Baby steps

11:49 AM and the morning was disturbed by the sound of a throaty diesel coming to life. It grumbled and coughed, like an old man waking up before he wanted to, but eventually settled into the day. It was left to its own devices to wake up while Kay and I attended to other mundane things such as disconnecting shore power, disconnecting the spring lines, and doubling back the bow and stern lines.

12:08 and Opus slipped into reverse, the last two lines were disconnected from the dock cleats, and the journey began. Kay scurried about the deck pulling up fenders, coiling lines, and basically clearing the decks of the detritus from leaving the dock as we motored along the exit from Point Roberts on our first leg of the Alaska voyage. The tide was low, so the banks towered above us, perhaps a mild hint of some of the things we might see later as we get further north.

The weather was one of those drab rainy days that make everything that much less comfortable. Normally, from the mouth of the Point Roberts Marina, we can see all the surrounding islands plus the northern shore of Washington. However, not this time. We could easily see far enough to be safe, but the rain prevented us from seeing anything other than water and a gray dissipation in the distance. We could easily have been at sea, for all the land, other than Point Roberts, we could see., It was back to depending on electronics and compass.

The first waypoint was the bell buoy off the south end of Point Roberts. On the way towards it, we noticed that our SOG (that’s Speed Over Ground – the measure of how fast we were getting to our destination) had plummeted from what should have been about 5.5 knots down to 3.5 knots. At first we thought perhaps it was the dinghy adding drag to us, so we drifted and brought the dinghy back onto deck from its towed position. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to make a lot of difference, and a certain amount of anxiety rose in me as I considered whether, perhaps, Opus is not ready for this journey. However, as we proceeded, our SOG picked up. We, apparently, were simply fighting against the combination of headwind and outgoing tide. By the time we were half way to White Rock, our destination for the night, our speed was comfortably back up over 5 knots.

For once there weren’t any crab pots surrounding the White Rock jetty, nor were there people on the government dock with lines and traps hanging off. Still, it was going to be a bit of a challenge as there was a tail wind pushing us into the pier, but off the dock. With a bit of team work, though, Opus was made fast. We had arrived!

Next steps were successfully negotiating the customs system here, declaring all our items. They elected to send a pair of officers out to see us after I had to correct my customs declaration – I had read the unit prices of items rather than the extended prices, and so had to revise my declaration upwards. Meanwhile, Anne was standing on the dock with the wagons of things she had brought for us to onload – mainly provisions – looking uncomfortable in the rain. As we didn’t know how long it would be, we sent her home, to call her back after we were legally “in” Canada.

One more loading run and we have now loaded almost all the provisions, other than last moment items, is aboard. The cabin is once more a disaster scene while we figure where it all will be stowed, but Kay’s expertise will surely make short work of it.

Today we take opus off the dock and anchor her out west of the jetty due to the low tides that would have Opus in danger of grounding during the daily low tide. We’ll bring her back to the dock on Tuesday afternoon for the last few things and then on Wednesday we say goodbye to to White Rock, point our bow towards Montague, and there we will welcome aboard our next crew member and also join up with Quijote.

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