Friday, June 23, 2017

Eight Weeks In

Written by: Donn

Eight weeks ago, we started this little adventure. On many evenings we have ended our day, be they hard days or easy days, with the beauty of sunsets like one cannot imagine. Each one has been different, each one has greeted the night for us, reminding us how fortunate we are to be executing the Freedom Project, finally.

Each day we greet brings us a new morning of adventure, a new place to explore, a new place to leave and plans for the new place we will find the next day. Each day we see some place, or leave some place, that we will never see again. It's a wonderful kind of discovery and also one of departure, of leaving. We are currently in Shearwater, B.C. We arrived here a few days ago for the first time and, if our plans go as we expect, we shall never see it again.

It's been the same for Hunter Bay, Jones Island, Sucia, Port Browning, Ganges, Herring Bay, Nanaimo, Owen Bay, Otter Bay, Port Neville, Port McNeill and a host of other anchorages and marinas. Each time we get to see a place with new eyes, only having read about it in a book, or seen it on a chart. Each time we leave, it's forever. I always say, "Goodbye," to the place, out loud, with gratitude, even if the trip there, the stay, or the departure was challenging.

Each place has given me a gift, a memory, a chance to see a place in the world I have never seen. The fact that I may never see it again, makes it all the more precious.

And I've left so many things behind that I really don't miss. We do check in with the internet, email and facebook when we get in port but, I don't miss it. It's hard to latch onto the daily distractions of such things when faced with the water and wild out here.

So far, Brigadoon has treated us well. She has been stout and dependable. Yes, we have had some minor and somewhat scary things pop up, like when our steering decided to have some issues in Port Browning, but I called Port Townsend Shipwrights and, after a false start at a fix, was able to finally resolve it a couple ports later. Our Dickenson heater gave us some issues but, I tore it down to its bones after a fight or two, and it seems to be doing much better now. The cheerful yellow flame keeps us cozy and warm, once I did the job right. So far, I can fix this boat. I can keep us going. Brigadoon keeps us safe and warm. We couldn't ask for a better home, a better vessel, in which to discover the world.

I've walked places, old and desolate, full of the remnants of people's lives. Shadows of what used to be where I stand, with stories told in old books, rusting machinery, and fallen down buildings. I'm reminded that I'm not the only person who has ever been here. Every time I walk around a corner I find a ghost of the past on ground trodden by someone else, long ago.

There are abandoned canneries, falling down and long dead, giving themselves back to the land. We visit these dying places, witnessing the things that were here before yet no longer are. Namu was a ghost town, passed quietly as we dove deeper into the cove, seeking shelter from a driving rainstorm. I set our anchor in rain that came in sheets, while Kerry calmly talked to me over the headsets. We took to the safety and warmth of Brigadoon to try and dry off and have dinner. It was a damp night, but the Dickenson heater did what it does and we awoke to a dry and warm home.

Yet, in the morning, when the rain had passed, we were left with nothing but the beauty of the tidelands, until they were covered by the waters again. The mirror smooth waters reflecting the quiet life all around us.

Sometimes, when I was so busy pointing the camera, I didn't see the deer for the trees. Hidden among the tidelands, and the drying seaweed, under the watchful gaze of the towering firs of Blunden Harbor, a red deer snuck into my photograph. It stood there, unknown and undiscovered until a week later, when I looked closely enough. So many creatures move though the world, hidden from our eyes.

And yet, some of them are brazen and bold, standing right there, not feet away. In Port McNeill, great bald eagles sang and chittered every night. They owned the top of every mast, every piling, even when harassed by crows and terns. 

Yet, they weren't the only raptors plying the bays. In Allison Harbor, we were entertained by a pair of Ospreys, whose cries were higher and faster than the great eagles. They wheeled with a light grace not found in their bigger cousins, flying around each other like acrobats. Light of color and light on the wing, they owned Allison Harbor.  

Through it all, we have slept well on our Ultra Anchor, safe and secure knowing it rides just below Wilson, our anchor buoy. We have almost perfected the use of this trip line and buoy and plan to continue its use as we set our Ultra at every anchorage. Being able to look out and know exactly where our anchor is set gives us peace of mind and a knowing that we didn't have before.

We have anchored in the shadow of great mountains, graced with snow still, even in June. These craggy ramparts greeted us as we worked out way towards Melanie Cove, former home of Mike the Logger, whose old homestead we walked among on our trip ashore. Do yourself a favor and read "The Curve of Time" -- you will not be disappointed in the places and times it takes you.

The best thing on this journey so far, has been the deepening relationship between the crew. I won't lie. The first couple weeks out was a little rough, sprinkled with misunderstandings and miscommunication as we figured things out. It was harder than I expected but, it was easier than it could have been, because of my lovely First Mate, Kerry. Through her patience, honesty, and trust in me, we have worked through the initial challenges and become a crew that is strong and trustful. 

We sit here, in Shearwater (52 deg 8.850 N, 128 deg 5.398 W) the farthest north and west we have traveled so far. Tomorrow we head westward into the edges of the open Pacific, then north, talking of Ketchikan more every day.

Alaska is in our sights and I couldn't ask for a better partner for this journey.

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