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Captain Log ID: 104
Title: A September Cruise At Cowichan Bay
Boat Name(Id): Kowloon Jade ( 8)
Sailor Name(Id): Oliver Cobb ( 32)
Geo Region: Vancouver Island
Date of Occurance: 2001-09-27
Latitude: N 49º   8.999'
Longitude: W 123º   56.399'
Sender (if email-in): ocobb@NO_SPAM
Earlier log from "Kowloon Jade":  90
Newer log from "Kowloon Jade":  109
        Page visited 3391 times since created         Edit This Log
We left the Government Dock at Cow Bay at 0730  and headed back up
Sansum Narrows, thence into  Stuart Channel, hoping to  arrive at Dodd
Narrows in good time for the slack high water at around 1700. As soon
as the engine warmed up it slowed down again, so I throttled back--
still no apparent cause, I hate this idiopathic stuff, donít you?--
but it was happy to go at half throttle giving us  nearly five knots
according to the GPS, so we motored through flat calm waters to
Vesuvius, where, because we had so much time on  hand for the  tide at
Dodd, we decided to put in and explore.  The dock was the smallest one
I have ever tied up at, barely two boat lengths. No one was around,
and  so we secured KJ, and walked up the ramp to the pier. There we
found a sign advising us that the first two hours was free, after than
that, overnighters would be charged  at the rate of  65 cents per
foot. A bit steep, we thought.  We walked up the hill and set foot on
Saltspring Island for the first time in 32 years of living on the B.C.
Coast.  We walked up the road past the ferry landing, spotting the
Neighbourhood  (sic) Pub on our left, and a restaurant that was barred
and shuttered against the onset of winter.  Beyond that, a place of
indeterminate  nature called the Ark, and then, a quarter of a mile
along, a tiny ancient convenience store, piloted by a very
ill-looking, nervous older woman who  seemed to  fear that we were
about to pull guns and demand her money and her fair white body.
Nonplused, we bought a tiny wedge of Camembert instead and left her to
her  imagination.  Back to the boat we walked, and  having absorbed
the  sense of Vesuvius,  (including the fact that the view across the
channel  included the gigantic smoke-belching infrastructure of the
Crofton pulp mill) felt compelled to leave a   snarky note in the fee
box for whoever  looked after the government dock. I wrote:
 ďNo showers, no drinking water, no power, no garbage can, no pump
out, no food, no space--- it is no wonder that you have NO CUSTOMERS!
Who would pay 65 cents a foot to look at a pulp mill?Ē

On we went-- the sea like a millpond. At 1510 we were entering Dodd
Narrows, still under power at 4 knots. It looked like smooth water,
but flotsam formed eddies and I could sense that there was some
subsurface turbulence. However, the tide was still supposed to be
making and I felt confident that we would be propelled through with no
trouble.  Boy was I wrong.   As we approached the northwestern end of
the narrows I  began  to perceive, against all my assumptions, that
the current was not with us but against.  Uneasy at this development,
I  felt a familiar clenching of the bowels--something was
diametrically opposed to my  assumption of reality-- I had double
checked the tide guide three days ago and even  radioed the Coast
Guard to confirm the time of high tide on our trip south-- they had
given me a slack water time 36 minutes later than that printed in the
guide. Making that correction I had determined that todayís high tide
would be at  around 1700. Here it was  only 1510 and the  water was
rushing to meet us stronger and stronger. We had  maybe two hundred
yards to go before we broke out of the Narrows, so reluctantly I
shoved the throttle down. How much time did we have I wondered, before
the engine faltered again?

On shore, a trio of boys were observing us-- I had visions of the boat
being swept ashore and  having to scramble ignominiously ashore while
they jeered....the current was stronger now; despite being at full
throttle we seemed to  be barely holding our own. With a sinking heart
I  forced my gaze away from the water beside us and on to the shore
abeam. To my infinite relief, we were making  headway--barely . I
checked the GPS and saw that it was hovering between 1.7  and 2.0
miles per hour.

Remember in the Wizard of Oz books when Dorothy and her companions
kept running into odd phenomena like the field of poppies that put
them to sleep, or the armless men who  used an effective  head-butting
technique  to prevent travellers from crossing their border? Such
peculiarities  enthralled me as a child-- now I felt as though I had
blundered into some altered reality where, despite having an engine,
my boat could make no progress through the channel of charms.

Marion  gripped the cockpit coaming and stared grimly from me to the
shore-- she knew better than to say anything. We both watched, silent
and  anxious. KJ gradually drew herself past the clutch of the
bottleneck and we  emerged at last into the lower end of
Northumberland Channel.

My relief at having dodged a bullet was palpable, and I throttled the
engine back to less than half speed. We would arrive in Nanaimo around
1700 if all went well. And it did.  Apart from a seaplane descending
to land   very close to us off Protection Island, we had no more
frights, and we found an empty slip on A dock, right where we were
berthed before.

No one seemed to be around, Mare, of course,   hied herself up to the
bathrooms for a shower before I was even done flaking down the dock
lines. My first priority was the remains of a two litre bottle of wine
stowed in the lazaret-- with a silent  thank you to Poseidon I
chugged the lot.

Went over to Neil Martinís boat, April Winds, and asked him about the
tides. I was startled to  learn from his  three comprehensive tide
charts,  each one  the size of a city phone book, that slack water at
Dodd Narrows today had been at 1409. So my little fishermanís pamphlet
is not worth the paper itís printed on. Next year Iíll spend the money
on a good tide guide-- I donít care how much it costs.

No one else was around, and Neil was preparing a lonely supper for
himself, so Mare and I called a taxi and went up the hill to try the
Lemon Tree, a new Vietnamese restaurant that had only been open for
about three months.  It was a little sad-- another  sterile plastic
box filled with neon light, staffed by  Vietnamese folks speaking
nearly unintelligible English, and devoid of customers! The women were
the cooks, the man was the waiter.  We tried to set him at ease, by
discussing the food, and he was  so eager to please it was almost
painful.  The food was pretty  good--  dozens of things on the menu
that we had never heard of but you canít try everything, so we went
with a hot and sour soup and some spring rolls, plus rice and a pork
curry that was delicious.

Back down the hill to Newcastle we walked arm in arm, quite full and
me still a little wobbly from the wine and a bottle of beer, We had
just lit the lights on board when I heard someone say outside, ďHey.
Oliverís back!Ē

It was Tom and Alexis,  of Mongoose and Lois B. , just coming home
from a day of foraging at  marine stores in Victoria. They said they
would come for a visit as soon as they put their stuff away, so we
cleared the main saloon and soon  were making  tea for our first ever
visitors aboard!  It was so nice to entertain friends on my boat-- I
suppose  it becomes commonplacet after a while, but it was a memorable
occasion for us:  the pleasant hour we spent, jabbering away about
gear and weather,  past voyages and ones to come.