Sublime Inlet

Jervis inlet should be renamed Sublime Inlet. We left Egmont yesterday afternoon with the flooding tide after a lovely overnight stop. When we reach Egmont on our way to Princess Louisa Inlet it usually feels like our most peaceful time is starting.

Connectivity is fading. Cell services goes away. Sure you can buy a “high speed” internet pass, but all things are relative and this high speed makes our internet in the mountains seem really good.

But there is plenty of water to wash the boat. The Pub has yummy food and we love our walk to the bakery in the woods on the Skookumchuck (“big rapid”) trail. We feel connected to the little family who runs the bakery because we arrived the first morning their bakery opened over 5 years ago. Saul was with us and he tried the chef’s first breakfast sandwich. The bakery has a new deck this year and their baby looks about 3.

The cruise up the fjord was easy with following winds and a strong flooding tide, but when we reached Malibu Rapids (the tidal rapids that guard the entrance to Princess Louisa Inlet), we paused. Usually we just enter Malibu rapids whenever we arrive because our twin 375-hp engines can easily overcome most tidal rapids. But as we approached, the 5+ knot current looked extremely “frothy” and neither of us were in for a risky ride. So we reversed course, moved the boat to the middle of the channel, turned of the engines and just floated, taking in the scenery and the warmth of the sun for about an hour when the rapids were a lot calmer with only a 3 knot current. As we passed the rapids and entered Princess Louisa Inlet the water (as usual) was glassy calm with the few clouds reflected in the water, and with many beautiful waterfalls falling from the glacier-topped mountains along the nearly vertical path down to the inlet.

I’m always a bit stressed as we round the corner to see if our magical anchorage is available, but seeing it was open I breathed a sigh of relief. As planned, it was high tide so anchoring and securing the shore tie was relatively easy. The Captain had a new idea to set the shore tie first before dropping the anchor. That really didn’t work completely. It did reduce the amount of line of the back of the boat, but without the anchor set the boat pivoted to close to shore. All it took to fix was releasing the shore tie and moving the boat forward a bit to drop the anchor in a more appropriate place with the proper tension between bow and stern.

Our evening brought discussions of deep contentment, blessed blissful serenity and amazing grace. We aren’t just fine, we are “fine and dandy” in the words of comedian George Carl.

I had bought some local trout in Pender Harbour (which we both love) paired it with some Trader Joe gnocchi’s and champagne for a scrumptious dinner surrounded by amazing natural beauty and the stereo sound of waterfalls in multiple directions.

As is our custom, we woke up to look at the stars around 2AM and I think they rivaled some of the brightest stars we’ve ever seen in the Pacific Northwest. After seeing a few shooting stars and satelites we went back to bed for some more deep sleep.

Today will include some housekeeping on the boat (I’ve already cleaned out one little closet), kayaking, swimming, meditating and just enjoying the beauty that surrounds us.

I write this as I finish my yummy latte beautifully made by my barista Captain and my True Love.

Our Days in Princess Louisa Inlet

Nesting: Our days in PLI are mostly filled with pure relaxation. But it is also a time for nesting on the True Love. Our home and traveling adventure vehicle tends to be a quick stop for sleeping, showering and passing through most of the year. I don’t really have time to nest and reorganize. But this time in PLI gives me quiet and space to clean things out and make the tight spaces more workable. Over the week I’ve cleaned out the little laundry closet of a great deal of unnecessary rags and miscellaneous garbage leftover from the previous owners that we will never use. It’s now clean and spacious and so much more useable. I also tackled our master bedroom’s drawers and cabinets so now our little desk/vanity is clear and more useable. This included sorting and organizing the many manuals that come with the boat and all the equipment. And of course there is the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, now clear of all those outdated things and reorganized so we can find what we need. When I provisioned for the trip we were so busy I really didn’t have time organize the food, stuffing it in where it fit. But, now it’s just right. I find I oversupplied a bit with chocolate treats from Trader Joe’s. Ah well; better too much chocolate than not enough.

Kayaking: This truly is the most calm soothing place to kayak I have ever been. Paddling on the water here is a meditative gliding over the reflections of the mountains and the sky while exploring the waterfalls, greeting the many seals, and watching small schools of fish leaping around. Here’s a picture of a down feather reflected in the still waters.

Waterfalls, Water Temperature and Floating: We arrived the day after the rains stopped so the waterfalls flowed with gusto filling the inlet with stereophonic sound. As the week has blissfully passed the flow of glacier-fed water into the inlet is decreasing. The long days of sunshine and mid-80’s air temperatures warm the rocks and the water around us, increasing the surface water temperature from the low 70’s to the high 70’s in the late afternoon. So, our afternoons are usually spent floating on the water in a kind of NW siesta waiting for the sun to set behind the mountains and the evening cooling to begin. We’ve inflated and tested a number of floating devices. The pizza is definitely the best. Great job Saul finding the perfect floating device for PLI!

Seal Shangri-La: Princess Louisa is a nursery for the baby seals and their Moms. We’ve seen quite a few pairs around us. One in particular has often been floating very close by. The pup is young and Mom is tired. I wonder if the seals know how remarkable this spot is when it’s calm. Do they see the beauty around them? If nothing else the lack of predators must create a sense of safety.

Star Gazing: The sun sets around 9:20PM in mid-July at 49º North Latitude, and twilight lingers past 10:30PM. So we need to stay up very late to experience the beautiful view of thousands of stars. The Milky Way doesn’t appear clearly overhead until midnight. Our first days here we fell asleep early and woke up in the middle of the night to view the stars. But now we are staying up until midnight. Each night before bed we head up to the fly bridge and watch the night sky, learning more about the stars. First to appear is Arcturus very early in the evening. Until last night Venus wasn’t visible, because it was too low in the sky. But last night we were treated to a stunning view of Venus and the crescent moon setting into the western ridge line above PLI. Next we see Vega, one of the corners of the Summer Triangle. As our eyes adjust to the darkness, we see satellites crossing this way and that, shooting stars and “iridium flashes” (which we learned about stargazing in Hawaii). We used to love picking out the stars using the “Night Sky” iPhone app. But it has just gotten too confusing and complex. I don’t want to know what the sky is going look like in 10 years, I want to identify that dot in the sky. So we have brought out our trusty book, helping us identify Sagittarius which is visible and takes up a large portion of our view in area. The Corona Borealis, near Arcturus, is also quite distinct and easy to see straight up. And later in the week we got some beautiful shots of the moon rising and setting.

Adventure Evening and Star Photography: We can’t be on a True Love Adventure without a little adventure. Looking at all the stars has made me want to take some night photography. Will Rogers hooked me on this when we shared seeing the eclipse with the Rogers family last summer. But photographing the Milky Way can not be done on the boat. The long exposure needed requires rock-solid stability and of course the boat is always moving on the water. While we are in the inlet this week the tides have all been pretty high at night so finding a place to land on the dingy and set up the camera is a bit difficult. There is also the fact that we need to wait until after 1AM to make sure the background sky is really dark. I was excited about the adventure, but the Captain was worried about possible boating problems that can happen in the middle of the night. We scoped out the rocky site directly across the inlet from the True Love and felt it might just work. But after seeing how high the tide was near us we thought better of it and went to bed.

On the next day, we investigated another landing site further south in the inlet while kayaking and decided this was the spot. To stay up late enough (2AM) for the tide to be low enough for a beach landing we watched a very interesting movie, “Lion”, a true story about a poor, young child from India who gets lost, put in an orphanage, adopted by an Australian couple, but still finds his birth family after 25 years. It’s worth watching.

Back to our adventure: The Captain still felt uneasy, but the First Mate had her heart set on this photo shoot, so we ventured out. Of course we wore our life vests and with flashlight in hand we motored about a mile down and across the inlet. Our first complication, the chart plotter GPS device on the tender was way too bright and we could not figure out how to make it dim. Unbelievably, it isn’t obvious. So we covered it with a towel (and looked it up in the manual the next day). Finally, off we went traversing the inlet diagonally, taking the towel off the GPS every few minutes to check our position. The flashlight caused an eerie visual experience lighting up the mist about 10 feet above the water. It created a reflective ceiling that was a bit disorienting, but the Captain persevered and made our mark perfectly. It took us a couple of times to land on the rocky shore, tie up and get set up for astrophotography. And it was fun and worth it. The bright light low in this shot is the True Love’s anchor light. We both got back in the tender without either of us falling in the water and with all the equipment still dry.

Once again the Captain delivered us safely to the True Love where we fell asleep and slept in until 11AM.

Chess: We usually play chess on our summer adventures but this year we are watching the Great Courses video lectures on playing chess, hoping to up our game a bit. We watch a lesson and then try to incorporate some of our newly learned perspectives. James, our precocious five year old grandson is very interested in chess so we need to up our game to stay ahead of him as long as we can. Playing chess in the evening is a perfect way to pass the time waiting for complete darkness and our evening star show.

Reading: Of course there is the reading. We both love to read (and to listen to audible books) and are devouring our books on everything from business to science fiction fantasy. We just finished listening to “Nomad” about a quasi-apocalyptic stellar event involving two primordial black holes passing through our solar system. We highly recommend it. I started reading it myself but then downloaded it on audible for the cruise. The author’s note at the end is fascinating.

Grand discussions about love, life, family, business and the future: This quiet unplugged time together is so precious and enables us to enjoy each other physically, emotionally and intellectually unlike any other place. We share our perspectives, our hopes and our goals. Meditating daily opens our minds and souls. We look back at our lives and take stock of our successes and our challenges. Of course, we continue to have our challenges, but this gives us the time to gain perspective on our lives and our accomplishments, since we were in PLI last summer. Being at this age and at this time in our lives certainly has it’s advantages.

We have solved some big health problems for the Captain (after the First Mate’s research and consulting a new cardiologist, he’s no longer taking his beta blocker). It turns out the pills weren’t helping him anymore, instead they were poisoning him with every side effect on the list. Over the last 6 months he’s gotten physically stronger, mentally clearer and able to enjoy life much more. The future, health-wise now looks much brighter. In April, we even went back to Zion National Park and hiked the 8 mile (round trip) steep climb up to Observation Point. So while we are still preparing to transition to retirement next year we are no longer rushing to complete all our bucket list trips right away. When we return to PLI next summer the Captain will have retired from his day job with Jasmine assuming the responsibilities of President of Dick’s Drive Ins. Jim currently plans to continue as Board Chair for the next 5-10 years before retiring completely.

The Hummingbird and the Eagle: I thought we might be able to attract hummingbirds to the True Love so this year we stowed a small hummingbird feeder. The first days we were here we didn’t see any. Then a very cautious hummingbird scoped it out but didn’t feed. We moved it to a different position on the VHF radio antenna that is farther from the main area of the upper deck. That worked! We’ve now shared our anchorage with a hummingbird! The next quest was get a picture of the skittish little thing. And after waiting a long time with my camera ready, I did! Eagles are usually easier to photograph and there was a pair in a tree nearby that shared a sunset with us, but by the time I got my camera out I was only able to capture one.

Eating: As usual we continue to eat well on the True Love. Of course summer cherries are a big part of the trip. I made pizza on the grill thanks to a recent lesson from our friends Greg and Carolyn Call at their place at Sea Ranch north of San Francisco. I used pre-made dough (Trader Joe’s herb pizza dough) and it was yummy. Last year our fridge began to die as our trip began so we replaced with one about 40 percent bigger and wow what a difference it makes. At first, I was worried that I hadn’t provisioned enough food because I didn’t need to fit everything in tight like a crazy puzzle. It runs so much quieter and uses less energy. Modern technology is amazing when it works!

Change in the weather: Generally our visit has been blessed with clear skies, perfect for star gazing, no wind and the temperatures quite warm in the afternoons. But two days ago we got some high clouds in the afternoon which made for a beautiful sunset. Yesterday, the wind really kicked up while we were kayaking and combined with the tide made some small waves. The barometer moved a little lower, but is still showing fair. The Captain even saw the wind gauge hit 4.8 knots, a real blow! After a yummy dinner (steak, spinach sautéed with shallots and mushrooms, and butter squash gnocchi) we watched the sunset and announced the crazy shapes and creatures appearing in the clouds (dumbo with a hat, fire breathing dragon, boat, turtle, little girl skipping, orangutans). This kept us entertained until dark.

New Friends: We have met a couple of new friends while in PLI this trip, other boaters who kayak or dinghy by and strike up a conversation. First, we met a gentleman who Captains the boat for John Thornton and he invited us over to see their boat, which is also a Navigator. John served in the Navy in the Korean War and then ran a number of high-tech companies before starting the Thornton Winery in Southern California. So we shared Navigator stories and upgrades and visited their 58′ Navigator 2008 “Special Edition” and took a tour. John is 82 and enjoying life to it’s fullest. We spent more time with John and Esther from Whistler. They are retired and usually sail, but this summer they are sharing a Bayliner powerboat with friends, 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. But they didn’t have a floatie to relax on during the hot afternoons. But we had an extra so we gave it to them. First, they enjoyed some of our yummy chocolate beer (another convert) and then kayaked our extra floatie back to their boat. The next evening when we headed their way, John was on the floatie. As Esther said, “it’s just another way to relax and do nothing in PLI”. We hung out on their boat and shared life stories, proscecco and beer. I’m sure we will connect with them again in the future.

Guests: Today our friend Erica will join us for our last days in PLI this trip. We love to share this amazing place with our friends and family and look forward to seeing her experience PLI for the first time. But our last few days alone have been wonderfully relaxed and peaceful.

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