September 3, 2017: A drone, a swim, and a near miss

Martin and Hans are with us on Braesail tonight–they joined us at Sean’s home on Gambier Island shortly after noon after motoring and sailing for some four hours. Sagres is moored on the other side of the dock where there is bumpier water, and so we have invited them to stay with us on Braesail beneath which the water is quieter.

Walt and I enjoyed a sparklingly sunny morning after a pleasant night during which we were rocked gently in the boat from time to time by the wakes from passing boats. The tide was very low, and clams, mussels, and seaweed on the rocks and driftwood on the little beach were all very much in evidence. In mid-morning, I climbed up the ramp from the dock to the deck built on a rock outcropping, below which small waves were foaming against the rocks and where Sean and his dad and his uncle were trying out their drone to see if they could use it to shoot video of Sagres as it approached. I had never observed this process before, and it was fun to watch them launch the drone, send it in a huge circle over the cove, see on a little screen what the camera was seeing as the drone flew, and then catch it when it “came home” to the deck. When Walt arrived, we went up to the house and Sean showed us the astonishing photos he’d taken when he, Martin, and Hans had driven to southeastern Idaho to photograph the solar eclipse–what phenomenal experience they had!

As Sagres came nearer, Walt and I decided to take Braesail out to meet and sail with her for a bit so that Sean, using the drone, could shoot video of the two boats together. This we did, and I tried sailing with actual wind, not simply steering while motoring; I hadn’t had any practice at this because we’d found almost no wind during all our weeks a sea, and because there was so little wind at this point, maneuvering Braesail was difficult and Walt had to manipulate the yankee sail at the bow of the boat “by hand” instead of by means of its control lines in the cockpit. I began to feel frantic because I wasn’t confident about what I was doing at the helm, there were many other boats in the area, and we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a small-boat regatta based at a nearby yacht club. Sagres and Braesail did manage to sail near one another for some while, and Sean sent the drone overhead to shoot video. I could see it hovering above us and hear the motor, which sounds like the whine of two giant mosquitoes. A particularly scary incident for me was our grazing one of the small regatta boats as we passed–they were trying to raise a sail and weren’t watching! No damage was done, fortunately, as I increased our engine speed to give us more way and steered aside, and the crew of the other boat called out their apologies, since we actually had the right-of-way as a much less maneuverable craft and they should have avoided US.

Both of our boats were soon docked in the little bight below the island house, to which we all repaired,

Sean’s parents’ vacation home in a beautiful bight in Center Bay on Gambier Island not far from Vancouver BC

and we loved watching the video of Sean’s mom, Jan, and his aunt, Cindy, as they paddled their kayaks, and of Sagres and Braesail as they sailed together–lovely! We’d planned to takel Braesail, with Walt, Martin, Hans, and me aboard, up Howe Sound during the afternoon and evening and use all the sails, since there is almost always decent wind in the area, but this time there was nearly none (why is it that, whenever we are traveling on the boat, the winds decide to blow elsewhere?). So instead of trying to sail, we spent a delightful afternoon chatting, munching snacks, and swimming. I found the 72-degree water a little chilly as I drifted around in an inflated circular bathing raft, but once I’d grown accustomed to the temperature, I lifted the raft onto the dock and swam toward the rocky beach and back to the dock and then around Braesail and had a marvelous time on a hot afternoon!

After a shower in the aft head, I felt much refreshed, and we invited Hans and Martin to join us on Braesail for a spaghetti supper. We had a fine meal and great conversation, and Hans showed us pictures from the wildfire evacuation of Holden Village a few years ago in which he was involved. Divine intervention seems truly to have saved the village, and much gratitude resulted; I certainly offered many fervent prayers during the frightening ordeal!

I next collected two bags of laundry and brought them up to the house, taking up Jan’s kind offer of the use of her washer and dryer. We decided that she would put the wet clothes into the dryer later in the evening and I’d pick them up in the morning, and I made my down the path to the boat to clean up the galley.  As the sky darkened and the full moon flooded the sea with silver, we all assembled on the deck overlooking the water and sat around the glowing gas fire pit, sharing stories and watching the stars brighten overhead. One relatively large, shiny object that I’d thought might be Mars turned out to be Saturn, glittering not far from the end of the Big Dipper’s handle.

Now I’m back on the boat and will soon be in bed on a very warm night, with Hans in the bow cabin and Martin in the lower berth in the crew cabin, Walt beside me, and thanks for the day’s adventures and blessings in my heart.

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