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Main Menu -> SALTS -> SALTS 2011 Summer Programme -> 2011 Trip 4 - Pacific Swift

2011 Trip 4 - Pacific Swift

Log of Pacific Swift

August 11th 2011 @ 11:52
50°43'21.72 N 127°29'16.80 W

Ship's Log:
Our trainees for Trip 4 are now boarding at Port Hardy and soon will start their orientation session.

August 12th 2011 @ 19:30
50°29'21.12 N 128°3'39.60 W

Ship's Log:
Thursday August 11.
Trainees boarded the Swift cheerfully under a slowly clearing Port Hardy sky. It is a pretty even mix of new trainees and old hands, however the west coast experience is new to all but a small handful.One trainee even came aboard with a salmon they caught on the dock while waiting to board. Safety orientations were completed with all aboard and lines slipped free of Port Hardy at 1415. The sun was shinning and the air was cool as we motored north out of the bay. During lunch 2 transient orcas were seen cruising south along the rugged shoreline, shortly thereafter 6 Dahlīs porpoises joined us, darting beneath the bow and speeding alongside for 15 minutes. The weather was calm and we had a relatively pleasant jaunt across the top of Vancouver Island. A vast majority of people did very well with the open ocean swell that rolled unimpeded from Japan. Sea otters paused amid their evening meals and gazed curiously at us, as the sun plunged in a fiery glow into the cool Pacific. The sunīs dramatic setting over the vast ocean was preceded by the rise of the waxing gibbous moon. The moon was a faithful companion through the night casting an ethereal light on the gentle sea while the Swiftīs yards arced across the star-speckled sky and phosphorescence hissed astern in a sparkling green trail. Quatsino Soundīs proud lighthouse welcomed us into the protected waters lying beyond and the distinct smell of evergreens and damp earth filled the air. In the darkness of the morning watch we anchored snuggly in the embrace of Browning Inlet at 0500.Dawn broke over a peaceful misty bay dotted with idle otters and patient eagles. This morning was filled with lessons on terminology, navigation safety and splicing prior to launching the shipīs dorys. After launch the watches boarded their dorys to set off on a grand adventure to Grant Bay. A hearty row was followed by a beautiful walk through the temperate coastal rain forest. Encroaching salal and tall firs and cedars lined the path leading through to the exposed coast. Breaking through the last of the forest we emerged onto a bright, sunny white sand beach, turquoise waves crashing onto the soft shore and the mountainous ridge of Vancouver Island visible in the distance. A great time was had jumping in the waves and playing games on the sand. The whole group of trainees are very good at enjoying the experience before them and welcoming everybody in. A long but fun trip back to the Swift coincided with a delicious dinner upon arrival. This evening we will start secret friends, play games and spend some time singing before eating cookies and collapsing into our welcoming bunks below.

anchored, calm, overcast,
August 13th 2011 @ 19:00
50°27'49.68 N 127°51'36.00 W

Ship's Log:
West coast rain settled in overnight, persistently washing over the surrounding hills and troubling the waters. The trainees have a large reserve of enthusiasm and sense of adventure which no sodden downpour can diminish. Anchor was smartly weighed after breakfast and we traveled amongst the otters a little deeper into Quatsino Sound while waiting for some contrary weather to pass bye on the outside of the island.  We tried our hand at a little bottom fishing and found that the cod struck on well. Several red snapper found their way aboard to enable us to plan for a fish and chips dinner for 37. Anchorage was made in pristine Koskimo Bay, near the mouth of a river trimmed in cheerful deciduous trees, a nice contrast to the stern and hoary cedars that dominate the landscape. The intrepid spirit continued amongst the crew and an expotition was planned to row up the river. The rain fell heavily as the dories pushed off and entered the river mouth, salmon leaping in the shoal waters. The serpentine flow of the river was beautifully nestled between rich rainforest and steep clifts. Eventually the river narrowed so as to be impassable and time was spent swimming and diving in the cool fresh waters. The gentle down river voyage was blessed with the return of the sun breaking through the heavy charcoal clouds. Lessons on navigation safety preceded the anticipated dinner. The fresh fish was transformed into battered fish and chips and not a morsel was left over. There was a great appreciation for the meal, the result of the work from all involved in the whole process.

anchored, mixed sun and cloud, mild, humpbacks breaching
August 14th 2011 @ 17:00
50°8'7.80 N 127°41'6.00 W

Ship's Log:
The sun dispelled the mists the hung low about the cedars branches early this morning as we weighed anchor to make our way south around the Brooks Peninsula. The seas were calm and everybody was feeling fine, energized by the sun. We had our first views of Vancouver Islandīs coast line stretching endlessly south, myriad peaks and valleys dappled in the shadows of passing clouds. Passing Solander Island, the rugged sentinel guarding Brooks Peninsula, humpbacks and salmon competed for our attention as puffins flitted over the water. We had a salmon on the line but he was able to escape before we could invite him for dinner. The Brooks Peninsula is a pristine wild expanse of land, untouched by glaciation or logging. Ancient cedars crowd the hills and white beaches crash with incoming surf. We are anchored now, tucked nearly away from the swell behind Jacobson Point, a snug and rocky anchorage, affording access to a beautiful sand beach ripe for exploration tomorrow.  Plans are afoot for using the shipīs rope swing after dinner dishes.

Anchored, sunny, warm, gentle rocking
August 15th 2011 @ 22:30
49°58'19.92 N 128°54'28.80 W

Ship's Log:
Despite their best efforts the stars were outshone by the brilliance of the moon and the tails of shooting stars illuminating the calm sea and coastline last night. Today dawned warm and bright, a perfect day to explore Jacobson beach. Dories glided towards the shoreline laden with supplies for having a lunch ashore. Another beautiful walk through the dense rain forest carpeted with cedars, fern and animal tracks brought us out onto another brilliant white sand beach, even more spectacular than the previous one. Warm soft sand settled between toes and azure waves sparkled towards the shore. Jacobson is a treasure trove for beach combers, the wonders of ocean current and swell depositing everything from the elusive Japanese glass floats to hockey gloves and Russian soap. Hot dogs and marshmallows were roasted on a clean cedar fire while gazing out to the open ocean and mountain peaks of Vancouver Island. After working up a sweat playing soccer and frisbee under the blazing sun a mission for refreshment was launched towards the waterfall at the head of the stream feeding a brackish lagoon on the beach. The waterfall was nestled in a verdant valley, cascading over a rock face to plunge 30 feet into a clear pool below. A refreshing shower beneath the strong flow left everyone feeling scrubbed and invigorated. After playing in the surf back at the beach we trekked back towards the Swift waiting patiently at anchor. The anchor broke the surface at 1515 in the presence of a building NW breeze outside the cove. The breeze freshened as we pushed offshore and trainees leapt at the opportunity to scurry aloft and loose topsails. The gentle swell wasnīt a discouragement as they laid out along the topsail yard to cast free the gaskets. Cries of joy rained down from aloft as sail after sail was sheeted home in the afternoon light and the Swift found her stride making 7 knots before a quartering breeze under main, main topsail, courses and square topsail. It was a wonderful sail, sun and wind at our backs, the broad ocean spread out to starboard and the Island crisply etched on the port side. While we sailed south to Kyuquot Sound we passed a lazy sunfish sunning himself on the surface, feebly waving his flipper in greeting as we passed close bye. The wind eased and we ghosted into Kyuquot Sound escorted alongside by several humpbacks, the setting sun painting the creased hills in purple and orange hues, the sea aflame below the cetacean spray. The swell is rocking us gently at anchor behind Rugged Point, songs and cookie smells emanating from the galley.

Anchored, calm, clear skies, gentle rocking
August 16th 2011 @ 17:00
49°58'19.92 N 127°14'45.60 W

Ship's Log:
Otters cracked their breakfasts on their stomachs and humpbacks lolled gently on the surface as we woke to another clear warm day. The humpbacks moved slowly out of the sound and one breached spectacularly about two cables off the beam during second sitting for breakfast. The beach on the other side of our anchorage is one of the most splendid on the coast and we set out after dishes to take advantage of low water. We werenīt disappointed when we arrived through the salal at the hard flat white sand stretching for a mile under the blue sky backed by the rich green of the forest. It is an ideal beach for playing games and after some brief skirmishes of soccer, rugby and volleyball a big game of sticks was played by everybody. It was one of the better games played, rivaling even the trip 3 game on Savary Island as the hard sand allowed for a quick pace and good strategies had one round extended to an hour and a quarter. After the game people body surfed in the clear waves and took long walks down the pristine beach. After returning to the Swift for a late lunch we have been preparing the juniors for their written
exam this afternoon and intermediates are learning and practicing their chartwork skills. The Grace should be joining us in the anchorage near supper time and we will raft up to them to enjoy an evening of communal games and singing. Tomorrow will likely be an early start to take advantage of a strong NW wind and make southing towards Clayquot Sound. The group is doing very well, nicely settled into life aboard and enjoying one anotherīs company.

anchored, sunny, humpbacks distant
August 18th 2011 @ 18:00
49°28'14.88 N 126°14'27.60 W

Ship's Log:
August 17th.
Fore watch had the ship underway by 0600, the channel ahead still lit more by the silver moon than the sun hidden behind Vancouver Islandīs rocky spine. The neighboring humpbacks glided out to sea with us and one by one waved farewell with a show of their flukes. The scenery and morning light was evocative of a Vickerīs painting. Overlapping silhouetted hills and valleys were incrementally brushed in rich shades of purple and maroon set before an orange and umber sky, the sea a still inky blue to hold the polished reflection of the moon. The rich colours of dawn faded before the a rising sun over the land and a clear horizon to seaward. The sunīs warmth built through the morning as people adjusted to the larger swells, but all felt fine. By 1100 a NW wind was beginning to fill and ruffle us from astern. Trainees clambered for the chance to loose topsails aloft and in no time white canvas billowed forth from the yards against a clear blue sky. Main, main topsail, courses and square top were set and the Swift ambled southward making between 6 and 7 knots. It was another beautiful afternoon of sailing, the wind and sun on our backs was deliciously warm especially for the west coast, and the view of the island and wandering humpbacks was crisp and clear. A brief history lesson on historic Nootka Sound was given as we sailed past that contentious coast. The wind eased briefly mid afternoon slowing us down just enough to allowing us to catch and release a lovely salmon. The wind returned and sped us onward down the coast towards Hot Springs Cove. Sail was shortened and dropped smartly on the run as we rounded into that most favoured of havens on the coast around 1700. The calm waters and accommodating dock in the snug cove provide ideal access to the hot springs themselves. After dinner dishes we embarked on the half hour walk along a meandering cedar boardwalk carved with the names of visiting vessels that winds its way through moss hung cedars and the rocky and jagged coast. At the end of the walk we emerged from the dimmed forest tones into the full vibrance of a coastal sunset over a narrow fissure in the rock. Between the cliffs a steaming hot waterfall creates a natural shower that pours into five natural rock pools, descending in temperature gradually into the open Pacific below. We settled comfortably into the pools and temperatures of choice and watched the sun set while eagles and ravens glided overhead, muscles and minds slipping into peaceful rest. We trundled back to the ship tethered in the star spotted cove after the soothing soak to enjoy mug up treats and irresistible bunks.

August 18
Breakfast was postponed slightly to allow for a chance to revisit the hot springs or sleep in for the more lethargic on board. We reluctantly said our farewells to Hot Springs Cove and slipped our lines
mid-morning. Passing the springs outbound the rejuvenating steam rose to mix with mist hung low amongst the trees. A gentle inflowing breeze pushed us into Clayquot Sound, rippling the sea which was previously indistinguishable from the leaden sky. Course sails were set to maintain a nice trolling speed and we were rewarded with many bites and one large coho which we released to see another day. Our gentle (3-4 knot) and quiet sail meandered through several large rafts of sea otters, some with as many as twenty members. The otters would wait till we approached before diving and swimming ahead, resurfacing and craning their furry faces towards us in nervous curiosity, perhaps trying to remember what careful words their ancestors had passed down in regards to these strange vessels. The sun broke through the cloud ahead beckoning us towards Pretty Girl Cove illuminated in the bright sun. We sailed right into this small anchorage at the head of an inlet, the low slung trees branches brushing the surface of the water close by in the narrow entrance. It is another pristine anchorage with no sign of any human influence. Several small streams and a river running from the steep wooded hills can be heard burbling into the bay and the cedars are smaller and wizened dotted with gray ghosts, a testament to to the hardships they have endured. This afternoon the intermediates are writing their exams prior to roast beef dinner. The meal, complete with mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and all the other requisite trimmings, is a tradition on ”ship Sunday”. This evening we will also have a simple service. Tomorrow should be a full day as we head towards Barkley Sound and Ucluelet. We hope to enjoy another good day of sailing prior to a festive night with a talent show and a rousing mug-up. Everyone is having a great time and in good health and spirits.
PS 2310- We had a beautiful service on deck, the stars above mirrored perfectly in the sea below.The amber moon rose gradually behind the surrounding hills, shafts of moonlight bathing the bay in moonlight as it spilled from the valleys.

anchored, sunny, roast beef roasting, intermediates thinking, singing

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