July 24, 2009
Fog has washed us clean
This morning we pulled anchor in the fog and drizzle. During low tide, we motored out past dozens of rocks and small islets. There is life all around, salmon jumping, pigmy deer on the banks and the thousands of invertebrates and algae that cover the intertidal zone. On a distant shore, near a small beach I see a figure standing. Most likely another traveler like us, his boat tucked away, hidden in some small nook behind one of these enumerable coves. He raises his arm in a friendly wave, a signal, a gesture that among all this life, this diversity of fauna, we still seek the camaraderie of another human soul who understands this grandeur, and seeks to share a still moment here in the fog with a perfect stranger.
With GPS and radar to guide our way through the rock and crag strewn archipelago, we motored with caution. There is no wind. The ocean is mirror calm. We begin to feel a slight swell from the open ocean to the south as we enter clear water. Sitting at the bow has a memorizing affect in these conditions. The fog is thick, visibility is only a few hundred meters and the water so featureless that ones perceptions is of movement is completely lost. Your eyes constantly search and peer and cling to any feature that gives information about distance, movement or relative speed. A stick in the water tells you speed and direction. A jellyfish the size of my fingernail gives a fleeting chance of depth perception. Or is that jelly Cyanea, which can grow up to a meter across, and my perception of depth remains uncalibrated. Here, the only way to tell if you are moving is to look down under the bow to see the wake.
In a few hours we make a decision, do we find a cove to rest for the night, or hang a left and head out to sea? The great Hecate Strait awaits, wide, rough, nasty. Our test of mettle truly begins in those waters.