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Monday
Jul022012

On the Water

In case you wondered if I'd dropped off the face of the planet, you're close. I've been boating in the British Columbia wilds, and while that's definitely still on the physical planet, I left the digital planet behind six weeks ago. Lots of nature, no internet. Here's my partner and first mate, Sarah, and in the distance behind her, the boat we chartered.

It's good to get away from technology every now and then. Something Freud should have done instead of writing Civilization and its Discontents. Ah, Sigmund, you'd have been a happier man and less disgusted with mankind if you spent a month and a half cruising the Broughton's Archipelago. 
 
Worked for me too. I got away from writing to recharge the old batteries and didn't once have to listen to one political hack berating another. Now I'm back writing and editing. I've just begun my next novel, tentatively titled Witness to a Long Goodbye, and my soon-to-be-released novel, Taking Flight, goes to the printers in a few days and is due out on July 19th. Can't wait.

I said we saw lots of nature, so I'll show you some of it. Above are a couple of Great Blue Herons facing off for a duel. Sharp beaks at three heron paces. Nah, just kidding. If you look closely, you'll see that the cameraman has craftily joined two shots of the same bird.  
 
And here is a Red-throated Loon, the first I've seen south of Alaska. They are much smaller than Common Loons and have long slender necks. We also saw Rhinoceros Auklets and Blue-winged Teals but couldn't get a decent photo.

Here's one of our earlier sightings, a Dungeness Crab. We caught a few in our crab trap. And below is what they look like just before dinner. Ours, that is.

Two hours of picking out the meat and mixing in diced preserved lemon, bread crumbs, beaten eggs, and a smidgeon of Dijon mustard produced some very sweet crab cakes. Delicious with a chilled Chardonnay.

Hey, we might have been out of touch with civilization, but we saw no reason not to eat well.


Now, when you drop a crab trap in 30 feet of water, you might catch something else besides crabs. A few years back I caught a sea cucumber, and I suppose it might have made a yummy sushi, but I gave it a pass. This trip I caught several starfish. Here's the largest, 18 arms and the size of a garbage can lid. Slimy as a slug too. Truly gross, but colorful.

We also saw larger marine life, two mama Harbor Seals with their pups (wouldn't you know we left the camera on the boat instead of dragging it with us in the kayak). Then there were the Dall's Porpoise that rode our bow for one minute short of the time necessary to get the blankity-blank camera out.

We didn't miss the White-sided Dolphins, though. Several rode our bow wave for ten minutes.


Nor did we miss this shot (out of the twenty or so Sarah took) of the Humpback Whale we followed for a mile. And in case you whale lovers are wondering, we kept the recommended 500 feet between us. The whale could not have cared less.

Not all of our sightings were of the avian and marine variety. We watched this black bear walk along the shoreline not 100 feet from where our boat was tied to the dock in Kwatsi Bay. He didn't seem interested in us, but I made sure to lock the door that night.
 
A smaller mammal, this little mink, was even more fearless. I wish I had a photo of Sarah taking the mink's photo from 5 feet away. Fortunately, the mink was deeply interested in disassembling and devouring the Red Rock Crab he had caught, otherwise he might have thought Sarah's fingers would be just as tasty. They're mean little buggers, but cute. Just not cuddly.


Happy to be back on the rock, as we Whidbey Islanders say. Now, if it would just stop raining...

 

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