With the equinox in less than a week, there remains no doubt that fall is upon us. Even in a region like ours, leafs have started falling and the sky has turned all shades of gray. Temperatures have dropped and wearing a fleece, light jacket or windbreaker is now often a pleasant necessity. The much needed sudden humidity will hopefully put a damper on local forest fires and certainly has sparked a million fragrances, from the wet soil to moss and pine trees. The cranberry harvests are approaching, the Grouse Grind is on its last stretch, summertime attractions are closing, winter hours slowly implemented.

On Sunday, Prince of Whales was operating one last time from Vancouver and invited tourism industry partners on a short last cruise of the season, bound for Bowen Island. The weather was rather bleak – low ceilings and light rain – but as true(?) West-Coasters we got onboard, zipped up our coats and enjoyed the misty scenery and hot coffee. Around Bowen island, the air smelled strongly of pine trees as the forest awoke to the rain.

I was once again reminded of how friendly everybody in the local tourism sphere is, and particularly the Prince of Whales staff. I got to meet the company owner, a cheerful lad with communicative enthusiasm who soon launched into a very interesting chat about the boat’s unique propulsion system. (Continue reading additional note at the bottom if boats are your thing.)

Prince of Whales will continue operating whale watching trips from Victoria all winter, but this was the end of an innovative first season of Vancouver-based trips. Can’t wait until next summer. They were kind enough to mention my own [[A killer Time with Killer Whales]]post on their blog which they update to reflect whale sightings and movements. Cool!

Cloudy day pictures are a little hard to ace but I’ve included a few here that somehow seem to reflect the ambiance adequately. The greyness of the day was somehow welcome. The clouds lingering on the mountains reminded me of the Pyrenees. And the rain washed away a summer’s weariness. Another great afternoon! Thanks Melissa!

A quick note for boat freaks:

You might remember a sunset picture from the previous post taken from the stern of Ocean Magic and showing a huge water splash behind the boat on plane. It turns out it is caused by counter-rotating screws powered by twin Caterpillar diesel engines. But what makes them really different and increases the amount of water shooting upwards in the wake is the fact that these screws are “surface piercing” propellers, part of Arneson Surface Drives. That’s an emerging design used on high performance boats that allows for higher speeds, smaller draft and better maneuverability by reducing the drag and improving the screws’ efficiency.

Without going into a lengthy exposé on the subject, let’s just say that the propellers are actually mounted on a longer shaft coming through the transom and when the boat is on plane, they are in fact half way out of the water! That technique eliminates cavitation, replacing it by more manageable ventilation. The boat’s overall draft is greatly reduced, the propulsion is more silent (a great asset in the case of a whale watching boat) and added efficiency implies greater speeds while reducing the costs. At least that’s what I got out of it… Very cool.