(Note: I wrote this post on the day the events occurred, but posted this after the trip, so the dates are a bit messed up. This post is from the second day of the trip, Friday.)
Today may have been the best day I've ever had in a boat -- and we didn't really even sail! After a late start due to grocery shopping, chart shopping, waiting for the liquor store to open, and getting more fuel, we took off from Nanaimo this morning around 10:00am. The weather was overcast with a 10kt wind right on our nose from the northeast. We had to take a slightly longer route to skirt Whiskey Golf, a Canadian weapons testing range (36ft fiberglass sailboats lose 100% of the time against torpedoes moving at 50kts). The Canadians had a big amphibious assault carrier out on the range turning circles; not sure why.
As we motor sailed north (again, more motoring than sailing) and enjoyed the great breakfast Michael cooked, the weather opened up and the seas became flatter. It really became a very pleasant day. I learned how to input the GPS waypoints and have the autopilot drive from point to point which made my job even easier. I just hung out on deck watching the islands go by, taking a few photos, and reading my book. The photo here shows me sitting in the hammock with the autopilot remote. The data on the display shows that the cross-track error is zero: we're on course. Hard work...
Later in the afternoon, we finally killed the two crabs that Cap't Dan caught a few days ago. I steamed them over beer, garlic, and basil and made some garlic/basil butter for dipping along with some garlic bread. We ate our lunch on deck and washed it all down with some cold beer. The crabs were amazingly great and tasted even better in the sunshine and breeze.
As we reached the north end of Texada Island, we heard a wooshing sound and saw a grey whale on the surface. We killed our engine and sailed along the path of the whale, watching it blow and dive for a while. Then the whale approached the boat a few times. At one point, it crossed less then twenty yards in front of the boat, and then rolled under Papa with one tail fluke coming out of the water. We could see a spiral line of bubbles disappear into the deep. The whale continued to play with us, going under the boat a few times (we could see our depth sounder go from 400+ f eet deep to 20 feet instantly and then drop back to 400+.
After a while, we resumed our course when, ahead in the distance, we could see a lot of splashing. Michael and I then realized it was a line of Dall's porpoises coming at us, jumping along the surface of the water. These amazingly fast animals jetted by us (under the boat). We turned and followed them and then came back and swam under the boat and jumped along side us for a while (click here for video, 543K .wmv). It was truly amazing. Finally, they took off in search of a more fun and food. The three of us each had our cameras out (I had two) and were shooting, yelling, and laughing the whole time, maybe 45 minutes.
Because of our time with the whale and porpoises, we realized we weren't going to make our destination by dark, so we decided to stay in Blubber Bay, which was close by. This is a little bay on the north end of Texada Island. It would be cute except for the limestone quarry right at the water's edge and the ferry that runs between the bay and the mainland, presumably to take the workers to and from the factory. Fortunately, it quieted down after sundown.
We circled the bay a few times to check out our anchoring conditions. Neither Michael nor I had ever set an anchor for real, so this was great chance. We put out a bow and stern anchor (with Michael having to row the stern anchor out) and then set about making dinner - a nice meal of grilled halibut, corn on the cob, buttered red potatoes, and hot chocolate chip cookies. While we enjoyed our dessert, we relived the day through all of the photos and videos we shot. There were definitely some great shots.
Even with the ferry dock and factory here, it's amazingly quiet and dark. We can see the Milky Way and zillions of stars (including a shooting star). It's really lovely and peaceful.
Time to go to bed. Tomorrow: Desolation Sound.