August 22, 2017: Feeling crabby?

Yes, the fog enveloped our cove during the night as we thought it would. I rose once to use the head and found myself feeling dizzy, so staggered back to bed and slept in while Walt used my MacBook to work on the reconstruction of the conference presentation that he had lost via the theft of his computer. When I did rise at about 9 am, I was feeling better, and enjoyed the whole wheat pancake breakfast that Walt made for us. We shared Morning Prayer, and while waiting for the fog to dissipate, Walt worked on his paper. I did some reading of my sailing manual and of the recent European conference materials in German, French, Flemish, and English that I’d saved to provide me with language practice.

By mid-afternoon, the tide was in and the fog was out, the other boats had left the cove, and Walt and I loaded Coracle with ourselves and our crab traps and some salmon skin and bones, canned cat food, and a bottle of herring juice (for sprinkling on non-fish substances) to use as bait. As we were heading for one of the shores of the cove, we noticed that some folks on a fishing boat had just arrived and were setting their traps, so we stopped alongside and asked if they had any tips for first-time crabbers. We had along with us, and had done, everything on their list, but we were warned that this activity is largely a “crab shoot,” so we should simply give it a try and see what might happen. We wished one another luck, and we then motored a short distance, put the fish scraps into the bag in the cage, lowered the cage into the chilly water, and set up our marker buoy. We crossed the cove and went through the same process, this time using cat food scented with herring oil for bait.

We’d been told that we should wait for about a half-hour before checking our traps, so we spent the time exploring the cove’s shores and rocky, moss-wrapped islets and the narrow passage between Mound and Harbledown islands. Here we spied a nicely-arranged campsite behind a glistening white-shell beach, surrounded by the same sorts of graceful cedars and firs, their drooping branches dripping with Spanish moss, that line the entire cove. The water was clear enough that I could see some 10 feet below the surface, and many of the shores were lined with tumbles of large orange and dark gray rocks that looked as if they’d been cut into surprisingly neat “cubes” for use in construction–perhaps the children of some giants had been playing near the water, building castles and fortresses with the blocks, and some of them had fallen while others remained stacked and piled here and there.

After about 45 minutes had passed, we motored back toward our first crab trap, but I remembered on the way that we didn’t have gloves to provide protection from pinches, so back we went to Braesail to pick up a pair. When we returned to the trap and hauled it up, however, we found it empty, and so we dosed the salmon scraps with herring oil and returned the trap to the water. The second trap was empty also, so we squirted herring oil on the cat food and lowered the trap once more.

In the process of checking water depths for optimal trapping, we discovered that our battery-operated fish-finder measures water temperature accurately (55 degrees F. in the cove), but reads about 17 ft. regardless of the  depth of the water above which it’s placed; Walt will try to contact the manufacturer, once we are able to communicate with the outside world–it was purchased very recently and seemed to work fine before our trip to Europe. We had been using it to check water depths all around the boat when when anchoring and stern-tying near rocks. NUTS!

Back on the boat, we shared chips and dip and did some reading and writing while waiting to check our crab traps again. It wasn’t long before we were motoring in Coracle over the silky dark green water, drinking deeply of the rain-fresh, forest-scented air, and watching the afternoon’s clouds reassemble above the cove. Our first trap contained one crab, “too small to leave home,” and, having returned it to the water, we checked the second trap on the other side of the cove. It was empty once again–perhaps herring-oil-laced cat food is not the current treat-of-choice for crabs near Mound Island!

Instead of fresh crab, we had pork chops and pasta for dinner, followed by ice cream. I performed KP duties and finished this blog post. The crabbing gear is back in the stern lazarettes, ready for another try on another day, and I am ready for a good sleep as Braeasil floats silently on the orchid waters of our spacious cove, which we still have all to ourselves!

Mound Island at sunset
View toward the First Nations village of New Vancouver from our anchorage near Mound Island

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