Andanté Gets Hit by a Gale
Sunday evening we arrived at Lagoon Cove. This cove is run by a husband and wife team that are known for their friendliness and hospitality. During the summer season everyone is invited to an evening marshmallow roast on the beach. They supply the marshmallows, but you must bring your own stick.
Our guide book recommended asking Bob, the owner, about a local bear. So at our earliest convenience we ask him to tell us the story. It seems that there is a black bear, who frequents Lagoon Cove, who is also fond of chewing the black rubber hose lines that supply water to various parts of the marina. Bob said that last summer he had to use some of this black hose to run a temporary line for gasoline to the dock. Soon after the line had been installed the bear arrived to inspect it, and then took a bite out of it. Mr. bear apparently got a mouth full of gasoline because, according to Bob, he started bellowing loudly and running in circles--experiencing much discomfort, but not knowing what kind of threat was upon him. After a few minutes of this frantic activity, the bear stopped suddenly, and just buried his head into the mud. End of story. "Was he OK"? we asked. "Of course," Bob replied. "He just ran out of gas."
On Monday morning we continued to work our way west through Baronet Passage, which joins up with Johnston Strait on the northern section of Vancouver Island. By selecting a route through the smaller passages to the north of Johnstone Strait, we are able to avoid many heavy currents. Once into Johnstone Strait, we decided to push on to Port Hardy--primarily because we heard that fishing rods were available here. (As you recall, we were short one fishing rod.)
As we entered the Queen Charlotte Strait, we were hit by a gale that blew in. Visibility dropped to about 1/4 mile. The wind picked up to almost 30 knots, and the waves built up to about 4-1/2 feet. Because we were heading directly into the storm, Andanté pounded the waves for almost three hours. During the storm, Guy and Tracey handled the discomfort quite well. (It was their first gale in a sailboat.) Looking for reassurance, Tracey asked me several times how I felt about the situation. Even though we were in what some sailors would consider "a pretty good blow," I told her I was confident that the boat could handle it. One second we would come off one wave and the bow would bury itself into the next one. Several seconds later the bow was pointing to the sky. If you like roller coasters, you'll love sailing.
At one point we picked up a large blip on the radar several miles ahead, coming straight at us, and fast as well. As the blip approached closer and closer, I decided to steer to starboard to avoid a mishap. As I turned about 45 degrees starboard, the blip (still no visual contact) also turned about 45 degrees to his port--we were both trying to avoid each other by turning the same direction. Suddenly the blip became reality, as a large cruise ship emerged from the rain about 1/4 mile away. A quick turn to our port side took us out of harms way. As they passed us, I wondered what the passengers thought, watching this sailboat in the storm, bobbing like a cork.
That evening we dined at one of Port Hardy's finest establishments. I don't remember the name of the restaurant, but it came highly recommended by our part-time cab driver. It turns out it was a Chinese restaurant affixed to a local motel near the airport. "Best food in town," the cabby assured us.
Guy and I asked the waitress if we could get the special for four, for two. "Sure," she said, with a smile. It seemed a little too easy so I clarified, "In ordering the special for four, for two, we really want portions for two, not for four." "You can't do that," the waitress replied. This time, with no smile. Hmmm.
"OK," I said. "If we can't get the special for four for two, can we get the special for six for three instead." This time, her answer was more straight forward: "No," she said.
"OK," I said. "We'll cancel the special for four, and instead my friend and I will order the Chicken Guy Ding. But because my friend's name is 'Guy,' can he get a discount on the Chicken Guy Ding?"
They don't seem to have a sense of humor in Port Hardy.
Port Hardy's economy is based on two things: fishing and logging. In fact, sitting at a table in our restaurant were some local fishermen or loggers--I couldn't tell which, and didn't want to ask. These were real men. I have heard about real men, but have never seen them before. They weren't as stocky as I had imagined, but they all had mean looks. Real men cut things down for a living, or pluck bounty from the sea in the middle of the night. And they kill things for fun. These are not the kind of men that use hairdryers, or play golf, or can give you advice on how to configure your COM port on your PC. I tried not to attract their attention, and, instead, concentrated on my Guy Ding.
Provisioned at the local grocery store, called Overwaite. (Pronounced over-weighty. I'm not making this up). Also, bought Guy a new rod and reel.
Motored 10 miles to a jump-off point for Queen Charlotte Sound. We are now hooked onto a mooring buoy in a place called God's Pocket, which is a resort that consists of several buildings made out of corrugated aluminum. We are waiting for a break in the weather so that we can sail north across the southern part of Queen Charlotte Sound. Late this evening the weather report calls for winds up to 40 knots, and seas up to five meters (15 feet) somewhere to the north of us. We're content to wait it out, so this evening we turned up the heat and watched a video.
Up Next ...