Category Archives: B.C. coast

West Coast Travels

At the end of the fishing season this past summer, the Captain was ready to head home.  A new phase of the adventure begins with the rising sun.

Along the way home, he stops to check out this little building. You would never guess that inside this shack is a pleasant surprise.  A cemented enclosure fills with warm water through a  pipe from hotsprings behind the cabin. Step inside and have a soak to take the ache out of your bones.

The falls at the head of Lowe Inlet splash relentlessly. Except for the odd raven chuckling in the treetops, the rush and gurgle of the water are the only sounds. If you think you might want to try casting a dry fly towards a coho, be sure to take your bear spray with you – just in case.

 Need a warm cabin for drying out those wet clothes? This Fisheries cabin at Lowe Inlet, aptly named the Lowe Budget Hotel,  is very cozy after the Captain has spent some time trying his luck fishing in the cold mist of the falls. 

He remembers to follow the rules about the woodstove, posted on the wall. Don’t want to risk burning the cabin down.

Almost there. Running the boat down Grenville Channel.  Beautiful trip but there’s no place like home.

Meanwhile at home, I’ve been writing, and thinking about my fictitious character, Andrea, who has had an experience that seems bizarre at first. But in truth, this has happened to other women who have ventured out to the coast.

How did a city girl like her became trapped in an isolated cabin on this remote coast? Will she ever escape this lonely place where she must live with a man who is mentally deranged?

You can download The Wind Weeps (FREE), and then you can find out the conclusion in a sequel, Reckoning Tide, that is only $2.99. When did you last get so much enjoyment and entertainment for such a small price?

Why not get them both today at amazon.com or amazon.ca and smashwords.com?

You can find them all with supporting reviews at my website www.anneli-purchase.com

A Great Review for Marlie

Many years ago, the Captain and I lived on the Queen Charlotte Islands. The name of the islands has since been changed to Haida Gwaii, but it’s still the same remote, wild place. It was a magnet for adventurous nature-loving people back then, and even now it attracts a certain type. Among those who want to live the non-urban lifestyle, you’ll find:

fishermen who feel a burning need to risk their lives in horrendous weather,

adventurers who love the amazing scenery,

people who love nature and animals,

people who love the solitude of lonely beaches, and beachcombing.

My novels about the Charlottes and the West Coast are mainly about women living in  “a man’s world.” It is rough and tough for them, but somehow, they grow stronger as they face the challenges of island life. Of course, love is always in the wings. It is with these elements in mind that I wrote three of my five novels: The Wind Weeps (free download on Amazon and Smashwords), its sequel Reckoning Tide, and now my latest novel, Marlie.

Below the book cover image, I have copied the latest review of Marlie, in the hope of interesting you in reading this book that is dear to my heart.

I love Anneli Purchase’s work. It is straightforward in the way that Nature is straightforwardly pragmatic and indifferent to suffering, ego or justice. This we know, but the shock never diminishes.

This story is set against the scenery of the wild where you hunt to eat and bad men get what a bad man can take. Strong men and women suck it up and the only snowflakes are under the wheels of your truck or blizzarding in on the pitiless wind.

Marlie is a woman from the city starting over maybe in the liberal belief that you ever can. There is no fake sentimentality here. She finds happiness but only via conflict and brutality. Nature respects no weakness but only men are truly cruel for pleasure. Survival and the perception of beauty allow a space for romantic love in this atmospheric and beautifully written story. If you love the mechanics of writing look out for the poetry of vocabulary from the stern roller through to humpies in the scuppers.

You will need to shower off the sea salt when you put this book down. I read this story in the heat of an Italian summer but I was there in the Charlottes looking north to Alaska. Now that is writing talent.

*****

You can find Marlie on all the Amazon sites. Just go to amazon.com or amazon.ca, or amazon.co.uk and type in Marlie. If you have an e-reader other than Kindle, you can find Marlie on Smashwords.com. It is affordably priced so as not to break the bank.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Three Skies, One Moment

The last of the evening sun’s rays add a sweet pink tinge to the rare scattering of clouds in the eastern  sky. I’ve been watching for clouds, desperately hoping for a few drops of rain to end weeks of sweltering heat and parching drought.

I turn to the southwest. The glow of sunset touches clumps of cloud and wisps of smoke that have drifted into the valley from faraway wildfires.

I turn a few more degrees to the west and I’m left wondering if this is a sunset or another of those raging wildfires I’ve seen too much of on the television news. But yes, it is the sunset, searing us for a few more moments before allowing us to recover from yet another day of being barbecued.

We’ve been promised rain for today, but somehow, I don’t think it’s going to happen. The clouds that have moved in are way too high and way too thin. Just a hint of hope for relief someday, but probably not today.

Please remind me of this whining post a few months from now when I complain about the relentless wind and rain.

All Spruced Up

Did you know that the Colorado Blue Spruce is the state tree of Colorado? I did not know that, but it doesn’t surprise me one bit. This tree is amazing on so many levels. It is tough and prickly, and in the plant world, that spells survival.

Have you ever tried to touch one, or pull on it? Ouch! The Latin name “Picea pungens,” means a spruce (or type of pine) that is prickly, puncturing, or stinging. Just touch one and you’ll see what I mean.

They make a great wind break when planted as a hedge and they tolerate cold temperatures. They are listed as a Zone 2 plant, which allows for very cold weather. No wonder Colorado likes it.

The Colorado spruce in this photo is actually in my neighbours’ yard. I zoomed in on it when I noticed its beautiful cones standing tall like  candles on an old-fashioned Christmas tree, or many levels of lights on a chandelier.

Just slightly off topic is the background of the photo. You are looking at the sandy bottom of Comox Bay at low tide. Only a small streak of blue crosses it and that is the river coming out into the bay. A few hours later, that whole sandy area will be covered with water when the tide comes in. If not for the river, the tide, and the gooey sand a person might be tempted to walk across to the other side.

Wear a bathing suit, as you might have to swim back.

Fishing is Hard Work

If only fishing were as easy as lying on your back in the grass beside a creek, waiting for the trout to bite. Commercial fishing, catching fish for people to eat, is much harder work than that.

To survive in heavy weather and rough seas, the fish boat must be in good shape structurally and mechanically. If it is a wood boat, it needs extra care in the form of dollars and sweat.

Once a year, before leaving for the north coast of British Columbia, the fish boat gets a facelift. Actually she gets a total body lift by a Travel Lift that puts straps under her hull and lifts her right out of the water and deposits her on the dry parking lot.

 

She is set down on wooden blocks. Jacks prop up  each side to prevent her from tipping over.

The hull is power washed to get rid of any sealife that may have attached itself to the wood. Once the hull is clean  and has  dried off, the upper parts are sanded and scraped to prepare them for a coat of paint.

Bars of zinc are  attached to the rudder and the iron shoe of the boat. Molten zinc is poured into a tin can mold attached to the wheel nut of the propeller, and more bars are attached to the cooling pipes not shown in this picture. All the zincs are meant to be sacrificed in lieu of the other metal parts of the boat (like the rudder, propeller, and cooling pipes). It is better that the zinc, rather than the propeller, be “eaten” by electrolysis.

The last job is to paint the bottom of the hull with anti-fouling paint. When that is done, the Travel Lift picks up the boat, carries it over to the water, and lowers it in.

In the photo below you can see that the boat has been carried away from its blocks on its way to the water again.

Feeling more comfortable now in its usual surroundings, the boat rests calmly, waiting to make the trip back home.

Passing  a sailboat  that is leisurely making its way out to sea, the fish boat hurries home.

For photos of the boat being lifted out of the water, click the link below.

https://wordsfromanneli.com/2016/03/11/uplifting/