Monday, February 14, 2011

The Commute

[Photo: Ferry crossing to Salt Spring Island]
Sat 8:40 am. 
I am sitting in the car on the ferry to Salt Spring Island, on my way to the Alpaca spinning workshop on Salt Spring Island, thinking about this five-stage, four modes of transportation (golf cart, car, boat and ferry boat) trip and it struck me that it would make an interesting blog. Besides, I have nothing else to do having forgotten my spindle. Dumb, dumb, dumb. In any case here is my day so far.

6:30 am. As I sit at home sipping a wake-up latte, girding myself for the trek, I can hear the rain and the pine cones hitting the window.  It is still dark out and I check the marine forecast. Southeast (bad) winds 20 (not so bad) knots to 30 (bad) knot winds. Pine cone bombs tells me it is closer to 30knots.  I am glad the drum carder, wool, and spinning accessories (enough to fill a suitcase)  are already loaded in the car and all I need to take today is my lunch, backpack, and spinning wheel. I grab them and as the sky just starts to brighten, I jump into the electric golf cart and silently cross the island.

7:15 am. As I carry my gear to the dock where my boat is, I can hear the wind in the cedars whooshing and madly shaking the branches. Small cedar twigs drop around me. All of a sudden I remember a cougar was sighted this week on Newcastle Island (as well as on campus) and then I look over at Newcastle, a mere 200 ft away and think hmmm, cougars swam there from Vancouver Island, a bigger swim than from Newcastle to the island I am on, and in addition to deer, the attraction on this island are cats, dogs, and, um, humans.  Heck, a cougar could saunter over at low tide, no swimming required. I jump and look behind me as a noise startles me and my heart races. It is only more twigs and cones hitting the dirt. The rain has stopped temporarily as I jump into the boat. It's a bit dark under the canvas and I can't see too much. I sniff, checking for fresh mink or otter droppings. Another sniff. Nothing fresh, just the old stale mink musk smell from last weeks visit from a mink. I can safely put my spinning wheel down on the floor without worrying about it carrying the foul smell all weekend.

The wind is protected here but still wind cat's paws are rippling the water. The dock and boat are bouncing at odds with each other, from waves that roll in through the gap between the islands.

I check the gas. We have two tanks. Today is not a good day to run out or to have to switch tanks in the middle of the harbour where you are most exposed. There is enough in one tank but I leave the full spare tank exposed to remind me to switch for the return journey.

I start the engine, push away from the dock and consider my route. Should I go in the troughs or angle the trip to have the waves 3/4 on my port rear?  This would require going 1/4 into the waves and then zigging 90degrees to go with the waves for the second half of the crossing. This would be bouncy for the first half and smooth surfing for the second half as long as I adjust the engine speed to that of the waves.  The white caps are coming more ESE that SE so I decide to ride the troughs between the waves, a more direct route.

[Photo: View from Vancouver Island side
looking at Newcastle Island in the storm]
I enter the open harbour and find a trough to follow, keeping an eye out for floating logs, deadheads, anchor lines of boats and abandoned bouys half sunk and hard to see in the waves. I know the approximate location of two bouys, so I keep a close eye to avoid them. If I catch a line in the prop here, I could end up powerless and the ESE winds would push me onto the rocks at Newcastle and the rumoured new home of a cougar.

I make it across the most open area without a hitch.  Two dozen double crested cormorants fly low over the boat as I turn down the channel to the yacht club where we moor. I glide into the covered moorage, tie the boat up, and carry my wheel to the car for the 40 drive to Crofton and the ferry to Salt Spring to continue my commute.

1 comment:

  1. we do live an adventurous life here, don't we?! Hope your weekend on Saltspring was productive and fun.