The Strait of Juan de Fuca

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

(Part 4 of the voyage, see also Part 1Part 2 , and Part 3) …Up early and we’re off for Galiano Island, where the Captain has a good friend he wants to visit. Well, actually, like me he wants to take advantage of the good weather to run south … but we’re going to stop and visit anyhow. We pull into a lovely little anchorage called “Retreat Cove”, with only about four feet of water under the keel. To be able to maneuver inside the harbor, we bring the tri alongside the fishing boat and lash them together. Here’s the view from the bow of the tri as we entered Retreat Cove.

day five into anchorage

Once we get inside, it’s a pastoral calm scene. We anchor in the middle and look around:

day five retreat cove

The Captain’s friend has arrived, and we winch the dinghy into the water, pile in, and head to the dock. She picks us up and drives us to her house up on the hill. It’s warmer up there, and there’s a stunning view from her deck.

day five up the hill

She packs us full of salad, everything from her garden, and tells us tales of her doings, and about the ways of the island. She’s a lovely and charming woman, but all too soon, I begin to feel the hours slipping away, we’re burning daylight, and the Captain feels the same. So we all jump in the car and she drives us down the hill to the harbor.  The boats are floating happily, the tri nestled up next to the fishing boat.

On the way out to the docks I notice an ingenious solution to where to store your small boat out of the wind and the water … hang it from the dock walkway.

day five up boat under dock

We motor out to the boat and climb aboard. I go forward to winch up the anchor. On the run down I’d finally managed to beat the hydraulic anchor windlass into submission. My mom used to say “If at first you don’t succeed … get a bigger hammer”, and that was exactly the ticket. The problem was a stuck valve, and the solution was a big hammer, lots of grease, and patience. Now that the windlass is working, we no longer have to pull the anchor by hand. But when the anchor comes up it has a huge ball of seaweed on it, a yard (metre) in diameter. So I leave the anchor sticking out over the bow and another crewmember and I pull all of the seaweed off it, one slimy handful at a time. The glamorous oceanic life of the swabbie. When it’s all cleaned off we bring the anchor inboard, lash it down, and we’re under way again. The green line shows our path over two days and one night, including our stop at Galiano Island.

day five chart of route

We wend our way south through Canada’s lovely islands. As we near the city of Victoria, traffic increases. We see the “dance of the faeries”, two ferry boats passing in mid-channel, one coming from Victoria, one going to Victoria, and surrounded by a variety of sail and power boats.

day five up dance of the ferries

We motor past a lovely gaff-rigged yawl, a throwback to an older day.

day five yawl rig

The “gaff” is the wooden pole along the top edge of the four-sided mainsail. They are a pain in the sub-sacral regions—they’re heavy to lift, and they want to swing around aloft and strain the sail, so you need ropes called “preventers” to prevent that. In my opinion, gaff-rigged boats are a Very Bad Idea™, which is why you don’t see new ones, just replicas of old ones … however, dang, they do look all piratical and romantic.

Speaking of piratical and romantic, here’s how I look, with my keffiya around my head to keep off the sun. It has been hot sun for days now, and us melanin-challenged folks need to take care … OK, maybe it’s neither piratical nor romantic, but it’s very practical.

day five selfie with kaffiya

In the late afternoon we approach Victoria, one of the older Canadian cities. The constricted channels of the islands open up and we see the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with the massive mountains of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula snow-covered in the distance. As we rounded the corner we saw the most curious mirage, with an inverted reflection above the whole extent of a stretch of hilly land extending from Vancouver Island out to sea. Those are not clouds below, that’s a cloud-free sky with a peninsula plus an inverted mirage.

day five olympic mirage

Once we clear from Victoria, we start up the Strait of Juan de Fuca towards the open ocean. For the first time we’ll be running all night, and I’ll have the night watch, so in the late afternoon I crash out in my berth up in the forecastle, or “foc’sle” as it is pronounced. The foc’sle is the small triangular space right at the front of the boat. As is common, this one is tiny, with couple of bunk berths, but it works. I awaken around eleven at night, and take the wheel. I’m told that the autopilot couldn’t handle it so we’re steering by hand … and the reason the autopilot couldn’t handle it is that once again the hydraulic steering isn’t working all that well. As a result, a quarter turn of the steering wheel to the left has the same effect on the course as two full turns to the right, and the autopilot can’t figure that out.

But then that’s part of the joy of being at sea, simply dealing with adversity. I take the wheel, and the others go to bed. It’s clear, the visibility is good. I try to figure out what the hydraulic steering is doing, and get used to its strange behavior.

Being in charge of a boat on the ocean at night, crossing a crowded sea-lane with big ships coming and going, alone at the helm with my shipmates slumbering, is a curious thing. If I make a mistake, if I fail to notice something, if I doze off, if I go left when I should go right, it could get ugly. So I check and double-check my position. I watch in front and in back for lights from other boats and ships. The radar on the fishing boat has been on strike the whole trip, so my eyeballs have to work overtime. Three big ships are coming down the Strait, and a couple are going the other way towards the ocean. There’s no moon, it’s very dark, and so as is often the case at sea, we’re running blind at night. I stay near the shore, outside of the shipping lanes.

I’m running using the GPS, actually we have two of them. I use the one on my iPhone, it shows more detail. I steer the boat west along the Washington coast. After three hours or so we get near the mouth of the Strait. After much peering into the darkness I finally locate the Waadah Island light outside of Neah Bay (yellow circle on the right below), which I find out from my iPhone flashes once every four seconds. Here’s what the iPhone  GPS display looks like:

day five cape flattery

It takes longer for me to locate the Cape Flattery light (yellow circle at left above), in part because it “group flashes”. In this case that means it flashes twice, about two seconds apart, but it flashes the pair only once every 20 seconds. So you have to watch a long time to see it, it’s easy to miss. But what takes me forever to find is the red flashing light on the red buoy shown at the top left above. You don’t want to go inside that red buoy, on the chart there are black dots with red borders that mean rocks that break the surface at mean lower low tide … bad mojo. But the buoy is not high up on a hill like the Flattery and Waadah Island lights, it’s down a few feet above sea level. So you have to be near it to see it. From further away, it’s hidden by the curve of the globe.

Once I finally locate the buoy, flashing red every two seconds, I slowly work the boat around it, and finally we are in the open ocean heading south along the Northwest Pacific coast. At that point, I’ve been on watch five hours, and my part is nearly done for the moment. The weather is still bouncy, the seas are confused, usual stuff for the mouth of a channel. Eventually someone wakes up, and I hand the steering over to them with my thanks. I go outside to relieve the accumulated hydrobiostatic pressure. Not much to see outside, just the cold ocean swirling past as the boat plows through the night. With no one watching, if I slip, I’ll likely die before they find me. It reminds me of my own mortality, and that’s always a valuable thing. I go back inside and head for the foc’sle. Four-thirty am finds me going to bed at sea … life is good.

I’ve got no wi-fi, of course, so this one just goes in the pile with the rest, to see the light of day when I get back to land.

My best to all, may you sleep rocked in whatever ocean is in your own personal dreams …


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September 4, 2014 6:58 pm

Nice writing. Now I’ve got sea fever.

Steve in Seattle
September 4, 2014 7:14 pm

Congratulate yourself for sailing waters fouled by the greater city of Victoria – dumping ALL their raw sewage in the strait for many, many decades now. The eco facists here say nary a peep about this, there too busy crying about coal trains and now, oil trains to the local refineries.

Reply to  Steve in Seattle
September 4, 2014 8:32 pm

With good reason. The outfalls have been studied and monitored for the whole of my engineering career starting in the 60’s to the present. There is screening and separation, the rest is nutrients and flushed rapidly into the Pacific by the high velocity currents of Juan de Fuca. There are real pollution issues that need to be dealt with. Nevertheless, Victoria and environs is trying to proceed with a 1 billion plus sewage treatment facility but the Esquimalt council refused to rezone the land for it this spring.
“The credible judgement of Marine Scientists, Public Health officials and Engineers that the present discharge of the screened effluent into a unique marine receiving environment, through two deep sea outfalls, is highly effective in treating the effluent …”

Steve in Seattle
Reply to  Wayne Delbeke
September 4, 2014 11:14 pm

highly effective ? and just how is this “treating” the ocean ?

The other Ren
Reply to  Wayne Delbeke
September 5, 2014 7:23 am

So the solution to pollution is dilution?

Reply to  Wayne Delbeke
September 5, 2014 12:10 pm

If you have to re-certify for HAZWOPs every so often, one thing you learn is that the solution to most contamination is dilution. There are some substances that you really don’t want to be around at any level of detection, but the rest are simply hazards because there’s too much in one place at one time. The process is even used to clean up soil. You add clean dirt to the dirty dirt until the dirty dirt tests clean enough to stand in for clean dirt. The only sites I’ve been on where the PTBs routinely don’t seem go along with that are locations with extreme heavy metal contamination and asbestos. Oh, and explosives, but the solution there is to blow them up. That’s kind of fun.

Reply to  Wayne Delbeke
September 6, 2014 10:32 am

I’m not sure, but I believe whales, seals, fish and sea birds also poop.

September 4, 2014 7:18 pm

When the old dog passes I hope to follow your journeys.
The old dog that I refer to is my best friend most trusty hunting companion bird dog. When that day comes I’ll become a gypsy. There will no longer need to be secure shelter.

September 4, 2014 7:20 pm

I have to admit that when I read the title of the post I thought that this was a sarcastic, derogatory story about warmists 🙂
I was pleasantly surprised otherwised.

Brian H
September 4, 2014 7:20 pm

From Vancouver, Sept 4, eastern city boundary. Today the weather was indeed about as fine as ever it gets. Mild and sunny, clear in all directions. I envy your sailing sit’n, may the rest of your time at sea be as fine.

September 4, 2014 7:24 pm

Most guys lost at sea off small craft if found have their zipper down and no life vest.
Did you ever happen to read the Seattle newspaper account of the effects of ocean ‘acidification’ ? It ran about a year ago I think. Was anybody talking about change in pH on your trip this year and the effect on fish and/or shellfish?

Reply to  Zek202
September 4, 2014 7:28 pm

I understand. A lot of landlubbers may not, so I’ll explain. There is a phenomenon whereby when a man takes a whiz (urinates) he will sometimes pass out. I dunno why. But they say it happens when guys hike it over the rail and…zam! in the drink.

Reply to  Jim Brock
September 4, 2014 8:44 pm

Micturition syncope or post-micturition syncope is the name given to the human phenomenon of fainting shortly after or during urination. It is a type of Vasovagal response.
People often become pale, nauseated, sweaty and weak before they lose consciousness. Sometimes even defecating, coughing, or severe vomiting may cause fainting in a similar way.

September 4, 2014 7:24 pm

Ahh, reverie. Reminds me of when we lived in Seattle and would take our boat from Lake Union up into the Canadian wonderland. And one time when we caught salmon near Neah Bay, and bought home-cooked pies in the little town. Long time ago….

September 4, 2014 7:36 pm

Sleeping in the foc’sle gives me a headache. The quarters angular and cramped; the air stagnant & bad, poor ventilation, damp and the smell of rusting iron chain adds to the unpleasantness of the incessant sounds of the hull pounding waves. I prefer topsides, just aft of the wheelhouse. The smell of salt air, old wood and varnish; one of reasons to go to sea in the first place. Unless the bunk is sheltered well, it can be a bit damp and cold during a squall if the windows/portholes left too far open. Of course, I’m not always given first choice.

Reply to  RiHo08
September 7, 2014 5:54 pm

Exactly right and the single guy usually gets the crappy berths. Did some time in the Coral sea on a larger sloop of 60′ or so. The V berth overhead was maybe 6″ above my head and on the downward lunge off a wave I’d get airborne, hit the overhead and bounce. The deck was much better till the nightly squall, then it was back through a wet hatch into a hot bunk. Good times.

Pamela Gray
September 4, 2014 8:02 pm

The San Juan Islands were one of my ex-dad-in-law’s favorite places, a wonderful guy who is now rafting on the spirit wind. He was my drinking buddy, my Oregon State Wrestling season ticket date, and all around great guy. He and his lovely wife would go into the San Juan Islands on shrimping trips. When they got back to their home town in Oregon, my ex and I would bundle up the kids and head for their house for cold shrimp, fresh cracked walnuts, extra sharp cheddar cheese and beer (which my in-law dad and I drank till we could not get off the kitchen bar stools with any amount of dignity). Wonderful memories.

Reply to  Pamela Gray
September 4, 2014 9:32 pm

Pam, people on the Islands and around the true west coast are a breed apart, if it wasn’t for the weather I’d still be there. My father in law sounds a lot like yours.

Jeff Alberts
September 4, 2014 8:07 pm

Not far from my house.

September 4, 2014 8:12 pm

Even though you had a chop it looks like you weren’t having to deal with a swell. A following sea with a tow seems like it would be a royal pain.
Reading your description, got me thinking about some of Gordon Bok’s songs of the sea.

Reply to  BarryW
September 5, 2014 9:10 am

Also reminds me of a book, long out of print, “The Arc of Time”, by a widow woman about her adventures in sailing the waters of Prideaux Haven and adjacent areas. Lovely book about lovely scenes. Plus some hints for times the waters get rough. My favorite is Melanie Cove…

David Davidovics
September 4, 2014 8:43 pm

If you plan to keep going north, be sure to make a stop through desolation sound. Its across from Campbell River (my town). The water is warm, calm and your right at the edge of the BC coastal mountain range. Salmon fishing was very good this year too. I’m wishing I was home right now…
Always enjoy your writing, Willis!

September 4, 2014 9:28 pm

When I lived and worked in Victoria ( I worked at the RVYC I had the opportunity to be on a starting vessel for the annual SwiftSure race and as a stationary boat we bobbed up and down for a long while as did my stomach (mostly Heave, heave! and not on a rope although it looked like it at times)

September 4, 2014 9:34 pm

Based on the green line on the chart you posted, you would have sailed right in front of my living room windows on DeCourcy Island coming in through Gabriola Pass.
The pics you post are the world I live in half of the year – the other months I’m elsewhere on the globe. Eagles counting the brown sugar I put in my 10:00 coffee and otters telling me to hold back on the mayo on my sandwich… 🙂 Raccoons being fed ‘multigrain” .22 from time to time to keep them from plundering our fruit trees. Gulf Island life.
PhD. Founder of several biotech/nanotech companies. Old school skeptic with no time for the CAGW/CACC pseudo scientific dogma.
Life long sailor, my 1978 Sausalito, CA, built, 28 ft one-off blue water sail boat -sailed it around Vancouver Island double handed last year- is moored between DeCourcy and Link.
Sorry to have missed you. Next time you come through let me know.

September 4, 2014 9:57 pm

wouldn’t a cashmere wool keffiyah be awesome? nowhere to be found.

Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
September 5, 2014 9:23 am

There are lots of them, but don’t order on eBay, since the Omidyar Network supports CACA:
Better than cashmere is alpaca.

September 4, 2014 9:58 pm

Galiano has a special place in my heart, my grandmother kept a cabin there and I spent many summers on that island growing up.

September 5, 2014 1:04 am

In the mid 1960s when I was Second Mate I was at anchor off Newcastle NSW along with a couple of other vessels. We all heard, on VHF channel 16, clear as a bell, a Canadian voice say “This is Juan de Fuca Pilots, who is calling Juan de Fuca Pilots?”
None of us who heard it could understand how this could happen.
Anyone here got any idea?
And yes, I replied but got no answer.

Reply to  Oldseadog
September 5, 2014 9:15 am

It’s been many years since I took basic broadcast electronics, but it would have to be the signal bouncing off the ionosphere. My husband’s family in northern Canada sometimes picked up Jamaica and Puerto Rico.

Reply to  CrossBorder
September 5, 2014 9:48 am

Medium wave yes, but VHF?

Reply to  Oldseadog
September 5, 2014 12:29 pm

I sometimes think we only pretend to understand radio. When I was a kid my parents gave my brother and I pair of walkie-talkies with a maximum range of about 1/4-mile under most conditions. He and I could walk away from each other in line of sight until we couldn’t pick up a signal. One evening he and I were playing with them in the kitchen when a voice demanded to know who we were, where we were and why we were on that frequency. My dad, who heard the demand took one of the radios and said he was with such-and-such platoon, so-and-so company, Fourth Division US Marines – his unit during WWII. Who ever was on the other end was chatting with someone else and we could hear them say, “that was deactivated in 1945,” and, “the source is down near the Indian Reservation in Shingle Springs.” Again, these were little radios so weak they would not pick up dust sitting in the dirt. I’ve always wondered whether my dad’s response lead to a ghost story.

September 5, 2014 3:45 am

Remember your Vitamin D. sunshine or freshly killed seals liver the only sources. Sunbathing is not all bad only the sunscreen. So get that hat off and get 20mins per day to build up the VitD.

Tom J
September 5, 2014 6:23 am

Happy sailing. I don’t know if that is the correct term. Thanks for the travelogue. Best wishes.

September 5, 2014 6:40 am

Nautical jargon pedantry alert … that gaff-rigged boat seems to have a transom-hung rudder, so although the proportions of the rig are that of yawl, it’s actually a ketch (since the mizzen mast is stepped forward of the rudder post) …

Reply to  jkp416
September 5, 2014 9:12 am

Damn, shoulda noticed that myself.

Reply to  jkp416
September 6, 2014 12:16 am

Pintle mounted rudder – definitely a ketch, not yawl. Gaff-rigged, assuredly. Beautiful but awkward in hard seas. The mizzen in the image is barren though deserving of a spanker – indicative of a vessel most commonly under the power of the iron spinnaker. A true gaff-rigged yawl is a thing of beauty, though. Difficult for Jack to single-hand but a lovely sight to see out in the green water, bone in her teeth. It has been my pleasure in my yoot to crew on fine sloops, ketches, and yawls competitively and for the pleasure of a leisurely cruise driven before the wind. Willis’ tales of the sea bring back fond memories for me. There is nothing so beautiful as an infinite horizon where the sun sets or rises as it will, dark nights with stars whose warmth you can feel with your face, and being carried along in a sound hull driven by well-set sails. Nothing. If there is a greater endeavor than being duty helmsman after midnight in a phosphorescent tropical sea I can’t imagine what it would be.

Reply to  dp
September 6, 2014 4:23 am

I had thought I had imagined it.
But I too have felt the warmth of the stars.
Your prose are lyrical, thank you.

The other Ren
September 5, 2014 7:31 am

If you want a great, inexpensive chart plotter, get an iPad and the Garmin BlueChart app. $29.95 for the map subscription. I have a great chart plotter setup with integrated autopilot, etc., but a lot of times it’s easier to just use the iPad and leave the boat chart plotter turned off. Much better than an iPhone as the screen is much larger. On a boat that goes 8 knots max, things happen slowly so you don’t need a lot of gee whiz electronics.

Reply to  The other Ren
September 6, 2014 12:52 am

Bugger that – get a fine chronometer, a good quality magnetic compass, a sextant, and a good set of tables. I won’t put to sea if my skipper knows only how to work an iPhone. Mind you – I’ve made quite a bit of money in the sale and installation of GPS equipment, but as a pilot I prefer the primary tools over the latest gimmickry.

Reply to  dp
September 6, 2014 3:54 am

Not many of us know the correct way to use a sextant or even use the tables. A lost art unfortunately.

Reply to  dp
September 6, 2014 10:55 am

There’s hanging on to the ways of old because they work better, and then there’s trying to convince someone that LPs work better than digital lossless, and carburetors work better than fuel injection.
Maybe during/after armageddon such skills will be useful. So long as we have satellites and computers, not so much.

Reply to  dp
September 7, 2014 8:52 am

Replying to myself to keep it in the thread – I was feigning hyperbole there 🙂 The iPhone is in fact, all those things and I fully expected someone to say so. I just finished moving into a new home and I have to admit I did not see my sextant in anything I packed. It’s probably lost on a rented sailboat at Lake Union, Seattle.

Reply to  dp
September 7, 2014 10:15 am

My own avoidance of armageddon is in the air, which if anything is more perilous than the sea. Engine quits on the sea, and you’re in the muck, but not dead yet. Engine quits in the air with nothing smooth below, and you’ve got a spectacular view of your future grave site for a few minutes.
Anywho, with proper attention to and prevention of said technology going away, you’re always likely to have a chunk of it available for use. If water is bad for said technology, have a way to keep it out. If no batteries ruins your day, have lots. And then have a backup for all of that, and ideally a backup for all of that.
While I can, and in fact have to known how to navigate by chart and dead reckoning, the speed and greater situational awareness of a GPS-based moving map make it worth taking all possible measures to ensure that I always have one that works, no matter what. At this point the technology is mature and robust enough to trust one’s life to, at least with a reasonable degree of redundancy.

Reply to  dp
September 7, 2014 4:07 pm

As much as I like going off of a chart, the GPS equipment IS very nice to have in a fog. Pre-GPS, one of my brothers ran aground in a fog by going up the wrong channel. Willis is dead on about what happens when the GPS equipment goes dead, to which all electronic equipment is subject. In the late 1960’s, an unbeknownst dead radio transmitter dang near cost us dearly on a commercial fishing boat I crewed. We couldn’t raise the Coast Guard for a weather report and stupidly went ahead. Got caught in a 42 knot storm coming down a strait in a 38 ft boat. We were lucky the net was still in the hold or we might have rolled.

September 5, 2014 7:54 am

I’ve only been there once, but it was a wonderful trip. Have some family in the Portland area, and they convinced us to take a boating trip from Port Townsend (south side of the strait) up into the islands and back. Not only was it beautiful, but during the trip 2 different pods of orca came and checked us out, a few of them jumping and splashing for what seemed like our benefit. One of the most wonderful places I’ve ever seen.

September 5, 2014 8:38 am

Thanks, Willis. Good tale. No fish?
And yes, electronic charts make a lot of sense in good weather.

September 5, 2014 9:31 am

Many thanks for a respite from all the more troubling posts on here. Despite knowing that Science will ultimately prevail, sometimes the neg vibes of the believers jangle the nerves, or as people sometimes say down here, “You just stood on my last nerve!”
For those liking sea tales, believe it or not, Jimmy Buffet wrote a book, “A Salty Piece of Land,” that’s worth a read.

September 5, 2014 9:38 am

I must go down to the seas again the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.
-John Masefield (Sea Fever)

September 5, 2014 10:19 am

Thanks Willis.
Beautiful area. Stayed on San Juan Island for a few days this summer. Makes me want to go back already.

September 5, 2014 12:31 pm

This has been a fine account Willis. Thanks for posting it.

September 5, 2014 2:13 pm

Many thanks.
Much enjoyed.
Nowadays I sail a desk, and reminders that the sea is there – invariant, utterly invariant – are hugely appreciated.
For non-seamen, do please note that the seas are the same as they were – and will wreck ships if not properly-designed, well-prepared, carefully-sailed, and sensibly-maintained.

September 5, 2014 3:02 pm

A bad thing I suffer from an inner ear condition and easily get seasick. I mean a good thing. 😉 Saves me a lot of excitement and windburn. The sea is a lot nicer place in pictures and imagination, for me, than to be bobbing about on. But I do thrill to a stiff beam reach on Lake Tahoe.
More power to you, Willis, old son!

September 5, 2014 3:31 pm

Objection! “Steve in Seattle”:
Victoria’s sewage goes into a deep fast-flowing strait, in contrast to what has been dumped
Many measurements and science studies show no effect, prominent environmentalists agree and some think that a treatment plant and transportation of remaining sludge is worse for the environment.

Reply to  Keith Sketchley
September 6, 2014 12:37 am

That may be but we still see Canadian turds floating by in Seattle.

Reply to  dp
September 10, 2014 8:43 pm

You funnin’ us “dp” whoever you really are, or just grossly ignorant, or ???
The sewage is screened to quite small size.
The outfall is well under water, testing shows good dispersion.
Seattle is well south, you’d have to convince me there’s enough movement to reach Seattle. OTOH, what are towns along the way and local boats doing with their waste?

September 5, 2014 3:33 pm

Erps, re sewage: …in contrast to what has been dumped into the shallow slow-moving waters of the bottom end of Puget Sound.

September 5, 2014 3:51 pm

At risk of pedantry, Willis also travelled through Hecate and Rosario straits before entering the Strait of Juan de Fuca. (Named after someone, by Spanish explorers.)
As for BC Ferries big boats passing, Active Pass is the tricky one. (Willis stayed west of it, which connects from where he travelled to the Strait of Georgia, between Galiano and Mayne Islands.)
Captains get fired for not obeying the rule that they pass in the wide part. One day I was on a small ferry from Galiano to Victoria (Swartz Bay), a big boat was catching up to it so it ducked into a bay near the west end. Then I see another big ferry coming around the corner turning eastbound! The westbound big ferry went into reverse and stopped. My curiosity might have wanted to be in a fly on the wall of BCF offices after that incident. (There’s radar on Mayne Island but I doubt it sees the whole pass.)
I’ve seen work boats and sailboats do unwise things around big ferries in the pass. Small boats fishing used to be a problem but I think police educated some and the word got around to be safe.
The old double-enders that usually run Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo are not allowed to use the pass due less mobility. Other big boats must not either, after a freighter went almost halfway through a ferry.

Richards in Vancouver
Reply to  Keith Sketchley
September 5, 2014 7:06 pm

Keith Sketchley, you are not in the least “at risk of pedantry”.
You are, however, at grave risk of idiocy. Hecate Straight is far to the north of Campbell River, which is approximately where Willis & Co began. In fact, it is between the BC mainland and Haida Gwai (the old Queen Charlotte Islands). At it’s north end you can just barely glimpse the southern extremity of the Alaska panhandle.
Furthermore, Willis did not traverse Rosario Straight, which is east of Juan de Fuca Straight. Had you the wit to read Willis’s or look at the green line on his map, or even if you were within hailing distance of knowing what you are babbling about, you would never have made such blithering mistakes.
Next time you’re tempted to be pedantic, try finding enough brains somewhere to do a little research.
Richards in Vancouver, but born in Victoria. I know these waters.. You sure don’t!

Reply to  Richards in Vancouver
September 7, 2014 3:36 pm

Thanks RiV. I too was saying “Huh?” to KS’s post.

Robert of Ottawa
September 5, 2014 5:46 pm

aaaahhhh Canada!

September 5, 2014 10:31 pm

There is nothing quite like turning in at dawn after a night watch. Shows one his true significance, some rare 21st century humility, plus even more rare, y’know, actual accomplishment. Thanks Willis, for the mood.

Reply to  Michael Gersh
September 6, 2014 12:42 am

Except turning out at the beginning of the watch 🙂 It is incomparable, unquestionably, to most of what we otherwise do to keep control of our mortgages, recurring bills, and life as we experience it, daily.

September 9, 2014 3:34 pm

Thanks Richard, my source named Haro Strait and Rosario Strait as leading between the two big straits, a quick check would have revealed it is indeed Haro.
Yes, I confused Hecate with Haro.
For everyone else, Willis travelled past the Saanich Peninsula, Sydney at north end, Victoria at south end. San Juan the individual island is on the east side of Haro Strait. He was running on the west side of many the Gulf Islands of Canada (but east of Silly Silly Island there west of Galiano and Mayne.
(Rosario is a few islands to the east in the San Juan Islands (plural) group, which are in the US.)

September 9, 2014 8:49 pm

Thanks for your stories WIllis.
I lived in SEKIU, Wa for almost 2 years, and worked on the Makah Indian Reservation in Neah Bay.
Beautiful country during the summer time. Gets 3x the population during that time though. Love the off season when all the traffic, boats, and boat traffic are gone. Get to enjoy the awesome ocean views.

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