Friday, April 02, 2010

Port Hardy again

Hello to everyone from Port Hardy, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. This map shows our position and how dang far north Alaska is. All in all, we’ve sailed nearly 1200 nautical miles, and if we push it could be in Alaska in 12 days or so. But who wants to push it? There are hot springs along the way.

Back up to the boat. It sure feels good to see Oystercatcher again. She fared well over the winter, thanks to our boat-minder extraordinaire – Tom Cook. He came aboard and checked for drips, secured lines, started the engine, rearranged cushions, and troubleshot tarp chafe. We left a snow shovel out for him, just in case, but luckily he never needed it.

Still slim with people, the harbor seems to be teeming with wildlife. The first birds we heard when we pulled in were oystercatchers. We take that as a good omen. A few tons of California sea lions has taken over one of the log booms nearby and their “ourt ourt ourts” are a welcome sound; though we do wish they’d tone it down at night. The nights are later this far north as darkness falls well after 9pm.

A group of mink (what is the proper term I wonder - a coat of minks?) moved into the breakwater and can be seen weaseling through the wrack and barnacle crusted rocks. As I write, two of them came to visit the harbor hotel back door, but were shoed away to make way for paying guests.

Barry the harbor guy, told us of two cougars that became a nuisance over the winter and had to be killed. He suspects that they come into town when they are starving or too old to catch wild game in search of unwary kitties and German shepherd/ husky mixes with large ears. Chance tells us he’s ready through years of chasing neighborhood cats out of his yard, and doesn’t think lions will be a problem.

Notably, the infamous drug bust sailboat is dry-docked up in the parking lot. Harbor staff tells us that in the panic to hide the evidence, the captain spilled diesel around the cabin to hide any scent of the 1001 kilos of cocaine they’d scuttled to a beach earlier, thus destroying what could have been a nice motorsailer. A news video of the bust can be seen on UTube. I’m sure the Canadian authorities are relieved to have this much coke off the streets, but I’d bet they’d preferred the cash. Estimated at a street value of hundreds of millions of dollars, one can imagine the goody shopping spree the Coast Guard could have had. I suppose this story fascinates everyone that has a little pirate in them. As glorified as 30’s bootleggers and their overpowered rumrunners dodging revenue patrols have become in this part of Canada, we can see the irony.

Blain is getting around inside the boat pretty well, and can find the cheese and crackers in a pinch. He can make it up to the showers, but is next to useless otherwise. Mo has been Sherpa, laundry maid, dog walker, grocery-getter, and all-around doer: and will be for some time to come. We both look forward to the day Blain gets the green light to walk around in two real shoes, but it’s safe to say Mo is probably keener to get him up and off his butt. We will pull the boat to wash and repaint the bottom, but it’s nice to think we have most of the big projects done.