Easter Flashes By

BIG! This barge stopped briefly in Shearwater while I was leaving for the weekend. The “Ocean Oregon’ was being towed by the ‘Arctic Taglu’. Once this monster is loaded with logs it will go south where the timber is reloaded on a ship for export.
LITTLE! ‘Seafire’s’ tender is a 10’6″ Achilles inflatable hypalon boat. It has an inflatable floor and performs much better than previous aluminum hard-bottomed inflatable boats. It’s a keeper!

Good Friday morning, Easter weekend. The anchorage is placid. There is no sign of human presence anywhere other than myself. ‘Seafire’ is anchored in a finger-shaped bay off of Troup Passage. I’ve dreamed of this for weeks and the thought of being here sustained me through the haul-out last weekend. Here I am with three full days on my beloved boat away from Shearwater. I’d love some company but I’m happy enough with my own self and am free to follow a random schedule having to bend or explain anything to anyone.

Freedom! Heading out for the weekend on Seaforth Channel. A few miles west it opens onto the entire Pacific Ocean, a tough call to resist.

Yesterday at 5 pm, quitting time, I was still in a bilge wrestling with a last stubborn bolt. There is always one. If I hadn’t beat the damned thing it would have haunted me all weekend. I won. By 6:30 we were all shipshape and had slipped our lines. That we is ‘Seafire’ and me. There was even a thin sunlight as we left the bay. Two hours later the anchor went down here as the last light of the day ebbed away. The stereo is playing an amazing album of eclectic Spanish music. ( Carlos Nunez- Discovery) It would be nice to share this bliss but this blog is as close as I’ll get to that. Soon it’ll be anchors aweigh to see what’s around the corner, and then the next. What a feeling to be content in the moment at hand and not want to be somewhere else.

Into the mystic. Northbound up Bullock Channel. It, in turn, opens onto Spiller Channel.

I’m travelling northward up a network of inlets and passages to a place called Ellerslie Lake, a sacred back water to locals. The scenery and fishing are supposed to be fantastic. We’re in the middle of herring season. There might be wildlife to see with all that surplus feed in the water. By mid-afternoon ‘Seafire’ arrives and the anchor goes down in a magic world which is entirely mine. There is a logging camp miles back but here the solitude is absolute. The silence thunders out. I launch the dinghy and soon find a forgotten joy as I skim across the flat water. I love exploring in my trusty little Achilles and can quickly cover many miles in a radius from where mother ship ‘Seafire’ is anchored. The skies have cleared a bit. A golden evening light bathes the area and it will be best to take advantage. I decide to visit the falls and find a rich reward of soft pure light for the effort. As the tide falls the is a tidal gorge to navigate in and out of the large lagoon below the falls. The lower the tide the more the rapids increase.

Anchored beneath the mountain. We all need to occasionally be reminded of how tiny and insignificant we are.
Natural Art. I could see a fish in the reflection at the tide line.

I remind myself that I’m entirely alone as I pick my way up and over the boiling water but I’m having fun for once. I love white water and soon I’m into the lagoon. In another two miles I arrive at a spectacular water falls running into the sea. The light is fading and I know the rapids will be steeper each minute I linger.

The prize. The falls  which drain Ellerslie Lake. I’ll go back and explore when it’s warmer.
Over the edge. Yeehawing my way down the rapids from the lagoon at Ellerslie Lake.

I’m not a kid with a canoe anymore, and I don’t want to spend the night here if the rapids become impassable. The rapids are considerably more violent and steeper but the hardest part is making a decision to just do it. Then you pick your way through and it’s over. I’m hungry and getting cold. Finally back at the boat I’m numb, my arthritic hands burning with painful coldness. I have never worn gloves but the time has come. God bless my diesel furnace. Despite the warmth of my kerosene lamp and the music I play, Stan Rogers then Ibrahim Ferrer, nothing warms my core. The music of Cuba seems incongruously far from the cold grandeur of this incredible place.

Warmth at last light. I turned up the furnace and put the kettle on promptly on my return.

I am still filled with pain and stiffness in the morning. This sucks! The fog and rain has descended again and my body, and soul, ache for warmth. Damn! This getting older will be the death of me! After breakfast I clean up and decide to crawl back into bed. The weather, and the way I feel, are equally grey. At 13:00 I am up and after consulting the charts I decide to pull the hook and amble back toward Shearwater the long way. I’ll find another place to anchor tonight. The weekend is already half gone, but then, half still lies ahead. The rain squalls continue. I am glad that I seized the sunlight of last evening

It blinked! I swear!
An interesting anomaly on the top of a cliff looking down on the anchorage.
Serenity.So calm that not every one notices the photo is posted inverted.
Now which way is up? Another calm evening, now in Wigham Cove…just me and the seals.


Soon the seals will have it all to themselves. I always find it amusing that they lay curled up like a sausage in a frying pan.

I meander down Spiller Channel for a few hours. I explore Neekas Cove and Inlet but something doesn’t feel right and i continue on my way. I’ve learned to listen to my intuition about anchorages and go or not to go decisions. There may practical reasons but experience produces an inner voice which is often correct a\nd I don’t analyze what I intuit. The wind rises on my nose but we make fair speed and it is so pleasant to feel the boat travelling as it has not for too many months. I tuck into the secure basin charted as Wigham Cove on the south end of Yeo Island. I cook a simple supper of ground beef well-imbued with smoked chipotle pepper and garlic. I fill some pitas with the potent mixture and feel a lovely glow spreading within. Warmth! Simple pleasure!

Sunday morning finds me nestled firmly between the blankets, suspended in a stupor between sleep and wakefulness. Sunlight shafts into the cabin. A light fog is dissipating to reveal a near-cloudless sky. I ache for a place to walk but the cedar jungle crowds everywhere, There are no meadows or trails, only a thick tangle of brush and windfalls and interlocked branches. Some beaches offer a place to amble at low tide along a small edge of this impenetrable mystery of endless forest. Wild creatures can magically appear and disappear silently into and from this thick maze. I crash and thrash to try and intrude for a few yards and then retreat, defeated again, to the opening from which I began. I am an alien here.

It will be a sleepy Sunday, it suits my lethargic mood and I prepare for the last leg back to my berth in Shearwater; after yet another nap. I feel exhausted and want to stay here for a week.

You’re back! Got any fishy bits for me?

Later in the day the boat is back in her berth. It is as if the weekend never happened. Monday dawns with a cloudless sky. It is windless and warm, 22 degrees C. by noon. I’m back in a bilge covered in black muck and l am already looking forward to the next weekend. This too shall pass.

Life goes on. Taking seed in the end of a dead-head below Ellerslie Falls. Loggers once shot their timber over the falls. Now the forest will re-establish itself one way or the other.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving”…. Albert Einstein

Author: Fred Bailey

Fred is a slightly-past middle age sailor / writer / photographer with plenty of eclectic hands-on skills and experiences. Some would describe him as the old hippy who doesn't know the war is over. He is certainly reluctant to grow up and readily admits to being the eternal dreamer. He has written several books including two novels, 'The Keeper' and 'Storm Ecstasy,' as well as 'The Water Rushing By', 'Sins Of The Fathers', 'The Magic Stick', as well as an extensive inventory of poetry, essays, short stories, anecdotes and photographs. His first passion is the ocean, sailboats, voyaging and all those people who are similarly drawn to the sea. He lives aboard 'Seafire' the boat he is refitting to go voyaging, exploring new horizons both inner and outer. This blog is about that voyage and the preparations for it. In spite of the odds against it, the plan is to sail away this fall and lay a course southward. If you follow this blog your interest may provide some of the energy that helps fuel the journey. Namaste Contact him at svpaxboat@gmail.com

7 thoughts on “Easter Flashes By”

  1. Hi there!
    The fish is right on the waterline facing the left, it’s bottom half is reflection. It looks like one of those kid’s crackers.
    Cheers, Fred

  2. Enjoyed the post and photos as always, Fred. The anchorages you stayed at sound intriguing – you’ve given me some new destinations for my future cruising wishlist…though not sure we’d be up to the challenge of those lagoon rapids in our little kayaks. 🙂

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