15th August 2014 - in warm, sunny B.C.
Having written at length a few weeks ago - and then having lost the entire file while sorting through photos - I've not felt very motivated to re-write it...!! But it's long overdue, so here goes...
8th July came... I was reminded that one year ago I'd just arrived back on land after 259 days at sea. Rick, VE7TK, had sent me a photo of the AIS screen on 6-7th July 2013 that so many were looking at as I struggled to get back to Victoria Harbour in fog and no wind, showing us drifting backwards and in circles overnight, as I tried to complete my circumnavigation under sail alone...
Mexico news up to my leaving 'Nereida' in dry storage on 15th July (more photos below, including Sedona area)
The new hard top, replacing the canvas awning over the companionway, was virtually complete, with Jorge taking a long time and a lot of care to produce a good finish to it - it 'just' needs Lexan windows to be cut and stuck in place and a final fixing to the top of the steel windscreen when I return in October.
Pitt was very helpful, as he has so often been, when time came for putting 'Nereida' to bed in the dry storage area - covering her up carefully against the UV-rays of the hot sun during my absence.
The weather was impossibly hot - too hot to get anything useful done by way of boatwork - but the 'chubascos' came early in July, as I'd been told they would - strong gusts of N wind accompanied by heavy rain and sheet lightning - but usually for just a few hours, around midnight. The nice end-result was the nearby Sonoran desert greening up and cacti starting to flower beautifully - big flowers on small plants & small flowers on straggly ones
The word was of a mountain lion being seen in the nearby hills ... and deer, for sure. 1st, 4th and 14th of July were all celebrated.... but it was always a relief to make for the cool of an air-conditioned bar and/or restaurant most evenings after an essential cooling shower. Many people had their boats brought in to the Marina Seca, to leave them in the dry storage area while they made their way north to cooler climes - often to their air-conditioned home in Phoenix or Tucson or San Diego, but also many Canadians, looking forward to a summer in B.C. or Alberta, some driving up, occasionally trailing their (small) boat up with them.
I was busy with my own glass fibre project (a first for me!) - forming an area of carefully-shaped fibre glass over shaped foam, the idea being to reduce the braking effect of the disturbed water-flow of the bow-thruster tunnel quite close to the bow.
My journey to Gibsons, near Vancouver in British Columbia, from San Carlos was a bit convoluted but ended up not as bad as I feared... A car ride to the Guaymas 'Tufesa' bus station in the evening, to catch the overnight bus to Phoenix... a two hour wait at a crowded Mexican check point (for drugs?) well before the US border... an unexpectedly good crossing of the border with friendly officials helping to speed up the formalities (2am might have been part of the reason!) ... Bus passing by Phoenix airport two hours late, as my plane was due to be boarded (or so I thought, from clock display on the bus) ... hurried taxi to airport from bus station... "But it's only 9 o'clock" says the woman at the Information desk ... Phew!! Just in time to check in ... so a very happy person unexpectedly caught her flight!! Three hours or so to Vancouver, passing snowcapped volcanic Mt St Helens on the way:
and a delightful 'float plane' trip over the Georgia Strait, from the Fraser River to Sechelt, just up from Gibson on the 'Sunshine Coast':
I've been stayingwith good friends Tom and Maggie since then, in their house high up, overlooking the waters of Howe Sound and the B.C. Ferries from Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver, passing to and from the nearby Langdale terminal.
I've been blessed with great weather since arriving, although two days of rain early on were accompanied from 6pm to 1.30am one night by a power cut - a tall tree had fallen onto power lines ... I drove in to Gibsons, a commercial fishing centre, for some lovely mussels in garlic - I had no power to cook or for lighting! Tom and Maggie were off cruising around Georgia Strait for three weeks while I 'house sat' and explored the well-forested area around (in between working hard at my computer on organising the data from my travels, ready for writing)... "Keep an eye out for the (black) bears around!" was the warning as I walked in the nearby forest or near the many blackberry bushes, fruit ripening nicely in the hot sunshine.
There was a carnival atmosphere during the Gibsons 'Sea Cavalcade' over one weekend ... The Grand Parade was fun, with kids of all sizes scrambling for sweets thrown out from passing floats and dressed up groups of 'paraders' and the firework display was just great.
I met up with friends, gave a well-attended Presentation on my sailing to the Gibsons Y.C. and Power Squadron at short notice, kept the garden plants watered ... and several deer came by daily to reap the crop! Neighbour Hana took me recently on several enjoyable hikes up steep, forested Soames Hill for a great view over Howe Sound towards Gibsons and Keats Island and over to Gambier and Bowen Islands.
One day I decided a plant beside the steps down into the garden badly needed a good water - big mistake! I was well and truly stung - hot, painful stings on my head, body, arms and legs - by small, black, angry wasps - several times over each time - hurt all that night, with long-lasting effects. I couldn't understand what was happening to begin with, it being almost dark at that time... but with lots of loud yells of "Ouch!", I very soon dropped the hose, turned tail and ran for the safety of the house!!
Another day, I decided to explore down near the shoreline beyond the ferry terminal - it amazes me how houses here are frequently built on a very steep rocky shoreline... Long, steep sets of wooden steps are constructed to reach houses down a near-vertical slope. I drove along a road which looked interesting. The asphalt gave way to gravel and it became very narrow, with a steep drop down on one side...finally ending in a small 'turn-around' area above a few rooftops of houses by the beach below in a small cove.
The usual enormously high trees of B.C. were all around, but no people, it being early afternoon. On turning the car around to drive back, I managed somehow to get stuck on a slight sloping path meeting the main path... No budging, whatever I tried to do.... On investigating, not only was the side of the car now sitting on the hard stony slope, but one of the front wheels had spun a bit, spitting out earth and stones, so we'd been lowered onto a smooth boulder just behind the wheel.
What to do?? As I pondered on my situation, I spotted a long-handled, pointed shovel leaning against a nearby tree - great! Spent a good two hours shovelling a lot of stony soil away from around and under both the car and boulder - how else could I hope to move either? Triumphantly, I finally levered the boulder out of the way and was able to move the car - just as local resident Scott came home from work in time to guide me in manoeuvring the car successfully around in the very confined space. Photo shows the result of my digging - a second boulder had to be dug out, along with stones and lots of gravelly earth, in order to move the first boulder - & the car!
I stayed to chat with Scott and a couple holidaying in his house on the shore... He'd spent six years re-building the house and looked forward to a daily swim after work in the lovely cove below. Turned out that the shovel was only there because he'd been working on 'improving' the bit of road leading to the steps down to his house - so I was lucky! I was amused to see bits of bright orange tape and thin yellow posts with red reflectors on their top marking the edge of the steep drop-away on the shore side of the road - no other protection!
I've seen a shoulder specialist in Vancouver who was encouraging - seemed to think that there was a very good chance my shoulder is mending OK but it will be more clear after I see him following a CT scan next week. From Vancouver, I'll travel on to Saltspring Island to stay with a friend in Long Harbour for 2-3weeks, when I'll also hope to meet up with friends in the Sidney/Victoria area. I'm trying to get writing on my 'story' - but the data-organizing has taken quite a time! It feels odd not to have 'Nereida' nearby and to travel around on - I hope she's OK down in the heat of Mexico. ..............................................................................................................................................
Sedona Red Mountains, 'Montezuma's Castle' (misnamed - several hundred years before him!) and Tuzigoot in May:
Making the hard top in Marina Seca San Carlos during June/July involved several stages & the framework they put up while making the mould made getting down below very difficult!