The spring wind is gusting in fits and starts. Like a teenager suffering from premature ejaculation, it spends its energy quickly, but builds up fiercely again after a short rest. I’m anchored in the very center of Tod Inlet so that my wind turbine can capture as much of the wind as possible. I’m snuggled into my sleeping bag, reading a book and listening to the turbine spin up and spin down. Spin up, spin down. Through the window I watch the tops of trees spin around my boat as my anchor rode recoils from each windy onslot. My main halyard is bouncing up and down with each gust, waiting for me to secure it for the night.Less than a week across the border and my mind has already been blown. Where do I start? Sidney Island and the crumbling ruins of a brick factory? Or how about the fisherman I met who intentionally beached his boat so that he could work on the bottom? That was old school. Maybe I should start with the border patrol guards that tracked me down and almost confiscated my boat? That was scary. They let me go with a warning, once they realized I was just ignorant.
I’ve barely scraped the surface of the wild BC coast. I’m still sickenly close to civilization. I’m still in the land of persnickety rules, but from my watery vantage point I can see the wilderness pushing at the ends of the poshly landscaped vacation homes.
I feel like this trip is a pause in my life. I’ve been running around for 32 years and I’ve finally sat down to rest. To reflect. The stimulants are being purged from my body. My alcohol consumption is minor. I’m eating more fresh vegetables that I ever have. I feel healthy. I’m losing weight. Mostly though, I sit quietly, reading and cogitating. It’s wonderful.One advantage to being close to civilization is the proliferation of Wifi hot spots. Wifi and ample free time has allowed me to catch up on the blogs of favorite nomads and explore new ones, like the visceral writing of Carrot Quinn. Today I’m going to explore the Butchart Gardens. A tourist trap, I know, but it’s been on my radar for a long time none the less. Once that bucket item is crossed off my list, I’ll make a mad dash for the Gulf Islands and slowly escape these million dollar vacation homes, as I begin to crawl north in earnestness.
Mentally, I’m going deeper. More and more native. Earlier this week I spent four hours hiking through the multifaceted biosphere of Sydney Island in search of mushrooms, then caught two fat greenling for dinner and set out the crab trap with the carcasses. Sunsets are enjoyed while sitting naked in my cockpit as I let the warm water of a solar shower cleanse my soul while scrubbing off the sunblock.
I feel like a king of this watery jungle. An animal perfectly evolved to exploit niches in their environment. The otters fishing a few yards away don’t work too hard to survive. They aint got nothing on me. Cheers my furry friends. Here’s to evolutionary fitness!
On the way here, as I sailed south of the whiskey-delta naval firing range, a series of splashes off the stern caught my attention. It took me a long time to figure out what kind of animal was making the splashes. From its obvious shyness, I assumed it was a harbor porpoise, braving proximity to a human to catch a free ride. It was a fur seal! It was riding my stern wake somehow, which was strange, and doubly strange because fur seals prefer big, open water, not protected water like the south Sannich Inlet.At first he played coy, coming up for only the quickest of breaths. Eventually he got curious and put on quite the show while trying to get a better look at me; going so far as to leap completely out of the water, flying through the air, almost at eye level. He seemed as interested in me as I was in him.
There are not words to describe the emotions I felt at having a three-hundred pound, seven foot long wild animal leap eight feet out of the water, five feet away, and look me in the eye. I wanted to take a picture, but as I pulled out my camera, he disappeared and I never saw him again. Apparently he was camera shy.
That’s ok. We had our moment. In that brief instant, as our eyes locked from five feet away, we stared into the others soul. I saw benevolence, a fierce desire to live, and a curiosity born of the joy of being alive. I could do worse than aspire to the morality of this animal, I thought.
Just another of the daily miracles out on the water.
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