If you are a dreamer, a doer, a horizon viewer - come in! come in! Announce yourself and let it be known.
The seed of adventure has been sown.

The goal is to take this boat on a trip that no other Wharram boat has taken.
From Great Slave Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories up the MacKenzie River to the Beafort Sea
and westward to the Bering Sea and south to the inside passage on the Alaska and British Columbia coast.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Fall weather has arrived in the Pacific Northwest with an urgency of falling snow. Temperatures have dropped into the mid 40 to 50 F range and the sky is ragged with wind swept clouds bursting with rain. It was in this type of weather that I set out a couple of days ago on my bike to go for a sail. Tsunamichaser was as I had left her, swinging peacefully on her anchor tucked deep in Port Blakely. A perfect place for boats if it wasn't for the local CCNR's that discourage longterm anchoring of boats. I had made other arrangements so I set about moving her to a winter moorage which I hope I don't stay in for long. Having ridden the fifteen or so miles to get to her, I was pretty well damp throughout more from sweat than the rain. On the outside I was drenched. As I sat on the beach inflating my "toy" dinghy by CPR methods I got a little light headed but soon enough the boat was inflated. I topped off the chambers with my bicycle pump, loaded my bike panniers and myself onboard and paddled out to Tsunamichaser. Getting onboard from this dinghy is never elegant or easy. This time it was worse. As I lifted a bag from the dinghy, I accidentally flipped open one of the valves. I rushed to get out before all the air escaped and would be in the drink.

Onboard all was well. Some birds had visited leaving sandy foot prints and the odd feather. My cockpit seat hatches, never built to be waterproof, had less than an inch of water in them. The cabins were dry atleast until I opened the hatches to put gear below. As soon as I slide the hatches open in came the rain. But no big deal as it ends up in the foot well. I found the gas lines where I'd left them connected them to the fuel tank and moter gave the bulb a couple of squeezes and set about starting the motor. On the second pull it coughed and the next time fired up. Once I pushed in the choke it settled into a calm purr while I attended to the anchor. The anchor came up clean with only a little weed on the chain and some slim on the rope. Port Blakely use to be home to industry. When the water is clear you can see to the bottom. There is little life in the water here. I motored into the beach and on the way in saw Kim waving. He lives next to the park I used as my launching ground and was keeping an eye on my boat for me. I loaded my bike into the starboard hull once again getting things wet, this time with grimy water.

My departure was uneventful until I rounded the corner. Port Blakely is well protected. Outside it was blowing up. The forecast had been for SE 15-25 knots with up to four foot seas. The wind was up there though the swell wasn't. Once around the point I had the wind on my beam so I rolled out the jib. We started biting into the water and surged ahead running close into the beach. Once the wind was on my back things got a little better and running close to shore made it possible to see where I was going but the rain had not let up. I was now truely soaked with little chance of fixing this. After about half an hour I started to feel the shivers running through my muscles. Not wanting to let things get worse I found a heat pack that I fired off and placed on my stomach. This helped a bit but I knew I needed more help. I didn't feel I could leave the helm to get into dry clothes so I fount my Jetboil stove and heated water. As soon as it was warm I downed the whole thing. The shivering stopped. Thinking of my actions I realized the mistakes I was making. I was out for a short trip, fifteen miles at most - two three hours. I left in a hurry not taking time to first make a meal and a thermos of tea and I hadn't changed into the dry clothes I had along or into my drysuit. FOOLISH! A little pissed at myself, I decided to try an experiment. I'd see how things turned out if I didn't change or eat anything other than the handfuls of peanuts I had convenient. I did have neoprene gloves and socks on and I had repositioned the heat pack to my crotch. In the end things went ok. I got to my new moorage though by the time I arrived I couldn't feel my feet other than the pain they were in. Once secure, I popped below and heated a pouch of stew on the Jetboil gaining the heat of the stew and the water I heated it in. Being below out of the rain and wind helped immensely. The cabin steamed up but my quick dry clothes started to dry out and my feet came back to life. Packed up with my bike ashore and onboard I quickly regained any lost core temperature I'd lost. A bike will do that!

In the end it was a good relearning. It is easy when the days are sunny and warm. It's even easy when it's sunny and cold. Cold wet and stormy is a different story. You need to take a long view and move with greater purpose.


Blogger The Ethnic Catamaran Company said...

Ugh, I used to deliver boats in Northern Europe, mostly in autumn and winter, and this entry brought back all sorts of awful sense memories of those chill winds and sea.

8:59 PM  

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