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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

British Columbia by boat Day 10: Vancouver

I woke up multiple times in the night, because the wind was blowing so hard that the Stray Cat, though tied to a marina, was listing and yawing as though it wanted to blow away. I wasn't alone, it turned out: I found out later that Arturo had to get up in the middle of the night to pull the flag pole out of the stern of the boat because it was making a noise like a wind turbine and was about to fly off.

With the lack of sleep and the on-going howling wind, I checked the forecast at 4:45am, and sure enough it had changed: gone was the window for moving the boat. The forecast indicated that the wind might die down in the afternoon and become manageable some time late the next day. Our plans for Princess Louisa Inlet was shredded by the wind. Furthermore, the adventure had turned from fun to annoying: I couldn't ask my wife, 3 year old, and her relatives to put up with 6 hours of moving the boat into the Jervis Inlet, and even once there, one look at the position of Saltery Bay on the map indicated that it would provide no protection from this wind. I didn't know the area well, and a call to Cooper Boating indicated that nobody knew what the conditions were like in Egmont.

I called Cooper Boating and asked them if I could return the boat right then, or if they could provide a delivery skipper who would help us move the boat while I flew the rest of my family to Vancouver so they could wait out the storm. At this point I had no confidence in the Canadian forecasting service that fine weather would even return by Thursday. I'd shaken enough trees by the time I was done that Danielle called back and said she'd arrange for a delivery captain to pick up the boat where we were, and we could all fly to Vancouver (on our dime, of course). I checked with both Arturo and Larry, and they were also in concurrence with this plan, as opposed to trying to stick out the rest of the charter.

I was pretty sure I could still deliver the boat safely to Vancouver (having delivered in much worse conditions in Greece), but it wouldn't be fun, and we would be basically spending 3 days motoring against the wind, beating ourselves up for no reason whatsoever. We hurriedly made flight and hotel arrangements in Vancouver, and then packed up and said goodbye to Stray Cat. I was very depressed, feeling as though I'd abandoned a trip (the last time I did so was during the 2005 Tour of the Alps). But it would have been unconscionable to subject the rest of the non-sailors to this.

Arturo found a way to do the Princess Louisa Inlet, but in my sleep-deprived befuddled state I gave him wrong dates. Fortunately, a hurried phone call in Vancouver indicated that the company was willing to accommodate us on  a different day, so we would still manage to see Chatterbox falls after all.

It took all of 35 minutes to fly to Vancouver's South Terminal, and another 40 minutes to make it to L'Hermitage in Vancouver, a thoroughly well-appointed hotel. That night, I slept for 11 hours, which indicated that the decision to abandon the trip was the right one: while I had believed at that time that I could deliver the boat, in sleep-deprived states you frequently think you can do things that you actually cannot, and my repeated mistakes that day could easily have been a harbinger of a much bigger disaster if I'd insisted on driving the boat further.

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