reports that the reactor core has been “flooded with seawater”, rather than being the last ditch desperation measure that they make it sound like, it may actually be a very measured and reasoned response to a crisis.  The goal post SCRAM is to deal with those residual neutrons from the secondary decay products.  One way of doing that is to let them live out their brief little half lives until they finally dissipate themselves naturally.  In order to do that the operators need to keep cooling water flowing through the core because it is still generating a lot of heat.  That’s apparently where the talking head’s 7% number came from.  7% is evidently a good approximation of the amount of heat relative to full production in a reactor that has been in continuous service for some extended period of time.  And 7% of an unimaginably big amount of heat is still a lot of heat to deal with.  Since it appears that the backup generators got whacked by the tsunami, running the cooling pumps hasn’t been an option.  Actually it sounds like the cooling pumps worked just fine until their backup batteries went dead.  I can certainly relate to dead batteries, having woken up enough times to a cold RV after my batteries didn’t make it through the night.

The other way of dealing with those troublesome neutrons is to absorb them with something.  And seawater apparently is a pretty good absorbent for recalcitrant neutrons, hence the decision to flood the core when cooling was no longer an option.  So what I conclude out of all this is:

  • If the shit really does hit the fan we’re in big trouble here on the BC coast.
  • The news is as usual a spectacularly bad place to get information from.
  • The plant operators are likely doing exactly what their emergency response plan tells them to do, no matter how hard the media is trying to portray them as being in a state of panic.
  • Douglas Adams was right.  As usual.

(several days later) My brother-in-law just posted this link on his Facebook page.  This is likely as good a source of intelligent information about the situation as you will find.  Concurrently with posting this update I am listening to a news report that Canadian “Health Food” stores are running out of iodine as panic buying occurs.


Friday, March 11, 2011

The tsunami tango in Sidney

I can’t claim credit for that title but its such a good one that I just had to use it and it seemed appropriate.  The title comes from an account of a cruiser who got caught in the Sumatran tsunami in 2009.  It’s a harrowing tale of death, survival and the fragility of human existence.   I bookmarked the site and I’ve read the story a couple of times.  Once you start reading it is hard to pull yourself away from it.  (I just read it again and noted that it’s a little hard to find the link to the 2nd page but if you look at the top of the page that I linked you’ll see the link to the rest of the story)

I was lying awake at around 6:00 this morning, as I often am, thinking about whether I should go back to sleep or whether I should get up and finish coating the deckbox lids.  The cat clearly thought I should get up and feed him.  My phone started ringing and when I checked the incoming number it was Marilyn.  I immediately assumed a catastrophe and answered by asking her what was wrong.  For some reason she was awake before me and had been watching the news of the earthquake in Japan.  Her sister and family live in Tokyo so we have an immediate interest in anything that happens on that side of the world.  By the time she called me her sister had already sent word via another sister that they were OK.  Marilyn was calling me to tell me that there was a tsunami warning in effect for the BC coast.

If you read Wayne’s account of the impact of the tsunami on American Samoa then you will know that his advice is to get your boat out of the marina immediately when you get the warning.  The energy of a wave is determined by its amplitude (height) and speed.  So a very big wave (like the one in Perfect Storm) travelling relatively slowly can do a lot of damage but conversely a relatively small wave travelling extremely rapidly also carries a lot of destructive energy.  In deep water a 3 foot wave travelling at several hundred miles per hour would pass harmlessly under Gray Hawk and we might not even notice it.  Its only when the speed of the wave impacts the shallow coastal waters and turns its speed into amplitude that the problems start.  So Wayne’s overwhelming advice to get the hell out of the marina was ringing in my ears as I hung up the phone this morning.

Tsunami waves travel roughly at the speed of a 747.  Anyone who has sat through a long airline flight knows that no matter how fast the plane is travelling, it still takes time to get from here to there or there to here.  So I knew the tsunami would take some time to arrive on the BC coast, I just didn’t know how long it had been on its way.  I turned the radio on and turned the volume up so I could hear it as I frantically started getting the boat ready to get underway.  Once I had the engine room battened down and the start pins pushed I felt I could relax a bit because I could leave in minutes if it turned out that was all the time I had.  By that time Marilyn had called back to tell me that she had maybe over-reacted and that even if I needed to leave I had about two hours before I needed to do so.

When I balanced the risk of leaving the marina in the dark alone against what appeared to be the negligible risk that anything was going to happen I eventually decided to stay tied up.  We’re now past the time when the tsunami should have hit here if it was going to so I guess maybe I got lucky this time. 

I’m really glad I was here to make the decision.  It would have been agonizing to be away from the boat listening to the news and helpless to deal with it directly.  At least on the boat I was occupied and felt like I was in control of my own destiny.  CBC news has interviewed a couple of harbourmasters on the west coast of the island.  Their advice to their tenants has been uniformly to leave their boat and go inland.  I guess that’s all they can advise.  Telling the marina tenants to get their boats the hell out would cause a panic and could easily create more damage from the panic than the tsunami would have.  That doesn’t change how I would react – given the choice I still think I would get the hell out, single-handed if necessary. 

When it looked like I would have to leave this morning my only concern was how I would get tied up again when I came back.  In hindsight that was pretty silly because, if I had really needed to leave, there might not have been anything to come back to.  If there were any docks left floating there would have been lots of open space cleared by the boats that would have been sitting in the parking lot.  Needless to say I’m glad it didn’t come to that.

(added later)

I’ve been listening to the news all day & I’ve synthesized a better understanding of why tsunamis are so powerful from what I knew and what I’ve learned.  I thought I had a pretty good understanding before this but maybe I didn’t.  Maybe I still don’t for that matter.

Wind waves that we normally encounter affect a relatively small portion of the water column.  If you dive below the surface of a wind torn body of water the water underneath is calm.  That’s not the case with a tsunami wave.  Its hard to imagine the impossibly great forces that initially cause the wave.  The floor of the ocean shifts such that a bulge is created on the surface of the ocean however many hundreds or thousands of meters above.  The ocean floor literally lifts that entire column of water abruptly.  The amount of energy necessary to do that is hard to imagine and that’s what makes the resulting wave so deadly. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Some days I wonder if we’re nuts ……….

………. and then I read something like this:

Swedish Ocean Racing Club - Sailing Poem

A small boy heard the ocean roar,
There are secrets on my distant shore,
But beware my child, the ship’
s bells wail,
Wait not too long to start to sail.

So quickly come and go the years,
And a young adult stands abeach with fears,
Come on, Come on the ocean cussed,
Time passes on. Oh sail you must.

Now its business in mid-aged prime,
And maybe tomorrow there will be time,
Now is too soon, it’s raining today,
Gone all gone - years are eaten away.

An old man looks, still feeling the lure,
Yet he’ll suffer the pain, than go for the cure,
The hair is white, the steps with care,
The tide has turned, he is aware.

So all too soon the secrets are buried,
Along with him and all regrets he carried,
And it’s not for the loss of secrets, he cried,
But rather because he’d never tried

Its just me and the damncat today.  Marilyn caught the early Westjet flight back into the deepfreeze yesterday morning.  Yesterday was pissing rain and howling wind in the morning and then it cleared up in the afternoon.  Today looks to be a re-run.  I’ve been trying to get a messy project out of the way while Marilyn is gone. 

When we were still in Seattle we bought two fake teak boxes for the aft deck.  They look really good back there but the lids haven’t been standing up well to the weather.  I think they might be eucalyptus wood – can’t remember – but if I told you they were teak you’d probably believe me so that part is OK.  The problem is that the lids have rails with length wise grain and a solid top with the grain crosswise.  In this soggy wet climate the cross grain has swelled and split the ends of the lengthwise grain.  I was able to dry them out and pull them back together with a Rube Goldberg affair involving ropes and pieces of wood to twist the rope and right now I’ve got one of them set up in the main salon with fibreglass and epoxy curing on it.  With a bit of effort I’ll get the 2nd one set up tonight so that it will be cured on the first side by the time I get back from boxing wine tomorrow.

Two months ago when we arrived out here we started some wine at one of BC’s wonderful little wine shops.  Jim and Judy know about wine and this is the shop they use so that’s good enough for us.  I don’t mind making wine that’s good enough to serve company, I’m just not likely to know the difference.  We’ve got one batch of “good” wine brewing that will end up getting aged in their wine cellar.  The batch I’m taking off tomorrow is for immediate drinking – fruit flavoured alcohol in other words.  I told the woman at the shop that I’ll be putting it in bags/boxes because that is clearly the most practical way to carry it on the boat.  The “good” wine will have to go in bottles because I suspect that a large part of the goodness comes from the label and the bottle.  I’m not 100% convinced that all oenophiles would know the difference if I poured some of my homemade plonk into a fancy bottle and served it with appropriate fanfare.  But I could be wrong.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Signs of spring

Spring on the prairie

Comes as a surprise

One minute there's snow on the ground

The next there's sun in your eyes

Ian Tyson

There’s a lot of signs of spring out here now. Even if there isn’t much sun in your eye its not hard to tell spring is coming to the marina. The weekend warriors are cleaning and polishing, there’s more tradesmen on the docks during the week and the brokers are out in force. There’s a bunch of broker boats tied up along the floats close to the marina and I’ve seen two showings of the same boat in the last two days. Tonight when we came back from shopping another broker was bringing a sailboat back into the slip. The boat next to us also got fired up this morning. Judging by the way it (barely) started it hasn’t been run since last summer.

Gray Hawk on the other hand will be a dock queen for at least the next week. Marilyn leaves early Tuesday morning for a Saskatchewan run and I’m neither brave enough nor foolish enough to take her out alone. I’ve got a long list of maintenance items to keep me busy while she’s gone starting with securing the deck boxes that we bought from Costco. Before I can secure them I need to do some work on the lids because, despite being advertised and sold as outdoor boxes, the lids seem inadequate for Canadian winters. Fortunately our new yacht club comes complete with a workshop so I think I will try it out this week. I had planned all along to encapsulate the lids in fibreglass but I was procrastinating doing it onboard. Now that I have access to a shop I have no more excuses.

I’ve got “Prince Albert, Saskatchewan” on order from a local print shop. The guys at the Vancouver Boat show were willing to do the print job for a mere $150 which seemed a little steep for twenty four five inch vinyl letters so I found a terrorist with a nose ring who will do exactly the same thing for $22.50. When I was buffing out the remains of “Anacortes” I could faintly see the outline of “San Francisco” so that means that the hull above the waterline hasn’t been painted for a very long time. Our understanding is that the boat came north at least 12 years ago. She was originally sold to Aldo Alessio in San Diego but at some point I believe he moved to San Francisco where there is actually now a yacht race named after him. As far as we know we are the fifth owners of the boat.

We’re not required to display our province on the transom, just the home port which in our case is Prince Albert. Ridiculous as it may seem to display a city that we could never take the boat to that’s how Transport Canada’s registry works. We would have preferred to display Buchanan but spelling out Saskatchewan will likely cause just as much entertainment.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bits and bumps

We’re getting close to home again.  Yesterday we left Nanaimo and cruised down the protected water of Stuart Channel into Sansum Narrows and on to Cow Bay.  I wimped out in the morning and decided that we should stay tied up at Newcastle Island across from Nanaimo.  Then I changed my mind and we came anyway.  The reason for my indecision was the storm that is arriving even as I type.  I expect we’ll be out of power sometime today, if not worse.  I’m glad we’ve got chafe guard on the lines – we’ll need it today.  One US forecast that I heard last night said we could expect 25 foot sustained waves but I didn’t catch exactly where that was and it sure as hell won’t be here in the protected waters on the east side of the island.  Out on the west side is another matter altogether and I expect it will get pretty nasty.  The forecasts have been using the “H” word (Hurricane).  When Jim and Judy visited last night they said that the ferries might not run today.  Already we’re rocking and rolling pretty good and the worst isn’t supposed to hit until later this morning.  We were offered a bed ashore last night but I thought we’d be better off worrying onboard than worrying away from the boat. 

I called this picture “Yellow Stick in the Ocean” because that’s what it is.  We came upon it somewhere between Comox and Nanaimo.  It seemed like it popped out of the ocean all of a sudden but I suppose it must have been there all along, I just didn’t see it until shortly before I would have run it over.  I made a sharp dogleg right and ran toward the shore for a while because it appeared that it was marking a buoy line which I assume was marking or holding up fishing nets.  There’s a large fishing boat visible on the horizon in the picture as well.  I had seen him zooming around the horizon ahead of us but didn’t expect that he was laying a trap for us.  We still have a lot to learn.

Dick had a harrowing tale of his first transit through Dodd Narrows and he made the trip sound pretty intimidating.  The actual transit was a piece of cake but approaching the narrows was alarming.

As you approach the narrows at first you can’t see any gap in the trees.  We’re familiar with that sensation from our boating time in northern Saskatchewan.  You can be on the Churchill River looking around you and have it appear that you are surrounded by shoreline, apparently in a small lake.  Yet as you follow the chart the shoreline will gradually resolve into an outlet that lets you into the next basin in which you will again appear to be surrounded.  Dodd Narrows maintained the deception until we were really close, as you can see in the picture.  And even up close it was pretty damn skinny.  Some lucky SOB has a house/cabin on the north shore overlooking the narrows.  We steamed through without a pause – I didn’t even put out a Securit√© call on the radio because we could see that we were the only boat within 10 miles.  We passed a tug pulling a log boom just north of the channel – I’m glad we didn’t meet him in the middle.

In fairness to Dick’s tale of his harrowing first trip through Dodd Narrows he failed to consult any tide tables prior to that trip.  In that narrow space I can only imagine how exciting it might get with a big tide trying to force itself through that little spot.  We carefully timed our arrival for slack current and happened to be lucky enough to hit a high slack as well so it was a pretty simple transit.

When we got down to Cow Bay there were several tankers at anchor.  That’s unusual and I thought maybe it was in anticipation of the coming storm but the marina manager says he thinks it’s a sign of the boom in resources that the economy is enjoying. 

I’ve never seen as many freighters anchored in English Bay as we saw there when we went to the boat show.  Gary thinks that’s a side effect of the boom in the resource industry – the vessels can’t get loaded fast enough and occasionally they get stacked up waiting to load.  When they get too full in English Bay then some of them end up over here. 

We even managed to get some hooks wet yesterday but we didn’t impact the fish stocks.  I’m convinced that the BC fishing regs are so convoluted and impossible to decipher that it is inevitable that you will be ticketed if you are stopped.  Yesterday I tried to ensure that we were in compliance and we didn’t get checked so we didn’t get ticketed but I’m convinced that somewhere in some way we likely violated some obscure regulation. 

Its been really frustrating getting set up to fish out here because the silly SOBs haven’t heard of leaders.  Apparently they tie their own.  Marilyn is heading back to Saskatchewan to pick up some contract work and she will be stopping at Canadian Tire to pick up about a gross of leaders to import to BC.  As far as I can tell they don’t violate any fishing reg out here but who knows – until we get stopped we won’t know for sure.