We left Jones Island with the start of the ebb on a calm, overcast morning and headed south-east toward our first way point at Steep Point on Orcas Island’s East side. I’d plotted our course through one of the San Juan Island’s most treacherous passages the day before. Our track was to take us into the middle of the labyrinthine Wasp Islands, through Harney Channel to East Sound in time for our dance. I’d cross-referenced Captain Jack’s and the Canadian Currant Atlas and, with a sharp pencil, drawn our course on the chart with the way points and estimated arrivals times.
I was actually a bit proud of my fore-sight, and hoped it might inspire in Lily a greater trust in my navigational skill. Lily had given me a T-shirt that said sharp and focused. Maybe she thought it might help.
When we reached Steep Point, the next way point appeared on the GPS screen directing us somewhere south-west into some nasty-looking rocks. Since our intended track was south-east, I knew something was wrong. Major anxiety set in.
The ebb was taking us east past a small Island to starboard, while ahead a few miles, was a small opening toward which a sailboat was motoring.
At Lily’s suggestion (she was remaining unusually calm in all this,) I followed. As we neared, the pass actually appeared smaller. A torrent of green water flowed over the jagged rocks to starboard, when suddenly I saw a woman in the cockpit of a C-Dory next to us beckoning with a reassuring look and a gentle movement of her arms.
I’d gotten only a fleeting glimpse of her, but her radiant image will forever be etched in my memory. The waving motion with which she guided us rocked with her boat like a movements of a Sufi Zikr. It was an angelic vision guiding Old Hand’s errant crew through the twisted channels of the world toward salvation; to chasten pride of seamanship and forgetfulness of the true purpose of our voyage-of which we might lose sight while navigating the labyrinthine island passes. Though our “navigation” of Pole Pass may have been unintentional, it reminded me of our deeper intention.
After all, we are emissaries of the Dances of Universal Peace, come to bring the message of unity as taught by Hazrat Inyat Khan and Samuel Lewis-to bring the wisdom traditions of all faiths into full body awareness through the ancient tradition of sacred dance.
Thank you bright Angel of Pole Pass. For you there shall always be an honored page in the tattered log of Old Hand.