The big Ice of 2017

Our little far western corner of North America has alway been mecca for vast populations of eastern Canadians ever since the West was settled and word got back that no one out here owns a snow shovel. True, there have been exceptions throughout the years that we get a surprise dump that shuts down the city of Vancouver, or over on the island may give the kids a few Snow Days.

Bob who was born in Ontario smirks at these times. We don’t know snow he says. Because our dumps, er, snowfalls might bring 4-5″ at most and even this will hobble us for a bit. We don’t have a big budget here for snow removal, sanding trucks, salt stockpiles. We also don’t drive in it very well in it.

This can be a tragic event. I’ve seen cars approach a stop sign like it was an afternoon in the middle of July. Oh yeah, palm-to-face, there’s white stuff under my tires; you can literally read the realization on their face as they pirouette through the intersection.

Busses don’t fare any better.

This year Vancouver got hit with a few good winter storms that brought a fair amount of snow for them. Then it would warm a bit and rain, then freeze again and snow. It got messy for the residents. No one could make it down the road without serious injury it seemed, people careening and slipping everywhere. The city used 5,000 of its 6,000 tons of its annual allotment of salt.

Cue the beleaguered store clerks as they brace themselves for a sudden frantic run on all the hardware stores and Home Depots for bags of salt and those elusive snow shovels. Sorry, they say, we’re out of stock we have more coming in on Friday. They tell you this on a Sunday with a lopsided shrug and a twitching eye.

Meanwhile across the pond here on the big island we didn’t have the full extent of that. For the most of any winter here we generally bask in greenery, but this year we did get damn cold though and things froze hard along with some snow. We had temperatures well below freezing for weeks at a time. The upside was all the dry, clear, crisp sunshiny days that came with the big chill.

It was so cold the sea around my tiny island and half way across the harbor froze.

Luckily for us we have an aluminum boat which makes it easy to break the ice, which we did around a good area of the anchorage and docks in an attempt to help others that have smaller boats and are under-powered to break away through the ice from their moorages. Also for those living on their sailboats in the harbor who become ice-locked and unable to use their dinghies to get to town. So we made our way around slowly and chewed up the bay a bit.

Protection Island 01/2017

While scooting around the sailboats anchored in the bay near Newcastle Island we noticed a woman who was in a kayak working her way from town, where there wasn’t ice and I don’t know if she knew how much ice there was out near the middle of the bay when she started out, she  gained enlightenment too late as she sat perched upon a massive ice sheet. Make way, us to the rescue. We freed her then crunched ahead of her breaking a chunky swath for her to paddle through to get home.

The crew for the wee ferry had to work hard to break ice, just as iced in as everyone else, they had to cancel the early runs. Once they could get under way the harbor Search and Rescue boat appeared and continued to break ice for them well into the middle of the bay where the ice ended before heading off to see where else they could be of service.

So that’s our big ice saga, created a small community burble around here. Today the weather warmed a bit, the sea is once again fluid and things are as they normally are in January: grey, drizzly, and cold. A few degrees above freezing. But I have to be honest, I loved the past few weeks of brilliant sun and piercingly clear days and nights, and secretly hope we get a bit more of it in the following months. January especially can be such a long dreary grey month otherwise. I’d rather have sparkle.

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