Photo: Jigger in his accustomed spot under the dodger.
The engine rumbled its steady roar and the sun beat down on our heads as Osprey motored across a glassy sea.
We were heading from Cape Mudge, on the southern end of Discovery Passage, across Georgia Strait to Desolation Sound. That morning we had left our anchorage in Otter Cove, behind Chatham Point, an hour before slack-before-the-flood. As the current raced north through Discovery Passage, we rode back-eddies south by hugging the shore. But as we approached the infamous Seymour Narrows, the current turned in our favor. Whirlpools swirled as we raced by the land at 8 and 9 knots.
When we reached Georgia Strait, the wind died completely, leaving us motoring across flat water. We were so used to Alaska's cool temperatures that without a breeze to cool us, it seemed unbearably hot.
Even Jigger didn't like the unfamiliar heat. This summer he had developed the habit of jumping up on the cabin roof under the dodger as soon as Steve started the engine. There he would spend the day curled in a ball next to the chart plotter, sleeping, only occasionally opening his eyes to check on us. But now he squinted at the sunshine, meowing his displeasure at the way it heated his black fur. Finally, he hopped down and onto the shady side of the boat. There he sprawled out on deck.
"That's not a good place for him," I told Steve. "What if we hit a wave?" But all my efforts to call Jigger back to the safety of the cockpit were fruitless. I watched as a wake from a passing powerboat marched towards the boat. Oblivious, Jigger slept on until the wake slapped the side of the boat, jerking him awake and sending spray onto the deck. Startled, he jumped up and ran below.
As we entered Desolation Sound the glassy calm gave way to light northerlies. Craggy mountains towered over the sound while sailboats drifted on mere ripples. The sight struck me as amazing. Not only were the boats sailing, they were sailing in light wind, conditions most sailors in Alaska wouldn't bother with. But the people in these boats were on vacation; they weren't worried about traveling long distances; they were just out sailing!
We motored into Malaspina Inlet feeling slightly guilty about our engine. As the other boats all continued into the popular anchorages, we turned into little Parker Harbour. We had hoped to find friends there who own a small cabin at the mouth of the Harbour. Their cabin was empty, but the little cove was a great place to relax in the sun -- and to prepare for our return to civilization (Pender Harbour) the next day.