May 6, 2017: Raccoon invasion!

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Braesail at rest at the Blake Island dock; Martin and Walt are sitting in the cockpit splicing lines.

At about 8:15 am on a shiny morning (Opening Day of Seattle’s boating season), Braesail and its crew of three departed from Kingston for Blake Island. I continued to practice the exiting of a slip and got off to a good start backing out, but then I used the wrong bow thruster,  overcompensated for the motion in the wrong direction, and bounced the boat’s bow off the piling at the end of the finger pier–aaaugh! No damage, apart from a relatively inconsequential bending of a part of the anchor, was done, fortunately, and I finished the backing and turning maneuver and got the boat moving in the right direction toward the mouth of the marina–WHEW!! I hope that SOMEDAY I will become competent at docking and undocking .  .  .

We motored under cloud-splattered skies and through a short-lived shower for a little over two hours before entering the small marina on Blake Island (all of which is a beautiful State Marine Park). I stood at the helm and learned about the use of radar to track various boats, of which there were quite a number, many at a considerable distance whose  billowing spinnaker sails we could, nevertheless, see glowing in the morning sun (wind was insufficient for sailing in our section of the sea, unfortunately).

After docking, tying up the lines, and chatting with our neighbors,  Martin prepared sandwiches for lunch. We happened to look out a window in the boat’s cabin and caught a glimpse of the ringed tail of a raccoon disappearing beneath the walkway that leads from the docks to the shore. It wasn’t long before we spotted a furry masked intruder on Braesail’s deck who must have climbed the inflatable boarding ladder that also serves as a fender when our boat is rafted with another. We chased away our uninvited guest, and were later warned that Blake Island has a large raccoon population against which we should be prepared to defend our boat and its provisions!

By about 2 pm, Walt was engaged in some boat maintenance and clean-up, and Martin and I were ready for a walk up from the docks to the central building of Tillicum Village, a visitor attraction featuring Northwest Coastal Native culture. The longhouse contains a dinner-theater, a museum, and a gift shop in which Martin purchased a nice pair of sunglasses decorated with Haida designs. We decided not to buy tickets to Sunday’s entertainment (quite expensive!), but did enjoy the building and grounds, near which we spotted a raccoon sitting up with one paw raised, posing for smartphone photos.

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Martin and I changed into walking shoes and spent somewhat over an hour following the very wet and muddy, lushly-leafy, lovely trail that leads past shoreline camping areas and takes one part of the way around the perimeter of the island, then cuts across it through verdant, moss-velveted forests, and finally leads back along the shore to Tillacum Village and the docks. When we stopped at one point to look down at the beach and across the water to Seattle, we saw a raccoon picking his way over and among the rocks, and when we approached the Tillacum Village longhouse, there again was the  raccoon we’d seen before, sitting with one and then both paws raised flirtatiously. We followed him as he turned and headed for the docks, scrambled down the stony bank, and then climbed up one of the shell-encrusted pilings to the walkway along which tourists were strolling, and finally scurried off toward the boats moored nearby. Would he visit us during the night?

Upon our return to Braesail, I spent some time rinsing mud from my shoes and then enjoyed a sleepy half-hour in the sun-warmed cockpit while Martin read architectural journals and Walt napped in the aft cabin. I worked on this blog entry before and after a fine dinner prepared by Walt, and before retiring for the night we all consumed hot chocolate and lemon wafers for dessert as a chilly north wind ruffled flags and waters.

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