Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Bittersweet Tale

Mitlenatch Island is called the Galapagos of BC. When we arrived there, we were greeted by hundreds of sea lions and seals sunning themselves on the rocks. We were mesmerized by the sights and sounds of the wildlife as we entered the tiny harbor. We anchored in a tiny rocky area in the middle of three islands. This was our first experience anchoring in a rock bottom and I was horrified as I felt the anchor drag and bounce and grind against the rock, taking several tries before the anchor caught. The boys asked if we were going to stay overnight as planned and I confidently replied "no" because I was positive that there was no way that the anchor was going to hold. I thought we would hang out for a couple of hours on the boat enjoying the "planet earth" scene we were sitting in the middle of. After a while, it seemed that the boat was staying in one place so we decided to row Rosebud into land where we hiked a few trails. Eventually Jason talked me into staying the night at Mitlenatch, hoping that the forecasted calm would stick (we knew that if it got windy this was NOT a safe place to be and we would have to pull up anchor in the middle of the night and find somewhere else to be). Nevertheless, the sea lions wooed me with their guttural star-wars-bar-scene noises and I was smitten with their big, blubbery ways so I gave in. We spent the evening with our new sea mammal friends seranading us and we settled into bed with calm, clear skies. You know how they say to do one thing that scares you every day....we decided to do something that scared us all through the dark, windy night. About 11:00 the wind picked up. We managed to get an hour of sleep before I was up at midnight checking to see if we were still where we were supposed to be and making declarations that we needed to start anchor watch. Jason can be a little difficult to convince of this in the middle of the night as he, like me, would rather be sleeping. After lying there, not sleeping, listening to the chain drag around on the sea floor for two hours, we became much more active in our checkings and Jason finally agreed that, yes, it was time for anchor watch, so he took the first shift while I laid in bed with Isaac, who is closer to the anchor, not sleeping. At 3:30, Jason frantically called inside for me declaring that Rosebud was getting away. I emerged just in time to watch Rosebud riding glowing waves of bioluminescence, through light fog, slipping away into the darkness. Jason thought we should pull up anchor and go after her, but even though I love Rosebud and didn't want to lose her, I liked the idea of heading out into the wind and chop of the Strait of Georgia in the middle of the night even less. We waffled back and forth for about five minutes. With the engine fired up and me about to pull up the anchor, Jason came forward and agreed that we had to let her go. At this point, I took up my watch, listening to the sea lions in the darkness, watching the stars and glowing waves as we swung to and fro on our slowly-slipping anchor, until just a sliver of the crescent moon came over the horizon followed a short while later by a lightening horizon. In the low light of the morning I was alarmed by how close we had moved to the rocks and how our depth was dropping with the tide. It took all my willpower to not wake up Jason. I waited, watching the arc of our swings and the depth meter, determining that once it dropped past a certain point, I would wake Jason up. I managed to let him sleep until almost 7:00 when my nerves couldn't handle it any more. As soon as he was out of bed we fired up the engine, pulled up anchor, and carefully maneuvered ourselves out into the channel. Once safely out in the strait, we unfurled the jib, cut the engine and quietly sailed, dinghy-less through the early morning light with warm cups of tea in our hands. All in all, it was a very memorable experience, but I hope not to repeat it too often.

We have a new, very experienced, sailing friend in Seattle who warned us that whenever you plan a trip to Desolation Sound you always plan a stop in Campbell River otherwise something will go wrong and you will need to stop there anyway. Not wanting to add unnecessary superstitions to our sailing lives we had not planned on stopping in Campbell River. After losing Rosebud, we had no choice go to Campbell River and to add a new superstition to our list. Once there, we went dinghy shopping and were very sad about the only, very white, very plastic choice. We couldn't bring ourselves to buy it and left the store in hopes of finding another solution. Over the course of the afternoon and many phone calls later, it hit us that now would be the perfect time to buy a kayak that can hold three people, something that we had already been contemplating. Jason located one at a nearby outdoor store and set out on foot. Later the owner of the shop was nice enough to deposit Jason and our new kayak at the marina. After we had all taken a test paddle in the kayak that Isaac fittingly named Blackberry, we hoisted her onto Marinero's kayak rack. Jason, at this point, called the Coast Guard to let them know that we had lost a dinghy so that they didn't launch a missing person search, to which they replied "Rosebud?" As it turns out they had a visual on her at that moment, twenty miles south of where she broke free and the Comox Volunteer Rescue Station was enroute to pick her up. She is now waiting for us to pick her up in Comox when we head south again. Yay Rosebud! We ended this much-too exciting day safely tied up to a dock at April Point, but not before we hit a big log entering the narrow channel to get there.

Click here for photos.

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