Wind increased as the morning wore on, swinging SE and upchannel. By noon we had clocked several gusts to 45 knots with average windspeeds to 30. Sometimes came a gust to turn RAVEN’S head, then with her broadside to the wind, another lay her over, almost but not quite to her rail. White streaked water and spume. Salt spray formed into great clouds that flew up from the channel and far into the mountain. The rigging roared as did the trees. The bald eagle of yesterday, the loon and the two grebes, had abandoned the fjord.
At each gust we looked up to the shoreline. Will the anchor hold; will it hold again?
We sat in the cockpit photographing the day in the machine-gun rain and the chain ground away in its chock.
Jay, who had not been through an event like this, began to feel the pressure of such a tenuous existence, “So, do we leave tomorrow?” Kurt shook his head. “Depends on the wind. We could be here for days.”
In the early afternoon the sky cleared and RAVEN sat in calm water. We smiled with the feeling of a successful escape. But an hour later the sky lowered and the southerly filled in again with the same violence as before.
By nightfall our radio propagation improved such that I was able to pull a much anticipated weather forecast. It said:
West Coast Vancouver Island North.
Storm warning in effect.
Wind southeast 35 to 45 knots except southeast 50 near the headlands.
Wind becoming northwest 40 to 50.
This was a markedly stronger forecast than earlier and felt as though Environment Canada (weather bureau) had cheated by predicting the present moment.
It went to on say 55 knot winds were being recorded at Cape Cook, a mere 10 miles west.
The previous day I had resented our giving up on the Brooks. If I’d been alone, I thought, I’d have pressed on. But now I was contrite and as grateful as the newly saved for this heavenly anchorage.
We put out a braided rope snubber on the chain to defeat the infernal cranking and grinding. I wrapped it in fire-hose chafe guard. Within two hours it chewed through and the snubber parted at the chock as if it were a piece of string. I made another with a chafe guard of reinforced heater hose. This one held.
Kurt cooked a dinner of spaghetti with ground buffalo and tomato sauce, steamed broccoli and a salad, again, deeply satisfying. We thought, once, the wind diminished. We looked up and gave it a moment of silence, but then it cranked down again. Always strong, always from the south, and our talk continued until 11PM.
By 4AM, quiet. We motored out at 5AM on a lake but yet without birds, slinking through the narrow pass not sure of our offing. I looked to the horizon expecting a dark line, the 50 knot northwestelies.
We passed quickly around Solander Island. A windless morning, but in a sea still so upset from the night before it threw us against the railings like to brake our arms and legs.
“So, will we sail today?” asked Jay. Kurt and I were tight-lipped, focused only on getting below the Brooks before the next gale.
A light wind from the south by late morning and we did sail the leg into Bunsby Islands. We were early. We’d made it. We sailed back and forth in Ououkinish Inlet for an hour simply for the pleasure of it. Another 35 miles of southing.
At anchor in a horseshoe lagoon and under the perfect protection of north Bunsby. Cheese sandwiches. I suggest chocolate Sundays for desert. Kurt says that by way of celebration he just baked brownies and hands me a chocolate bar. We each have a piece. Just one. They nap. I go for a row and fall asleep on the rocky beach.