Monday, August 1, 2011

Inside Passage Gunkholing; Sucia Island Epilogue

I'm not going to flog this topic much longer, but I'd like to take a minute to talk about the fine people one meets on the water. I could not begin to name them all.

Joe trailers his boat to the islands from Texas every year. Now that's a commitment! When I went to Ganges Harbor on Saltspring Island to find Lou, Joe was already there reading his book. I interrupted him in his revery and I'm glad I did. Joe is an old friend of Hobie Atler and had a lot of great sailing stories to tell.

He built his kayak tender from Pygmy plans and now cruises in this little tug, which is popular where ever he goes.

The Harbor Master in Ganges was a jewel. How many Harbor Masters will ask how long your boat is and when it's 18.5 feet, charge you for only 18? His wife was on the boat across from me and never batted an eye when she saw how small my boat was and gave me a wealth of information about where to go and what to see.

There was the couple from Olympia, Washington on their old wood yacht, Sea Lass. Could have talked with them all day. Can't remember a thing we said, but it was stellar.

The remaining cruising days in the Islands were in company with Lou. I got very used to seeing this view somewhere nearby. Lou is a sailor's sailor. I'd trust my life to this man.

Reading back through the log, I feel compelled to raise a thorny issue. Often an entry comes up that mentions some flagrant violation of the rules of the road or a down-right effort by an inconsiderate yachtsman to swamp a small open vessel.
In one notable incident a motor yacht of about 40 feet came down on me at cruising speed from the leeward side. I was on the port side of a channel leading to a popular harbor, leaving, along with a contingent bound for a particular favorable tide.
This was a displacement yacht traveling at about 16 knots and pushing a corresponding wake. Everyone else traveling in his direction (opposite mine) was on my port. As he came directly opposite me on my starboard (why did he come a half mile to execute this maneuver directly alongside me??), he slowed to about 6 knots. With no room to turn into the pursuant wake, anyone who has spent any time in a small boat knows what comes next. My log entry says "why do they look back, seeing me pitching through 50 degrees and hanging on for dear life, and wave, like we are good friends?" Because they think my middle finger is a friendly gesture?

My next log entry mentions three twin screws traveling in close formation in the same channel. Like the effect from the slip stream of three semi-trucks on a bicycle.

Need I mention all of this occurred in a well marked "No Wake" zone?

Short of being caught in a gale, the most dangerous threat to a small open boat is the large wake thrown by a deep hulled motor vessel pushed past it's hull speed by twin props. Three or four of them in close formation are more destructive than Neptune himself.

When I meet these same people in Port, they are kindness itself and sure, they never meant me any harm.

Oh, if only it were so!

When I was strapping Saga to her trailer in Anacortes at the end of the trip, Charless Fowlkes came over to ask me about my boat, which is usually a prelude to hearing more boat stories. Charless had some good ones, from an old lapstrake renovation to a genuinely ancient dugout canoe he patched with tar and rigged for sail.
Charless and I might still be back there in the parking lot, swapping stories if Marjorie his wife, and partner in crime, hadn't come over to remind him of a dinner reservation. (He claimed he didn't care about that...)

I hope to hear from Charless and Marjorie again someday, after they've made their way back to Montana.

Farewell to Sucia, the Gulf Islands and the Inside Passage until next year, by which time I expect all People of the World will live in Harmony and Bliss.

Fair Winds!


Laingdon said...

It is an Immutable Law of Boating: The size of the wake and its proximity to any small craft in the area are inversely proportional to the IQ of the power boat driver.

I especially like it when the skipper of a planing vessel drops down off step in an effort to be "considerate" and thereby trebles the size of his wake. This, of course, did not happen to me a couple of days ago.

doryman said...

I don't think it's intentional but I wish there were some way to get the word out that it's dangerous.

There are a few marinas and private docks on the Yaquina River here at home and the law says a boater is to leave no wake when passing one. I currently have my boat hauled out at a local boatyard and yesterday I watched a boat slow to the point of plowing the biggest wake they could produce as they went by the docks, then turn immediately at the same speed and buck their own wake in the other direction while the boats tied up at the dock looked like bulls at the rodeo.