Each summer when it’s time to re-develop my sealegs, I need to make some shifts in focus and perspective.
All through the spring, growing our food garden at home, I’ve been looking down to check soil moisture, plant health and so on. Now, I need to constantly look up, to the wide expanse of sky which holds the signposts for what might be coming our way – because weather trumps all when we’re out on the water.
My eyes must adjust to a new colour palette and a sudden shift in contrast. Instead of the gentle greens and browns of our usual forest view, we’re surrounded by blue, and on bright days, by intense, dazzling light that reflects off every ripple and wave (as in the photo above, taken without a polarizing filter). Good sunglasses, with polarized lenses, are an absolute must if we’re to keep watch for hazards and stay on the safe side of reefs.
My ears make a shift too: instead of CBC news, we’ll listen to Environment Canada’s weather broadcasts on VHF radio. A big part of the info we need comes from the wind, wave, weather and visibility reports filed by lighthouse keepers like those at Entrance Island.
Tides and currents also require the utmost attention. Boat-eating rocks disappear at high tide, hidden (but lurking) just beneath the surface. Even where there are no dangerous reefs, it’s essential to know whether the tide is rising or falling, and by how much, so that when we anchor we can put out the right amount of line to stay safely in place.
That’s why each summer I must renew my acquaintance with all of those columns in the tide book (remembering to add an hour for daylight savings time). I also review how to crunch the numbers, in order to predict the tide’s height or current’s strength at times other than those listed in the book. Mathematics is alive (and hopefully well) on our boat!
A few shifts are also needed on the photographic front: a tripod isn’t practical on the boat, so I crank up the ISO and steady myself as best I can as we bounce about. If the day is bright enough, I’ll add a polarizer to cut glare. Motion is always present, so I forgo any long exposures (unless I’m aiming for total abstract). Trying to find a single focal point among all that beautiful water and sky can be daunting – but it’s a challenge I’m happy to accept.
UPCOMING: I’ve been behind in my blog posts lately because I’ve been busy preparing new prints for my solo show on Gabriola Island. “Coastal Journeys” will include about 35 mounted prints from our boating trips along the BC coast over the past 15 years. If you are on Gabriola I hope you’ll visit the show, which runs from Aug. 16 to Oct. 7 at The Centre Gallery. Opening reception: Aug. 18, 6-8 pm. See you there!