CRUISING SEASON (EVERY SEASON)

Mother Nature doesn’t make excuses for her behavior and isn’t going to apologize.

From The Helm

IMAGINE PLANNING A cruise for many months. You read magazines and books. You buy and study charts. You talk to other boaters about the places you want to go and the things you want to do. You’re convinced you can circumnavigate Vancouver Island in your 25-foot Ranger Tug. You know you have to hit a certain window at the northern tip of the island when the tide and current are in your favor, so you leave Anacortes in plenty of time — early enough that you can even poke around in the Broughton Islands for several days. Everything has gone pretty well, but as the jumping off day nears, the winds pick up and take their cue from the stereotypical family in a holiday movie: They won’t take a hint and leave. You’re in Port McNeill, and the winds are forecast to keep blowing right through your window of opportunity to get around the tip of the island and to the west side. You make the decision to call off the roundthe- island excursion — the wind actually makes the decision for you — and you head back the way you came, knowing you did everything you needed to do to have a successful passage but also knowing that Mother Nature doesn’t make excuses for her behavior and isn’t going to apologize.

That’s the scenario that befell Bette and Dave Koivu this past summer, which they share beginning on page 18. They were ready and the boat was ready, but the weather could not be controlled, cajoled or coerced. It was a disappointment, but they refused to be discouraged. Their glass-halffull take on it? They learned plenty of things that will help them when they try again. Plus, I think they really took a liking to the Broughtons and wouldn’t mind spending more time up there. While the Koivus are likely to wait for summer to make their extended trip, they don’t have to stop boating now that we’re looking at November. No boater on the West Coast does, really. The “off-season,” even up in the Pacific Northwest, is merely a reason to cruise a bit differently, a bit more carefully, a bit more cautiously. Ken Tennefoss is a big fan of off-season cruising — fewer boats, open anchorages, lots of available slips — and he shares his tips and techniques in “Less Sun Doesn’t Mean Less Fun” on page 38.

Yes, the days are getting shorter. Yes, the water is getting colder. But that doesn’t mean the boat needs to sit at the dock until springtime.

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