Operation: Standing Downwind

The long awaited special order had finally come in, and we had three options to get there for pick up. This was operation Standing Downwind.

Mission - Precision Cargo Extraction.
Objective - Retrieve the package by any means... (that’s fun)
Location - Vancouver Island, Sydney BC

Available Transportation

1. Take the Truck - Might fall asleep. (unacceptable)
2. Take the Triumph - A solo mission only, fast transport but no room for back up personnel. (unacceptable)
3. Take the Stryker - Very indirect route, might get uncomfortable, might see new things, might be a lot of fun. (totally acceptable!)

It was set, we were going to take the Stryker on an almost a 100km round trip journey from home base in Esquimalt to Sydney. There was just a few things to prepare. Fuel, safety equipment, VHF, GPS Inreach and navigation equipment… There was only one thing missing. Weather protection, it could get ugly so we had an idea…

Cue epic intro music...(something like The A Team)

Modify and customize, what ever it takes. We spent the evening working on the plan to turn the sailboat dodger into a sweet, and surprisingly well fitting mini bimini and windshield. The perfect hideout from the wind and potential rain.

With the transport vehicle prepped and ready it was time to put the plan in action. Launching at our secret location in Esquimalt we set off on a mild, but windy morning on a very low tide.

Slowly cruising at 5... or so knots out the Gorge Waterway and past Victoria Harbour we made our way into the Salish Sea and around the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was out there that we started to discover a problem.

Higher than expected winds bringing a lot of chop on the water, this would have been a way better mission for the sailboat for sure. However that will come later, and traveling with the wind and close to land you could find pockets of protection from the bigger waves and we weren’t even close to giving up just yet.

Blowing past Discovery Island and cruising at a steady 15 knots (28 kph) we were making good time allowing for a few breaks in random previously unknown locations.

Arriving at our destination and unprotected beach spot, the waves crashing into the shore sent us a bit of havoc. Throwing the seaweed and water over the transom, we felt the moist repercussions of a slightly clumsy landing… Of no concern, we set off on foot (and flip-flops) to penetrate the compound and retrieve the cargo.

Arriving at what was discovered later to be a strangely quarantined facility, we were surprised by the unforeseen danger! (Honestly, more like a bummer) Energized by our success and bursting through the doors that said “Covid… something something” (pretty normal these days) We unknowingly entered hostile territory. Greeted with blank stares, it took a moment to assess our environment. Finally we heard from behind us, “can I help you?”. Polite, but stern, we were quickly escorted out of the facility at gunpoint… (that didn’t happen, but felt like it) A stark reminder of all the experiences Covid has ruined these last couple years, we hope this to be one of the last. A few minutes later, a large masked man exits the door with two large blue sacks and in a brief exchange the mission was a success. The packages were acquired but now, can we make it home?

Launching at the windy beach the look of worry washes over our faces, and then the worst happens. A flip-flop is sucked of the foot of Commander B. “Stop!” He screamed. With tormenting winds and crashing waves, stopping wasn’t an option. “I can’t! We’ll be swamped! Get in!” I replied. In a valiant effort the footwear was saved and B climbed aboard soaked to his navel (belly button:). A few fowl words were spoken, perhaps a few tears, but men like us know exactly how to handle an argument like this… A good hug usually does it.

High winds, white caps and swells as far as we could see, all coming from the direction we need to go… Reassessing the situation, there is always an alternative exit strategy with the small Stryker. Docked at a boat launch the decision was made… Call Mom. 🙂

Ya… we bailed. It had to be done. The beauty of the Stryker is no stress. If things get too ugly it can be pulled out of almost any spot. Packed down in 15 minutes and waiting for the emergency transportation we talked about the lessons we learned and things we could do a little better. Success or failure doesn’t matter as much as learning from every experience. Looking forward to the next one, and the one after that... and the one after that...