Hi Madrona Fans,
Can’t believe it’s only been 48 hours since Sunday’s start in Victoria. The interminable sail past Texada was spent mixing it up with Un-Cruise, MOB and Broderna. Light winds died to nothing and oars were deployed as we looked east to Savary Island. Carl, using his sixth sense for water temperature, decided that a bit of recreation was in the cards and dove right in. A quick check of the instruments confirmed it, 68 degree sea temperatures. The rest of the crew took turns jumping in before resuming rowing hoping to catch the midnight ebb at Seymour Narrows.
Winds slowly built as Madrona approached Campbell River. Ocelot [AKA Jungle Kitty] had just missed the previous ebb and spent several hours politely waiting to pass through Seymour Narrows. As darkness fell, the breeze started to build in earnest and harnesses and headlamps were donned. An approximately 1:30 AM transit of the Narrows in 20 knots of wind on the nose and 8 knots of current roused the “D Watch” (Dennis, David, and Dalton) from their slumber for all hands on deck call. Gone was the swimming mood from just hours earlier.
Unpredictable swirls and pounding waves greeted us at the Narrows, which we entered just after Big Broderna. Darkness required us to rely heavily on the chart plotter, and Carl guided Madrona on the east side of the passage, away from the remains on Ripple Rock, which may no longer pose a threat to passing ships bottoms, still throws off considerable whirlpools at max flow.
The Narrows widened painfully slowly as we breathed a quick sigh of relief and started to discuss the conditions in upcoming Johnstone Strait. The Weather Canada forecast was, as always, 25-35 knots from the West. Combined with the strong ebb this often creates big, pounding seas rounding Chatham Point. The crew tucked in a reef but after much deliberation decided not to put up the heavy weather jib.
Gusts well in to the thirties approaching the point had us second guessing that decision, but when we arrived, the worst case scenario had failed to materialize. We cut the corner slightly and managed to slip ahead of Big Broderna. At around 3:30 AM, the “A Watch” (Carl, Jamie, and Kurt) was sent below to get a couple of hours of sleep before their upcoming 6-noon shift.
Despite grinding winches above and choppy seas, sleep came relatively easily. Mercifully, the weather abated slightly and by 6:00, the D Watch had the miles ticking by. Kurt prepared rations of Backpacker’s Pantry Multigrain Hotcakes hacked with fresh blueberries and served with bacon and a healthy glug of maple syrup all over everything. The crew was pleased.
Smooth water and even breeze kept Madrona making steady progress towards Alaska all morning and the remote feeling of northern Vancouver Island has started to make this race feel like a real adventure. Ocelot is visible on the (distant) horizon for the first time since Stuart Island, Broderna is close astern. MAD Dog is somewhere way, way up there.