The last thing you want to hear when my husband, Lennie, is driving a boat, is swearing.
Lennie and I run a water taxi company and he often travels to and from Hotsprings Cove to transport tourists and locals to the springs and village site in Refuge Cove. To get into the Cove you must round the infamous Sharp Point. The Point is fully exposed to the fury of the sea – wind, tides and swells from the open Pacific slam onto its rocky shore. There is nothing to soften the blow.
VHF Radios from this area can’t really be heard well in Ahousaht unless someone from high on the hill in the village relays. Our home VHF will pick up certain ones from the village. Lennie and I devised a system so I can tell what’s going on when he rounds the Point and I can rest easy knowing he has made it around safely. Lennie has attached a suction cup mount to the front window of the boat and before he approaches the larger swells of open water, he turns on Facebook livestreaming so I can watch his journey live. Thankfully there is cell service in Hotsprings. They have their very own cell tower there!
Yesterday, there was a large swell coming in due to some consistent high winds hitting the coast lately. Video always makes waves look way smaller than they are (Why can’t it do that to the human body too?), so when it looks kinda rough on video, you know it’s really rough. It certainly looked rough yesterday. The boat plowed through the swells, rising and falling over the crests. Thankfully they weren’t breaking. That presents a whole other issue.
Unable to see anything except the straight foward view off the bow of the boat, it can be hard to judge how far around the Point he has made it but by watching the horizon and changing mountains, I had a pretty good idea.
Suddenly I heard Lennie go “Oh, Sh*t” and my breath caught in my throat. Lennie only swears on the water if things are about to go wrong. The boat swung around and we were looking at open ocean again. When a larger wave comes, sometimes it’s necessary to swing around and face it head on, rather than let it sweep under you from behind. This is what he had done, just before a large one tried to catch him off guard.
I knew he would be sitting and counting the sets, but he was doing it in his head. Slowly the boat turned as it rose and fell, and eventually we were staring straight at the rocks. I began to wonder if his motor had died and he was on the back of the boat working on something? Why wasn’t he saying anything? It was probably only 10 seconds of waiting but I was getting panicked (and sitting at work watching this, unable to actually do anything).
Livestream has a handy feature that any comments you make pop up live for the one streaming the video, so I asked “What the heck are you doing?”. “Just counting the Waves” came his reply through the video. “Just checking you were ok” I typed back.
Soon enough he started to move again and once he was around the Point and just before he passed into the annoying dead spot where his service always cuts out he said “All good there Marcie. I’m around and safe.” He knows me too well.
So he didn’t almost die, but I guess he could have if something had happened in those conditions. Our boat drivers risk their lives every day. Lennie has an inflatable life jacket he wears, especially if he is ever alone on the boat. But if something goes wrong in rough seas, there isn’t always someone nearby to rescue you. I’m thankful for technology, but if something really did go wrong, I wouldn’t be watching online – I’d be sprinting to the dock and yelling for the boats to head out to save him.