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.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Waiting for the winter solstice

Clarice's thoughts:

We had the good fortune to be invited to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Lots of their family had flown up for the holiday so it was similar to being with our families…noisy, fun and a general good time by all along with a wonderful traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I really appreciated it as I’d been a little blue all day remembering my mom and this being the first holiday without her.
I have decided I’m getting excited about continuing on our journey when the spring comes so have been working on boat projects that need to be completed (in my estimation). I have sewn a new windlass cover and remodeled it in the process so that it will stay in place in high winds. The next project I have come up with is an idea of making screens for the opening windows in the salon and pilot house that can remain in place while under way and not be snapped on from the inside. The idea is good; the implementation is proving more challenging. I’m getting excited to do the spring wax job. I’ve been cleaning and washing storage areas and culling items that we are not using.

Clarice renews her interest in sewing and quilting
Clarice sewed a new cover for our anchor windlass

She improved on the original design by adding a bit of elastic cord to keep it in place in heavy winds.

We had heard and seen previews of the Nutcracker ballet that Sitka offers every other year. It’s an “Alaska” version of the ballet. Same music (for the most part – we don’t recall Tchaikovsky having any jazz numbers with hot-pants clad mosquitoes in his version) but definitely Alaskan flavored costuming. There was a large fishing boat that had the cutest little herring dancers pop out from under it, the most creative jelly fish that we’d ever seen (the girls had tutu’s with lights in them and umbrellas with silk draped over them that were lit as well – the umbrellas were gently raised and lowered and the result was the floating look of jelly fish – overall a fantastic effect coupled with the music), the previously mentioned mosquitoes, dancing bears, dancing fireweed and northern lights. We both agreed we enjoyed it more than the Seattle Maurice Sendek version that was so popular for years.

(Nutcracker photo credits: http://www.bjordanimages.com/ used with permission)

Local humor throughout this scene with the locals sporting t-shirts, shorts and ExtaTuf boots while the tourists dress like they are in, well, Alaska.  The local bookstore really does have the "Please don't drip on the books" sign.

The mosquito queen was finally vanquished by Clara who swatted her with a ballet slipper.

The many little herrings that jumped in the fisherman's net.

The jellyfish.

The Dance of the Fireweed was pure classical ballet.

One day on the Facebook page for Sitka Chatters Norman saw a notice that excess shares were being offered to the public for the local organic food weekly offering. We went up to check out what was offered after we found out that the shares were already spoken for by the time we had responded back to the posting.  Similar to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) sales system that we are used to down south, but with a better tweak that we liked. The produce is brought up by barge on a weekly basis and it is beautiful. They strive for a $50.00 amount of food. The offering is of vegetables and fruits. We signed up for the next week’s delivery and received some of the best produce we’ve had since we left Everett. Since we’ll be gone for a couple of weeks we opted to restart after we return. What’s different is that you go to the church to pick up the produce offerings. You are given the list of what is available that week. If you don’t want an item you have the option of returning it to the “opt out” table and choose something else from the “opt out” table that have the same value. You can also add things from the “opt out” table to add to your total for the week. This is a wonderful option as the complaint I’d heard about the CSA boxes is that frequently you get the same items weekly and they may not be something you want. Here we can somewhat customize what we get. I have figured out how to maximize the lasting power of produce and so this is going to be a great option for us while we are in Sitka. We just took out the last of the apples that we put in lazarette in October and they are crisp, sweet and juicy.

Norman's thoughts:

We are now 2 days from the solstice and we are finding it a bit of a challenge to keep active.  We usually don’t get out on our morning walk until 9 am or so after the sky has lightened and the night rain showers start to let up.  Then by 4 pm it is quite dark and our “lower 48” brains think it’s near bedtime.  We try to take advantage of the frequent evening programs in town, go for evening walks with the dog in his reflectorized vest and doggy powered flashing light (it has a tiny generator in it that makes an LED flash every time he jiggles the magnet), and watch movies we borrow from the library or download. 

We had a couple of sunny days so we tied to a buoy near the Forest Service cabin at the base of the Mt. Edgecumbe trail.  We walked a few miles in first through moss draped rain forest and then over muskeg (soil where the water can't drain because of shallow bedrock such as much of SE Alaska or permafrost further north).

Typical muskeg with stunted trees and many ponds

There was a layer of ice on the ponds and some of the trail despite the sunshine

The trail to the top is about 7 miles long

Jarvis thought the boardwalks were great 

Looking east toward the mountains of Baranof Island
One clear day I rode my electric assist bicycle up the Harbor Mountain road as far as it would go on the snow and then walked a bit further.

Barges make the 5 day run to and from Seattle twice a week

Looking north towards the entrance to Olga Strait (the inside passage to the east side of Baranof Island)

Mountains to our north
Sitka's extensive trail system includes a trail that follows the Indian River.  We walked along it after about a week with no rain and the water was crystal clear.  No one can say why some of the deeper pools still have coho salmon that should have spawned and died by now.

Indian River #1

Indian river #2

Indian River salmon

We have managed to go scuba diving a couple of times.  The water is incredibly clear compared to what we are used to in Puget Sound and a few degrees warmer.  The flip side is there is not nearly the amount of sea life we are used to seeing.  Our dives did make it very clear that we are going to need to become more independent with getting our air tanks filled.  The only local who fills recreational tanks had to fit our tank inspections and fills in between his two other jobs and it took a month to get them back (he was happy to lend us tanks in the mean time so we can't blame anyone but ourselves for not diving more). In any case we have now ordered a compressor for Salish Aire and have rewired her generator to accommodate it.

We had a couple days of good weather and decided to go to Nakwasina Sound north of Sitka Sound and anchor for the night.  After going to bed under clear skies with a bright full moon we awoke to snow falling.

Dawn Nakwasina Sound anchorage 
Snow Nakwasina Sound

Salish Aire is not nearly as decked out in lights as she was the past two years but I couldn’t resist buying as many as I could find at the thrift shop and hanging them here and there.  I had put out on the local Facebook page “Sitka Chatters” (mandatory membership if you want to know what’s going on in town) a question asking is there is a tradition of a local decorated boat parade.  Apparently there used to be but it had faded.  My question brought out a lot of renewed interest and 8 boats joined in the fun.

Parade boat #1

Parade boat #2

Salish Aire decked out for the parade

On Saturday we will catch a southbound plane to spend the holidays with our families.
I had purchased a new camera before we started north and recently got a 400 mm zoom lens for it.  I’m having fun trying to improve my long dormant photography skills and record the scenes here about especially the variety of waterfowl.  The trails around town and in the National Park provide constant opportunities for nature photography.

Trumpeter swans are frequent visitors to the park and a marsh north of town

These guys are often seen in the park and swimming around our moorage

This guy is hard to catch on film as he is always in motion

We now have a juvenile otter who visits the boat in addition to the couple of adults that hang around

This eagle's favorite perch is directly over a walking trail next to Crescent Harbor
Site of the battle where the Russians retook Sitka back from the Tlingits 

Probably the most photographed pole on the Totem trail at the National Park (Clarice's photo)

Totem #2 at Sitka National Park
Totem #3 at Sitka National Park

Totem #4 at Sitka National Park

This little guy wouldn't look up long enough to get his picture without his bill in the water

Finally: Sunrise over Sitka Sound.