Comox to Port Hardy. 24 hours, 170.3 nautical miles (part 1)
We left Comox for our first big leap. It’s going to be an all-day, all-night, some of the next day sail from Comox to Port Hardy. We are basically racing against a weather system that’s approaching from the Northwest.
Our route is pretty protected, so the weather system won’t affect us much during this leg, but we want to be in position to do the west side, which is exposed to the fury of the Pacific Ocean, of the island the moment that the weather allows. That’s how a circumnavigation with a limited time frame goes - you want to be poised at the starting line ready to go on an instant’s notice.
We also had to get through Seymour Narrows, which isn’t long but the current at its worst can easily get into the double digits. That can easily overpower the ability of the boat to make headway. I was on navigation and promised that the course I had plotted would get us to the narrows before 4pm. If we didn’t make it there and through by 4:30pm, we were going to be stuck there for about 6 hours until the current abated to a passable speed.
The last time I did a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island, we spent about 1 ½ months to do just the west side, whereas in this class we have a total of 2 weeks to do the whole trip.
Well, I thought that we’d be protected. I suppose, in a way, we were spared the worst part of the storm, but it was an uncomfortable traverse in the night. We had the wind in one direction and the current in the other on a dark night. The opposition of the wind and current made for a rough, bumpy, ride.
We broke into 4 pairs. Each pair would stand a watch of 2 hours beginning at 6pm. First watch was, therefore from 6 pm, which was still in strong sunlight. I was on second watch from 8 to 10pm, with sunset at approximately 8:30pm. Thus we started our watch before sun down, proceeding through twilight, with the last hour in the dark. That was a nice way to ease into standing watch at night.
My watch partner was on the helm for this watch with me doing the navigation. Thank heavens for GPS navigation, as it makes it a lot easier, even though you should not rely purely on GPS navigation. It’s difficult to take sightings on land features when it’s all one big black mass in the night.
So the veil slowly descended on the world, blindness asserting itself, but it was fairly easy. After our shift was over, it’s off to sleep because we were going back onto watch in 6 hours at 4am.
First task coming off watch was finding a place to take off the heavy jacket, the winter gloves, the foul weather hat (did I mention that it was raining during our watch?), the sweater, long sleeve shirt, rain pants, deck shoes, and head-mounted flashlight. Next task is finding a place to sleep.
You’d think that it would be easy - just go back to your bunk and rack out. However remember that I was berthing in the salon, which is where everyone was passing through during watch changes, coming into for a hot beverage or a snack, which meant the table that formed my bunk had to stay in its non-bunk state. The upshot is that my bunk was non-existent and even if it existed, there was too much commotion to actually get some rest.
So, without asking, I jumped into the bunk of the person going onto watch. This solution works fine for 2 hours until they come off watch and want their bunk back. Then it’s off to hunt for another place to rack out. Repeat again 2 hours later, and then one more time before coming onto watch.