A Day in My Life of Cruising

Some days are more exciting than others, but all of them are amazing.

Yachting in the Johnstone Strait
Christine Smith

0513 The morning is cool, and I can hear light rain falling on deck as I dress. We spent the night anchored in Cameleon Harbour. I step into the galley to start the wood-cook stove, which still radiates heat from the embers of last night’s fire. I test the water in the tea kettle. It is still hot, so coffee will be ready early. In spite of a heavy mist I open the galley door to let in the morning bird songs. I pause to listen -- a couple of Pacific wrens, a varied thrush, a raven and a red-throated loon contributed to the dawn chorus.

0546 Only one guest on this trip is an early riser. He comes into the galley with his journal, an atlas, and a GPS. I offer him some coffee, and he slides into the back of the settee to record his previous day’s journey. We don’t talk. He writes and I cook while the rain continues steadily outside.

0735 Breakfast will be simple. We’d been underway for four days, and I know my guests are hitting gourmet meal overload. I slice some fruit, and then prepare to make coffee cake, bacon, and plain scrambled eggs.

0800 We are underway. The sky clears, and I set a chair on deck just ahead for the scuttle on the foredeck. I take my binoculars and my journal to write down any interesting birds or animals that cross our path. We are in Nodales Channel getting ready to turn into Johnstone Strait. I find a small raft of surf scoters, some rhinoceros auklets, a few marbled murrlettes, and four Western Grebes.

0928 At the corner of Nodales and Johnstone, I find four Dall’s porpoises. I point them out and hope they’ll be more interested in us than in the fish they are hunting. I wait to see if they turn toward us and surf our bow, but they just keep fishing, and we stay on our course.

1505 The plan is to leave Johnstone Strait at Havannah Channel and cruise through the more scenic Chatham Channel. We will be entering Chatham Channel at near-max ebb of about 3 knots. It flows straight, and there are range boards to line up on. I can see that Jeffrey is enjoying taking the boat through the channel and explaining how to line up the range boards. Everyone is on the bridge deck, so I go out on deck to watch the water move through the channel. At the west end of Bowers Island where we enter, water spills over the river-rock shore in an overfall of a foot or so, and cormorants flow downstream as we slowly make headway against the current. Jeffrey keeps the David B on the range boards, and soon the channel opens and we chug into Knight Inlet.

1600 I am making dessert (date squares) when someone spots a blow. A young-looking humpback whale just surfaced. Jeffrey slows the David B, and crew and passengers all toss on raincoats and grab cameras. As I step on deck, the whale “sounds,” meaning that it arches its back and sends its fluke high in the air and slips under the surface. I explain that it will be a while before the whale comes back for air -- maybe three minutes, maybe five, maybe 20. We’ll just have to wait and keep watching. The whale surfaces eight minutes later about a half-mile away. It’s windy and raining so we continue on.

1855 We are anchored for the night in Waddington Bay. I look back on my day, and it seems so ordinary for a day on the David B, but to most people it’s amazing, and I guess they’re right. I can’t imagine it any other way.