Category Archives: transportation

Passing By

Leaving the dreary, rainy west coast behind took a few hours longer than expected, as the wet weather stretched eastward for more than 100 miles.

But on the highway between Hope and Princeton (in BC),  the clouds lifted and the day became quite pleasant. Ruby and Emma were happy to get out of their traveling crates to have a quick swim and a dash along the banks of the Similkameen River.

At Osoyoos we crossed the Canada/US border and headed for Omak and then eastern Washington. The sun played games on the fields, turning them golden when it peeked out over cloud banks.

The pullout after reaching the summit at Mullan Pass in Montana allowed time for a five-minute break and the snapping of a photo.

Winding our way along the Clark Fork and the Missouri Rivers, we ooh-ed and ah-ed at the scenery. Rocky formations on one side, and gorgeous river on the other.

As we got closer to our destination in eastern Montana and the hills were not so pronounced, we saw more coyotes, hawks, and several groups of pronghorn antelope. This bunch allowed me a quick drive-by shooting if I promised not to hurt them as we whizzed past.

Having arrived, I will post eastern Montana photos for the next while. Had to laugh as I wrote that “I have arrived.”

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.

 

 

 

Tide Out, Fish In

At first glance you might think it’s a sandy beach, but your nostrils will tell you that iodine  breeze holds the smell of low tide.  That sand would be very soft to walk on and I wouldn’t advise it. When the tide comes in, all that “sand” will be under water. Meanwhile, there’s no telling how far you would sink into that sea bottom.

This is the east side of the causeway that divides the wharves where fish boats can tie up. It is what they call the new side, more recently dredged to provide more moorage and shelter for local boats.

The older side is more crowded because “the old salts” tie up there. It is busy with fishermen getting their boats ready for a summer of salmon and halibut fishing, often far enough from home that the men and their boats may be gone for many weeks.

You can see the roof and the rigging of the Captain’s boat on the bottom right-hand side of the photo below.

The new side is also busy, but is more convenient for boats that come and go more frequently.

Those who have fish for sale will want to moor on the new side. It is handier for the public to visit for dockside sales of whatever is in season. It might be prawns, shrimp, salmon, halibut  or other. Today it is halibut. The customers lined up on the dock know that they have to buy the whole fish. The price is high, but they gladly part with well over $100 for a small halibut. These flat fish have a delicate white meat which, though highly priced, is also highly prized. If you could see what the fishermen have to risk and endure to catch and bring these fish to harbour, you would say the price is a bargain for the customer.

As you can see, there is no shortage of people wanting fish for their supper.

I have removed the name and number of the boat to allow some anonymity for the boat owner.

Corinth Canal

 

This is a revamping of a post from nearly five years ago. Apologies to my longtime followers who were with me then.

In 1977, after a hot summer in Greece, the Captain and I welcomed the cooler weather of September. The wind came up and we didn’t mind that so much.

But it got cooler and swimming in the ocean was a chillier event. The tourists were leaving. Maybe it was time for us to think about hitting the road too.

We drove northeast taking a side trip to Epidaurus to see the great amphitheater there. Click here to see the post on Epidaurus.

At Corinth, northern Greece and the Peloponnese were once joined by a narrow strip of land. Now several bridges span the Corinth Canal connecting the north and south of Greece. On the highway heading towards Athens, we stopped on the northern side of one of these bridges to take a picture of the famous canal. Completed in 1893, it is about four miles long and 70 feet wide at the base. After all the effort to build it, the canal is still only good for small boat traffic. The sheer limestone cliffs have constant landslides, and canal closures for repairs are frequent. Also, the depth and width of the waterway allow only boats with a maximum width of 58 ft. and a draft of 24 ft. That disqualifies most modern freighters. Even allowing for the narrowness and shallowness of the waterway, boats that just barely qualify don’t like to risk it because of the high winds that funnel between the walls, and the tides that rush through the canal between the Adriatic and the Aegean seas.

We are looking eastward into the Saronic Gulf, near the southwest of the Aegian Sea.

Since we wanted to stop to take a photo, it was a good time to pull in to the little coffee shop on the north side of the bridge. The place looked neglected and didn’t appear to see many customers in spite of the perfect location, but we didn’t care. We were tired and needed a break from driving. A cup of coffee would hit the spot.

I didn’t expect to find American style coffee, but I would even have welcomed a cup of Greek espresso  with the sweet fine coffee grounds settled in the bottom of those tiny cups. But nothing so fancy was to be had. Our coffee came in plastic cups filled with hottish water and a little packet of Nescafe instant coffee on the side. Sugar was available (which I don’t take because I’m sweet enough), but no milk or cream. Our extreme disappointment made this java stop memorable even after 40 years. How many cups of coffee do you remember years later?

Later, outside the coffee shop, we tried to get a better look at the canal close up. I walked as close as I dared to the edge of the canal and then realized that there was no barricade or fence or sign of any kind, warning of the 80 degree (nearly vertical) 300-foot drop. The dirt parking lot and area around the coffee shop were quite drivable and anyone could have taken a wrong turn from the parking lot at night and gone over the edge. Dogs or children running around could easily go over.

I see in some modern photos that there are short bits of fence, but it doesn’t seem that access to the edge of the canal is restricted even now. I still shudder to think of it.

If anyone knows of stricter fencing of the area next to the canal all these years later, I would be most happy to hear about it.

Music Makes Life Better

My Mexican band is not dressed in traditional mariachi style but they would do a fine job of singing for their supper on the beaches in that sunny land. With guitar, cymbals, maracas, and their beautiful voices, they can liven up everyone’s spirits.

They came to live with me when they heard that I had given a home to their friends, Annie and Mandilon, whom you may remember from my other post (The Mascot). Now Annie tells them which songs to play and Mandilon sweeps the house in time to their music.

Doesn’t he look like he’s hopping to the music? Housework is so much more fun when there’s good music to listen to.

And where is Annie? She’s busy at the moment  being Sylvia’s mascot in my novel “Orion’s Gift,” where she helps Sylvia find strength in facing some of the many scrapes she gets herself into. It’s good to have a friend, and until Sylvia finds the handsome Kevin, Annie is there for her to talk to.

For an exciting romantic suspense story with drama in Baja, why not have a look at Orion’s Gift. Click here: amazon.com

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The Mascot

When the Captain and I were on one of our trips to Baja California, we stopped to do some shopping in Ensenada. I found a puppet-style doll that I couldn’t live without. She was the Mexican version of Annie Oakley. What made me even happier, was buying the doll that had to be her partner.  He is pictured in the photo below Annie.

The store proprietor told me that this doll represents the hen-pecked husband, the Honeydew man (Honey, do this and Honey, do that), but in Spanish they called this fellow a “mandelon,”  because he is ordered about. What woman would not want a mandelon to do things for her? I had to have this doll!

In my novel Orion’s Gift,  Sylvia is all alone in the world and has more than her share of problems. She really needs someone, so I gave her a mascot to lend her strength. Below is a short excerpt from Orion’s Gift, telling about how Sylvia came to adopt Annie.

Excerpt:

In one shop, handmade puppets on strings hung from the ceiling. Each doll had a unique character and, like orphans hoping to be adopted, seemed to call, “Take me with you.” I fell in love with a Mexican Annie Oakley. She held a mini six-gun in each hand and radiated confidence and self-reliance. I paid for her and happily carried her home to my van. I rigged up a spot on the curtain rod behind the seat for Annie to watch over me at night. She’d be my mascot, a reminder that I was strong and could take care of myself.

If you would like to read about Sylvia, you can purchase the e-book for less than the price of a hamburger. Just click on the link to amazon.com.

Click here:  amazon.com

Please help spread the word about Annie the mascot and the book she lives in by re-tweeting this post.

Herring Time

When the herring roe fishery happens each spring on the BC Coast, the seine boats and herring skiffs congregate close to shore because that is where the herring can be intercepted as they rush the beach to spawn. At night when the boats have their anchor lights on, it looks like a floating city just offshore.

Sea lions and seagulls and eagles patrol the area in hope of some tasty bites.

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Photo courtesy of P. Knettig

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It’s a bluebird day. Hard to believe it was rough and windy just a couple of days ago. Still it was fishable and the herring filled the seine nets. Then disaster struck as an extra heavy net caused a boat to list  and not recover. The fishing community lost a fellow fisherman. His brother is quoted on CTV News:

“They had a really big set. The boat was listing and Mel went down into the engine room to turn the pumps on, and while he was down there the boat rolled over.”

It brings home to all of us once again, how dangerous fishing is. While the fleet mourns the loss of one of their own, the fishery goes on, as it must. The pretty night lights, and the bluebird daytime sky and sea belie the sombre mood and the heavy hearts of the fishing fleet.