Friday, June 7, 2013

The Tiny Ship Was Tossed

'Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale -- a tale of a fateful trip...'

It just follows that after posting about a 'three hour tour' and making reference to the Gilligan's Island theme song, we would fulfill another line -- 'the tiny ship was tossed'!

After our tour and a side trip to Deep Cove for groceries and water -- no fresh veggies without a bus ride, we got milk, eggs, and ice cream -- there was nothing left for us to do in this area but decide when to make our crossing back over the Georgia Strait to the Gulf Islands once more.

As I recall, the forecasts were for winds 5-15 knots both on Wednesday and Thursday, but with SSW the direction on Wednesday, and from the NW on Thursday.  Neither of the Canadian weather sites that I have been watching predict wave heights, like NOAA does, but these winds speeds were nothing we have worried about in the past.  Asking Al which wind direction he felt would be most favorable, we decided to do our crossing on Wednesday.  We even re-arranged some other plans to make it so.

Looking back, one thing we did not do, that we will endeavor to do in the future (it WAS a learning experience, after all) is to LISTEN to the weather broadcast on the radio.  We are just such computer fiends, relying merely on internet for our information.

We had pulled the dinghy up onto the boat the night before, so we just had coffee and breakfast, pulled anchor, and set out, timing to pass through the two narrows in Vancouver Harbor at the right time.  The only casualties of the trip were the two wine glasses -- the last two of our Titanium crystal 'break resistant' wine glasses -- that I had forgotten on the window shelf.  When we passed below the Second Narrows bridge at the same time that two tugs were coming up, the wine glasses jumped off the shelf to their explosive deaths on the stairs to the aft cabin.  I immediately put on my flip flops and got out the broom and dustpan first, then the vacuum.  Ugh.  Not good to be rocking wildly with your head down.

But that swept up, we continued on without incident, and found ourselves out on the Strait, about 10:30 or 11.  We had 20 nautical miles to go to our destination -- about 4 hours.

Just about an hour later, we heard an announcement on the radio for a special weather bulletin, listen to channel 21b.  NOW the forecast called for winds 15-20, from the NW.  (Later they added '.. increasing to over 20 later in the day')  Just what we had hoped to avoid.  Oh well.  Current conditions given for many sites told us that we were in the thick of it, but the worst sea state we heard said 'three feet, moderate'.

I remember Al saying, 'Well, at least we will learn what the Georgia Strait is like in 15-20 winds.'  Yup, we did.

A bit later, as we cleared the muddy Fraser River influence with the many logs and other debris in its field, the waves began to build.  As they grew to what I gauged to be 6 feet, and occasionally splashing over the bow, I felt myself becoming tense, and knowing that we had about three hours to go still, I decided to go to the aft cabin and ride it out on the bed.

It takes a LOT of concentration and self-talk to keep myself calm in situations like this, and I cannot make the effort to speak.  When Al looked and saw me on the bed, I just waved and hoped he understood that to be 'I'm fine. Don't worry about me.  I'll be okay here, just get us there.'

Self talk.  Prayers.  Deep breathing.  NOT looking out the window and seeing walls of water, or clouds rocking as we crashed over waves.

The contents of the medicine chest had all fallen into the sink below.  I could smell perfume, and found the small container -- of course it was my favorite -- that had its lid knocked off.  The magnet could not keep the  door shut even without any contents to knock it open, so I tried to clip a towel on it to keep it from banging. The freezer is on a slider, and relies on a wedge to keep it in place under the counter.  The wedge kept falling out.  So I stuffed a pillow in above it, which worked, most of the time.  Every so often I would have to rise from the bed and replace the pillow, or the towel on the medicine cabinet, which left the books unattended and falling off the shelf.

Jesus, I could sure use you to calm the waters, now!  'Be not afraid.  I am with you.'  God, just keep Al strong!

It was NOT fun.  But we made it through.  And we did learn.

As one final power move by Al brought us into the channel to bring us to Silva Bay, the calm was SO welcome.  I came back up to the main cabin, patted Al on the back and asked, 'So how are YOU doing?'  His answer was 'No.'  I said, 'What?  Your brain must not be working right.  My question was:  How are you doing?'  He said 'If you ask me if I knew it would be like that, would I still go -- my answer would be 'No'.  I never want to do that again!'

I had gauged the waves to be at 6 feet when I went below, and I know it got worse after that.  I asked Al how big he thought they were.  He said he was too busy to really assess, but at one point he looked alongside the boat, and there was a wall of water he could not see over.  From all information, I believe they were 8-10 feet.  This is officially the roughest water we have been in.  The next morning we noted that our wind gauge had hit 43.

I do not consider Viking Star to be particularly 'tiny' -- we LIVE on it after all -- but it most definitely was tossed!  We spent an hour picking up, and then poured some wine (Al was wishing for scotch), and spent some time enjoying the sun on the back deck.

For the past year, since our last 'event', I have said of our full-time cruising adventure:  It's all been good but 3 days.  Well, add another one.

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