Then and Now 2
As Harold grew into his teens, the invites to go out on boats continued. At age 12, Al Trafton took him out on the family’s wooden 40′ sailing vessel. Al’s wife, son and daughter were there, and Harold remembers Mrs. Trafton cooking their evening meal, the smells wafting up through the companion way, teasing a very hungry crew.
The intrigue of sailing grew and Harold couldn’t get enough. At age 13 Harold’s father bought an 11′ Japanese fiberglass Cat boat, a monohull with one mainsail. Harold and his Dad sailed on Bell Isle Bay up the St. John river. The first trip out was most memorable, “when we swamped it after about five minutes.” We pulled the sail down and paddled back to shore.
After a couple of years his Dad bought a 16′ sloop, a McVay fiberglass sailboat which they named Wejari, a name that combined Harold’s sisters’ names, Wendy, Janie, and Rinte. When asked where Harold fit in, in reference to the name, he stated, “I fit right in the boat, we had alot of fun with that boat.” The family mostly sailed on the St. John river and on holidays sailed it to Prince Edward Island and camped in two tents.
In 1964 at age 15 the whole family flew for the first time to Holland. The flight took 13 hours in a Locheed Constellation. Everyone got sick since the plane would not fly very high and experienced constant turbulence. “It was awful, and I thought I was going to die. Everyone was throwing up.”
The next year Harold few back by himself on a DC8, which was much more comfortable. He worked on his grandfather’s farm where he drove the one cylinder diesel tractor. Once when he was raking the hay (a machine that turned the cut hay over to dry it) he got the wheel stuck in the mud, but his Uncle Hessel who was only six years older helped him get it unstuck. Their friendship grew with the time they spent together and this became a very meaningful relationship.
The sailing continued with the Dutch relatives with Grandfather sailing the Frisian Lakes on a wooden 18′ sloop. The most memorable thing about this experience was sailing the same level as the reeds along the shore, because the water table was so high.
Harold thoroughly enjoyed working with the machinery, and watching his Grandfather invent a tulip sorting machine.
Harold grew very fast during his teen years, so fast he had stretch marks on his legs. He became very thin. Ever since he was little, when he got upset his heart would squeak. His parents took him to be checked out by their Doctor, who sent him to a cardiologist but nothing was done. Little was known about Marfans Syndrome back then although in the 1800’s Dr. Marfan had discovered what was then called the”Spider Syndrome.” (google)
It was quite unusual to be so tall since all the Uphams were known for their short stature, even to the point of having to place their coat hooks at about waist level to most people. Harold’s father was 6’1 and Harold grew to be 6’4″. This became a bit of a challenge when it came to fitting on small boats!
After leaving Toba Wildernest Marina, where we met many other boaters at the evening happy hour, we headed for Frances Bay to position ourselves for an early morning start up Bute Inlet.
We were hauling anchor by 6am and as we passed Bartlet Islet we had a “blow” alongside our starboard bow. Harold saw it and yelled”whale.” I immediately grabbed the camera and got onto the deck to take pictures. There were two humpbacks who circled OMOO and swam under us and circled again. This went on for about 20 minutes, and was SPECTACULAR!!
In our experience so far, we have seen many humpbacks but they always seem very illusive and disinterested, sounding very deep when they are spotted and swimming far away. These two seemed very friendly and curious, almost too close for comfort.
As they left, they gave us a whale tail wave. What an immense thrill we had waiting and watching them swim and then surface the other side of us. This all happened as the sun was coming up over the mountaintop and glimmering in the water where the whales swam… pure magic!!
We continued up Bute Inlet, hoping to catch the inflow wind, as per guidebooks. I thought I’d read the winds were inflow in the morning and outflow in the evening, but this morning the wind was opposite, with a 20 Knot outflow wind gusting to 30 Knots as we rounded some of the points.
It’s a 35 nautical mile long, winding inlet so we hugged the lee shore when possible to take advantage of the current which was in our favor and stay out of the wind at least part of the time. No sailing today, too bad.
The wind abated as we reached the head of the inlet where the heat intensified and brought out the horseflies in hordes. By the time we anchored it was all we could do to combat them with our squirt bottle of vinegar. They go crazy when you spray them with vinegar and leave as fast as they come in, but we were quickly losing the battle.
We anchored in the shallowing mud flats and got below quickly to put up the screens so we could open the hatches to catch some cool breezes coming off the snow fields and glaciers. The horseflies covered the outside of the screens while we sat inside, comfortable with the solar panels supplying power for our fan, blowing cool air out of the bilge and the fridge, keeping our beer cool. Other than the pesky flies we had the inlet to ourselves, at least on the water. On the shore on both sides the loggers were busy. One side of the harbor held the camp barge, about the half the size of a football field, for accomodations, cooking facility and helicopter pad, while the other side was active with chainsaws and equipment moving the fallen timber. The helicopter was busy at lunch time taking the loggers back to camp, with several trips overhead. It all quieted down by 5 pm, and an even cooler breeze sent the flies home as well.
This was our chance to enjoy the views from the cockpit. The majestic mountains surrounded the harbor, making one feel like a very tiny part of the grander scheme of things. The grandeur of the hanging glaciers mixed with the wildness of the sheer cliffs and crevices paint a picture of abandonment, except for eagles, bears and cougars that roam, foraging for food.
We checked the depth sounder again and seeing that it would be too shallow for low tide, moved OMOO out to a deeper spot with 30 feet of water under us. It’s tricky anchoring at the head of these big inlets, as you can see on the chart below, it shallows quickly, going from 130′ to 22′ then to 2.5′. Feeling comfortable with our position, and the calm conditions, we set the anchor alarm to warn us of any movement and retired early.
At 10PM it was like someone flicked a switch, and we heard the far off howl of a fierce wind coming down the inlet. Within minutes the waves built and OMOO was at the rodeo. The skipper went up to check the depth sounder and the wind speed to find gusts to 40 knots and 12 feet under us. The wind had blown us onto the more shallow mudflats, with the tide going down. The plan was, if the anchor chain let go, which was highly unlikely, but possible due to the blasts of wind and wave movement, Harold would start the motor and head over to the logging camp for temporary moorage. We had experienced winds like this before, at anchor in Crescent Bay, in Haida Gwaii, and the Rocna anchor held then so we were confident in the Rocna, BUT ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.
We prepared for all night anchor watch, making coffee with the hot water we keep in the thermos, ready at any time. The skipper took the first hour, while I,”as an exercise only” prepared the ditch bag, checking all the essentials, including the EPIRB, waterproof VHF radio and flashlight, flares, knife, water, food and enough medication for a week for the skipper. Then I rested, although there was little chance of sleeping, to prepare for my turn on anchor watch.
Just before 1AM and my turn, someone hit the switch and the wind died as fast as it had come up. Setting the clock alarm for 6AM to check where we were at at low tide, we fell back into bed thanking our lucky stars that we didn’t have to pull an all nighter. When we woke at 6AM we had returned to where we had anchored and the depth was 30 feet. WHAT A RELIEF!! Back to sleep for a few more hours before hauling anchor and heading back down the inlet on emerald green seas, enjoying the beauty surrounding us and feeling comforted knowing the boat and crew were prepared and able to continue exploring the long inlets of the Broughtons, our destination for this summer.
Riding with the tide we cruised along at 8-9 knots, making the trip much faster than we anticipated. OMOO rounded Stuart Island by 3pm, ahead of slack tide at Yucalta Rapids, Gillard Passage and on to Dent Island Rapids. It was an uneventful trip with the 1st Mate on the wheel through the rapids, just the way we like it!
After attempting to anchor at Shoal Bay, dragging on kelp, we opted to tie up at the dock and enjoy an evening at their friendly pub, and a night with no concerns about wind, or dragging the anchor.
Once again we were HOME SWEET HOME, which is wherever we are moored or anchored at the moment!