Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Watcher of Ferries

Standing at my northfacing windows looking at the water, and at another country out there on the other side. I whip out the binoculars and examine freighters as they pass the bottom of the street; try to follow the ferry all the way across the Strait to Victoria, so I can find out whether any of my bits of further shore view include the entry to the Inner Harbor.

I think I can recognize the Coho's silhouette and determined presence at any distance now. He is such a fine little boat. I used to think he was big, when I was on the boat as a passenger or noticing it at its mooring on the Port Angeles shore. But having watched him out on the Strait with tankers and great honking container freighters in the same field of view, I now see him as a sturdy small working boat. And definitely a him.

Coho passing the bottom of the street
Coho about to pass the end of Ediz Hook

Last weekend I spent a whole afternoon sitting near the edge of the bluff at the bottom of the street, reading and watching the Coho cross to Victoria. It was the sunny day that all the little boats were out enjoying the spring and fishing for halibut. I watched and watched. He disappeared somewhere on the other side, before I figured out exactly what buildings over there might be bracketing the opening to the Inner Harbor from here. After a while he reappeared already quite far along on his return run. I watched him all the way back.

Ediz Hook on a sunny day. The paper mill is off screen to the left...

I'm 90 minutes from the actual ocean, but the salt water of the Strait is outside my windows, and after I have puttered away hours or all of a day not going anywhere, I can be out on Ediz Hook in about 7 minutes. I go often. There the ferry comes in or goes out. Ducks and loons and shorebirds poke around the sheltered harbor side, or bob in the surf on the Strait side. I look across to Canada, or back to the bluff above Marine Drive to spot the end of my street. I scribble lists of birds and the ships in view, and look them up when I get home. Buffleheads-brants-scaup-dunlin says one list. Loon-wigeons-turnstones-sanderlings.

Looking back to my neighborhood from the Hook.

There's all kinds of boat and ship action. Polar Adventure / Crowley Response / S/R Long Beach reads one list. Yesterday just after the Coho came into the harbor, the pilot boat suddenly left the Puget Sound Pilots station, whipped over to the tanker Polar Resolution in the middle of the harbor, and returned to her mooring at the station; then Resolution and her escort tug the Lindsey Foss started moving, slowly exited past the end of the Hook and headed east. If I'd understood what I was seeing, I'd have taken pictures...

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