The Journey to Haida Gwaii

The Sailing Infidels
Our Castle, A Boat; The Ocean, Our Moat
Our Dreams and Ambitions Keep us Afloat

Originally Posted on September 11, 2016 by Sailing Infidels

And we’re off –

So on the morning of August 24, six days after my original email, to my new boss, and after working one hour that day, I handed in my resignation, effective immediately.  Wendi picked me up at the dinghy dock and we headed out to Cosmic Debris.  We performed the requisite pre-trip checks, started the engine and the navigation equipment, weighed anchor and headed for Vancouver – Richmond, to be exact.
I guess what made it so hard to ditch that job so fast, was that it seemed like I could have given them at least a few days notice because I wasn’t needed at the Outpost until August 31.  I knew though, that this next week would be extremely hectic and that we would be rushed.  We were looking at nine months alone in a remote fishing camp and needed to make absolute sure that we had everything we would need and want or this could be a miserable nine months.
After 14 hours on the water, fighting tides most of the way, we rumbled into the marina in Richmond under power, in the dark and dog tired.  We tied up to the transient dock at the travel lift, had a few shots of rum with a young fellow on the dock who had grabbed a line for us, and then settled in for the night.

Thursday, August 25, 2016
We awoke that morning to the sounds of the city.  This marina is situated under the flight path of YVR and is surrounded by warehousing, ship building, cement plants, agriculture and freeways.  We sat in our cockpit, drinking coffee and enjoying the sights and sounds of this new environment we found ourselves in. Not wondering why we left the Gulf Islands, but looking forward to Haida Gwaii.

We came here to put Cosmic Debris on the hard for the duration of our absence.  We chose this place because the price is reasonable in comparison to many others and because we have a friend here who can keep an eye on the ship for us.  It is also handy to our Daughters in Vancouver, and to YVR, which we fly out of and will return to.

After coffee, we walked up to the marina office to check in.  We decided, with the marina Manager, and to the dismay of the Travel Lift Operator, that we should just stay at the transient dock until we haul out on Monday.

We spent this day visiting with our Daughters and friends.  Our friend over on C-Dock, Kevin (Redemption), decided to have us over for dinner this evening.  Exhausted from the heat and all this doing of nothing, we wandered over to the pub and had a couple of beer to get cooled down and then headed down to Redemption for Dinner with Kevin and his friend Todd from Toronto, our good friend Pat (Resolute), and Tom and Josie (nameless).

Our first day there was not too productive but it was nice to see those faces that we missed for too long.

Friday, August 26
It was around 03:00 hours that we finally had enough of the good times, or maybe we just ran out of rum. Regardless, we staggered back to our own boat and crashed.  It was 07:00 when I bolted out of bed, realizing that Kristin would be here at 08:00 to take us to the ferry.  We had to get back to Pender Island to get our car.  I got out of bed, went to the galley and turned on the coffee and the headed to the head. 

Then, for some reason, I went back to bed.  It was 07:45 when I bolted out of bed (again) and realized (again) that Kristin would be here real soon.  Kristin is Wendi’s oldest Daughter, she her boys, Josh & Aiden, picked us up at around 08:30 to take us to the ferry terminal at Tsawwassen.

As expected, between inconvenient ferry schedules and late ferries, we arrived back at Tsawwassen with our car about 12 hours after our departure.  It was a long day.
Saturday, August 27
This morning I received the following email.
“Ron we may make it the 30th just to be safe. Weather has been stupid here in the last 2 weeks”.

We begin the arduous task of cleaning up Cosmic Debris for storage on the hard but by lunch time, Kristin and the boys showed up.  This time she brought her Husband.  That put a damper on any progress we were making and then to make sure that no more work could possibly happen that day, Melissa, our youngest Daughter, arrived. By the time they all left it was just too hot to work.  Beer time!
We did get a fair bit done that day though, and seemed to be in pretty good shape in our preparations. 

Sunday, August 28
Two days left to prepare!  For people who are under the gun to be ready to fly out of civilization in two days, we’re not doing so good.   We need to get some shopping done! Thankfully, the majority of shopping for provisions will be taken care of by the company.  All we had to do was give them a list of our preferences.  For us though, we need things like hiking boots, a guitar case, shampoo, toothpaste, etc, etc, for nine months!  Even in a city the size of Greater Vancouver, Sunday is not the best shopping day of the week.  We did pretty good though.  There was only a few things that we weren’t able to get.
Monday, August 29 — The final Day!
Our haul out is scheduled for this morning at 11:00 am so we spent the last couple of hours doing the last bit of preparation to leave the water.  At about 10:00 am we were ready so I went up to the office to let them know that we were going to move into the travel lift slip.  I rounded up Kevin and Pat to give us a hand and we moved Cosmic Debris around the end of the transient dock to the entrance to the travel lift.
It was about an hour before low tide so the river current was running hard.  It was pushing Cosmic Debris hard against the dock and Kevin had a hard time pushing her away from the dock to give me any clearance for backing out.  I thought he had her pushed out enough but when I began to back away, she came back pretty hard against the dock and put a pretty good scratch in the paint.  Oh well, that should just buff out.

The boat was out of the water, has been pressure washed and is blocked and secure, and the car is tarped up. We were done as much as we could be by about 23:00 hrs.
Tuesday, August 30
Up at 04:00.  Our flight time is 09:00 and we needed to be at the terminal by 08:00 for check-in.  Kristin picked us up at about 07:30 and had us to the airport by 07:50.
We checked in immediately and then took some other baggage next door to the company office to be brought up later on a barge.  We were allowed one carry-on and one 50 pound bag each. Aside from the carry-ons we opted for one, one hundred pound bag between us – It weighed in at 98 pounds.
At 09:10 we were airborne aboard a Saab 340 for the one hour and fifty-three minute flight to Masset, BC.
We touched down in Masset just before lunchtime amid overcast skies and some light rain.
Bonnie, from Gerry’s B&B was there to greet us and take us to their home for the night.  We slept most of the afternoon and then went for dinner at a local pub.  We took a long walk around town and took pictures of the many carvings and the murals adorning various buildings.
Wednesday, August 31
Up at 06:00 for breakfast, courtesy of Gerry’s B&B.  Out the door to be at the airport for 07:30 for the final leg of the journey into The Outpost.
Oops!  Half way to the airport, Wendi realized she left one of the GoPro batteries and charger, in the room.  Gerry turns a nut and heads back to the B&B so Wendi can run in and grab this essential piece of equipment.
We arrive at the airport at about 07:45 to find our Sikorsky Helicopter waiting for us on the helipad.  Shortly after 08:00 we are loaded up and loaded into the chopper and watching the pilot wind this bird up for take-off.
At approximately 09:00 we are gently set down on the floating helipad portion of the dock in Port Louis.  The Outpost at last!
We step out of the helicopter and shake hands with the departing crew who were standing on the dock waiting for this, their flight out.
Other than through email, this is the first time we get to meet the manager of The Outpost.  We shake hands and introduce ourselves to Jordan, our new boss.  We stand around talking and making jokes about The Shining and then we all pull out our phones to take pictures and video of the departing helicopter laden with its new passengers.  We’re given a hand with our baggage and shown to our room in the lodge and then taken on the tour and orientation of mechanical systems.  The orientation tour lasted no more than an hour.
Four or five staff departed aboard the flight we arrived on and five remained, Wendi and I made it seven.

© 2016 Ron Morrison

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