After nearly three weeks in a rough anchorage, waiting for yet another repair, our suspicions were confirmed by experts (our son who works in the Coast Guard). The fall weather is sneaking in early this year. We had a feeling that was true, since most days we woke up enveloped in a thick fog. What's more, the wind rushed in every afternoon, and stirred up an even choppier sea that lasted well into the night.
Twice we slipped our anchor and dragged it, scudding backwards out into the bay, miraculously threading through boats we are still shocked we didn't crash into. Needless to say, it got hard to settle down at night when we had to keep popping our heads up out of the hatch to make sure nothing like that happened, again.
Not to mention all that rocking and bobbing was making it almost impossible to walk a straight line on dry ground. It has something to do with balance and your "inner ear," neither of which was working very well for me to begin with. I know this isn't just an illusion because a man in the grocery store (who I thought was following me) explained he had tried several times to pass but I kept swerving. I think he thought I had been… oh, but nevermind about that.
The Captain and I both wanted to high-tail it back to a calmer harbor in the San Juans. But neither of us wanted to get caught in fog or a rough sea trying to cross a major shipping lane on the "big water." Not to mention the leaky shaft was still leaking while we waited for replacement parts. We weren't ready to quit, though. Other than dreaming about houses every night, I still wanted to continue on.
However, there is sometimes a fine line between faith and stupidity, and at this point, I wasn't sure which side was which. So, I said a little prayer there would be some sort of sign to let me know. The first was finding out the Captain and I were having the same thoughts but neither of us mentioned them until the morning after I prayed.
The second was when the weather channel gave a forecast that the following afternoon would be clear, seventy-five degrees, with a steady wind out of the right direction for us to ACTUALLY SAIL. Up until then, we had consistently been "beating into it" at anywhere from three to five knots. How fast is that? Let's just say if we were on dry ground, you could pass us up running.
However, our "weather window" was only going to last one day, and it was at least a nine hour trip. After that, there was a storm front coming in that would arrive in full force by the end of the week. But who knew how long before another opportunity like this would come around? So, the Captain wrapped some plastic bags and duck tape around the leaky shaft, and decided to go for it.
We raised the sails and practically flew across that big water! At a whopping eight knots (OK, seven point eight). The minute we got to the islands, the wind dropped back down to nothing. There were a couple lingering patches of fog, but we just had to nose our way along some ghosty outline of land to keep out of the way of ferries and such.
Not long after that, all was as clear as the forecast had promised, and we finally slipped into the wonderful stillness of Lopez Sound for the first peaceful night we'd had in weeks. Then up early for a beautiful cruise around to well-protected Fisherman's Bay. By afternoon, we were anchored in the sunny San Juan Islands, again.
Oh, yes, and what a surprise to find this place less expensive than where we were on the mainland. There is even a boatyard for when we're ready to make those repairs. On Friday, that storm did come in. But from here it wasn't much more than a stiff breeze under a beautiful blue sky. So, thank you God…
One does not have to be in an entirely unpopulated place to be in a wilderness. Or be lost, either. I'm actually beginning to think a large part of being in a wilderness is a state of mind. Since we began our journey north on June first, we haven't gone very far as miles go. Yet, we have gone miles and miles.
There are eighty islands in the San Juans, most of which look fairly much the same. In fact, if you didn't have charts to refer to, it would be easy to get turned around. Or even lost. Not to mention tides that can change twenty feet, or more, in a single turning and leave you high and dry if you're not watchful. Sometimes, the fog rolls in so thick you can't see the front of your own boat, much less what might be in the ocean nearby.
Then there are the currents.
It's like a maze in and around those islands, and the narrower the channel, the swifter the current. Sometimes, we've had to skirt around little whirlpools formed by the collision of a low tide, strong current, and narrow channel all at the same time. You also have to watch out for areas that are open to the sea. The "doorways to the world" I call them. Here you get a taste of the underlying swells of "big water" that seems to be the constant heartbeat of the ocean.
|Photo by Todd Stahlecker|
If ever a wind comes up (especially off a cape) and frosts these swells with a choppy sea, it can be a very rough and scary ride. More so if you've been reading about all the sunken ships there are on the outward coasts of those islands. All of which make the phrase "If you can sail the San Juans, you can sail anywhere in the world," seem true. Because surely we have come across every condition and situation possible, in and around these waters.
Which doesn't include the many mechanical failures we've added to the ordinary hazards of sailing and navigation. So much to learn! And so much we were entirely unaware of until it happened to us. But I must report that we have survived all our accidents and misjudgments. And that God has been gracious to rescue us out of the rest "by divine appointment" that we blundered into out of sheer ignorance. Those things that should have, by logic, gone very bad.
Which is probably why I have a first hand idea of what the children of Israel must have felt when they discovered they had been wandering forty years in an area they could have crossed in forty days. The thought that God Himself had been leading them with "a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night" makes one wonder how they could still go on trusting Him after all that. Even though they saw a lot of miracles along the way.
|Rowing to town in a fog|
Having some of the same experiences on this adventure of ours, I can understand why He might have done that. It was because where they were headed for was a lot bigger and more difficult than they realized. And they weren't ready for it. So, the training grounds of wilderness places. Along with all those experiences that strengthened the body and sharpened the wits along the way.
Today, we are sitting "on the hook" (at anchor) in Port Townsend, waiting for repairs. Again. It's only eight hours -- a mere forty-five minutes by car--away from Liberty Bay, where we first started out. That's a long way from Alaska, where we had figured to be there and back by now. Instead, we have meandered in and out of the San Juan Islands, and ventured only as far as the border of Canada before we had to turn south, again.
We haven't quit. But we're not sure how long it will take to actually get there, anymore. One thing we do know, though. We're on "His clock" with this journey, and there are miracles and divine appointments raining down all around us, wherever we go. So, we've decided to let go, let God… and hang on for the ride.
Because it's going to be a good one.
It's hard to break away from one thing and start doing another. For a long time, I thought this was some quirk in my own personality: that I was a person who didn't like change. But I do. Or I wouldn't want to go adventuring all the time.
Then I thought it came from being too intense, or tenacious, or not wanting to quit a thing until it's finished. Which could be true, but that's not limited to certain personality types, either. Never was this more obvious to me than when we went camping with the "littles," last week.
First of all, no one wanted to go camping. They had bikes to ride, TV to watch, and friends to play with. They were too busy. So, we decided on one day at the beach, and if no one liked it, we would come right back. Agreed.
To make a long story short, no one wanted to come back. We stayed for days, digging, playing, building campfires, eating s'mores… all the typical stuff. Even the youngest (3) said he wanted to stay there forever. Which leads me to the conclusion that being outside, in some kind of natural surroundings, does something to people. No matter how little they are.
And it's a good thing, too, because it is always accompanied by a certain result. Everyone calms down. Without even being told. Then after awhile, an incredible contentment envelops them. I like to think of it as a "hug from God." Something that seems to happen to anyone who ventures into that wonderful "territory" He made especially for us. Maybe it's left over from that garden He walked often with Adam in.
Which is probably why I like living on the water so much. And why I could never criticize the "littles" for not wanting to go home. Because if you would ask me the same question--right now-- as I sit here at anchor in a beautiful bay on a rainy afternoon, waiting for my bread to come out of the oven--I feel like I could stay here forever. Then, again, I've been saying that about everywhere, lately.
So, let the adventuring continue… it's great to be back on the GLORY B!