Sunday, May 5, 2013

Vendovi Island

I went over to Vendovi Island this weekend.  Never before had I set foot upon this island, until Saturday.  There are some islands in the San Juans that you go on by, you let those ones go.  Maybe they are too small, or populated, or lack the proper spot to anchor, maybe they are forbidden (though those are the most tempting, right?) and maybe you don't have a reason, but rather just a better option.  Vendovi is one of those.  I've also never gone to Eliza before, and on this trip I sailed right past it twice.  It remains the domain of refrain, but Veni, Vidi, Vici, Vendovi!
It all began with my brother Abe notifying me that he wanted a ride over to this island in order to attend the Native Plant Society meeting that was going to be held there.  The water taxi ride over was steep, so he figured we could make a weekend of it.  My friend Ric came along as well as my friend Lindsay.  So off we set, into the wild blue.
We got to Lummi Island for the first night and Abe went ashore and breathed out a fire in no time at all, then set up some cedar sticks for roasting salmon.
The salmon crisped up wonderfully and filled us all to stomach clasping rolly polly wonderment.  I was fat and happy for the night.  It was a very warm night, and the stars beamed down their pleasure on us as we feasted on the bounty of the sea.
 The next day we got up with the sun and made our way over to Vendovi for the meeting.  The weather was not as forecast, nor helpful, as it came from the north with enough brunt to form a troublesome chop.  We sailed as we could, then motored as well to make the small marina on the island.  All systems were performing, though the voltage on the batteries could have been considered to be a wee bit low.
(All of my batteries are very very old, and at the point where they have one foot in the grave, so I was not too concerned)  The tour of the island was great, with lots of flowers and lichens and excitement over the small green things of the world.  Green and brown and golden.  Some of the native plant society I had known as a child, and some were new to me, but all of them pleasant and excited about life in green.
This shot is through a binocular, with my wide angle. It really makes the depth of field all wonky, but I think it looks cool.
Vendovi was named after a Fijian who was a prisoner aboard a ship exploring the area, and has some neat history of the place.  There are also very few non-native plants on the island and almost no mammals.  Only Mice, Squirrels (and I think there are probably bats as well)  No deer, which is rather unusual for this area.
 The Madrona trees with their peeling red bark enchanted me, and they were flowering, and there were some stands of straight firs coming out of the hot soil and wafting a hot smell over us.  Summer has arrived!
We spent the day and then got back aboard Altair for the return trip to Lummi Island.  It was still very choppy and the waves were coming right into the small marina entrance, so I was forced to use the engine to get out.  I turned it on and it ran for a few moments and then went back to sleep.  I had run out of fuel.  The last time I filled up was in Port Hardy, on September 14, last year, so after a 300 mile trip and 8 months of small adventures, I was wondering when it would quit.

I had a small tank in reserve, and I put that in and opened up the boat to bleed out the fuel lines.  Opening the boat is very difficult, and it I had just put another broken casualty of the trip inside the boat (and taking up most of the floor space).  The dinghy that Ric borrowed from a friend of his and spent most of Friday patching and making seaworthy had torn a hole in the floor and was no longer fit for duty, or for towing behind, so I had put it down below.  Now I needed all the space I could get down below to tear apart the engine compartment in order to work on things.  I bled the engine and got it running and off we went.  The wind came up outside the marina and we sailed freely, so I turned off the engine to save fuel, but then as we passed behind Lummi Island the wind died out and the waves were furious, so I tried to turn on the engine again.  It fell a second time.  I noticed that the batteries were sick and tired of trying to turn over the engine, so they were very low on the voltage.  After struggling with the lack of wind, I finally decided to tear the compartment apart again and bleed the engine again.  With the leech still sucking, she kicked to life once more, and we drove onward until the wind helped us arrive at our anchorage.  That night was another fine night, where we made pizza in a cardboard box on an open fire.  Clear skies and warm night air blessed us again, and the phosphorescence blossomed during the paddle right to the boat.

The following morning was our last day, but we went for a hike in the morning.  I'd previously been to the top of Lummi Island before, but this time we went to another place, to the Quarry.  There is a great look out over Portage Island and Bellingham, and plenty of rocks to roll down the steep hillsides.

We got back to the boat and then sailed off the mooring to head back home.  All was working well until the wind died right out from Fairhaven, so I turned the key on to drive in.  Again the motor failed me.  This time the batteries were so beat down that when I bled the system out I didn't have enough juice to get her started, so I decided to open up the electrical system and get rid of two of the oldest batteries in it.  That of course took a lot of time and moving lots of stuff around, but I finally got it all sorted, and now my battery system is in slightly better shape than before, with two super old and very dead batteries sitting on the floor waiting to be taken away, and the others hooked up and charging in the sun.
It was a fun weekend, but a long one, and with not enough sleep for me

1 comment:

Jane Fader said...

Hi there,
My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
I was looking for blogs about Lummi Island to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
Hope to hear from you soon!