Seasonal observations of an ever changing coastal landscape 
by Bold Bluff host Tamar Griggs 

Freak March Snow Storm

Date: 3/15/03
Time: 9:31:12 AM
Remote Name:


I love the snow - we get it so rarely on our "Mediterranean" climate island, and when it began to snow on Saturday, March 8th, I was in heaven! Swirling masses of white blew over the ocean and orchard, swallowing up the pink and white plum blossoms in the orchard, and sticking on the ground! My delight soon turned into an hour in hell. Guests were arriving from Toronto, and I promised to meet them at the Fulford Ferry at 7:30 pm (in the DARK BLIZZARD) so they could follow me home to the Government Wharf at Burgoyne Bay and not be nervous about getting to a strange place in the dark. When I left at 10 to 7 it was snowing hard and dark, but I could see the bluff to my right and hugged as close as I dared to the shore. Eventually I had to cut across the bay to find the Government Wharf, and as soon as I did, I was swallowed up in a total white-out, not having a CLUE where I was. I kept swearing at Walter, who lives in a lovely sailboat right near the Government Wharf, for not having his lights on in a night like that. And I yelled hopelessly into the blizzard, sticking my head out the side window: "Steve! Steve! Where ARE you"?!! No answer. No friendly beacon. Silence. Darkness, except for the swirling masses of snow in my headlights. I had no cell phone (the gremlins took it awhile ago and really hid it well), my compass didn't work (it spins around like a whirling dervish) and I didn't know how to operate my GPS (which I promptly bought the last time Gay, Maya and I were lost in the fog that January night). And I was all alone. Scared out of my wits, repeating to myself "Don't panic", but it was useless. I was shaking and scared and had visions of being out all night and being smashed by a big ship barrelling down on me or crashed up on some forlorn section of the rocks and no way to call Coast Guard. Eventually shore appeared to my right - a giant mass of black mountain rising out of the snowy sea, and I thought that was odd - I must still be following the SOUTH shore of the bay - but no, I was actually heading way up the island north in the opposite direction than I wanted. For awhile I tried to go back and find the dock, and then gave up and said I MUST get home or I'd be out all the freezing night without my survival suit on and no friendly person to keep me company (not even my dog!). Fortunately my spinning compass would stay still for a fraction of a second and I could tell approximately the direction I was heading. It was S, SW that I wanted. When at last I turned off my blinding lights, I was right at Bold Bluff Point! A total miracle! I gunned the boat fast and made it home, in utter relief. I called a friend who lived near the Fulford Ferry and she drove in the snow storm to meet my guests sitting in the dark at Patterson's Gas station (all of Fulford had turned in for the night) and tell them of my near death adventure and to please check into the Fulford Inn for the night. So all ended well, but that was the last harrowing boat experience I want to have for the rest of my life! Burgoyne Bay is HUGE when you are lost in it in the fog or snow. The next day, I phoned the manager of Hope Point down the Narrows, and he came over to show me how to operate my GPS and how to position the "Waypoints" on the marine chart. I feel a heck of a lot better - but still need to be cautious going out in storms when the visibility is practically zero. I always think I can do anything in the boat, as this is NOT the Pacific Ocean - the real ocean with the tumbling waves that goes all the way to China - it is just a little bay of protected waters - but it can turn dangerous if one is naive and makes stupid, careless mistakes. So, if EVER I agree to meet you, and I don't show up, please check into an Inn and call the Coast Guard! Many thanks!

       Last changed: January 26, 2012