Vancouver Island Day 1 & 2

Not a very auspicious start to my trip, but it worked out. I started the day thinking I was ready to go, but the weather right from the start was worse than expected. I was sweaty just from pulling on my gear in my own bedroom (a downside to the Seattle climate this time of year anytime except for the 2-3 months when it isn’t soggy). The side cases were loaded up the night before and clipped right onto the bike. But it was also the first time I’ve ridden the bike with them fully. Bringing it off the center stand, it gingerly dropped on its right side in my garage.

Not a great start, but the fall was slow enough that the only damage was just a small scuff on one of the corner bumpers for the right case. Legitimate battle damage. I righted it (more sweat!) and got on the way to the ferry.

After going around the block twice to figure out where they’ve hidden the current entrance to the perpetually under-construction ferry terminal, I eventually gave up and just cut through the cones telling me that I had to go a different way. I figured nobody was really watching at 9am on a Sunday morning. Seriously, if the entrance to the ferry terminal isn’t actually at the ferry terminal, why not put up some very obvious signs?

I waited in a light mist, then boarded in the first group. As usual, motorcycles at the very front where they’re most exposed to the weather. Sometimes they’ll let you park off to the side in one of the other lanes, but not today. Otherwise, an unremarkable trip to Bainbridge, and the heavier rain hit just as we arrived. Given the sweat and 100% humidity, I decided to ride without my glasses but even so had a tough time keeping the visor from fogging up. To date, I’ve found no really good way to keep it clear in wet weather that doesn’t involve leaving it partially open.

The rain quit around the time I crossed the Hood Canal, and I was reasonably dry when I pulled into Port Angeles for fuel and a bite to eat before getting to the ferry to Victoria. In retrospect, I could have waited a bit after getting off the first ferry and likely would have hit less wet conditions.

I’ve never been on this ferry before. The MV Coho is very different from the Washington State ferries I’m familiar with. More of a ship than the typical ferry, with a definitive bow and stern. There’s rear loading/unloading at Port Angeles, and at the front on the starboard side at Victoria where the boat moors along the wharf rather than nose/tail in. Motorcycles load last from Port Angeles, and tie up using chocks, ropes and straps along the side at the back. In Victoria, the outer lanes get off first, so bikes are pretty early in the process.

Had an hour to kill in the terminal, so I finished off my hot tea and the soup I had prepared before leaving home. Props to Kleen Kanteen whose thermal bottles really do keep the heat in for several hours.

I was glad for the chocking and rope, because I found that the boat rolls pretty noticeably. Not sure the motion would be enough to roll the bike on it’s side without the rope and side chock, but given the events of the morning I wasn’t eager to find out. I have my own tie-down straps and gave a thought to using one in addition to the rope, but the one other motorcyclist who was crazy enough to be out in this weather assured me it would be OK without.

Got to my hotel a bit soggy, and a lot more tired than I really deserved to be. While checking in and parking, I didn’t notice that I had dropped my glasses. At least, I didn’t notice until I started moving to park the bike and heard a “crunch” under the rear tire. That’s why I always carry a spare set. It’s been many years since I’ve needed them, and finally cashed in that bit of insurance. A crappy ending to a day that seemed off balance from the start.

Had dinner and crashed early.

Day 2: Victoria

I woke up to the sound of 30mph winds. My original plan was to ride around the south end of Vancouver Island, then to cut back north towards Nanaimo, and eventually on to Qualicum Beach. After checking the weather I decided to cash in another bit of insurance I always allow: one slack day per week. Extended the stay here, changed my other plans, and I guess the ride around the south end of the Island will just wait for another trip in better weather. Tomorrow, I’ll ride to Tofino, by the more direct route, then I’ll stop on Qualicum Beach on the way back.

Spent the day meandering around Victoria and took about half an hour to adjust a few ergonomic things on the bike that I noticed yesterday. It’s a break-in trip, so that’s to be expected. It’s a windy Monday, out of peak season, so pretty quiet here. I’m not complaining.

Weather in the Northwest changes by the minute and you have to be prepared for that. So far, it’s turned against me. Hopefully, the next changes will go my way.