We Don’t Have A Bow Thruster

Bo-Peep II
The varnish and paint are flawless. It must have an awesome boathouse. But no bow thruster.

Yep! 1926 Not many look this good at 92 years.

Rain! It’s my fault. I’m busy ripping the windows out of my boat and replacing them. Then I plan on painting the cabin sides and the rest of the decks. Nature abhors a vacuum and so with each window being about eight square feet in size, guess what! Sploosh and whoosh!Actually it could have to do with the long weekend, we seem to seldom get one without wet weather and then in the days immediately following the skies will clear and I can carry on.

Thane came back for a visit. The long guest dock is full, full, full.

Knowing the ropes.


Now then hoy the peak halyard and slack the fore-tops’l. NOW!

Little goes to waste. Old lines get worked into something useful like mats or baggywrinkle.

The guest dock here at the Ladysmith Maritime Society is filled with guest boats. The Ladner Yacht Club is here to celebrate its 60th anniverisary and the fleet which has arrived is one of pristine boats. Good on them! They are a group of very nice people with lovely dogs and I don’t need to worry myself about Canadian courtesy flags because none are foreign vessels.

Flag Patrol.  Sea King helicopters

A few days ago there was a fleet of US Tupperware tugs at the dock. Only one flew a visible courtesy flag. (When visiting any foreign waters in your boat it is basic marine protocol to display a small flag of that country above all other flags.) While I was at the head of the ramp a pair of our venerable Sea King helicopters flew over, low and slow. A lady from one of the visiting boats was passing and inquired if indeed these were military aircraft. Perhaps she was intrigued that such antiques were still in service. Being the quick quip that I am, my response was that since the insults uttered against Canadians by President Trump, we had begun a daily aerial patrol checking that US vessels were flying the correct flags. “Oh my!” she exclaimed wide-eyed, “ I’m so glad we have ours up.” Of course it was all in fun, but I’m sure she’ll pass the message on. I am really flummoxed that it is not an issue which our border personnel do not address but I suppose that’s the Canadian way.

Now THAT is a down-rigger.
A Canadian hydrographic survey vessel was doing some local work and stopped at our docks.

Yesterday I was bent to my work on ‘Seafire.’ (which seems to go on and on) A strident female voice began to make inquiries on the marine VHF of “Ladysmith Maritime Society Marina”. Half of the boats on the guest dock leave their radios on at a high volumes. I can only surmise that it makes then feel saltier. The radio voice went on and on with sporadic silly inquiries, even when the boat, a Catalina 34, finally arrived alongside the dock space assigned to it.

The docking crew stood looking out at the little sailboat laying twenty feet or so away. The boat’s crew, a man and woman, stared back. Finally the voice erupted again, strident and indignant. “We don’t have a bow thruster you know!” I kept my mouth shut. Clearly, I am not Walmart greeter material.

(A bow thruster is a small propeller installed on a boat below the water line and pushes the bow sideways when attempting to dock.) This old salt reckons that the device is absolutely unnecessary on any vessel with someone competent at the helm. Some boats, complete with twin engines, have a thruster installed at either end of the vessel. The boat can be manoeuvred in any direction or turned in its own length but it still all depends on the nut that holds the wheel. Every extra device does make life easier at times, but it also increases dependability on that gadget and decreases skill levels. For me sailing is a religion of traditional skills and self-sufficiency. Enough said. I’ll carry on with my sanding and painting and keep my head down, like a fly on the wall.

The job begins. The port windshield out and being prepared for a new piece of acrylic. None of the work is fun. The starboard windscreen is installed.

The painting job on ‘Seafire’ has turned into a career; it goes on and on. It began simply enough with the intention to replace two windows and spruce up the window frames. Oh yeah, while I’m at it, I should update the lifeline stanchions seeing as I had a replacement set laying in the crawlspace at home. Then, while doing that, I damaged a side window with cleaner and decided to replace them all. While I had the stanchions off and the window frames off, it only made sense to paint the cabin and the side decks. I’ve tried repairing the paint on the cove stripe along the hull and have now decided to repaint that while I’m at it. One of the things my years have taught me is patience and that certainly is a prime ingredient for a job like this. Painting is not simply the act of apply fresh colour to a surface. First there is the preparation and therein lays the rub. Yep, a pun! Preparation is everything. There are incessant hours of sanding, and filling and more sanding. My fingers are abraded down to near-bleeding stubs. Then, if the sun is not too hot, or the threat of rain not too imminent, there is the application of a smooth gliding coat of liquid colour. Not too much however, it will run and drip. Once that is done, I stand back to admire the fruit of my labour and flies begin to land in the sticky gleam. Bugga! As I finish one section, the rest of the boat looks shabby. Also, with the new shine, all the manufacturing defects in the fibreglass are revealed. But, there is progress each day.

The final window, installed under threat of rain.

Dry-fitting the new-used stanchions. A few more days of painting then I can begin working on the starboard side of the boat.

If refurbishing the boat is not enough challenge I am also in the middle of consummating a relationship with a new laptop computer. It is a supercharged gaming computer, the Grand Ferrari, something with all the giga-properties I need to use the film editing program which I’m trying to teach myself. The computer is a delight, but Windows 10, and downloading updated programs is a huge challenge for my old-school thinking. Mix that all in with my painting career on the boat and you’d think that all this masochism might indicate an English ancestry. You’d be correct.

Now for some serious engineering.
Children love this sand box on the dock.

A friend called to remind me of the British car show at the waterfront park in Ladysmith. I’d gone in previous years and was not eager to go see the same few dozen vehicles. WOW! Apparently there were over 200 cars and motorcycles on display. All ran, most were driven to and from the show. All have been lovingly restored and maintained. The spectators glided about in hushed awe, thrilled at what they were seeing. British cars are famous for their design and craftsmanship as well as their demands for incessant fiddling maintenance and enduring unreliability. For a very long time, British automotive electrical systems were hopelessly complex and comprised of components built by Lucas, known by many as the “Prince Of Darkness.” Yet there is a mystique and romance built into English vehicles that no-one else can match.

An ancient and pristine Rover

A slightly modified MGB

Land Rover with a Dormobile RV conversion. I wannit!

Peeking into a classic Rolls Royce. Real wood, real leather, real money but no airbags.

A Velocette and a Triumph

When the day is done, I read myself into sleepy oblivion with a copy of “Lord Jim” by Joseph Conrad. I haven’t tackled this novel in over half a century and it is clear why I first laid it aside. This guy did not have a word processing machine of any sort yet he stuffed every word possible into anything he was trying to say. Lots of folks love to gush about what a wonderful nautical author Conrad was. I find him lugubrious. One sentence can, at times, fill half a page. There is far too much wrapping around the golden gift of his story. Yet I find the weight and cadence of his writing evocative of the days I’m living at the moment. Here, in closing, is one sentence.

…”Such were the days, still, hot, heavy, disappearing one by one into the past, as if falling into an abyss for ever open in the wake of the ship, lonely under a wisp of smoke, held on her steadfast way black and smouldering in a luminous immensity, as if scorched by a flame flicked at her from a heaven without pity.” ….PHEW!

Cream rises to the top…
so does scum!
Summer algae blown against the dock.

“It is not that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better.”
Sir Francis Drake

Boats And Mountains

‘Thane’ A spray replica gleams under the love of new owners. Built in the mid-80s, this boat has become a Southcoast icon. She recently visited the docks at the Ladysmith Maritime Society.

We’re moving into the doldrums of early summer, this time with a short heat wave. Well, that is heat as defined by our coastal standards. I saw 34°C yesterday on my thermometer. The forecast strong NW winds did not come. The air was hot; it felt good to me. The streams have already dried up, all the open grassy knolls are brown, I fear for what may lurk in the fire season ahead. I’m tinkering on little jobs on the boat which go so much better when it is dependably dry. Unfortunately dry also comes with the intense heat of sun reflected from the calm water around the docks. In two more days it will be officially summer. While I work, touring boats come to the dock, full of happy laughing people. That’s always a rub when the sweat is running into your eyes.

Fresh paint on the cabin top is the beginning of the facelift project. It can be called, “Putting lipstick on the pig.”

Finally! A transom ladder to make getting out of the dinghy much easier after clipping into the davits. It has been a bugger through the years.

 

I am wondering what the future has in store. I ache to untie the boat and go on a jaunt but finances, or the lack thereof, are preventing that. Often however, when things appear desperate, it can be a time just before a great adventure or opportunity begins. So like the little boy locked in the barn, I’m shovelling all the manure aside because, with all the shit, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere! The scene fades with the old Lyle Lovett song “If I had a pony, I’d ride him on my boat….”

Salvaged winches newly installed to help hoist the dinghy on the davits. Such decadence!

Two days later it is now officially summer solstice. The days will begin getting shorter again. Any day now we’ll see our first Christmas ad. Haaar! Speaking of ads here are two products I’ll mention. First is something new to me called “30 Second Cleaner.” It reeks of bleach but whatever else is mixed into it does indeed work miracles. A sail cover which was embedded with black mould from the wet north coast did not respond to any of my efforts. With a bit of this stuff it was looking like new in five minutes and that included a prolonged rinse. So it was whoohaw for me.

By Cracky! Deep-cleaning Simple Green. The windows were old but clear the day before.

The other product must be familiar to nearly everyone, the liquid that cleans everything, is environmentally-friendly, you can even drink it they say, the concoction smells good and won’t harm anything. It’s a cleaner called “Simple Green.” I’ve been removing the frames around my plexi-glass boat windows to repair and paint them. I sprayed the organic gorp beneath the frames to remove years of muck. It ran down over the windows but heck, it was “Simple Green” so I didn’t even think of rinsing things down. Two days later, I returned to discover the effect as noted in the photo. The windows were old but craze-free before. It “Cleans everything by cracky!”

A great way to deal with a problem, a Turkish wine. I couldn’t resist the label. These guys have been making the stuff for several thousand years. Very, very nice!

Now, $800. later, I have all the new plexi in hand, not to mention the bedding compound, the cutting and installation after the unpleasant job of removing each old windows and prepping up for the new. There are also lifelines to replace and stanchions to upgrade. It’s all expensive and unpleasant work and won’t increase the value of the boat one dime but I’ll feel better once it is all done. These are jobs that have been on my “to do” list since I bought the boat seven years ago. While I am at these jobs, I may as well paint the cabin-sides; there’ll never be a better time. For once, all this work requires making no new holes in the boat.

Look Ma, no computers! An antique Hercules diesel idles beautifully where it is nestled in a gorgeous x-navy gig. It is elegantly simple.

Old as me! A 1952 GMC 3600. Original paint! Beauty eh? Wish I looked that good.

NO AIRBAGS! But…there’s a deluxe push-button AM radio, two spot lights, a sun visor and factory-installed signal lights.

My incentive for all will be a cruise for a couple of weeks once I’m done. I’ll be as broke as a church window once the face-lift is done so of course it’s a great time to go. Yes, I’m looking for crew. Vamanos!

Moo Noon.
On the way to the mountain. This old farm boy can never resist good looking cattle. These are a Scottish breed, Aryshires.

A view from Mount Prevost over Mount Maxwell on Saltspring Island.

Looking down on a falcon. Taken hand-held with my new-used 500mm af Minolta lense. The bird was about 500′ away. What a great lense!

Under The Volcano. Mount Baker from Mount Prevost.

Fog on the far side of Victoria Airport. It was a harbinger of the coming rain. Note the boats fishing in Saanich Inlet. It is now pouring as I post this blog.

Hanging some old friends. These sandals died today, the worn soles finally came unglued. I’ve trod the desert , the beaches of Mexico, and many other magical miles in these. I wonder if anyone will notice them hanging up there twenty feet in the air.

Yes, there will be flowers.
Wild lilies on the mountain.

Stinging Nettle Flower

The glory of summer. Sweet peas and Chickweed.

Yep! More Indian Plums. Fully ripe now with an ant standing guard.

Twins! Two spring fawns and their mom on the road down from the mountain.

Sunday morning, one window done. It dawned to prove the weatherman correct. There was a 40% chance of rain. I know how to make that 100%: just start prying a window out of my boat. Sploosh! On top of Mt. Prevost a few hours later, we looked out on a grand vista; the Cowichan Valley. The plaintiff calls of a steam whistle echoed up through the forest five hundred feet beneath my toes. It was the little locomotive at the Forestry Museum in Duncan a few miles away. Then came the chatter of a Peregrine Falcon, soon spotted sitting on a limb far below the high cliff where we stood. It was magic. After a rest, a warm gentle rain began to spatter down. It felt great after the clamber to the top. We began the steep descent back to a parking area down the mountain. The boat is calling.

Dinghummer! Harmless and properly named a Crane Fly it is also know as a Mosquito Hawk or a Daddy Long Legs. This beast is a sure sign of summer.

The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman.” -William Shakespeare.

Loops And Purple Flowers

The watcher. A guardian of the path where Jack and I walk nearly every morning. It would be eerie on a bright moon lite night.

I’m watching too. Now don’t look back and walk on by.

Wild white roses and the dried rose hips from last year.

Rocket Berry

Purple Hairy Flower. I’ve given up trying to identify them all.

They’re everywhere this year. Indian plums are as profuse as the flowers.

They’re ripening quickly. When fully ripe they will be a rich plum-purple. although bland-tasting to us the birds love them and they’ll disappear overnight.

There’s no fungus like an old fungus.

The beginning of summer, the lupines are in bloom!

Sunday morning, Silva Bay, Gabriola Island. The air is cool and damp, there is clearly a threat of rain. The sun is a brassy point of light glowing through a high overcast. The big ebb tide for the day is drawing the sea water through the bay like a river. Chunks of sea weed rush past and I wonder what mess is tangled in my anchor chain. There is a muddy tint in the water, a sure sign of the Fraser River’s spring freshet. The mouth of the river is twenty miles away across the Strait of Georgia. It drains the interior of British Columbia from over eight hundred miles inland. I consider that some of the mud in the water is from places where I have lived and that my past has found me. A river of conscience, hmmm.

The tide rushing by the anchor chain.

Then I consider that another loop has closed with my return to Silva bay after a three year absence. Thousands of miles have passed beneath my keel since I made my way northward from here. I thought that journey would become a track that led directly to Mexico but it wasn’t to be. Now I’m back here and I wonder where the next loop of my life will lay. The bay is unchanged with both grand yachts and derelict hulks still littering its waters. The restaurant at the head of the docks suffered a nasty fire last winter. As usual, there are plenty of rumours and speculations about who is doing what and what the future holds. This bay is a beautiful place with tremendous potential as a cruising destination but for the moment there is little left to attract folks. There are still three marinas but the restaurant and pub, the swimming pool and both grocery stores are all gone. Fortunately the Islands Trust will not permit condo developments or luxury resorts and one can only speculate on how the future will unfold.

In the middle of Degnen Bay, this housing complex is accessible only by air or rowboat. The peregrine falcon’s nest is built on top of purple martin boxes. The martins could be heard chattering inside their condos.

A wooden beauty, obviously well loved.

Obviously not well-loved. It washed up during a late-winter storm and there she sits. rotten to the bone through and through and plunk in front of someone’s waterfront property.

The price of freedom is responsibility. The “owner” has left no name or phone number. Note the crack in the fibreglass, there are several.. You can clearly see the rotten wood beneath. She’ll never float again. Somehow it’s alright to leave your junk in someone else’s face.

Once Silva Bay was a small community that even enjoyed regular visits from a coastal steamer but those glory days are long gone.

Old friends have also just returned. Rodger and Ali have brought their beloved ‘Betty Mac’ back to Silva Bay. It was deck cargo loaded in Golfito, Costa Rica and unloaded in Nanaimo. This intrepid couple had plans for voyaging on to Patagonia but the scheme changed. They first arrived here from their home in Southeast Australia via Japan and the Aleutian Islands. They returned to Alaska the following year and then headed southward. In the meantime, they bought a former Canadian Coast Guard boat, ruggedly built of aluminum. They installed a rough interior, trucked that boat to Hay River, travelled from Slave Lake down the Mackenzie River to Tuktoyaktuk. They then spent subsequent summers exploring eastward in the Northwest Passage. That vessel is now stored in Greenland. In the fall they’d voyage further south in ‘Betty Mac’. Who knows where their loops will lay. In spite of their intrepid nature these two are also very nice people and I’m proud to call them friends. They are also a splendid example of what happens when a couple share a common dream and work together. Ali has returned to Australia so Rodger and I shared a meal on the deck of ‘Betty Mac’ comparing notes on our adventures and future plans. It was bliss.

The ‘Betty Mac’ is back. Tasmanian-built, she’s a wooden bomb shelter and to my eye, one of the prettiest boats I know.

The Beaver float plane based here taxis past and takes off on its Sunday morning mission. I make a sumptuous omelette. By the time the dishes are done and the morning chores are complete it taxis past in the opposite direction, arriving back to Gabriola with a fresh load of folks. C-FHRT (Seafart) is the same aircraft that was my dock neighbour when I lived and worked here. A former aircraft mechanic, I’ve made repairs to it at times so the flight schedule could be maintained. I’m impressed that this enterprise has survived serving this one island. It is a classic Canadian tale of the romance of the bush plane business. The DeHavilland Beaver is world famous and an icon of frontier aviation everywhere. I dearly love the sight and sound of these machines. Once, while on the Silva Bay dock payphone to a friend in California, CFHRT began its takeoff with a classic ear-splitting snarl. “What was THAT?” They exclaimed. “A Beaver” I calmly replied. “My God!” was the awed response. I explained that the Beaver was a float plane. “Oh” was the diminished reply. “I thought you meant the animal.”

CFHRT was my neighbour at the dock. I called her my Pratt& Whitney alarm clock. The engine was always warmed up early in the morning. Fortunately I love the sound of it.

I also had long overdue visits with other friends this weekend then I went fishing on the east side of Gabriola. I set out the prawn gear and watched in utter dismay as the floats dove beneath the surface and did not reappear. That was over $200. of prawn gear gone. Obviously I did not have enough extra line to compensate for the set of the spring current. I knew better! In the middle of that frustration, a rogue wave, probably caused by a distant ferry’s wake mixing with the wind against tide, smacked the boat down onto her beam ends. The dining table, not lashed down, flipped upside down onto the far side of the cabin, books levitated, dishes in the galley flew. There was no apparent damage. I caught no fish, of course, and in a rising vicious wind I retreated for shelter, confirming once again that I am one of the world’s worst fishermen. Tinned salmon was on the menu for dinner. The recipe was humble pie. Sailor’s superstition says it may have been that canned fish which prevented any catches.

High water mooring, ready to emerge from under the branches and sail away next high tide.

Monday morning finds me waking in Ruxton Passage where I’ve anchored in a bight which I call South Pirate’s Cove. It is calm and the skies are clearing. I lay in bed listening to the morning news on CBC radio. The furor is now about an escalating trade war with Donald Trump. So here we go peeing either way through the same fence. I guess we’ll soon be due for a wall. Our timid leader, Mr. Trudeau II has raised his voice an entire half-octave and the Americans accuse him of over-reacting. We point out that we provide the aluminum for the mighty fleet of US military aircraft. That force could be turned against us should we decide to cut off our supply to the US of water, electricity, uranium, oil, timber, singers, actors and space arms. A day may come when our children will learn a nursery rhyme that starts with “Old Humpty Trumpty sat on his wall, old Trumpty had a great fall….” Just remember Donny Boy (There’s a song for you) that it was a military force based in Canada which came down and set fire to what you now know as the White House. Don’t mess with us beaver-skinners. Oops! Some jaded wanna-be actress will probably take that as a sexist slur. Really folks, ain’t it all just nuts?

Breath taking. This refurbished WWII vessel is all wood and requires a massive, ongoing effort to be so pristine.

Here’s a thought. If Mr. Trump really wants to support the American labourer and economy then decree that that the grand American institution, WalMart, can longer market anything manufactured outside of the US. While we’re at that, let’s make sure that anything we buy, no matter what its label, is actually produced in North America. If you want a piece of global pie then the game has to be played both ways. It’s call “Free Enterprise.” How’s that for a good old-fashioned American term? I’m no economist, that much is clear, nor am I an unemployed steel worker but I have a hard time taking our border disputes without disbelief. We’re friends and neighbours! With all the social and environment issues on the table, surely we can get our collective shit together and work in unison on something important…and do some good.

As I proof-read this blog I learn that Doug Ford has just been nominated as head of the Ontario Conservative Part as so becomes Premier-designate. It is hard not to think of this fellow without remembering his notorious brother and politician Rob. He is certainly another political cartoon-character like Donald Trump making all manner of nonsensical statements and impossible promises. This hermit-sailor is happy to stay detached from a world that chooses these sort of dudes to be our leaders. Apparently we are so comfortable that we are that apathetic.

I’m happy to be here head down on my boat. I’m spending the balance of the week painting the deck on ‘Seafire’. There are voids in the gelcoat to fill and sand, teak to be cleaned, and finally priming then painting. Of course the forecast is for rain and drizzle and my early morning effort to beat the next squall failed absolutely. I hate this sort of work but the end result is worth it and long overdue.

Somebody’s dream but not my idea of a pretty boat. At least she could be washed once a year!

. While I bend to my labours, transient boats come and go. I bite my tongue as some foreign yachts arrive proudly displaying their US ensign, their yacht club burgees but no Canadian courtesy flag. Some have the temerity to not even display a vessel name or home port! I’m somewhat dismayed that these dudes are not turned back at our border. A courtesy flag, for the land-lubbers, is a small flag of the country in which your vessel is plying their sovereign waters and should be displayed above all other flags. It is a traditional act of respect and a strong point of basic nautical etiquette and at times even safety. The only thing more upsetting to me is that other Canadians don’t take umbrage enough to speak up. I do. The reactions are mixed but usually my point is well taken. Try taking your Canadian yacht into US waters without that little flag flying. It just isn’t done. Canadian are known as nice folks but we are NOT a 51st state, you Trumpys! So what gives… eh?

If only life could be put in a frame, but wouldn’t it be boring?

A breeze through the boat house. Dusting done.

There are two kinds of pride, both good and bad. ‘Good pride’ represents our dignity and self-respect. ‘Bad pride’ is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance….. John C. Maxwell

Blossoms and Boats

Red Dogwood in full glory.

Well, the exuberant celebration of spring blossoms is winding down. I’ll post a couple of Dogwood flower photos,.They’re now all gone from the trees. We’re into the black cottonwood, or alder as they’re commonly known here, season of blowing seeds.

Cottonwood seeds ready for launch.

A drift of Cottonwood seeds. Only one in a million needs to take root.

Until the next rain, the stuff will be everywhere. Doesn’t this look like a warm and fuzzy creature?

It’s clear why they’re called cottonwood. The Scotch broom is in its spring bloom, much to the misery of allergy suffers. There will be a second flowering in late summer, but for now we’ll just worry about what we’ve got on our plate. Already, there is a smell of smoke in the air which heralds forest fire season. that’s just too darned early.

Standard White Dogwood blossom, British Columbia’s floral emblem

Dogwoods downtown

Apple blossoms, just to help the perfume in the air.

Scotch Broom, an invasive species that tortures some allergy sufferers. I think the flowers are beautiful.

Before I go further I should mention a really awesome shop I visited up in Courtenay. A good kayak store is hard to come by but Comox Valley Kayaks have been in business for many years, and for good reason. I’d never stopped in before but was looking for a couple of items I could not find anywhere in Nanaimo. Even without my kayak along they fitted me out with the perfect items and at a fair price. The service was great, the staff knowledgeable and friendly (Even the lovely black German Shepherd) and the inventory quite impressive. I’m recommending them because I am that impressed. They only offer what is reasonable to expect, and all too rare it seems. That makes it commendable.

The Ladysmith Maritime Society’s own wooden boat fleet. Lots of varnish, elbow grease and love.

The ‘Ontario’ the way we used to run our navy.

The grates of wrath. No place for bare toes.

Morning calm, head of the parade is ‘Herself’

Now where’d I leave my mug?

Foredeck detail of a 1954 Chris Craft

Hit me

What is there to say?

The name says it all

A stack full of pipes

A gleam in her eye

The office

There was a wooden boat gathering in the Ladysmith Maritime Marina last weekend where ‘Seafire’ is moored. I walked the docks early on Sunday morning before many other folks were up and about. My camera whirred. Now these folks are gone home to more varnishing and painting and I’m left here praying for some cloud cover to do my own painting out of the direct sunlight. So without any social comment (for a change) I’ll simply post my photos and hope you enjoy them. By the way, the mystery about the little aluminum sailboat in the last blog has been resolved.

That little tin sailboat again. There were over 1400 of these sold. Where are they now?

Lou, one of my faithful readers sent me information which reveal the boat was sold by Aerocraft Petrel Sailboats in the US. The boat was designed by the famous Philip Rhodes and built by Alcan Limited right here in Canada. Go figure huh? One photo I found shows a boat with a Transport Canada approval that indicates it was also sold by Eaton Viking. Cool! Thanks for the help Lou.

‘Herself’ and nothing but.

If you can love the wrong person that much, imagine how much you can love the right one.” …Bob Marley

Under The Wires

Montague Morning
Looking north from our anchorage. This mega motor-sailor drew me in. It has no character but sure is grand.

Montague Harbour, Victoria Day Weekend Saturday (Already a week ago) We’re anchored off the north beach of Montague Harbour. There are boats around us but nothing in comparison to the plastic mat of floating Tupperware inside the harbour itself. You can probably walk across that bay by stepping from boat to boat. I wonder if yachts are included in the calculation about the tonnage of plastic debris littering the world’s oceans. I know, I own one too. At night, the dazzle of all the mast and deck lights looked like a piece of the city. I guess I simply don’t understand getting away from it all.

Now THAT’S my idea of a real boat. Rugged Westcoast beauty with a low-maintenance hull and work boat toughness.
Hit me!

No name, no flag, shit-brindle-brown hull and dead lovely. A fine-looking tugboat conversion kept us company as we left Ladysmith Harbour.

Jack under an ancient yew tree at Montague.

Looking northwest into the Gulf Islands. Wish you were here.

The Yew Crew

In the heat of the afternoon Jack dug a hole and settled in.

North Cove, Thetis Island.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a small farm with a beach? Hey that’s my cow under the Corona umbrella.

There is the usual hub-bub of screaming babies, yapping dogs, whining runabouts and jet- skis, loud raunchy music, shouting, squealing young people and a few grumpy-looking older farts; like me. I’ve never anchored off this beach before and generally avoid the harbour itself, especially during the summer “Yachting season.” I don’t like going where the crowds go and I don’t like the high-voltage electrical power lines which hang over the harbour. It is all nice enough I suppose with all those folks trying to hurry up and relax. Jack certainly likes all the other dogs and the easy digging in the shell beach. There are always annoying people and it seems that the most imposing, noisy characters stop and hang out next to you. One group stopped and dig for clams right on top of the dinghy’s beach line. Apparently I’d beached the skiff on the only place where there were clams. I just let it be.

Western Trumpet Honeysuckle…don’t ever call me that again! This wildflower is a passion of hummingbirds and its stems were often used by natives for bindings and weaving.

Stonecrop in bloom on Portland Island. It was once revered by pagans and placed over their doorways as a protection against fire.

In the lazy calm of Sunday morning the sound of waking children drifted across the flat water and mixed with the honking of geese futilely defending their territory. Dogs yelping happily on the beach played with sticks. Jack and I rowed ashore to join them.

No mooring above the high water mark. Aftermath of a winter storm at Port Browning.

A Petrel dinghy. Ever heard of one? I can’t find any information. It is made of beautifully formed aluminum!

An incredible view from the pub deck at Port Browning. You can see across the border into US waters. Jack was even permitted to be with us on the deck. How civilized!

The Stern Light.

We meandered on south to Port Browning. There is a lovely pub with a spectacular view, a fine beach and best of all, a broad lawn where dogs are welcomed. Now on Tuesday morning we’re waking up in another beautiful anchorage on the south side of Portland Island. Sleep is glorious, long and deep in the gently rocking boat, once you’ve jammed your salt-sticky toes between the sheets. It is placid with a rich light and calm waters. Seabirds mutter on the shore among a profusion of flowering stonecrop. Too soon we’re back at the dock in Ladysmith, four days shot past as if in a dream. We live in this wonderful part of the world, it is our home. Sometimes that reality is taken for granted and a trip through the Gulf Islands is a great way to refresh the appreciation of where we live. And, by the way, not once did we have to stop and shuffle papers with any officialdom. Let’s hope no-one decides to build a wall.

Seafire anchored at Portland Island.

One of the fabulous beaches on Portland Island. An old man later sat in that inflatable dinghy, still well up on the shore, and practiced his rowing strokes. I thought it was hilarious.

A real boat. A beached peapod, rigged for sailing.

A view from
Portland Island into Fulford Harbour on Saltspring Island.

Our final stop along the way was Telegraph Harbour on Thetis Island to take on a little fuel. $200. bought 132 litres! That’s almost $1.50 per litre, in a country which has plenty of its own oil and natural gas. It makes economic sense for me to sail on down to the US for fuel where the price is approximately half of ours and it is a resource that came out of our ground! Yep another yelp about the chicken farmer who goes to town to buy eggs.

Does this hurt your eyes? It was intended to. A sunrise over a fantastic wee private island next to Portland Island.

Evening dreams of some place far away.

Sleeepy! You are getting sleepy. Jack nods off after a long walk ashore. Portland Island has wonderful hiking trails.

Still sleepy.

The sun has been beating down out of a cloudless sky. Slopes and meadows which usually stay green until early summer are browning already. Mid-summer flowers are already in bloom. This spring has been an orgy of blossoms, a rich, massive display of exotic colours. Blooms which usually linger, this year have suddenly come to their end. On the sea, there is a thick oily-looking plankton bloom which most of us agree we’ve never seen before. Fools and new-comers predict the weather but I suspect we may be in for either an incredibly hot, dry, smokey summer or it will turn wet and cool. It is a given that there will be a lot of complaining no matter what happens and certainly global warming will be blamed. No matter, each day is all we have and we may as well do our best to enjoy what we have. If I am not on the boat painting furiously to take advantage of the fair weather I’ll be on the beach under a Corona umbrella.

An eagle buoy. Yep, that white stuff is bird droppings, usually cormorants and gulls.

“Stop waving your back flippers at that boat. See! Now they’re pointing one of those THINGS at us.”

Seafire’s lovely old rowing dinghy. Keep on floating.

Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.”…. Will Rogers

Maple Street

Maple Street doorway. Imagine all who have passed through here and what their business may have been.

A little rain on Maple Street

Old town charm in spring

It is suddenly all around me. I race to absorb the magic of it all. The grey eternity of winter and the crawling advance of early flowers have past. It is like waiting at a crossing for a train. You can hear it in the distance, slowly, it seems, approaching then suddenly roaring past. A few days ago thousands of geese and swans flew northward again high into the thin cold sunsets. Suddenly, friends gone south for the winter are back and on the same day, the martins returned, squabbling and flitting about as if they’d never left their little purple turds staining whatever they fall on. It has been an especially vibrant spring for trilliums and fawn lilies. Each time now I bend to photograph another flower the little voice on my shoulder says “Fer chrissakes, how many more do you need? A flower is a flower is a flower. C’mon!” But the breath-taking perfection is irresistible to me. There is an intensity of colours and a hope for better times ahead. For a few days in the past week the temperatures soared and I was among the winter survivors who emerged wearing shorts, my fluorescent knobbly legs absorbing the delicious warmth. I want to sop it up like a sponge, taking nothing for granted and storing it away for the next winter ahead which we know is not really that far away. As you get older you begin to see things that way.

Two blocks from the beach.

It rained today. Painting boats was out of the question. On the old Saltair highway south of here there is a lovely little bookshop. The owner doesn’t much care if he sells any books. He likes being surrounded by books and sits placidly reading while his ubiquitous Polynesian music plays softly. He says he simply enjoys the company of others who like books. A few minutes further there is a wonderful Thai restaurant in Chemainus that makes incredible food. A lunch was in order. The restaurant nestles on a quiet, old residential street. The repast was superb, elegant, exotic. The proprietor’s five-month-old baby girl, a black-eyed smiling beauty, greets patrons from her carriage in the corner. Within a few doors of the old building I’d found enough good photos in just a few minutes to complete this blog. Photography is a grand way to celebrate life, finding beauty and inspiration in simple things we look at and seldom see.

Spring rain in the park

The greening

These plants are called Vanilla Leaf and are a traditional insect repellant by hanging them in bunches.

The profusion of brilliant wildflowers continues.

More trilliums

Meanwhile my struggle with the holy grail of making a first film continues. It is a noble quest while I shall win. I am learning all the things which won’t work. That’s progress!

I’ve waited all afternoon!

.A natural law: A dog at rest tends to stay at rest.

A dog in motion tends to disappear.

A Bog Trotter And A Bilge Ape

BUSINESS FIRST: I’ll be doing a writer/salty dog presentation at the Ladysmith Maritime Society dock on May 12th at 2pm. There’s a link to a nifty poster bellow. Also I’ll be participating in the River’s End Poets Gathering in Steveston in the Cannery Museum on September 22nd in the afternoon.Talk on the Dock -3 sml file

CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO ENLARGE

Race Rock Light from the west

Deep sea vessels anchored in the Gulf Islands waiting for cargo. Mainland Canada in the distance.

Friday, April 13th. A January gale complete with slashing ice-cold rain hammers horizontally outside. Jack and I went out in the rising blast this morning to photograph flowers. We got some good shots and came home cold and wet.

Nettles in the rain.

So many flowers look so similar I’m afraid to hang a name on these.

Tension and balance

Fawn Lilies and Oregon Grape flowers. It has been a fabulous spring for these lilies.

The misfit. Weeds are only plants someone else says are bad.

I’ve been trying to teach myself how to use a popular film-editing program. I am frustrated and humiliated. Page 1 in the manual immediately referred me to page 249 and so it has gone. When I learned to fly, and to drive, I was turned out in the local cow pasture with some basic cautions. I taught myself what happened when you pushed this, pulled that, turned the round thing and stomped on that. Yep, I made mistakes, but progressed steadily and gained confidence to the point of competence. I’ve never had an accident on the road or in the air.

My life at sea has gone similarly and no-one knows me for being timid. Now I’m confronted with a set of neo parameters which immediately demand a total fluency in a new blither-gabble all the while pushing this, double-clicking that while holding F49. I’m sure I’ll learn, thousands of others have, but golly durnit! Let’s start with the foundations and the framing before we worry about the flower boxes and the heat pump. All I want to do is make a few simple films. Surely I don’t have to run away to film school. Ummm well…!

A nickel and a robin’s dead egg. I found it where it must have fallen out of the nest.
The coin is show its size.

A troll brain. Actually a spring fungus.

Jack is my faithful companion. He loves snuffling about while I take my photos.

A rare purple trillium

After deleting the first film-editing app. in frustration, installing another program then uninstalling it, I’ve re-installed a slightly different version of the first film app. It is called “Lightworks.” It is apparently a professional grade system and did allow me to print a 200 plus page paper manual. I can have this for referral while I plod into this. The other program had plenty of tutorials but I don’t know how to have the program up and running while at the same time watching an online tutorial. There have been lots of walks in the woods this week! I have been called a “Bog-trotter” by a certain in-law; that is essentially correct.

Current flowers

I have, however, just had a wonderful local experience out of the bog. They’ll soon have a fresh coat of paint on their facade but they are easy enough to find here in Ladysmith. The IRONWORKS CAFÉ and CRÉPERIE are on the main highway between the 7/11 and City Hall. There’s parking around the corner and immediately across the highway below the shoulder. Please use the crosswalk. The coffee and food and staff are all excellent. Soon, as the weather improves, their patio under a huge spreading chestnut tree will be open to enjoy an excellent fare. Check it out when passing by. There’s nothing like a fresh crepe to make your day. It leaves me feeling good to mention someone doing something right. And no, creeps are something entirely different. We have some of those too.

Vanilla Leaf.
These plants can be bunched and hung to use as an insect repellant.

The picnic table. Now, wine, cheese, smoked fish, warm fresh bread.

For some reason of coincidence I’m posting four photos of interesting trucks I’ve recently found along the way. The big Volvo 4×4 from Germany certainly caught my fancy. I could hear the waves on a remote Baja beach the moment I saw it.

The Lurchenwagon
A Volvo 4×4 motor home from Germany parked at the docks in Ladysmith

A lo-brid truck with a little flare.

Another whimsical effort at a home-built truck. no airbags, no crumple zone.

Mack Attack. This old Thermodyne looks as if it could haul a few logs yet…if there’s someone man enough to drive it.

Now that’s a driveway marker! There’s always something interesting around the next corner.

More headwork up another back road.

A lovely country home nestled in the woods

And so the three little pigs lived happily ever after.

A rock house.

On the subject of trucks I’m going to wade into this one as delicately as possible. I am impressed with the tremendous collective expression of condolence for the Saskatchewan hockey team that met with such tragedy last week. I am intrigued by the mass mourning for lost hockey players. Yes hockey was the common thread which brought them to be together in a bus yet while they were part of a hockey team they were also human beings with the full range of fears, hopes, dreams and problems we all have. Should these sixteen dead have been young children or senior citizens or a group of indigenous folks would there be the same outpouring of grief? Would flags being flying at half-mast? What if this tragic loss was innocent civilians killed as collateral damage in a rocket attack in Syria? How about a sunken boatload of Middle-Eastern refugees? Are their lost lives of less value? Well, we may never even know about their tragedies, so how can we grieve, but my point is that participants in a national sport seem to hold a higher value than other mere mortals. This trendy scramble to join the funeral parade demeans the entire grieving process. Even my on-line banking site is thick with photos of hockey sticks. You’re right; I don’t get it. Sorry if I’m being obtuse. I’m not saying it is wrong because I am out of this particular loop but surely there are some obvious questions to be raised about our cultural values.

Magnolia blooms in an alley off main street Ladysmith

And I find myself lacking another comprehension. Argentine prawns in our superb local butcher shop. I just watched the daily return of our local prawn fleet to our docks which are just down the hill within sight of the butcher shop. What are we doing?

The mannequin looking out. It’s very eerie to see at first. This grand old building in Ladysmith is reputed to be a former brothel. It looks over the harbour.

Hockey, prawns, film-making; is there nothing that makes sense. I am down on the dock a lot these days tinkering on ‘Seafire’ and other boats nearby. That, at least, is something I fully understand and clearly where I fit in. This old bilge ape knows his place.

How’s this for distracted driving? Something else that is hard to make sense of. I’ll bet there’s a mobile phone in there somewhere.

Heartbreak. This is the saddest photo I’ve taken in a long while. In the spring of 2000, just after major heart surgery, I finished building this Gloucester Gull dory and rowed and camped my way through the Gulf Islands. It was a lovely bright yellow boat that rowed like a dream. I later sold it. It has rot in both ends and has clearly seen no love since I last saw it. Her sweet lines are still obvious.

A photo taken from the same dory on a happier day.

Once you’ve become a pickle you can’t be a cucumber again” … Steve Earle