“Be Deliberate”

By Erik Dolson

Wind howls through shrouds and halyards while rain splatter splats on the deck above in a cadence of the storm. It’s intimidating to think about taking Foxy up the Strait of Juan de Fuca, from Victoria to Friday Harbor, in the morning.

Is this the tail of a front passing through late, or the front of one scheduled for Sunday but arriving early? The plan is to thread the needle between them.

I sent a note off to my mentor Roy. What did he think about weather for the trip? He agreed it looked pretty good, which is what I thought until about two hours ago when this slop moved in. My guess it will break sometime over night, gentle up in the morning and I’ll be out of here without an issue.

Today was spent cleaning up lines on deck, making the jib ready to deploy if it will give me the boost I hope is available. The currents are supposed to be mild, in my face at first but then a small push from behind. We all know what an absolutely stellar tide and current reader I am.

At least I’ll have an indicator of my speed through the water. The little paddle wheel with magnets had lost three of its six paddles, and the hollow within which it spun had sprouted green tendrils of growth. It’s a rush pulling the unit out of its hole in the bottom of the boat for the repair, water rushing in between my feet, and it’s a rush pulling the temporary cap off to put the indicator back in.

But it’s done. When putting the speedo back in, there was more water than I expected sloshing about in the locker. I tasted it. Salt. So the temporary cap was not as water tight as I’d thought. I put a little extra push when tightening the indicator down into its spot in the hull. I’ll check that again in the morning.

Water tanks are full, though making this transit was not on the agenda when I filled them. I was going to take the ferry. That’s a simple trip: hour bus ride from Victoria to Sidney, two hours on the ferry from Sidney to Anacortes where my truck hopefully still sits.

Oh, winter ferry schedule doesn’t include the Vancouver Island to Anacortes run until the end of March? Oooops. Told my daughters I’d be there in Sisters. made business appointments, wanted to be in Seattle in a week for the boat show to buy equipment at a discount. This was going to be a fast turn-around, Victoria to Sisters, Oregon to Victoria in about a week or ten days.

No ferry.

Plane from Victoria to Redmond, Oregon? Short notice plane reservations are really expensive, because after all, they know you probably have little choice. And my truck’s in Anacortes. If I drove back up I’d have two vehicles in Anacortes, none in Oregon, then a boat in Victoria, B.C., Canada.

My friends Jim and Leslee used to do stuff like that, and I named the chaos that inevitably results after them. It can take an act of God to sort it all out.

Which left taking the Ferry to Vancouver, B.C., Canada, then a bus or train to Mt. Vernon, Washington, then bus or cab or friend to Anacortes to my truck. That would just about double trip time, with luck.

But hey, look, there’s a weather window on Saturday, the tidal currents are mild, mid-day. I could take the boat all the way to Anacortes or just to Friday Harbor and take the inter-island ferry to the truck, have dinner with Roy who said I could sleep tomorrow night on his boat, then hit the road, refreshed and ready to roll.

I’d just have to thread a pretty wide needle between storms in the strait of Juan de Fuca.

Which, right now, outside the warm comfy cabin of my boat tied securely to the dock, sounds like a wide-open howling mouth with teeth gulping down January storms from the Pacific.

I wonder if the strait is inhaling the end of the last storm, or the beginning of the next? We’ll take another look in the morning. Roy’s previous advice to “be deliberate” extends to many situations. Plans can change, at least until you’re out there, literally and figuratively over your head.

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About Erik Dolson

Erik Dolson is a writer living in Oregon

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