Archive for June, 2016

In Iceland with Chris.

Thursday, June 30th, 2016


Chris met me at the gate having arrived earlier and spending a long night sleeping in the Keflavic International Airport and  make that heavy on the “International”.  What an influx of people from all over the world!  It seems everyone wants to visit Iceland and for good reason.  Icelanders are some of the nicest, friendliest, helpful and beautiful people in the world.   Our rental car was waiting and down east we went.  It’s 405 miles or 653 Km from the airport to Breiðdalsvík (Brad-dols-vic) on the east coast of Iceland.  It took us no less than 8 1/2 hours.

Breiðdalsvík is where Chris left the NORTHERN REACH two years ago.  His dear friends Helga and Ingo took good care of her and had her on a trailer and ready for work in their beautiful shop.  The atmosphere was that of one long huge family reunion with people coming to welcome Chris home (his Iceland home anyway).  It was such a privilege to witness it all.  Their warm feelings for Chris spilled over to me and made me feel as welcome as ever I have been.

Chris’ reunion with NORTHERN REACH was quick and simple with a touch of sentimentality.  How could he not have deep feelings for something he has put so much hard work into and trusted with his life for so many long sea miles?  Then, out came the work list and the fun began.  Chris had two years to think over every detail he wanted to change, add and make better.

Follow Chris on his Facebook page at Chris Duff.

Captain Tommy to help Ocean Rower Chris Duff prepare for next leg of Atlantic Crossing

Sunday, June 12th, 2016
...thy oceans are so wide and my boat is so small

…thy oceans are so wide and my boat is so small

Chris in Port Angeles Harbor for test row.

Chris in Port Angeles Harbor for test row.

I will be leaving Port Angeles for Iceland on Wednesday June 15 to assist Chris Duff prepare for the next leg of his great rowing adventure.  Chris has already rowed from Scotland to Iceland.  It’s an honor to be a participating contributor to this man’s great adventure.  My job is to be… “Road Manager”, that is I get to drive him to  his boat.  It’s like being a non-performing part of a high school band by virtue of having a car back in the sixties. I should add “Tool Manager” to my title as well since I’ll be handing him tool as he works on the boat.

Actually, Chris and I became friends before the launch of ArcticSoloSail.  I read his books on kayaking.  And you should too!  Follow this wonderful adventure on face book by friending  Chris Duff.  Chris tells his own story far better than me.  (visit his web page at     There is a link to his facebook page there too.)


I’ll be posting pictures and blogs along the way about the NORTHERN REACH and Iceland here too.

Dances with Whales

Friday, June 10th, 2016


Perhaps I should call this “Dances With Whales, West Coast Style” since I have already used that title in my blogs about the CAP’N LEM and the Belugas’, but to have had such an experience twice in a lifetime must be revisited. The morning they came to the CAP”N LEM was much like this one, quiet, still and magnificent. I was alone then but this time I had Tim along.

Off in the distance they blow. It was our first sighting of Humpback whales. Tim saw them first. It happened just after we passed Ivory Island Light Station and had entered the Seaforth Channel heading north. Tim had the camera and I had the binoculars, the auto pilot had the helm. Tim, “it’s coming this way!” and come this way he did, right straight for AVANTI off the starboard beam. Just a second before collision, he sounded and passed under the keel. Then he exploded into the air on the port side as though he meant to fly! All I could do is howler over and over, “Did you see that! Did you See that! Did you see that!” …to which Tim replied “See it! I think I got a picture of it.” And get a picture of it he did, When the whale breeched and crashing back into the sea, Tim had the good presents of mind to point the camera and click the shutter. A whalefish is a bit big for hook and line but Tim always the Fisherman, caught this one with his camera.


If whales could fly this one would have


To Bella Bella and beyond

Sunday, June 5th, 2016
Lake Elizabeth Falls on Joe's Bay

Lake Elizabeth Falls on Joe’s Bay

The quietness of the night at anchor in Joe’s Bay was broken by the whistle of the tea kettle for morning coffee.  Even that was quickly silenced.  Every noise, the spoon sturring  coffee in the cup, a creaking of the cabin sole was drumbeat loud in such stark silence.  On deck, I sat still as the waveless water around me, drinking in the morning and my coffee.  Then Tim  move in the quarter berth, arose, and the day began.

A boat such as AVANTI fits well in Joe’s Bay.  Boat noises don’t seem to be too out of place in the rising sun.  The engine and the clank of the anchor chain over the bow roller as Tim hoist it home signals to the forest, “We’ll be leaving now”.  Anchor home and free of the bottom we creep slowly up to Lake Elizabeth Falls, the only communication of seawater into and out of the not quite landlocked lake.  AVANTI’s deep draft keeps us on our toes and this is as close as we can get, then we left.

The truth at first light holds through to mid-day and we fish our way up Fitz Hugh Sound toward Bella Bella.

Harlequin Bay to Joe’s Bay

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

A gray morning greets us.  We time our departure on low tide just incase we the channel is a little too skinny.  If we are going to get stuck it best be on a rising tide.  Tim proves yet again his versatility as a shipmate guiding Avanti through the twist and turns to deep water with hand signals from the bowsprit.

Deep water and north we go.  The goal for the day.  Joe’s Bay.  By noon, the gray gives way to sunshine but no wind.  Tim fishes past Safety Cove on Calvert Island then we cross Fitz Hugh Sound  and thread our way to Joe’s Bay.  I wonder about Joe and how he happened to this spot of earth.  He must have come by water, the forest being so thick.  Was it the floating foam from the waterfalls where Lake Elizabeth spills into the salt chuck?  Was he hunting for safe anchorage from a storm?  Or was he just like me wanting to be someplace so pristine, so empty of mankind, as to make him feel the first ever to this place?  The only hint we find we’re not the first… a wooden sign on a tree on the south shore proclaiming this place for evermore to “JOE’S BAY”.

We anchor for the night.