August 29, 2017: A humpback whale and a successful stern tie

I woke and stretched this morning at about 6:30 am, needing to pay a visit to the head. Suddenly the calf muscles in both legs knotted and yelled and so did I! Walt brought me a banana from the galley, and eating about half of it relaxed the muscles (this nearly always works to relieve any leg cramps I experience!) and I was able to take my “bio-break”, return to bed, and sleep soundly for another two hours during which I experienced some very disturbing dreams from which I was happy to awaken! Walt served a great breakfast of luscious peach pancakes and bacon, and after Morning Prayer he hauled up an extremely muddy anchor from the bottom of Von Donop Inlet, did some cleaning of the boat’s bow area, and declared us ready to leave at about 11:15 am on another very summery day. I took the helm until we reached the invisible rock in the center of the channel leading out of our anchorage, at which point Walt took over. We traded piloting duties through the day, and I was at the wheel when I saw a large fluked whale tail breaking the surface of the sea a short distance off the starboard bow! We slowed down, turned aside, and were able to see the creature’s small dorsal fin, part of its back, and then the two columns of mist it sent skyward! We waited quietly for a bit, and then saw the whale’s arching back, fin, and hissing fountain of spray behind us, and we gradually increased our speed and returned to our course–quite exciting!

As usual of late, there were few boats in our vicinity and the wind was elusive; the skies were clear, though the distant hills and mountains looked a bit misty as if thinking about autumn. The wind rose to nearly 15 kts. only when we were heading right into it in a narrow channel close to our destination, again as usual. We arrived in quiet, forested Grace Harbour at about 3 pm,

Grace Harbor
Boats anchored in Grace Harbour. The half-moon hangs above the sailboat’s mast.

dropped anchor after circling the area looking for a good spot, and managed to stern tie to a tree above some rocks on the shore behind Braesail. This time there were no oyster shells to slice Coracle’s bottom, and the climb to the tree wasn’t a problem for Walt. I was able to let out the line and then tie it off on the stern cleat with minimal fuss, and I, especially, was pleased at the relative simplicity of the operation after we’d experienced a number of “interesting adventures” while stern tying in the past!

Grace Harbor stern tie
Braesail’s stern line strung around a tree on Grace Harbour’s shore

With the boat secured bow and stern, we snacked on chips and dip, Walt went off to nap in the Captain’s Cabin, and I found that I had JUST enough connectivity to allow for the receiving and sending of some e-mail (we had enough during our journey this afternoon to make the publishing of two blog posts possible as we motored along). While Walt did some reading and then began the cooking of a fine steak dinner on the grill in Braesail’s stern, I sat on the bathing platform and dangled my feet in the refreshing 70-degree water, sent a few more messages, and then spent more time chipping old finish off the toe rail. We ate dinner in the cockpit as dusk gathered, and then I returned to my scraping work–there are only a few short stretches still to do and the removal of the finish from the top and some of the sides of the rail (somewhat over 100 ft. of it) will be finished!

While Walt read his new detective novel, I cleaned the galley, wrote mail messages, finished this post, and took a walk around Braesail’s deck to savor the soft breeze and the light of the brighter stars and the half-moon. Rain is predicted for Wednesday morning, but I saw only a few gauzy  moon-lit clouds to the west before descending into the cabin. I wouldn’t mind some cooler weather, in any event, but now it’s time for a shower and some sleep.

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