Saturday, July 13, 2013

Briefly passing through the Bay

On Thursday we made a leisurely departure from Pender Harbour and then rode the ebb tide south to Nanaimo in order to arrive at Dodd Narrows at slack.  The Strait was a little riled up but the forecast was for the winds to die down over the morning and that was exactly what happened.  By noon we were getting in behind Winchelsea Islands and once we got through Dodd it’s so sheltered that the wind was largely irrelevant anyway.  We were back in our slip in time for supper and then we had drinks on the dock and ended up entertaining guests until well after dark.

Yesterday we started packing the boat up.  There’s some things that have to wait until the last minute but not everything is in that category and we’ve done this so many times now its really not that hard.  We also made a quick shopping run and bought a large plastic tarp.  Then I cut the tarp in half and sewed each half into a long skinny tube which we subsequently pulled over the kayaks for UV protection.  I also tore apart one of the fake teak deck boxes that we installed in Seattle immediately after we bought the boat.  At the time I knew we should be coating them with some kind of finish but we just had so many things to do that we never got around to doing anything with the boxes.  They have stood up remarkably well despite being unfinished wood, so much so that we have decided they are worth putting some work into rather than just replacing them.  So we’re going to take one of them back to the prairies in pieces where I will coat it with West System and then varnish it.  Assuming that turns out as I expect it will we will take the other one apart and do it too, perhaps the next time we go back to SK.  Its hard to plan to do that kind of finishing out here because generally it rains every other bloody day but in Buchanan I can take the pieces indoors and just get them done.

We’ll actually be glad to be away from the boat now.  Coming home from Desolation Sound every hour brought us closer to the south Georgia Strait summer boating mayhem.  The radio got progressively busier and the boat traffic picked up every hour.  We had supper with some long time liveaboards last night and they agreed that one of the main reasons people like going up into the Broughton Islands (north of Vancouver Island) is because not many people go there.  We can duplicate that isolation by boating further south when all the rest of the other idiots are tied up at the dock.  By the time we get back out here – whenever that turns out to be – everyone else will have gone home and we will once again have the water to ourselves. 

Dodd Narrows on Thursday was a perfect example of what we detest about boating in crowded waters.  There is a convention among the commercial boats out here that they issue a “Securite” announcement before they go through restricted passes.  There’s three classes of announcements that you can make on Channel 16, each progressively more serious.  The least urgent is a “Securite” announcement which you might make if you find a large deadhead in a narrow channel – the point of the announcement is to inform other boaters about a potential hazard to navigation.  The second category is a “Pan Pan” announcement which indicates some level of disability on the part of your vessel but no immediate threat to life.  The most urgent announcement of course is “Mayday” which indicates immediate threat to the lives aboard the vessel.

The ferries routinely make a “Securite” announcement before they go through Active Pass because there is a hard dogleg in the middle of the pass which makes it impossible to see what is ahead of you.  The tugs do it for Dodd Narrows because when they are towing a log boom it can take up the whole pass.  Unfortunately the toyboat owners have copied the practice and many of them think that they need to issue a Securite announcement before they enter Dodd Narrows and further seem to believe that there is only room for one vessel in the pass at any particular time.  Both notions are patently bullshit but that doesn’t stop the fools from gabbing ad nauseum on the radio prior to and during their passage through the Narrows.  There was over 30 vessels that went through Dodd in the 30 minutes between the time we passed Duke Point at Nanaimo and when we arrived at Dodd Narrows.  There may have been more – some of those transiting the Narrows may not have broadcast their intentions – but I heard at least that many announcements.  There were periods of 2 or 3 minutes at a stretch where Channel 16 was completely unavailable because some new idiot was squawking about his intentions to go through the pass or asking if the pass was open or complaining because somebody had cut in front of him. 

Channel 16 is referred to as the “International Hailing and Distress Frequency” so every one of those idiots who clutters up the airwaves with a needless announcement risks either walking on or at least delaying a real broadcast from someone who actually needs to use the channel.  When we got close to the Narrows there was a transmission from a dive boat who said he was putting divers in the water on the west side of the channel.  He came back again in a few minutes and repeated the announcement with a bit of hesitation before again saying that he was on the west side.  I was approaching from the northwest on the south shore so that I could see through the entire pass prior to entering it and was planning to hug the west side of the pass as I went through.  So hearing that there was going to be a dive boat in my path was useful information.  Except that when I got close to the pass and surveyed it through the binoculars it turned out that the dive boat was actually on the east shore.  IDIOTS ALL OF THEM.  And I won’t miss them for 5 seconds.

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