Blogs from our sailing vessel SV Sänna. Eastwards from England to New Zealand... & sailing circumnavigation.
Sixty seven year old Larry Miller had a bust up with his wife up in Kitimat where they both lived. There's always two sides to every domestic confrontation but this particular argument took a turn not terribly in Larry's favour when the furious Mrs Miller angrily untied his skiff and launched him off the dock, telling him to go and fish or, even better, to drown himself during the process. In the meantime she herself would travel alone to visit their daughter. So, like all maligned men the world over, my new friend Larry thought to teach his dearest a lesson... he decided not to fish at all but to continue all the way to Vancouver in his tiny ten foot open topped skiff; to then surprise his dear wife and show her he was not the uncaring husband and father she supposed him to be... except that Vancouver is over four hundred hard miles south from where Larry was unceremoniously cut loose from the jetty by his indignant wife.
The now determined Larry Miller set off with a few jerry cans of fuel to fill his outboard, some flasks of water to keep him coherent and a cool box containing beer and the basic of food supplies. He would fish and land crabs along the way. Conscious of the inclement weather that invariably whips up in this part of the world, Larry also took along his old golf umbrella to protect him from the rain and the heat of the sun. The sea he would deal with as things progressed. His plan was to beach himself each night to set up his camp, pitch his tent and sleep - whilst subconsciously aware of the grizzly bears and wolves that commonly frequent the shorelines in these parts of British Columbia.
Me? I myself was making my way southwards too; from Port Edward to the small township harbour of Bella Bella... through stunningly wild landscape of the thousand mile route of the Inside Passage which twists and turns through the snowy mountains of British Columbia and Alaska, from Puget Sound in the south to the cold, frigid Glacier Bay in the north. There I would meet up with my own dearest wife who would soon be returning from a short trip back to England with Henry. I tell you now that I was having myself an unforgettable time solo sailing Sänna alone, anchoring overnight in deserted coves, finding secluded harbours and hanging out for days on end without seeing much folk around at all. I'd sometimes come across infrequent Canadian and American motor-cruisers heading north or south, maybe an occasional sailing vessel drifting on the wind or, more often, a fishing vessel making its way to the big salmon runs north of Prince Rupert. These treasure days were long and hot, no rain for weeks and weeks... something highly unusual for this often damp part of the world. I wouldn't be lying if I said this sublime time turned out to be one of the highlights of my whole life.
Then, of course, I met the exhausted and dehydrated Larry Miller. We somehow arrived simultaneously in the remote ruins of the Butedale fish cannery where he told me I saved his life. Tying Sänna to the crumbling log-boom wharf with some trepidation because Butedale was literally falling into the sea, I saw Larry turn into the shelter of the cove in his little skiff to tie up behind me. If it wasn't for his beaming smile of proud male oneupmanship then I would have believed him... but even to me it was plain to see he was in pretty bad shape. As a sympathetic male who, I might add, has suffered somewhat from marital squabbles myself over the more distant years, I hauled Larry out of his boat and vigorously sprayed him with cool refreshing water from a decaying hose feeding directly from the tumbling waterfall not fifty metres away. His sudden and sodden transformation was beholding to see.
Larry's own intrepid plan was to pitch his tent inside one of the crumbling cannery buildings, to then cook up some fish ferreted out from deep within his long defrosted cool box and to recover as best he could. But I was having none of that, the wolves and bears hereabouts would quickly sniff him out... I'd already seen them nosing around the shorelines of Graham Sound. And the weather these past few days has been uncommonly hot with the relentless sun beating down to cause both of us fresh water deprivation issues. The heat increasingly makes things difficult... for me it's the bastard horseflies the size of pterodactyls, biting chunks of flesh that make even an Englishman scream in pain like the devil. For Larry it had been much worse and when I offered Sänna's empty rear cabin for the night to rest and sleep, he eagerly took up my offer.
So, as the sun set in the truly astonishing surroundings of Butedale Cove, built in 1911, we cooked up his fish, shared our beers and talked through the night in extremely fine style. We shared stories of old marital conflicts, laughed unceremoniously at our common misfortunes and I proudly showed him my own trophy wound, proof of the domestic knife attack I myself undoubtedly deserved many years ago. We commonly agreed that male smugness is not an endearing feature as far as emotional women are concerned. Outside, in the deep woods, as clear starlight darkness finally descended on yet another endless hot day, we heard the wolves howling in the crumbling ruins not very far away. We abruptly ceased our ridiculous talk to listen. Then Larry and me both giggled uncaringly like two overgrown lampoons... beer-talk bravery that always happens when you save someone's life, you see.
But I'm no fool. I could see that Larry simply adored his caring wife, the lady of his life who loved him dearly and who would now be fretting over where he could be. For Larry, why else would you set off alone in an open skiff to head south through four hundred miles of wild Canada to seek your wife's forgiveness eh?
Please visit our SV Sänna website for more details of our circumnavigation voyage from the UK. Also at www.facebook.com/SV.Sanna.
|Vessel Make/Model:||Ocean 50 (Bavaria)|
|Hailing Port:||Poole UK|
|Crew:||Dave & Marie Ungless|
|Extra:||Sänna is a hybrid Bavaria Ocean 50, custom built for deep bue water ocean cruising. The build and re-fit specification is high and to date boasts over 56,000 miles of ocean cruising. For more information visit our main website at www.sanna-uk.com.|