Ripple Rock

Every year when the captain (my captain, that is) takes his commercial troller from Vancouver Island to the Queen Charlotte Islands on the northern coast of British Columbia (and back again), he has to go through a tight passage called Seymour Narrows.

Located just north of the town of Campbell River, this stretch of water was described by Captain George Vancouver as “one of the vilest stretches of water in the world.”

Whenever I have accompanied “my” captain through the narrows, I’ve nearly given myself an ulcer beforehand, as Seymour Narrows has such a terrible reputation. Yet each time, going through the passage has been a piece of cake, with calm waters. That’s how it should be, if you wait for slack water, between tides.

The passage through Seymour Narrows is now much safer thanks to the removal of the tops of Ripple Rock,  a submerged twin-peak mountain that lay just nine feet beneath the surface of Seymour Narrows. According to Wikipedia, it was a serious hazard to shipping, sinking 119 vessels and taking 114 lives.

In the case of the William J. Stewart, when it struck Ripple Rock  in 1944, I’m not aware of any loss of life, and the ship was beached and later restored. It was due to be scrapped in 2017.

On April 5, 1958, after twenty-seven months of tunnelling and engineering work, Ripple Rock was blown up with 1,375 tons of Nitramex 2H explosive. It was quite the project.  A 500-foot vertical shaft was built on Maud Island, and then a horizontal shaft of 2,370 feet  was drilled out to Ripple Rock. From that point, two vertical shafts were drilled up into the  peaks, with shafts for the placement of the explosives. Very advanced technology for 1958.

I think those columns of smoke are blowback  from the explosion, coming out through the drilled shafts.

The explosion spewed debris almost 1000 feet into the air falling on land on either side of the narrows.  After the blast, the two peaks were 13.7 m (45 ft) and 15.2 m (50 ft) underwater.

Some very smart engineers had the foresight to detonate the charge at a time when the tide was running its fastest, so the rocks  blown off the tops would not fall straight back down onto the peaks, but rather, be swished along beyond them.

Even after the top of Ripple Rock was removed, it remains a challenging route. In March 1981, the Star Philippine, a freighter, ran aground in the narrows.

When the captain was coming home from a summer of trolling, he took pictures of his navigation instruments as he went through Seymour Narrows quite close by Ripple Rock. The red triangular icon represents his boat as he is heading south, just past Ripple Rock. Arrows show the direction of the tidal flow at that time. You can see the depths of the peaks as 15.2 m, and 13.7 m.

In the monitor of the depth sounder below, you can see the twin peaks of the rock. The reading is taken on the far right where the scale is marked. This tells me that the boat has just passed the second of the peaks of what is left of Ripple Rock.

Even knowing that the rock has been topped, I still have a healthy respect for this stretch of water. The colour photos (near the beginning of this post) of the swirling eddies are recent, well after the explosion of Ripple Rock, so you can see that going through Seymour Narrows when the tide is running full is still not a good idea.

My preference is to stay on land whenever possible.

 

 

 

Aitch Two Oh!

No rain all summer, until a couple of days ago. At last, at last, the skies opened up and water poured out.

The drops of water on the deck made beautiful rings on the wet surface. (Well, I guess they look pretty ordinary, but I was overjoyed to see them.) Ask me again in January if I still love rain.

For you–haiku.

 Thirsty plants revive,

Wildfires sizzle and burn out,

Rain pelts down on them.

Ups and Downs

Great excitement in the front yard. Linc came back for a visit. Who is Linc? If you haven’t met Lincoln the young rascal, you can visit the two blog posts with the links (unavoidable pun) below. Linc doesn’t sit still very long and he’s awfully lippy, scolding me the whole time as I tried to get his picture. He wouldn’t let me get very close so he looks fuzzier than he is in real life, due to being zoomed in on before he zoomed off.

Here are the links of his previous visits.

https://wordsfromanneli.com/2017/06/26/lincoln-the-delinquent/

https://wordsfromanneli.com/2018/07/20/linc-is-back/

Sitting under a Douglas fir, Linc contemplates his find.

The hazelnuts from the nearby trees are nearly ripe. Linc checks out the best way to get into the nut.

He savours the flavour.

Best to find a safer place to eat this.

“Oops! There’s Anneli. I’d better run around to the back of the tree.”

“I didn’t intend to go up that high. Getting dizzy!”

“Eek! I’d better put on the brakes before I do a somersault.”

“On second thought, I’m safer up here. The sky’s the limit.”

Lincoln, having made a find

Struggles to make up his mind,

Up the tree and down the tree,

From up top you sure can see.

There’s a lady down below

Hoping for a picture show.

“What about the nut I’ve found

By the tree down on the ground?

Surely she won’t want it back,

It was very hard to crack.

She has plenty in  her yard,

And for me the winter’s hard.

I don’t think she’s mad at me

Fallen hazelnuts are free 

Just in case though, I will run

Way up high towards the sun.

I will scamper up this tree.

Hide beneath its canopy.

Then I’ll chatter and I’ll scold

And she’ll know that I am bold.

She will write another post

‘Bout the squirrel she loves the most.”

Sawing Logs

Two years ago at a quilting retreat, I had finished my planned small projects and had time left over to mess around a bit.  I sewed a few left over odds and ends together, making a square in the log cabin pattern.

The strips of fabric are like logs of all different lengths,  stacked into a “log cabin” of sorts. I made 14 of these squares with the shortest “log” being 1 inch and the longest, 9 inches. I thought it was a good way to use up scraps of fabric that would otherwise not be good for much.

Then I had a brainwave: I could put the squares together and make a quilt!

Okay. How many squares would I need? I had a quilt at home with a different design of squares. It was  10 squares across and 11 down, but was a tiny bit small for the bed.

I could do the same thing and add a border.

Great idea. So how many squares would I need to make? 10 times 11 = 110.

I had 14 done (and it had taken me some time).

Only 96 more to go. Eeeeeeee!!! What was I thinking?

But I had already made 14 and I had the “logs” cut out for many more. Too late to abandon the plan.

…. Last night, almost two years later,  I finished the monstrosity. Now, if I snore, I can say I’m sawing logs.

Tenting

In this summer of wildfires, the only ones doing any tenting are the caterpillars.

In my front yard is a black walnut tree that the Captain and I planted when it was no more than a six-foot high stick. Twenty-six years later it is a tall tree, desperately reaching for the sky as the leylandi cypress beside it crowds it more every year.

But see who is camping in the walnut tree! With all the warnings about camping being banned in so many places, these tenters have invaded my yard AGAIN! They attacked the apple trees in the early spring. Then they came back to take up residence in  the walnut tree (the kind that has walnuts) in the backyard, and now they are taking up residence in the ornamental black walnut in the front yard. They’re getting smarter too. This time they are much higher and out of my reach.


Here is a closer look.

And an even closer look. You can see that many of the leaves have already been eaten. I looked up tent caterpillars and found out that these are most likely the larvae of the malacosoma moth. I don’t think I like moths anymore.

Guess I’ll have to call the fire department to come and get this tent out of the tree. They have high ladders and brave men, but oh, hold on — they’re all busy fighting wildfires just now. I’ll have to see if I can find a good Samaritan to help me out.

Do you have these unwanted guests tenting in your yard too?

The Essentials

My parched throat croaks out complaints. The smoke blankets the coast and most of Vancouver Island. For several days, until yesterday, our area has been rated as 10+ (very unhealthy) on the Air Quality Index.  Last night a little breeze brought the rating down to 2, going up to 4 today. Relief for  dry, raspy throats, coughing lungs, aching heads, and itchy, red eyes.

As I researched other areas affected by the more than 560 fires in the province of British Columbia, I learned that some places have far more serious air quality issues than we do here on the coast.  Knowing what we are suffering here, my heart goes out to the people who live in those hardest hit areas.

The whitish-gray part of this photo should show blue water of the bay and greenish hills beyond, but none of that is visible  here. The smoke hangs in the nearby trees as if someone had a campfire going.

You can see the impact of a long, rainless summer on the grass in my front yard. It doesn’t even look yellowish brown as it should, but has a pinkish tinge from the red smoke-covered sun.

I’ve had my hedge trimmed and the trimmings are yet to be picked up. Just waiting for a slight reprieve from the heat. I feel very lucky to be able to think about mundane things like trimming a hedge when many hundreds of people in the province have had to evacuate their homes and manicuring their yard is the last thing on their mind.

During this summer’s fire season I have definitely learned to appreciate having a home. And having had to do without clean air and enough water, I know how important these things are — the essentials of life.

 

A Honkin’ Good Time

Skies are still a bit hazy from the wildfire smoke, but somehow the geese have found their way to the estuary. Many of these birds will move on further south, but many will stay for the winter, putting up with wind and rain, and possibly a day or two of snow. The farmers’ fields will provide food for them with leftover cobs of corn and grain seeds that have missed being harvested. In case of severe frost or snow, the geese have the estuary to find food as the salt water doesn’t freeze.

The arrival of the geese always tells me that summer is ending and the northern latitudes are cooling off already, driving the birds south.

For now, life is still comfortable for them and they chat and preen and enjoy the warm days and nights. Some stretch their wings while others preen their back and neck feathers. A few are resting, some are dabbling at the water’s edge, and the farthest one has his neck stretched up tall and alert. It’s like kiddies’ day at the beach.

Just before leaving, I snapped one more quick picture. When I got home I noticed that one of the geese was flying past the camera just by the tree on the left. Or was it? I zoomed in for a closer look.  You can see it on the next photo.

Here, below, is the flying goose at the end of a skinny branch.  It’s all dressed in leaves. Sure had me fooled.

Mrs. Goose is on the loose,

Chattering, she’s quite obtuse.

“There’s a party at the beach,

And I hear it’s out of reach.

Nobody will bother us,

We can honk and spit and cuss,

Holler loudly as we wish

And the place is one big dish.

Food aplenty ‘cross the way

in the fields  where corncobs may

Still be lying on the ground,

Seeds are scattered all around.

People stop and look at us

But they’re harmless, make no fuss.

It’s just heaven being here

Even though the winter’s near.”

“Honkin’ right,” the gander said.

“Still some pleasant days ahead.”

“Watch your language, Gander Dear,

Bloggers won’t approve, I fear.”

Gander stretches out his wings,

Rolls his eyes and up he springs.

Goosey scurries, much impressed,

Goes to give her mouth a rest.