September 22, 2017: Some critter(s) tried to sink our dinghy!

GO, Wildlife! On Friday we encountered a number of creatures, one or two of which caused Walt to lose a fair amount of sleep!

I happened to be awake at about 4 am (I WAS comfortably warm!) when I heard splashing sounds at Braesail’s stern (not unusual), then the bumping of Coracle against the stern (again, not unusual), and then the scuffling sounds of what I took to be small animal feet scuttling around on the deck. I listened for a bit, and then nudged Walt and asked if he thought we should chase away what I guessed were one or more raccoons, about which I had read warning posters at the campsites on Jones Island. He struggled out of bed and shone our spotlight through the cabin windows and thumped on the ceiling, and returned to bed, not having seen the source of the noises I’d heard (I SHOULD have done all of the above–mea culpa!). He wasn’t able to get back to sleep for a long time, unfortunately, and I lay sleepless as well, and indeed, Walt was so drowsy in the morning that he slipped back into bed while I got everything ready for departure. Walt had seen an otter on Coracle’s bow a few days ago, and it’s possible that one or more of them, or a raccoon or two, might have swum to the boat, clambered into the dinghy, climbed onto the lowered bathing platform, clawed their way up onto the deck via the large step above the platform, and begun a search for food (of which there was none).

Once Walt had drowsed for half an hour, he busied himself at the navigation station desk with some online tasks and I climbed out onto the deck to raise and secure the bathing platform. When I looked down at Coracle, tied at our stern, however, I saw that she was full of water (though still afloat)–the plug in her stern was not in place! Did our overnight visitor(s) remove it, thinking it was edible? Walt came on deck, hooked Coracle to her lifting lines, raised the bow so that her belly full of water would drain out the opening in her stern, reached out and over and replaced the plug, and finished lifting her into place above Braesail’s stern rail. I hope the critter(s) had as much fun as we did!

By about 9:45 am we were finally ready to leave; we released the boat from the anchoring ball and motored out of our lovely anchorage with Walt at the helm as a smiling sun watched from above. As we did on Thursday, we traveled with a light tail wind and a strong current-river flowing our way, which allowed us to move a good deal faster than usual, with our speed-over-ground again reaching 10 kts. for short periods. Several times I spotted the sleek heads of seals sliding through the water and the small, curved dorsal fins of minke whales slicing it, and for a while large flocks of seagulls swooped, surfed the breeze (now coming over our bow), landed on the turbulent water to bob about for a time before swooshing off again (currents flowing against winds create “confused” seas!)–what sort of feast might they have been anticipating or enjoying?

We passed Speiden Island’s golden-grassy slopes (the southern half of the island is in a “rain shadow” and is quite dry, while the northern half is rainy and green), approached Roche Harbor’s marina, and motored on to explore Garrison and Westcott bays before returning to accept guest moorage just below the resort town of Roche Harbor (on the northern tip of San Juan Island). We were supposed to meet a friend for lunch, but he had to cancel, and so we walked into town, had a lovely lunch at a cafe overlooking the harbor (Cobb salad wraps for me). Walt picked up a few items at the nearby grocery store, and I enjoyed the view of the famous Hotel de Haro on a sunny afternoon on the day of the autumnal equinox, with appropriate touches of fall color enlivening the scene.

Roche Harbor resort
The Hotel de Haro in Roche Harbor on San Juan Island

Back on Braesail, Walt loosed the dock lines and I pulled the boat away and out of Roche Harbor, motoring around a number of ketches and other boats toward Garrison and Westcott bays. I nearly steered us around the outside of a shallow-water marker instead of along the inside, but, thanks to Walt’s vigilance, I made the necessary correction and avoided running the boat aground! I chose Garrison Bay as our anchorage (we’d dropped hook there when we were traveling on Sagres some years ago), found a spot well away from other boats, and lowered the anchor using the cockpit control. Walt walked me through the process of securing the anchor chain with a large metal hook attached to a thick line that takes pressure off the windlass, and then lowering the anchor chain further using a remote control at the bow (a procedure new to me)–and there we were!

While I took a shower, Walt motored to shore in Coracle to see if he could buy some shellfish for dinner, but he found the store closed for the season (instead, he roasted salmon that we had in the freezer). After he returned, we both caught up on e-mail and articles, he took a nap and then worked on the Society of Scholar Priests’ website, I tried and failed to reach my mother in southern California by phone, and I worked on yesterday’s and today’s blog posts. Following supper on an overcast evening and the completion of KP tasks, we shared some rich chocolate-chip ice cream from a local creamery and I finished the reading and writing I’d hoped to do. I think we should be safe from amphibious invasion tonight!

One thought on “September 22, 2017: Some critter(s) tried to sink our dinghy!

  1. What a delightful time you are having! We enjoyed reading about your continued adventures. Your vivid description makes us feel as if we were right there with you. Your mom’s phone is back in service. I convinced Frontier that it was a medical emergency because her Life Alert could not work if the phone was down. They sent someone out this afternoon and we are back up and able to get phone calls and access the Internet.

    Safe Travels ! Mom and Terri


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