The Fifth Dimension

Traveling in consort with friends aboard their own boat adds a fifth dimension to any voyage.

In the course of a typical summer Jupiter hosts friends aboard, however Covid concerns complicate companionship. Tiring of our own company we are thrilled to cruise in tandem with new-found friends aboard Raven, their spanky new yacht.

Craig and Penny, the captivating couple whose trim vessel is being sea trialled, are habitants with local knowledge and contacts that enrich our week in delightful ways. Fine late summer weather adds buoyancy stirred by fellowship.

At commodious Reid Harbor on Stuart Island we anchor in sticky mud among an August-full of visiting vessels.

Ashore, we climb through steep Garry Oak savannah to the top of the island’s tip, Tiptop Hill. The summit offers international vistas of Salish Sea islands and serves as a landmark for mariners entering US waters from Canada, should such navigation again be permitted.

Cruising in file along the dry flank of Spieden Island, we spy a range of exotic wildlife. Decades ago animals were imported to Spieden from alien regions, and the island was promoted as hunting ground by Seattle taxidermists.

The end of that brief and bony business allowed the descendant beasts to thrive, carelessly wandering the golden veld among glacial erratics, deposited during the previous ice-age.

Double anchored at Double Island on our duet of boats, we lower two tenders to explore the west shore of West Sound, Orcas Island.

We disembark at lovely acreage under restoration by absent acquaintances of our boat friends.

On the grounds we encounter carvings honoring native legends. An old farmhouse with its restored gardens and orchard observes the chronicle of original homesteaders. Revering the past, the owners enrich the present.

Repositioning to Sucia Island in open channels, we prove engines spooled up with hulls lifted high probing speeds, rides and wakes.

Distance afoot is a daily essential, often accomplished as the sun descends its arc. The craggy wind-incised rocks and trails of Sucia Island fascinate and seduce.

Glacial erratics stand proud, and ribbons of aggregate pebbles swirled into sandstone, entombed for epochs, are revealed by dynamic forces of wind, water and salt.

Anchored in the narrow channel along South Finger Island, the rising Corn Moon overhangs our berth, vividly illuminating the rock-walled aisle. Each turn of tide overturns Jupiter’s tethered heading.

Like cobbles emerging from sandstone, more friendly accomplices surface into our conjoined cruise. Kathy and Chic, a dynamic and knowledgeable couple, are deeply embedded at their finger of rock that delineates the south side of Echo Bay.

They hew complex constructions from the island’s trees, every splinter of their own making.

A sawmill and cordless tools facilitate construction, one tree at a time.

The builders direct us to a reef outside Sucia’s embrace, where we locate a crash of Steller Sea Lions, massively muscled, posturing atop their chosen rock.

Growls and damp snorts thrum like ancient chanting. Harbor seals pack the lesser perches around this communal haul-out, seemingly ignorant of their nutritive appeal.

Our two inflatable tenders are dwarfed by amphibious behemoths who roll about us in the sea before shouldering themselves back ashore to bake and bark.

We land ourselves later at the float on tiny Matia Island to wander through first growth cedars protected inside a deep rock valley. Sunlight is dispersed through the impossibly tall trees, motes reaching down like light in remains of ancient abbeys.

Before sunset on this day of oversized fauna and flora, we convene at the dock of the finger of rock, sharing laughter, last light, and a potlatch of our own devising. Six erratics deposited at the edge of evening by enigmatic forces.

Traveling in consort with friends aboard their own boat adds a FIFTH dimension to cruising.


The FIRST dimension appears as your vessel initiates a heading off her moorings, and the SECOND is traced by her wanderings port and starboard. These are mariners’ only jurisdictions.

The sea, with all her tidal upheavals and wave rebellions, renders a THIRD dimension of heaving or foundering.

Time is the thief of seafarers, a FOURTH dimension of fixed and grim unwinding.

A FIFTH dimension is born of the variables and values of shipmates whose sorcery is the cogent miasma impacting all previous dimensions.

Echo Bay looking towards the Finger Islands and Matia Island

Sunset Salad

Roast, cool and peel golden beets. Remove the peel and pith from oranges. Slice beets and oranges into discs and interleave them in a round shallow plate.

Chop any remaining pieces and place in the middle of the circle. Crumble goat cheese atop the ring of beets and oranges, and mound microgreens in the center.

Whisk a tangy vinaigrette of olive oil, sherry vinegar, and a dab of mustard, seasoned to taste. Drizzle over the salad just before serving.


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