Friday was a “day on your own” for the fleet, and vessels departed to various points of the compass. We decided to head southwards to a midsize cove on West Redonda Island known as Teakerne Arm, where we arranged to rendezvous with Bob Eichler, a recent member of NYYC that Glenn has sponsored and I had supported. Although Bob was part of the cruise, he had chartered his sailboat somewhat late, and this would be the first opportunity to meet with him. As we left the dock, we learned that John Berg of Seattle Yacht Club was also planning to rendezvous there.
The first trick was finding Teakerne. The second was learning how to pronounce it. Throughout the cruise we called it Tikerniki, Teakarny, and various other malapropisms. By midway in our passage we had solved both those problems. On the other hand, we noticed as we began to approach it that it seemed to be draped in fog.
Just as we began our turn to the entrance the radio came alive with conversation between two other boats in the fleet: Teakerne was closed and we must all turn about at once, because what appeared as fog was in fact smoke. A forest fire was burning above the cove in the very spot we had intended to visit ashore, and the smoke was spreading along the island into every cove. We could see helicopters in the sky above the mountains, apparently ferrying water buckets in a sort of aerial bucket brigade.
At that point we had to make a quick decision. It was obvious that not only would Teakerne not be acceptable anchorage, so too would all of the ports on West Redonda Island. We radio’d John Berg on his yacht Emily K and suggested steering across the channel to Cortes Island and a small haven known as Squirrel Cove. As an added bonus that would be a grocery store and a restaurant there, allowing us to go ashore for a bite to eat and to reprovision.
We turned into Squirrel Cove, dropped our crabtrap, anchored the boat, and dinghied ashore. We found the most rustic village we had yet seen, with the store acting as the local post office and the local residents looking very much like country Canadians. To add to the flavor, there was a small local crafts shop in its own tiny building next-door. Oddly enough, the restaurant served edamame, naan bread, and other distinctly exotic ingredients. So we ate an international meal, loaded up on paper towels and other necessities, and return to our vessel.
By that time, the Emily K and Bob Eichler’s boat, Gloman Magic, were in the harbor and were motoring deep into the cove to anchor. We followed to do the same, in one of the prettiest, most peaceful anchorages we had yet seen; and over the next several hours, we socialized with John Berg, Bob Eichler, and his crewmate Ken as they each motored over to say hello, and later we motored back.
Glenn learned from Bob that a nearby beach contained a flat tidal wash filled with oysters. That was all he needed to hear, and within minutes our dinghy disappeared as Glenn went out to harvest. He came back with the bucket loaded with fresh shellfish, and that evening he fired up the BBQ on the flybridge and grilled dozens of oysters, while we stood about, ate them in the open air with a little added Chilula sauce, and chucked the shells over the rail. Heaven.