Sunday, September 11, 2016

Back to civilization – and the Summer Lost

On the West Coast there are a few ‘barriers’ boaters may have trepidation crossing.  From some it starts with the Juan De Fuca Strait, separating the central sound from the San Juan Islands.  They are not comfortable passing that body of water and spend their boating time in the Seattle area, or perhaps take the ‘back road’ through LaConner.   Haro Strait and entry into Canada is next with perhaps a bigger barrier being the Strait of Georgia  to get into the Desolation Sound area.   Next come ‘The Rapids’ separating the Desolation Soung area from the Broughtons and Cape Caution further north.  Each of these (as with any water) deserve respect, planning, and benefit from an open schedule to allow for calm passages.   But each of these also acts as a kind of natural filter, reducing the number of boats at each gateway. (Some of the popular guide books filled with massive words of caution don't help - bless them!)

‘The Rapids’ is perhaps one of the larger filters.   Not only for the effort needed to safely pass through them,  but also that it takes time to work through them and explore the waters above.  Many, and I mean MANY, boats do not have that – and remain in the Desolation area. 

Which is why we passed through them last May to head North.

But 'summer' (sic) is coming to an end, the weather is turning colder and wetter (well, not that we would really notice that – more later), and it is time for us to start heading back towards our wintering grounds.  With that, last week we passed through the southernmost Rapids heading South – and began our return.   That most southernmost rapids also marks what Kristi and I kind of call the ‘return to Civilization’.  Now the shorelines are dotted with homes, there are small boats buzzing around, and a large increase in the number of larger boats as well.  And the background sound we hear is no longer the wind, or the flapping of bird wings (seriously), but motors (cars, boats).  We are no longer ‘Out There’; we are in Civilization.  (And yes, I know the Broughtons are not really the ends of the world – but there is a striking difference between the waters above and below the rapids).

So we are back in Civilization, back to where each anchorage largely has access to places to thin our wallets and fatten our bellies.  And where we share each anchorage with upwards of 20-40 other boats…  It has been a fun summer and we are looking forward to our return to the area.  But if you have followed us over this 'summer' you will know it was also kind of a summer lost..  Why?  It rained.  I mean, it rained A LOT.  Except for a couple of marina folks at Port McNeil (who I expect had an almost pavlovian response to whiny yacht-types along the lines of ‘Well, this IS a rain forest’), all others we talked to agreed this summer was a bit dreary.  Yes, the Broughtons are a ‘temperate Rainforest’, and yes, we should expect rain – but this summer was rather exceptional.    Lots of rain, lots of no sun, very little being able to sit on the back deck (I think we enjoyed perhaps 4-5 ‘sun downers’ all summer).  LOT of hours on the generator and heater.    I pulled the record of our solar output from May through August, and you can see the evidence here:

So  in some ways this was a summer lost.  Few opportunities to sit on the back deck, bright-work maintenance left undone – along with some painting as well.  We did hear last summer was great though!  (Well, almost exceptionally great that is – well above ‘normal’ in the sunshine factor)  In the end, we are heading back.  Back to civilization, and the Lost Summer.  Will enjoy the fall and look forward to next year. 

But not to sound too down,  I am remembering one of my favorite reviews from Active Captain (a web site where boaters can comment about different boating locations).  It goes something like this:  “… after overhearing another boaters Admiral whine about the lack of amenities - a friend of my daughter commented ‘Suck it up Princess, you are lucky to be here!’ “   And so it is – Kristi and I know we are lucky to have been here, rain and all.

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