Sunday, July 27, 2008

West Hotham, North Channel - A Well Protected Anchorage -- Really!

There were three anchorages that we were considering: Oak Bay, South Hotham and West Hotham. We checked out all three mainly to get practice going through this tight passage near Goat Island

... and because we were trying to get a picture of these loon greeters.

This is the inner cove of Oak Bay. We did not choose this area because there was this channel that we thought might be a wind conduit during high winds (because now we are wind experts - yea, right).

We looked at South Hotham but it was a bit crowded (and for us that means there were more than three potential targets ... I mean ... other boats ... enjoying the anchorage) and there are some cottages right on the shore (can we BE pickier about our anchorage sites?!?)

We checked out West Hotham and, although there were ten boats in there, we selected it. (But not before re-visiting Oak Bay one more time to re-evaluate its scenic potential.) We noticed that there were no boats in the far inner point of the harbor of West Hotham. We thought about going in there for more protection but were wary about why no others had taken those spots.

We probably should have gone in and checked it out given what happened with the -- you guessed it -- winds in the afternoon.

We'd been listening to the Environment Canada radio updates (since we lacked internet) and the forecast had been for 20 kilometers in the afternoon changing to 30 kilometers in the evening. By afternoon, we were quite nervous because these "20 kilometer" winds were feeling pretty strong and we were not feeling very "protected from all winds". Especially when the winds were to INCREASE to 30 kilometers by evening. So we were back on "Anchor Watch" along with many of our neighbors. The winds died down a bit so we dinghyed into shore to stretch our legs, do a little hiking and look for some blueberries. A few more boats came in and we could now see white caps forming on the waves in the "protected channel".

About this time, we checked our kilometer-to mile calculation because these winds were feeling way stronger than the 20 kilometer forecast. (we had calculated 20 kilometers to be about 13 miles per hour ... but maybe we were supposed to double the kilometers and add 35?) If these were 20 kilometer, what the heck were 30 kilometer winds going to feel like? Maybe we're not ready for this anchoring business.

Around this time, we listened to another Environment Canada forecast -- one for the current conditions. Oddly enough, we were relieved to hear that the current wind conditions were NOT 20 kilometers but 40 kilometers with gusts to 60 kilometers. Whew! That made more sense for the wind gusts we were experiencing. Plus, they said that the wind would be calming to 20 kilometers overnight. (Since these were 40 kilometers, not 20, "calming to 20" sounded darn good to us.) Feeling more relaxed that our anchor had held in 40 - 60 kilometer winds (but also feeling kind of dumb for not being able to tell the difference between 20 kilometer winds and 40 kilometer winds, we relaxed over a dinner of homemade meatball sandwiches and adult beverages. Phil then climbed to the bridge of Meridian to join the rest of the boaters in the anchorage who were celebrating with a resounding chant of

"We're Alive
We're Alive
Thank You Anchors
We're Alive"

Then everyone went back to trying to get pictures of the loons.

Bernie sets her alarm for midnight every night to get up and look at the stars. Oddly enough, most nights it is either hazy, cloudy, or a full moon is out to make stargazing difficult. Tonight, though, the sky was clear there was no moon, and there were a gazillion stars out. We could even cleary see the Milky Way (the astronomic one, not the chocolate bar), There were so many stars, it was hard to find the usual constellations. We did fined the Summer Triangle (Cygnus, Lyra, Aquila), Pegasus, Cassiopeia and Delphinus.

TOTALLY makes up for those 60 kilometer wind gusts in the afternoon!

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