Thursday, October 2, 2008

"Just a couple of days..."

Hi, all. Wallet B. Grundle, Esq., here. You can call me Wally. Alison has asked me to guest-blog for her so I'm jumping in to tell part of the Juichi tale. Unfortunately, since they had adventures between Prince Rupert and Port McNeill which Alison hasn't yet blogged, my stories will be out of order. However, for those of you who know me, random extremely long-winded and timeline-challenged blurbs of infonoise are not at all surprising. For those who don't know me, um, hi, and uh... I like cheese.

So, context: when Katy and I went up to cruise with Ron and Alison back in June as they headed north, I'd discussed a similar adventure for later in the year as they headed south. A couple weeks ago, Ron called me from Shearwater saying that they'd be in the vicinity of the north end of Vancouver Island in roughly a week, and did I want to come up and meet them. My answer included a long string of emphatic expletives indicating an affirmative response, and I agreed to meet them in a week in Port McNeill.

I arrived in scenic, metropolitan Port McNeill on the afternoon of Wednesday the 24th of September. I met up with Ron at the marina, and we got to work, readying for our departure on the morrow. Aside from the necessary provisioning (propane, diesel, water, groceries, liquor, laundry), the first task of the evening was getting drunk. I kid. Well, not really. Oh, and Gus' Grille in Port McNeill employs a young lady I will someday marry. I am in love, and this time it's for real.

Where was I? Oh yeah. The next morning, we got up, untied and headed out. We were hoping to see orcas by Stubbs Island, but instead got treated to the largest pod of porpoises any of us have ever seen. HUNDREDS of porpoises. I know that sounds crazy, but wait for Alison's video. Seriously. HUNDREDS. Ron navigated expertly into West Passage, then up Village Channel to Goat Islet where we set the anchor. Ron and I rowed around Center Island to set the crab pot, we saw a black bear, we had a tasty dinner, y'know, the usual.

The next day, we tried to leave, but were thwarted. In the face of violent weather, we were forced to stay at our anchorage. The wind howled viciously as terrifying swell fetched against the hull. Alison was barely able to work in the galley, so heavily did the boat rock. Nevertheless, after great effort, she served up a meager meal of breakfast wraps containing hash browns, grilled red peppers, hot sausage, egg, and pepper-jack cheese. It was difficult, but Ron and I managed to choke down at least two wraps each, Ron taking one for the team by shoveling down the leftover third course. Seeing no other alternative, we were forced to take naps, argue, tell stories and have cocktails before Ron made his famous wings for dinner. This whole paragraph is a lie. It was a really, really nice day. Three guesses what killed our motivation that morning. Daaaang Alison can cook. [whew] We got up late, ate too large a breakfast and didn't want to leave cuz we were being lazy. So. That's day two.

Day three (09/28) was a trip to Viner Sound. We thought about stopping in Echo Bay since the reports in the guides were positive, but since we're travelling so late in the year, a lot of stuff is already closed up. We tied up at the Echo public dock, took a walk/look around, and decided to move on to Viner. Viner Sound is a long, straight slice of water off Tribune Channel. The anchorage is near the end and has two moorings; anchoring in the sound itself would be problematic due to the number of crab pots and the fact that the whole end of the sound dries at low tide. We dropped the shrimp pot at the entrance, and dropped the crab pot further in. After tieing up next to a Cal 2-46 from Seattle (via Eureka, CA) named Dream Catcher (shout out to Margie and Chuck!), Alison surprised us with a snack of roasted peanuts and cold beers. She and I took a row around the bay, and then out into the sound to watch the sea lions and the jumping (crazy jumping!) salmon while Ron didn't do anything useful. Scratch that last part. I don't actually know what he was doing while we were out rowing, but, knowing him as long as I have, I'm pretty safe in assuming he was up to no good. Oh, wait -- he was prepping for dinner. That's right. Grilled steaks, potatoes and corn on the cob. So maybe he isn't that useless. Sometimes.

The next morning, we got moving at a reasonable hour since we had a longish day ahead of us. Before pulling back out into Tribune Channel, we pulled the pots and, disappointingly, got skunked. Not even a sea star or jelly. Dang. The wind was up in Tribune, and Ron had to drive carefully to avoid a solid tide line of junk lumber (thank you, BC Timber Sales). Despite the high overcast, the view was tremendous. The steep rock and forest walls, Gilford Island on one side and mainland British Columbia on the other, give the channel a very fjord-like feel. Glaciated peaks of the Coast Range are visible at each turn in the channel. After several hours at the helm, Ron steered us into Kwatsi Bay just as the high overcast broke. Max, the harbormaster, met us a the dock, and, before we could tie up, instructed us to go drop our pots. We did as he said, dropping the crab pot in just over 100ft and the shrimp pot in just under 300ft. Returning to the dock a bit forward of where we'd first arrived since we'd been told where better wifi could be had, Max welcomed us and invited us to dinner. We instantly accepted (he offered fresh crab and prawns, so, c'mon, duh). We took the marina skiff over to a beautiful waterfall -- you're checking Alison's flickr, right? -- and then took the marina kayaks out for a fun paddle, making it back in time for showers and a delicious dinner on the dock. Max made garlic bread from a fresh loaf he'd baked himself, as well as a big bowl of crab and prawns. We brought (read: Alison made) pasta in pesto and steamed veggies. Great dinner. If you're cruising in the Broughtons, go see Max. Lovely fellow, and a great host.

Morning on Kwatsi Bay brought a slow start -- a longish evening with a couple of eventful moments (if you live in Hadlock, ask me about it, but only after several drinks, cuz then it goes from embarrassing to really, really funny) kept us up late -- but we were untied and underway by 11am-ish. We pulled the pots on the way out, getting skunked on crab again, but pulling up a jackpot of lovely prawns. We'd been told that Bond Sound, literally just around the corner, was a can't-miss, so we headed that way. On the way out of Kwatsi, we were treated to a set of native pictographs that Max had told us about. Ron again demonstrated his skill at the wheel maneuvering in the current, letting us take photos. Turning into Bond Sound, we set the hook, hopped in the dinghy and Ron took us for a row up two different estuaries. We were taking our time and inadvertantly burned quite a lot of daylight before getting back to Juichi. Because of the distance to our next anchorage, we wisely decided against continuing on, reset the hook and stern tied off the shore, and set about cocktailing and snacking. Alison prepped some of our prawns by wrapping them in bacon, letting Ron grill these. She then boiled the rest and served them up with cocktail sauce, pouring us gin and tonics to go with. We set the crab pot off the side of the boat (too lazy to row out), baiting it with prawn heads and hoping for something other than sea stars and kelp greenlings. That accomplished, we set about a dinner of huuuge burgers after which we were too tired for either cribbage or BBC nature videos.

Now, it may seem like all I've described so far has been a list of days and their meals. To those uninitiated to the cruising life, I would offer this thought: yeah, baby. That's pretty much what this is all about. Going from one beautiful place to another at a very slow pace (Kwatsi to Bond, for instance, was just over six miles for the day), eating, drinking, socializing, meeting other folks with very similar agendas. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Okay, it's late, I've got my swerve on (Benedictine and brandy? Recommended!), Ron's playing loud buttrock on the iPod and Alison has attempted to retire for the evening, so I'm gonna sign off. I thought I'd be up on Juichi for just a couple of days; after five days of cruising (thru 09/29), I was less than a third of the way to where I was supposed to be getting off. Tomorrow, I'll relate the tale of 09/30 thru 10/02. I'm hoping to make it Powell River, BC, at some point, and return home. Not sure how long that will take, but, as you can clearly tell, I'm not too concerned about it.

1 comment:

Wallet B. Grundle said...

This last blog entry is a work of brilliance! The charming gentleman who wrote it must be not only tremendously intelligent and charming, but also extremely handsome and well-liked.