June 29, 2017: “Oh, CANADA! We have arrived AT LAST!”

Thursday was a long, busy day that began with Walt needing to take care of some matters related to the Society of Scholar Priests (of which he is board chair) and the Moody Owners Association. Soon Walt was aboard the folding bicycle, leaving the Anacortes Marina under shiny blue skies to buy a bike lock (he has a lock on board, but he left the key in Everett) and a deck brush for cleaning decks (!) and windows. I took care of e-mail and by the time he returned I was ready to help with cleaning tasks. Walt filled Braesail’s water tanks and then hosed down the decks, cabin top, hatch covers, and windows; I used wet rags to wash the insides of the windscreens and cockpit side curtains. Walt then experimented with a special plastic-cleaning compound to work on the outsides of the windscreens while I dried the side curtains’ interiors. We will return to these tasks another day.

After Walt returned from a second bicycle excursion with some groceries (including ice cream!), I made some luncheon sandwiches and we finished eating just before the Marine Servicenter called at 1:30 pm to tell us that they were ready to haul Braesail out of the water so that the second new propeller could be attached to the bow thruster. Walt stayed aboard to help get the boat from our overnight slip to the lift area, and I left with the gasoline can to top up (liquid refreshment for the outboard motor) and a bag of trash and recycling. Having accomplished my errands, I joined Walt in watching as Braesail was lifted out of the water, wheeled onto the concrete work area, and fitted with the new propeller, which took very little time for installation and testing. As we were waiting, I noticed the myriad tiny, slim, tin-can-gray fish, perhaps an inch or so in length, that swarmed just below the surface of the water near the docks. They swam swiftly in schools that darted about, swerving this way and that as if they were a wriggling river flowing and eddying not far from my feet. I don’t know what they were, but they were certainly fascinating to observe!

The TraveLift hauling Braesail out of the water at Anacortes Marina

By about 2:30 the boat was back in the water, we were $2,000 poorer (though the Marine Servicenter was very generous with us financially as well as proving fast, competent, pleasant, and extra helpful!), and we were FINALLY on our way to Canadian waters–hooray! Not long after motoring out of the Anacortes Marina, we passed a large marker buoy on which cormorants had built nests and on which they many of the shiny black birds were perched, watching us glide by their “fort.” We motored under mostly sunny skies with little wind as we passed Matia, Sucia, and Patos Islands, being treated to excellent views of Mt. Baker and its sister peaks in the Cascade Range as we went, and receiving help and hindrance by turns from currents as they changed direction and we traveled. Tide rips provided some challenges as well: at one point, we found ourselves bouncing over frothy, current-generated waves about a foot high that sent an open cabin door banging and some unsecured below-decks items scattering nosily. I staggered down the rocking companionway, latched, the door, gathered up and secured the loose items, and made my way back into the cockpit to watch the wave show! At times, we were in areas of satin-smooth water with small ripples on one side of us and larger, tumbling waves on the other–it was as if we were standing on the bank of a river watching it gurgle and foam past us.

When we were about an hour from our destination, Horton Bay on Mayne Island, Walt phoned Canada Customs to report the presence of our boat and its crew, and we were wished a pleasant stay for most of the next three months. What a relief to be in Canadian waters at last!

As the day melted away, the seas became less troubled by cross currents and we entered an area of smaller islands, wind-and-wave-sculpted rock formations large and small, sand spits, and heavily forested hillsides and shores indented by driftwood-decorated “pocket beaches,” all of which were gorgeously lit by in the declining sun. I spotted a few seals as we wove our way among the islets, and acknowledged their whiskery presence as they cruised by. It was about 8:30 when we dropped anchor in Horton Bay, a large, thoroughly sheltered body of water containing a number of boats and lined by the usual forests of madrona and fir, with a scattering of houses of various styles and sizes as well. We were too tired to do more than eat sandwiches and fruit for a late supper as the sun slipped away behind the hills around 9:30 pm, but we did enjoy some blueberry-cardamom crisp ice cream to celebrate our safe arrival over the border, and we looked forward to a silent night in a beautiful spot!

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