Looking at a map of islands and water, everything makes sense. But, on the water, not only are the shapes of islands impossible to discern, islands and mainlands blend. Stir in some fog and now you’re lost. That’s ok, we have a GPS! Well, yes and no. Yes, if you started it up before you got into the swells. No, if you can’t reach into your pocket to turn it on when you must have your eyes on the swells and a paddle in the water to keep the boat steady. And looking down to read the paper chart is like texting and driving—in the snow.
“So,” I said to KJ, as we left Serpent Islands in a light fog and smoke haze, both obscuring the rising sun, our otherwise east-indicating compass, “we just turn right out of this bay we’re in and head straight across Kilditt Sound. In no time, we’ll be in the narrow channel, where we can head south towards Hakai Passage, protected from the swell.”
Well, I turned rrrriiiiigggghhhht. And rather than heading east, we headed south. Instead of a less than three-km crossing to a protected channel, we went almost five km managing 2 m swells the whole way. And here’s the thing. Until we got to the end of Kilditt Sound, (where Hakai Passage starts) I did not know we were heading south. Because I could only steal brief glances at the paper chart, and in the absence of the sun-as-compass, my mind erroneously matched the land I could see to what I saw on the chart.
Once we got our bearings, we were able to cross Hakai Passage, another five km, this time with the GPS, to Calvert Island.
Those are perils of fog and foggy brains and the joy of technology.