Saturday, May 7, 2011
Whiskey, but not for drinking.
When you leave Nanaimo by boat heading north, there is a large military exercise area blocking your path. Area WG, Whiskey Golf, is used for torpedo training, mostly by the American military. They are pretty clear in announcing when the area is active and needs to be avoided, and we have normally lucked out and been able to cut across this stretch of water and shorten our crossing of the Strait of Georgia. This trip our timing wasn't so good, the area was active, and on getting out of the harbor it was easy to spot the submarine, several chase boats, and a sub chaser plane overhead. Traveling in a boat that is made of steel, is relatively noisy while motoring, and is painted bright red, I thought we were probably a little too tempting of a target to try to sneak through the area. The fact that all these military vessels probably have electronics capable of counting the number of cans of vegetables we have stored in the bilge also added to the unlikelihood of us transiting undetected. I had just finished another Tom Clancy novel and felt pretty up-to-date on my knowledge of submarine warfare and decided our chances of surviving an aggressive encounter with a military sub were pretty poor. Instead, we played the law abiding citizen and kept to the narrow corridor they allow for boats to bypass the area. We still don't have the ability to reef our mainsail ( make it smaller for stronger winds) and having to stay in this corridor limited our direction of sail, so the day turned out to be a pretty uncomfortable motoring expedition with strong winds and sizable waves. On the positive side, we were not shot at and sunk by a torpedo from a submarine.