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Tacking back and forth across the fearsome Johnstone strait. ("the fearsome" should be part of the name of every geographic feature more than a mile from the person telling you about it.)
I came 9.22 miles from about 11:30am and 5pm. It felt like more though, the canoe sailed well into the wind. When I turn north at Queen Charlotte Strait I'll have at least one fast day sailing across this wind. 156 miles from launch now. A tugboat is going by toward the strait, pulling a barge of shipping containers. Just checked on the canoe. Almost outsmarted myself. The little bay is shaped like a question mark. I'm camped in the hook. Now waves, very sheltered. So the boat won't be worked on rocks. So I'm letting it drift up with the tide. The big rock I'd tied it to is now under water. No big deal, the canoe had floated to shore, the chunks of wood I'd dragged her up on still under her. I paddled to the rock, untied the rope with my feet. No big deal, but with a little imagination you could sink a boat and make a movie about it.
Interesting inverted root with miniature trees growing on top. Snowcapped peak behind. Two fawns stood next to it and stared at me from 25ft away before wandering off. Then a mink went hopping by. Very beautiful place, no more so than anywhere else with water, rocks and trees I'm sure, but I took some pictures. I may take the day off tomorrow and stay here. I haven't had a day in one place since I started on the first. Enjoying this fire. Burning done months in tide book, other unnecessary paper.
The barnacles taste like mussels or clams. The limpets more like snails, more tender than that moon snail. Mmm.
The broth is green. I guess that's from bile in the liver. Gastropods- whatever isn't stomach is liver, I guess. Don't like snails? Well, it tastes like marshmallows, or whatever your favorite food is, in case you don't envy this great life I'm living enough. Loud noises like breaking branches. I think that's seals slapping the water.
5pm Fri 7-20-01 spread everything out including my clothes and took a picture of it. I was naked so I took a dip. No thermometer, but it wasn't bad. Beautiful sunny day. Calm here, on the strait side of the island it's windy. This am crapped on a big leaf of seaweed and threw it out into the current. The "infamous shit-put." Gathered limpets for a delicious breakfast. Watched them a bit upside down before cooking them. They really are snails. With antennae and little snail faces under those shells. Read+burned things. Cooked some oatmeal. Didn't eat much, the limpets are filling. Also got some eels, sandworms and a sucker fish from under rocks for bait. Will fish tomorrow or when the boat is ready. One of my eco-boating pamphlets said crap in catholes 100yds from water. I guess it depends on water flow and shellfish. Sounds like they test the bivalves for fecal coliform bacteria as well as PSP.
Still haven't gone a day without seeing people. Or rather their vehicles and hearing their motors. Wonder when and if that will happen. Is that what wilderness is? I think I prefer clearcuts to houses and no trespassing signs.
Was tacking back and forth across Johnstone strait yesterday when I heard strange music from a cove. Like Tibetan monks. "Medicine Buddha Puja" CD. But big like motors. What was it? I made up
all kinds of fantasies. I headed for it. It turned out to be guys with huge machines putting logs into a boom. A front end loader grabbing and stacking logs onto a rack. Then tiny invisible
people must have wrapped and tightened cables around it, because after a bit the front-ender rammed into the stack and pushed it off the bank down a ramp into the water. Splash! Huge like a
glacier calving. Then a guy in a big boat rammed the bundled logs and pushed them around to boom them up with others. I tacked off when a big red softside powerboat full of people in red
jumpsuits roared up and stopped. The I saw the whales. Two groups of orcas, close. I hadn't reloaded my camera and thought, "I'll just experience this." One group passed right by me, surfacing
and blowing. One lay on the surface and looked at me. The other pod came right at me and dove under the canoe. Amazing! Then they hung around long enough that I changed my mind, reloaded and
took pictures. I guess I really am here.
My stuff is all spread out drying. Tomorrow I'll have cooked oatmeal instead of raw for the first time in a long time. No mosquitoes yet, a good sign. I'll pretend there are no bears or raccoons on the island, not hang the food. I'll let the tide carry the canoe up too. What laziness. I need to relax though, cuz I just almost got killed taking a stroll around the island. It's bigger than it looks and I slipped and almost fell twice rockclimbing around little cliffs. One handhold was a loose rock, one was a foot. Damn. I bet my sense of balance is probably screwed up from sailing too. Then a couple of times driftwood logs and even beach rocks rolled when I stepped on them. Metal parts from a boat that came to grief on the other side of the island. I almost came to grief myself.
[diagram] stem 5" float or head leaves or hair 30ft long? Kelp is reddish-brown. When anchored the hair points down-current. When loose the head points downwind. Sometimes I snag kelp on my leeboard. Then I throw a couple of big leaves on my back deck to dry. It turns color from red-brown to green, and from slimy-succulent to thin, brittle, and delicious. The natives used dried kelp stems for fish line and many other things. These lie ready-made up in the driftwood piles. A lot of people here live in float houses on log rafts. Many of the large drift logs show the marks of this or use as floating docks, or being part of a log boom. On this island many of the logs have huge chains attached to them. In one cove-let is a lot of rusty iron, the remains of some iron-fastened structure. Big chunks of flotation foam, polypropylene rope, buoys, some containers. A five or ten-gallon plastic gas can full of gas. I'm better off on the water. Every time I go anywhere on land I step on something that moves and fall or almost fall.
Didn't sleep too well last night. It was a very high tide. First it put out my fire, then I moved all my stuff higher. Then the canoe kept getting lifted and sheltered less as the shelter was submerged. Seems grass and the height of driftwood isn't a guarantee of maximum tide. Then a bunch of ships went by making waves, probably trying to hit Seymour narrows at slack tide. Tide also left a big log balanced on a rock next to the canoe. I thought "That doesn't look too solid." after working under it for a while. I walked around, gave it a little push, and it went crashing down.
PV= NrT rears its ugly head again. This cold water shrinks the outrigger's soft closed-cell foam more, making it more wrinkly. I made it on a hot summer day, tightened the skin with an iron. I guess I'll have to chill it then iron it fast.
9:15am sat 7-21-01 In same place. I'm sleeping late lately. Why do I smell like onions? This grassy patch I'm sleeping on is full of wild onions. Very tasty actually. Peeled one and cut off the
base with "the bushman's elongated thumbnail, which he uses as a knife" re: "peoples of the earth." The tides are much higher here, ~16ft vs. ~7ft in the San Juans. No wonder I'm surprised how
little room I have at high tide.
Last night carved new bulls for the oars from drift plywood. Number labels from log booms. Used pruning saw, crooked knife. Drilled holes with my japanese drill-stick rubbed between the hands. Then lashed cross handles on my file and frost's knife, bored the holes larger with tang of file and knife. Worked very well. Lashed the bulls on the oars with #24 tarred nylon seine twine as it got dark. Monster noises came from the next island, like a big cat trying to talk. Then growling and snarling. A cougar? Customs John said they'd been attacking adults lately. Then took the trouble of dragging the canoe all the way up on sticks. So I could sleep better, which I think I did.
Many strange dreams though about mad bombers. The campfire made me miss Nina. I need to learn how to have a campfire in a tent. Much of the world used to live in tiny huts with a fire adn smoke
hole. Maybe a tiny Rumford fireplace made of sheet stainless. There's the monster again, further west. Must be in the water. Today before I get underway I think I'll
x fix leeboard attachment
x make long tiller handle
x add jam cleats for running stays
x plug hole in bow
Two motor skiffs keep zipping back and forth by this island. Wonder what their business is. They have enclosed wheelhouse cabins. One has a white plastic auto-deploy lifeboat can on the roof. There goes a hummingbird, curious about my rudder. A feeder might be a nice thing to bring.
6:40pm worked on the canoe all day. Made a huge pile of wood shavings. Red cedar is great stuff. Splits straight on two axes, easy to work. Light, rot resistant, and I suppose strong. Made a couple of jam cleats from drift pallet white oak. Seems like it doesn't rain much here. Maybe still in the rain shadow. The grass is dry and brown. I smell urine. Next to me is a crevice too high for the tide. Appears to have urine in it. Did I pee of the little hill in this direction? Perhaps the previous campers did.
Just finishing up the boat work. Got depressed, stopped to eat dry seaweed, write, sit in the shade on the east side of my tiny islet. As the day wore on I started mulling over various stupid
things I'd done. Mistakes. Guilt, times I'd felt bad. I always get in a funk finishing projects. But this boatwork and reorganizing is minor. Maybe It's that I'm about to sail off the edge of
the earth. That's how people have talked about it anyway. The conditions are easy, I guess it doesn't always storm. The prospect of being away from people can be scary too. But as I'm fond of
saying, there are problems on land too. Maybe I want to be away from people because there are fewer opportunities to make mistakes. Maybe I'm burned out from _______, ____, ______, ______,
_____, ___, and others? Going actually crazy or just unhappy and blaming me for some or all of it. Even if I haven't made mistakes or such minor ones I don't even count them. I'm glad not to be
running the shows, even if it now lacks my spark, as I've been told. I'm sure it has a different spark now, tastes vary. Since '93 I guess I've thrown 100 parties/events. That's enough. $10,000
for charity maybe. If you're important to people you have a lot more opportunities to make mistakes. Errors of omission.
My island is a lot bigger at low tide. Tides have increased to 20ft and more.
Can be a lot of work getting the boat to the water at low tide.
Doug and Amy
7-22-01 Sun N50* 31.323' W126*34.009' At boat bay across from Robson Bight ecological reserve with whale wardens Doug and Nick, volunteers Amy and Erin, Matt, Cheyney, longterm whalewatching
volunteers Cheryl 6yrs Dave 15yrs. Doug is trimmer on a race boat. Alert bay - native culture. Came 12.1 miles between 12:30 and 6:30 beating into the wind. 2mph made good. I now think that's
not too bad. The wind seems to fan out as it comes down the strait, so at the ends of tacks, into bays etc. the wind is slightly more favorable.
White and black banana slugs mating on path up to cliff. They spent a couple of days in this "yin-yang" way, perhaps chasing each other in circles at max speed, but too slowly to tell.
Mon 7-23-01 fog today, no whale watching. Sewed my sandals back together and hung out with the gang. Contractors who run the reserve. Cleared up later, went to cliff, counted orcas and
The cliff crew.
Jim of Stubbs island whale watching gave us huge amounts of groceries, food. Feast with hamburgers at night. Bere point Malcolm island sointula rubbing beach Troy takes care of it.
Sandals vs. shoes as amphibian footwear.
Weds 7-25-01 very windy, no whales and few boats. Cliff yesterday, slept on cliff. From the cliff can see how the wind fans out as it comes down the strait. Early day, Feast of halibut.
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