What's in her name?

What's in her name (Salish Aire)?

from her new home the Salish Sea

Aire as in a melody of song.

Salish + Aire = The melody of the Salish Sea.

Salish Sea:
In the late 1700's Captain George Vancouver wandered around the waters of what are now known as British Columbia, Canada and Washington State, USA. He did the usual 1700's explorer thing and put names he chose on everything he saw. The names stuck and are recognized and used to this day.

New lines were added to Captain Vancouver's charts in 1872 (after a near war with Great Britain over a pig) which made waters on one side of the line Canadian and those on the other side of the line American.

It wasn't until 1988 (officiated in 2009) that someone finally realized that fish and various critters, (to say nothing of the water itself) were never involved in the boundary treaties and really ignored them completely. (This is best illustrated by the problems that Homeland Security has with Canadian Canada Geese and American Canadian Geese - it seems they refuse to carry passports and have been known to poop on the head of any border patrol person who tries to challenge their right to cross the border when and where they choose!) In reality the waters from Olympia to the well up the East side of Vancouver Island are pretty much one ecosystem.

The Coast Salish are the indigenous peoples who live in southwest British Columbia and northwest Washington state along the Salish Sea and share a common linguistic and cultural origin. The Salish Sea is named in honor of the earliest recorded peoples who plied her waters and learned to live in harmony with her.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Finally a "mini vacation" on Salish Aire

One advantage of living in the Pacific NW (PNW) is that you don't have to travel far to reach some of the world's premium cruising grounds.  Clarice and I managed to get 5 days off to celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary on September 11th. We broke loose of our  home moorings on Tuesday when we both were done with work and headed north spending our first night anchored in (appropriately) Honeymoon Bay on Whidbey Island under a gorgeous full moon.  The next day we reached the San Juan Islands and put in for the night in Friday Harbor.  The initial location they suggested we tie up turned out to be too much for my current skills as the boat kept sailing towards other boats in the strong wind.  The Harbor Master offered us a different choice where the wind was on-dock and we had much more maneuvering room.  We were both concentrating so hard on landing safely that it wasn't until we were tied up that we realized our boat (hull #50) was directly across from hull #56.  This gave us a chance to ask lots of questions about how to deploy our paravanes (see below).  Clarice needed to get some work done for her company the next day and we had a good internet connection in Friday Harbor so she worked from the pilot house while I had uninterrupted time to work on a number of boat projects including (maybe) figuring out the last problem with the diesel furnace, checking one of the battery banks, securing a vent tube that had come loose, etc..  When Clarice finished her day we headed up to Stuart Island and decided to try our second main anchor (a Fortress brand Danforth style), we quickly learned it doesn't like kelp covered bottoms (although it worked great the next day in a mud bottom). Our primary anchor did set perfectly and we had another beautiful night with clear skies.   Last night we spent in Echo Bay on Sucia Island and then came down the Swinomish Channel today (with a 2 knot following current!)  Tonight we plan to put into Oak Harbor.

BTW: We now have AIS (see below) transmit capability so folks can watch our position on internet programs such as marinetraffic.com .  We can be found under the boat's name (currently the only Salish Aire documented in the USA) or our MMSI number 367631790 .

Some questions that come up from our landlubber friends:
  • Doesn't the boat rock a lot?
    • The boat is equipped with two stabilizing systems (most boats have one but a previous owner wanted the security of a back-up system).  Our primary system uses hydraulic fins under the water that are controlled by a gyro computer. It is simple to use with just the flick of a switch to turn it on.  Our secondary system uses tall poles that hang out both sides of the boat which support underwater paravanes ("fish") that resist roll buy pulling down as they "fly" through the water.  The best way I've heard to describe it is that when we deploy the fish we go from being a 15 ft wide boat to a 45 ft wide boat and from a 5 ft draft (depth under water) to a 15 ft draft. This system takes some practice and coordination to use (we haven't tried it yet) and we still have lots of learning to do.  On the other hand, folks who use paravanes report that they are pretty amazing.
  • What is AIS?
    • Automatic Identification System is the marine version of the "see and be seen" radio identification system used on aircraft for years.  Commercial boats are required to transmit AIS data, recreational boats may choose to ignore AIS, have receive only capability (Salish Aire came with this functionality), or transmit data at lower power than commercial vessels.  The utility of the system is that we can look on our electronic chart and see who is coming, how fast they are coming, the direction they are going, and know their name if we need to contact them on the radio.  Our chart plotter computer also automatically predicts our closest point with nearby vessels and flashes a warning if they get too close.  Cool huh!!
  • Isn't it hard to dock?
    • Yes and no.  It does require a new set of skills but the biggest challenge to docking a boat is crew communication.  Since Clarice and I have been practicing docking boats for a couple of decades we have what needs to be communicated down.  On the other hand I am moderately hard of hearing and this is a big boat so prior to her delivery we ordered some high end Bluetooth headsets so we can talk in normal tones (no yelling to add anxiety) to each other.  Step 2 was learning to work with a single engine / rudder boat which is very different than steering with outboards as we've done in the past.  We had great a great tutor in Don Kohlmann who brokered the purchase of the boat.  Finally we cheat - the boat came with bow and stern thrusters which are mini electrically driven propellers that help push the bow or stern sideways.  Otherwise we've had to learn how much power makes the boat move or stop or turn, where it pivots, and Clarice had to learn to tell me to move the bow to port or starboard rather than steering the stern like we did with outboard driven boats.
  • Doesn't it feel small for a home?
    • At times but usually no.  When we took our 26 ft sailboat to Alaska we were very concerned about getting claustrophobic cabin fever but instead we realized that with a view of hundreds of miles from the deck we instead almost felt lost in the spaciousness of it all.  That feeling remains with us most of the time.
  • What do you miss most from living in a house?
    • I have a lot of back and shoulder issues - I miss my hot tub, our bigger bed, and my recliner. I also wish I had a decent workshop.  Clarice misses her time for sewing and crafts as the boat itself has taken all of our spare time getting it into the shape we want it to be in.  She also complains about having to go to the top deck to use the barbeque rather than just having it off the kitchen like it was in our house. (Really, these are the two things she complained about!)
I see our anchorage approaching so I will sign off for now.