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, August 12, 2017

Salish Aire has left the Salish Sea


By definition the Salish Sea includes the inland waters of Washington and British Columbia that are primarily connected to the Pacific Ocean tidal circulation via the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  We have now travelled north of that general boundary and the currents and tides of the waters we float on communicate with the Pacific Ocean via Queen Charlotte Strait.  Salish Aire was named to carry the legacy of her home port wherever she travels and now she has officially started on that journey.  While we were walking around Sidney BC we poked our heads into the local aquarium and found a great book explaining the Salish Sea which we bought to show folks we meet during our travels about this fascinating area.

A great book telling the story of the Salish Sea

Map of the Salish Sea

We have heard many many questions about our specific plans for our travels.  We are purposefully keeping those plans to a minimum.  In doing our book learning in preparation for this journey one message has been repeated over and over by experienced cruisers which is that over-planning and over-scheduling is the fastest way known to get yourself into trouble.  Experienced cruisers study the weather carefully and let nature determine when they will leave port rather than letting a date on the calendar make those choices.  In our case, we have a lot to learn about handling the boat and our own capabilities.  We know that the boat will cross an ocean but we doubt our own readiness at this point. 
The plans we have made are to head north to SE Alaska with the plan of staying over in a port (likely Sitka) for the winter. We had hoped to meet up with friends from Everett as they headed south from their summer expedition to Glacier bay and we were able to meet them 2 days ago in the Octopus Islands where we are currently anchored.  We had also planned to move fairly quickly north until we were north of the common “Desolation Sound” cruising area which has its northern psychological boundary about where we are now.  From here north we have only visited once before in 2000 and have looked forward to taking time to enjoy at a slower pace.

Likely one of the big reasons that the boats from the Salish Sea tend to start thinning out from here north is that the tidal challenges become significant.  One of the challenges of boating in this part of the world is learning to live with nature’s tidal exchanges which in some areas create rapids that have put many a boat on the rocks through the ages.  Now we have the advantage of very carefully studied and calculated tidal guide books that tell us when the twice daily rise and fall of the tides changes direction and thus creates windows when the waters in the narrow spots are quiet and safe to transit. We have spent our entire boating careers living with these facts of Salish Sea boating life so while we find the challenges to be inconvenient at times we just follow the rules set by the sun and the moon and recognize that a big part of the diversity of life in these waters only exists because of the mixing of waters providing the nutrients to drive a complex food chain.  Boaters from around the world tend to think highly of boaters from this part of the world because of our comfort with the moving waters and even local boaters shy away from the fastest rapids which leads to less crowded boating the further north we travel.

Tug and log boom working the tidal currents

So far we have transited tidal rapids in Deception Pass Washington, Dodd Narrows BC just south of Nanaimo, and Surge Narrows so that we could get to our present location in the Octopus Islands. After having a wonderful day yesterday visiting with our friends and Kayaking and Hiking to a mid-island lake we plan to leave today when nature says it is OK.  Today we plan to move north and east so we can go the “back route” and avoid Seymour Narrows but in order to do so we have to travel through a  number of challenging tidal rapid areas.  Our first encounter will be with the rapids at both ends of Hole in the Wall channel and then we will turn north toward the Yaculta rapids group.  So far it looks like we will need to wait the six hours between slack times in order to make it to our planned anchorage for tonight as the timing of slack waters doesn’t allow for travel from one narrows to the next at our speed.

Eric and Michelle on Secret Beach headed south after a summer going up the Inside Passage 
A hazy sunrise thanks to forest fire smoke

Octopus Islands Anchorage

Heading out of the Octopus Islands

We are currently in Johnstone Strait which can be a really nasty piece of water if the tide is against the wind or a very pleasant place to travel as it is this morning.  We were able to get through the final 3 tidal rapids yesterday after managing to creep through the Yaculta group at 3.5 knots over ground (while doing about 9 knots over the moving water) just after slack but before the full fury of the rapids had built the day before. All of this moving water has meant that our expected 3 nm / gallon of fuel has instead been just over 1 nm / gallon as it seems that we keep moving up current – until today when we are finally in-sync with the tide as it ebbs north instead of south during the first half of the day. We are currently moving at 8 kn over ground and 6.9 kn over water so nature is giving us a “free” extra mile every hour.  We started the day on mirror smooth water but in thick fog. As we have moved from the side channels into Johnstone Strait proper the fog lifted a bit so we didn’t have to be totally dependent on radar an AIS (location information broadcast by some, but not all boats).  As we have moved north the fog bank has kept ahead of us so we have had good visibility most of the day.
Speaking of visibility, we seem to finally have moved north of the smoke from the BC forest fires.  Last night Jarvis decided he needed to visit his pee-poop pad at 2 AM but it did mean that I was awake to see the moon and the stars for the first time without a haze of smoke. 

In the heavy fog we could see our own bow and not much more

Both radar units and the AIS transmissions from other boats become our "eyes"
and we listen carefully for horns or engine noise

The fog begins to lift just a bit
Finally able to see ships visibly we had been watching electronically

Chasing fog up Johnstone Strait

Fog off the bow but clear looking south down Johnstone Strait

Folks often ask if we are tied up every night or anchored – the answer is we do both.  As we are trying to learn to live on a much more limited budget we are taking advantage of low cost opportunities to be at docks when they are available as it makes it much easier to get to shore otherwise we anchor out which has the advantage of (usually) being very peaceful and private.  Low cost dock opportunities so far have included using yacht club reciprocal moorage (usually about $5/night for power), using public / commercial wharfs (about $40 USD / night in Comox), and a complimentary night as we chose to use the unmaintained outer dock at Morgan’s Resort (which was only a couple of hundred yards from the VERY expensive docks at Dent Resort (reported to be $4/ft so about $200/night for a boat our size and with the expectation that you get dinner at $125/plate!)
The weather has cooperated being in the upper 70’s during the days and just cool enough at night for Clarice to sleep well with the overhead hatch open.

Our very inexpensive moorage looking at the transoms of Dent Resort

Entertainment consists of watching the scenery, walking on trails through the forests (which lets Jarvis’ inner Jack Russell come out as he runs full speed up the trail to find the next “nose candy” and then sniffs for a bit before taking off again), swimming in a lake, checking out a harbor’s nooks and crannies in either the dingy or paddling in kayaks,  reading books, watching the British TV series “Last Tango in Halifax”, catching up on business and pleasure email when we have cellular service, and doing boat maintenance.  Boat maintenance ranges from the basics of checking the engine room periodically for any signs of trouble to rebuilding another section of the pilot house panels, to learning how our electrical gauge system is designed to work (and how I need to change it so it works with the current battery and solar configuration).  All in all Clarice and I keep fairly busy between driving the boat (which can be anything from very intensive in a high current area or high traffic area to really boring when the auto-pilot is keeping us on course without much human help required and all stages in between).

Making blackberry cheesecakes for desert

Drying laundry

New facings for the radar and SSB radio - Old gray Formica under the chart plotter

Next area to be refaced with holes from retired gauges
(ladder, plug and key chain to the left get hung in front of chart plotter as reminders
that our ladder is in the water and shore power connected.) 

So far we have happened into a festival and fireworks show in Comox, met up with our good friends Eric and Michelle as they headed south from Alaska, had a quick radio conversation with some Nordhavn friends as they headed south through Dent Rapids and we headed north, had a pleasant visit with some other Nordhavn friends while we waited at Shoal Bay Resort for the slack to occur for our next rapids transit, in addition to people we just meet on the way who have a common interest in boats and nature.  We have heard over and over from long term cruisers that you are never out of touch with friends for too long as you will often run into someone you know at the next port.  We are certainly finding this to be true.

Our friend David passed us in Mary Pearl just as we were about to go to press

As far as adapting goes, we are now 1 week into official retirement.  To say that we haven’t felt a bit of stress would be untruthful.  A couple of days ago Clarice and I found ourselves grouching with each other over things that normally we just let go.  We took a minute and reflected on all of the changes and stressors over the past month as we had the kids visiting, and were finalizing employment, and mail, and insurance, etc. issues on top of moving to a whole new lifestyle and agreed that while being grouchy was not fun it was to be expected.

I hope to post this today as we plan to stay in port at Alert Bay where I have really nice memories of a First Nations museum from our last visit in 2000. We had planned to spend time in the Broughton Islands but it looks like we have a nice weather window for crossing Queen Charlotte Sound if we keep moving north so our plans have been adjusted accordingly.

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