Boat Maintenance Living Aboard a Boat

The Third Law of Motion

Wednesday, April 15, 2015S.V. CAMBRIA

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Newton may have written his Third Law of Motion to explain the nature of physics, but the principle is equally true philosophically.  In the physical world, the relationship is immediate but in the philosophical world, the “action” and “reaction” can take place days, weeks, months or even years apart.

Some call it karma.

The idea that opposing forces work together to create balance in the universe is nothing new: Newton declared his laws of motion in 1686 and the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang dates back to 700 BC.  And it seems to me that nowhere is the axiom more true than on the water.

The start of this season has been no exception.

Boats leaving the United States don’t have to check out with customs unless they’re foreign registered and have entered the country under a Vessel Entrance or Clearance Statement, like we do.  We had a cruising permit issued when we first arrived in the US in 2007 but found it didn’t offer the flexibility we needed, so we made the switch to the VCS.  The price we pay for the added flexibility is that we have to check in and out of the country, which is rarely a pleasant experience.

After being told several years ago that we couldn’t use Roche Harbor on the west side of San Juan Island as a port of entry/departure, last year one of the officers said we could.  It’s more convenient for us, so David called customs to confirm before we left last week and was given the okay.

Our passage across the Strait of Juan de Fuca was fairly ordinary.  What little wind we saw was from the northwest, so we motor-sailed the seven hours to nearby Garrison Bay for the night.  David decided he should call customs again to make sure our paperwork was in order for an early departure the next morning and spoke with Officer Holmes, a man who clearly hates his job.  Long story short, he was told that we wouldn’t be able to leave from Roche Harbor and needed to present ourselves on the opposite side of the island in Friday Harbor – costing us 20 miles against the current.

And while we berated ourselves for being stupid enough to believe we could check out of the country based on our personal convenience (and the word of two officers), we held on to the fact that we’d caught a glimpse of at least one of J-Pod’s newest calves as we made our way up Haro Strait the day before.  If we had gone to Friday Harbor directly, we would have missed the experience.  And while passengers on a whale-watching boat are guaranteed to see orcas, for those of us just moving through the area, they’re not a common sight.

With the US behind us, we continued north and spent our first night in Canada in Montague Harbour.  I woke up early Monday morning and used the computer to do some writing and shut it down when I was finished:  That was the last time it would work.

David initially thought the hard drive had failed (a $50 fix) but it turned out to be the graphics card, which can’t be replaced.  We had moved up to Nanaimo by then, so he picked up a drive enclosure (a case that turns an internal hard drive into an external one run off USB ports) and is in the process of transferring data to our backup laptop.

I’m not sure what positive in life will balance out the cost of a new computer, but at least we don’t have to buy one in a panic . . . or with Microsoft 8!  We should be able to get through the season with what we have and might even be able to take advantage of a Black Friday sale.

Ten years gone.

On the ninth of April in 2005, David and I stood on a hilltop overlooking the Hauraki Gulf in a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand and promised our lives to each other.  I have no idea where those ten years went, but I know they were good ones and I wouldn’t have spent them with anyone else – David is the best decision I’ve ever made (unfortunately, I can’t speak for him).

Our anniversary coincided with a layover in Nanaimo, a small city with full amenities, which meant we were able to get off the boat to enjoy a meal out to celebrate.  But it also coincided with a scheduled haul-out, which means we spent it on the hard rather than in a romantic, secluded anchorage.

Planning a haul-out for April is a bit of a crap shoot when it comes to the weather – wind, rain and cold days are the norm as the Pacific High fights for dominance over the lows that roll down from the Gulf of Alaska.  But we couldn’t have asked for better weather.  Since we left Washington, it had been sunny and warm and we finished anti-fouling and waxing the boat in record time.  After three days (two where we worked like crazy and one where we chased down bits and pieces for the laptop in the boatyard’s courtesy car), we were back in the water and moving north again.

What goes up must come down.

A falling barometer announced the end of our beautiful, sunny days and the weather was forecasted to take a turn for the worse late Friday afternoon as a large low pressure system formed in the Gulf of Alaska.  We were expecting rain and winds around 10 to 15 knots from the SSE and that’s exactly what we saw when we left Nanaimo.  But the wind quickly built to a steady 20 knots with gusts around 25, and the Strait of Georgia lived up to its reputation of being an ugly stretch of water.  Getting across was hard work and getting harder every minute, so we decided to stop halfway and pulled into Deep Bay, Jedediah Island Marine Park (insert link).

It turned out to be for the best.  Deep Bay is one of the most protected anchorages in the area and was a good place to ride out the gale-force winds that blew for four days.

It all even out in the end . . . sort of.

So, we may have travelled more miles than we needed to, had yet another problem with US Customs, lost our main computer, brought out another thousand (BOAT) for a haul-out and were stopped in our tracks by bad weather but we got to see orcas, had a backup laptop aboard that should see us through the season, celebrated ten years of marriage and had a safe anchorage offer us shelter when we needed it most.

It may not have been the best start to the season but, all and all, it hasn’t been a bad one either and sometimes that’s all you can ask for:  The rest evens out in the end.

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  1. Nicely said! And very true. It's all about the balance. Unfortunately I believe we are familiar with that particular officer from Roche Harbor. Not my favorite place. Why is is the Canadians make checking in such a pleasant experience, but when we return to our own country we have a 1 in 2 chance of getting a jerk? But whatever. Whales!!