Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Crazy 8 Race

It was one of those wild, wonderful, west coast days. The Nanaimo Outrigger Crazy 8 Race, so named because the race makes a figure 8 around Newcastle and Protection Islands. Crazy, because you have to be just a little bit crazy to be racing in waters that can give you hypothermia in under 30 minutes. Crazy because, after all it is winter and even though this is the 'balmy' west coast, we are still in Canada and not Hawaii. Crazy because you never know what March brings.  
[Photo: Stellar sea lions watching the race]
And crazy because this year the herring fishing season was open. Crazy because half the race was right where the fishing fleet was fishing. Crazy because the herring were spawning and crazy because where the herring are is where eagles, Stellar sea lions, seals, gulls and great rafts of sea birds can be found in one crazy feeding frenzy.  
[Photo: Outrigger making its way
between the fleet]

Crazy because the races had to find their way between: large fish boat;, smaller herring skiffs; anchored freighters; fish nets lurking just below the surface; rafts of sea lions; bobbing seals; and through flocks of birds. And the noise! Gulls crying, eagles calling and sea lions growling and belching! And crazy because I was piloting the safety boat, trying to stay ahead of the outriggers, out of their way, not run them over, keeping them all in sight, and, like them, avoiding the wildlife (one large sea lion jumped out of the water and almost landed on the bow of the boat!) and the fleet, and taking pictures at the same time. Crazy! Slideshow here.

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