Wandering And Wondering

Mid-September. I’m anchored in a placid cove, the rain is gently pattering down. Darkness came early this evening. I tip-toed in through the narrow rocky entrance in the dark and now sit peacefully in less than twenty feet of water. I’m on my way to Silva Bay again to get the old diesel running in that little schooner. First I had to make repairs in ‘Seafire’ and spent two hours after arriving here contorted into the bilge repairing a leak in the shaft log. It’s fixed and I won’t have to sleep in a sinking boat. How do people manage in boats they can’t fix themselves? Well manage they do but I’m happy to be self-sufficient.

Back in Ladysmith the movie making is in full swing. The streets were crowded with people trying to catch a glimpse of something, anything and anyone. There was a movie to be made off-set of the crowds. I’m happy to be where I am tonight with the rain spattering down and an aromatic pizza bakes in the oven. Let it rain, let it blow, I’m snug in my little home.

A few blogs back I simply posted photos with interesting captions and guess what yer gonna git again. The feed-back was very positive and so here we go once more.

Wandering into the magic, and the mystic of late summer. It goes by so quickly.

Think you’ve got problems? Imagine owning this beautiful wooden monster. Imagine the boathouse!

No, not somewhere in Mexico but rather a campground on Gabriola Island. Please, no dog-washing!

An Australian Cedar. You know the joke: “Brace yerself Sheila!”

It’s complicated

The bumper crop of blackberries this year far exceeded what people could pick. As the berries became over-ripe, bees and wasps became drunk on the fermenting berries. Now dessicated, the berries will provide excellent winter forage for the birds.

Right then!

The bicycle remained secured to a stout chain with an old boot lace. However, the seat, the chain and both wheels had been stolen.

Long, long after the old tree had been cut down and hauled away, its progeny wash firmly established and thriving.

Resplendent in its ancient demise, the old charred cedar stump still reaches for the light.

Watching from the edge of the forest, wild creatures regularly surveyed what happened in the fields..

One day at the end of summer, the old swimming hole was suddenly quiet. its clear water was empty and ran placidly and pure.

Where dogs and children climb out of the water then leap, screaming with delight, back in again.

Well past middle age, he still looked at the wonders of the forest with the blue-eyed wonder of the boy he had been most of his life.

Abandoned in the forest, the old hay rake remained well spoken.

It’s just fungus man! Picked,baked in an oven then lit to smoulder, these make an excellent although pungent insect repellant.

I will strangle you, ya old stump.

A bumper crop of maple seeds and datum of the passing of summer.

THe way we were

The way we are

It was not a place to visit on a moonlit night yet during the day dogs and children loved to explore.

The old head rig stok like an abandoned neolithic alter where virgins were led to the top and then sacrificed by the big wheel shamans who cast them into the bottomless pit beneath.

It could be imagined that this donkey was descended from those used to haul loads into the sky on the big wheel.

An old coal chute in a back alley of Ladysmith. The date on the cast handle is 1895

TILT! A self-dumping log barge is pumped back to level in preparation to head back up the coast for another load. The logs will be sorted and the best will be reloaded onto a ship bound for Asia. Several ship loads of raw timber leave our coast every week. All the while, our sawmills are closed due to lack of a good log supply. You figure it out!

In morbid silence the crowd watched as the old woman was hoisted aloft with a noose around her neck. Then the rope broke and she silently walked away with her rope necklace through the opening which parted from her path because they knew, now, that she was indeed a witch.

I arrived in Silva Bay the following morning and rafted onto ‘Aja’ once again. A long day followed squirming my ribs into impossible spots freeing badly corroded bits, trouble-shooting wiring, clearing water from tanks and gearboxes. Finally the moment came, wires were jumped and blappety, blap, blap the poor mistreated little Yanmar sprang eagerly into life after a very troubled two-year sleep. Fixing boats is one of those things that you do, in part, because it feels so good when you’re done. My old bones protest loudly at the continuing abuse and it’s time to move on to other things. Maybe if I wash my face and hurry back to Ladysmith, those Paramount picture people might…! Uh huh.

Not sure what these gorgeous mauve flowers are, I was amazed to find them blooming on a path in mid-September. Old tales claim that new violets blooming in the fall herald a death or an epidemic.

And finally, a mobile phone still life.

 

IF you smile when no one else is around,you really mean it.”… Andy Rooney

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Crickets And Tree Frogs

Crickets and Tree Frogs

OLD BOATS NEVER DIE
They just become planters
This delight was found in a suburb of Victoria

On the way home from Silva Bay. A few days ago, folks were complaining about the heat. We need the rain.

September 10th. I’m back in Silva Bay. I have some work to do on the engine of a small wooden schooner. I know and love the little boat and hope I can put things right for the new owner. I scan the bay with my first morning coffee in hand, recognizing a mast here, a power boat there and realize how much of this place is in my heart. A bleak rain borne on a southerly wind intermittently lashes down. Summer is drawing to a close. On the journey from Ladysmith sunlight between the squalls lit the sponge-brown meadows along the shoreline. The earth drinks greedily. For the first time in months I pulled on a pair of jeans. I slid them up over my sponge-brown legs but I won’t be stashing the shorts away just yet. After this bout of rain we should have at least another month that we can wear our summer gear. Meanwhile the crickets still sing their dry rasping late-summer song “Winter’s coming, winter’s coming…” and yesterday I heard a tree frog, a sure sign of damper weather ahead. Where did summer go? It was just the long weekend in May! Wasn’t it?

Autumn comes
A little rain as a maple leaf begins to turn

I raft ‘Seafire’to ‘Aja’ which is secured between a mooring buoy and an anchor to the aft. She is facing off the prevailing wind so every time the hatch and companionway are open the rain wants to pelt right in. It makes for miserable work. The boat broke loose from her mooring two years ago, running aground, then filling with seawater on the next high tide. The engine was started after the boat was pumped out, but without all the electrical connections being thoroughly cleaned, there is a mess to deal with with. Electricity requires good wire and clean contacts to flow correctly so there is a challenge at hand. I remove all of the brine-seized components and head back to Ladysmith to find and repair the parts I need; a “back up and reload” situation.

Rafted up
‘Seafire’ alongside ‘Aja’

Aja’s stern rails. A squid is beautifully carved on either side by a local artist, Tony Grove.

A Yanmar 2 cylinder, 16 hp marine Diesel. Sadly, during a winter storm, ‘Aja’ broke free of her mooring, went ashore and filled with seawater on the next tide. Run briefly, the engine has since sat idle for two years. I will make her run again, achieved in part by stuffing my corpulent self in beside the motor. It’s a greasy pig show.

In Ladysmith, the first block of the main street is being feverishly transformed. That block is being made over to become Green Hills Montana. Paramount is shooting part of a movie called “Sonic The Hedgehog” starring Jim Carrey with James Marsden and Tiva Sumpter. Tsunamis of money ($7 million) are being splashed around. I’ve got to manoeuvre downwind and try to catch some of the spray. Up-island a section of highway has been closed for several days, with traffic being re-routed while segments of the same film are being remade. This island, with its wonderful scenery and stable climate, I always remember the final scene in “Five Easy Pieces” with Jack Nicholson. When driving south one crosses a bridge over the Chemainus River. This is the background for that scene when Jack hitches a ride with a loaded logging truck and heads off into the sunset. There are many places om this beautiful island which I am sure would make great settings for filming. At the moment, looky-loo tourists are filling the streets, all adding to the excitement and annoyance in our sleepy little town. I wonder if somewhere in darkest Kansas there is not a movie set being erected called Ladysmith, British Columbia.

Wot? Whose gonna be the sheriff? Wyatt Twirp?

The local art and framing shop becomes the Sheriff’s station of Green Hills, Montana.

The Framing Shop as it was

The film crew is hard at work. Locals, including the municipal works crews, watch in amazement.

WIRED
everywhere!

Movie be damned! You’d better come out of that store with a treat.

Waiting to load cargo across the Strait in Vancouver. Waterfront locals are decrying these vessels as eyesores and environmental hazards. I wonder what they would have said about the parade of coal ships in days gone by.

I recently watched part of an interview on YouTube between Joe Rogan and Elong Musk, our contemporary Techno Guru who is pushing the boundaries of many technologies including Tesla and SpaceX. His conjecture is that Artificial Intelligence is a real and growing reality, an insidious and unstoppable force. He suggests that the force is gathering intellect by taping into social media. Whether you use Facebook, Twitter or any of the other Cyber venues, you are feeding the monster. I don’t understand anything about this, or the parameters of the coming age but what I can grasp scares the hell out of me. I hope I do not live long enough to experience what George Orwell so clearly predicted. I think I’ll keep the boat.

Rail apples.
Any fool can count the seeds in an apple, but only the Gods know how many trees can come from that fruit.

She had always been dead funny and so she had asked to be buried in her beloved truck.

While there may be such a thing as artificial intelligence, so far all stupidity is real.”…hisself

Hanging On

Midstream
Summer rushes past like a stream and life goes on toward the coming year.

If the world didn’t suck, we’d all fall off!” A friend e-mailed me a collection of humorous signs. That message was the only one I remember. I spent last week with some horrible flu virus, flat on my back most of the time, projectile-dehydrating in simultaneous directions all at once. That dark experience had me afraid of dying, then angry because I might not. It went on for days. I’m back up onto my knees now with the complexion of used paper, a bit wobbly yet but onward and sideways as ever. As another buddy put it, I’ve been through Satan’s anus and successfully cast out. Whohaa!

Looks like I feel. This sweating fungus is a visual description of having the flu.

Through part of the ordeal of this spiritual experience (I spent considerable time prostrate at the old porcelain alter) I did some bargaining and parted with my black Ford truck. No complaints, I’ll simply say that I’ll never own a North American-originated vehicle again. If Asian and European auto manufacturers can produce superior products in the homeland of Chrysler, GM and Ford, there’s nothing further to discuss. An old Croatian maxim says that a fish stinks at the head first. No apologies Donald! Just fix it.

And now for a little humour. A sign beside the trail near Kinsol Trestle here on Southern Vancouver Island

The Turkey Sisters
High-strutting feral birds, they thrive here.

I’ve ended up with two vehicles as part of my deal, an old GMC bush-basher truck and a lovely little 16 year-old Honda CRV. It was designed to be easily towed behind an RV, but more on plan F another time. I apprenticed as an aircraft mechanic and have retained some of my anal make-things perfect attitude. It’s kept me alive more than once but has also caused a load of hurt along the way. I really like this little AWD car and can easily see it putting along some narrow Central-American dirt road. I am going through it, making sure all is order and to my personal satisfaction. The ‘Check Engine’ light came on. After several checks and some computer codes I determined to change the PCV valve. This little widget allows the engine to recycle combustible vapours from the crankcase and is an essential part of modern engine emission controls. It had not ever been changed and was certainly overdue.

On this engine it is located in a spot which is barely visible and hopelessly inaccessible, especially with hands like mine, each of which are the size of banana bunches. My philosophy is that if one man put it there, then I should be able to deal with it. And so with my characteristic brute force and ignorance I soldiered in.Of course the job involved dropping a tool into the splash pan in an impossible-to-reach spot which meant removing that pan and breaking half of the brittle plastic clips that hold it in place. While I had my arm contorted up beneath the engine to grope for the wrench a friendly neighbour came along and bade me a boisterous good morning. She scared the hell out of me. Well I managed to do the job, minus some skin, but the engine purrs beautifully. However! Resetting the computer fault codes requires disconnecting and reconnecting the vehicle’s battery. This in turn lobotomizes the radio in a measure to make the darn thing worthless to anyone who would steal it. At one point today I was ready to give the damn thing away. I discovered all of this while trying, and trying, to reset the radio’s clock, which eventually further dummed out the radio. By holding this button and that while pushing a third, all at the same time, you can eventually re-enter your personal radio security code and the music box is freed from its cyber dungeon.

Like all good modern mechanics I looked up pertinent information on YouTube and found a tutorial by some well-intentioned fellow speaking with a broad Quebecois accent. He said things like navy code when he meant navicode and vecule instead of vehicle. I was already confused thank you! I was referred to a Honda radio-code-recovery online site where I entered all sorts of information, serial numbers and codes, which the site kept rejecting. Finally realizing I was on a US site, entering Canadian numbers and zip codes, I stomped back out to the vehicle in frustration and despair. Tabernac! Thankfully the first owner had kept all pertinent documents and I found the original radio access security code tucked away inside the owner’s manual. After trying over and over, it eventually twinkled on me that I had fumbled my entry attempt too many times. I had to disconnect the battery, let the onboard computers have a nap, reconnect and reboot the “devices.” Finally the code was accepted, I have a radio and clock again. Bugga! Wot an ordeal! This is on a 2003 Honda, a simple product which came 16 years before the rolling I-bots we now call vehicles. They’re starting to want to drive themselves and I’m beginning to understand why older vehicles have an increasing value. Now I can go for a drive and see if changing that little valve was the fix. It’s funny now!

A mid-sixties Corvair in amazing condition. This was one of the vehicles condemned by Ralph Nader as “Unsafe At Any Speed.” It was in fact, an excellent car. The biggest problem was that it was about thirty years ahead of its time. Mr. Nader, however, was well aware of the profits of paranoia and did very well with his fear-mongering.

“Don’tcha buy no ugly truck!” This mid-fifties Ford was in the parking lot at the local grocery store. This is not a Ford truck I’d part with were it mine.

Car wash colours found beside the vacuum and the garbage cans. There’s some beauty everywhere.

Deer trail through the corn. (Sung to “Riders On The Storm”) Hard to spot for our eyes, it is a super-highway for the critters of the forest. You do see it?

Nearing the end of a hot dry summer the paths are littered with dry leaves. The streams are dry. Jack’s footfalls kick up little clouds of dust. The sky is blue again, there is a refreshing wind and no-one is complaining about the heat. The evenings are lovely and cool, it is almost dark by 9pm, sleeping is easier. It seems I was just posting photos of spring flowers a few blogs ago. Late summer is a splendid season and time for some good sailing now that the anchorages are more open and the plastic pirates have gone back to the marinas until next year. Let’s go!

Hurry up. Let’s go!
Jack has made himself the darling of the docks and is always eager to see who has what treats for him.

A Brown Creeper. It flew into the house and exhausted itself in the skylight, eventually falling down into a bath tub. I did my best to save it, including an ambulance run to a wildlife vet. It died on the way.

0.8 grams. This old farm boy and outdoorsman, once callous to taking lives, wept for this little creature. Is my life worth more than this bird? I’m not so sure anymore.

The frenzy of winter preparations goes on.

‘Herself’ has returned to our docks again. She looks better than ever in her new paint. It is the time of year when the wooden boat festivals are at their peak and the season for a frenzy of spit and polish.

“It is always in season for old men to learn.”       …Aeschylus

NO BIRDS

6 PM
The sun is over the yardarm
and all’s not well.

The sun rose this morning into a cloudless sky. We cannot see anything blue. We are beneath a thick pall of smoke because, it seems, half of British Columbia’s forests are on fire. I don’t know who is to blame, but I reckon that most of the fires are human-caused. South of the border California is in ashes because of the price of Canadian lumber. Thus sayeth the Trump. I know that I may lose subscribers for what I constantly repeat but if you’re not even asking questions, then you like it where you are and nothing is ever going to change. That last sentence became a polemic political rant which I finally deleted. What’s the point? This blog is supposed to be about sailing and freedom and free thinking. People who read my blog understand that in varying degrees and directions. Remember Forest Gump? “Stupid is as stupid does.” Most folks get that and if you don’t, I hope you’re happy in your space.

Banon Creek Falls, Chemainus River.

Chemainus River in drought.

I like smoked meat!

“When I look into your big brown eyes…..”
Uh Huh!

To paraphrase the Red Green Theme:

If you can’t be handsome,

if you can’t be rich,

try to be handy,

do something damnit,

fix the sonafabitch.

Bumtown, Nanaimo. Some have set up this camp because they have no place to go and there is a natural instinct to seek safety in numbers. Others are there because they think they are cool and trendy. Millions of the world’s poor and displaced live like this because they have no choice. The people here have order, toilets, clean water. No one  bombs or shoots at them. Still, imagine trying to nurture children in any place like this.

Immediately behind the camp, in the smoke from our forests, another Asian freighter loads our raw logs for export. It is moored to the wharf of a former sawmill which was closed allegedly due to a lack of available timber. There can be nothing but questions.

Nanaimo Harbour at high noon today. There are 555 forest fires burning in the province at the moment.

I’m presently wondering about the wisdom in trying to sell my beloved ‘Seafire.’ She is my earthquake plan and escape pod. It is said that it is better to drown than hang or burn and today, choke! I see people on the street wearing surgical masks which adds to the eeriness. I am not sure the masks filter out much smoke but if they make people feel better…Good!

As the day advances, the smoke settles and the entire world seems subdued, or oppressed, by it. The streets are oddly quiet as a strange lethargy seems to possess those who are out and about. The sensation is rather the same as when overwhelmed by a heavy snowfall except that this is a crushing rather a sheltering feeling. While I write, the smoke catches at the back of my throat and muted orange-brown light filters in over my desk. To think that I used to smoke deliberately, like a fiend! Fool!

Where the best berries grow.

Jack on deck…of a friend’s boat. There is shade, a good view of the dock and regular treats.

Now I’m writing in the dull glow of the next morning. The smoke is thicker. Fire and brimstone. It’s the tale of sod ‘em and go for more. Getting a clear breath seems a bit difficult in the thick acrid air I am inhaling. Jack just wants to lay low.Suddenly I realize that I can hear no birds this morning. I drove up to Nanaimo this morning and realized at the airport that most flights are grounded.

Fly me to the sun. Now this Cessna Caravan only has to be able to see the ground well enough to land.

Like lemmings row on row
into the smoke
careening cars
deliberately go.
When they get there
if they do,
will they understand
anything new?

The visibility is below safe minimums for VFR. There are few aircraft in the sky and so the doomsday sensation lowers a little more. People are driving like road warriors as if there is no tomorrow and I fear, that for some, they will be right. The volunteer fire department in Ladysmith issues a call to arms with a good old-fashioned air raid siren. Its sonorous howl calls all too often, sometimes several times in one day. Within minutes there is a din of warbling, hooting, honking emergency vehicles heading off on yet another mission to yet another wreck on the highway. The dogs in town respond in kind. Summer wears on.

Tristan Jones wrote, “When in fear or in doubt, raise your sails and bugger off out.”
This senior couple in their lovely 17′ sloop placidly left the marina and continued on their journey.

Perched silently on a limb above passing hikers, this Barred Owl waits for dusk. I had the wrong lense on my SLR for the light, so I made this shot with my mobile phone.

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.” Henry David Thoreau

Ode To Summer

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

The summer staine faces southward looking up at the arc of the summer sun, the moon, the stars and the planets. It absorbs the sky’s warmth and wisdom, storing that energy for the long winter ahead. The rock and its mysterious visage are divided by pointers to the five corners of the earth. The fifth pointer being the mark toward the land of fairies and other creatures of imagination who, on moon lite nights, carve symbols on certain rocks in the forest.

We are now in mid-summer. The morning sunrise comes later and the evenings are clearly darkening earlier. It is a time of easier living but when wells and streams dry up, forests burn and crops ripen we begin to look toward autumn with a growing anticipation. Soon, we will be rain-bound in the dark and look back on summer with a deep longing. Now is a time to celebrate life and simply savour the moment.Summer is when fat trout cautiously laze in the shade of low, leafy branches and cast their own shadow through clear running water.Downstream, dogs wet their bellies or swim out to chase sticks. They revel in the moment with a joy that only dogs truly know.Further on, the stream meanders toward the sea where it will become cloud and rain to sustain life further around the planet.At the water’s edge, ferns mark the narrow zone where the waterworld becomes forest.A short distance from the stream bank apples fatten and slowly ripen.Some will fall among delicate flowers.Many will nourish the creatures of the forest.Some apples will be made into hearty drink. Every plant returns more than it takes. These flowers nourish bees who in turn, nourish us.Remember that weeds are merely flowers for which someone else has decided they have no use.Where there are thorns, there is also sweetness and sustenance.Despite the sweat and toil of men who clear the land for their own design, the forest always returns at the first opportunity.At the edge of town, there is still harvest from the forest and dogs scheme and dream while wiley rabbits watch and wonder.While smoke fills the evening sky, Purple Martins still swoop and fly, banqueting on a plague of insects and so saving us from a minor curse.Following the plume of smoke, Thorag soon found the crash site but could see no survivorsOn the headland, young engineers continued to build a mighty fortress to stand against the impending invasion. They had docks and ramparts and even a store of coal should the battle last into winter.In the village, shop keepers had taken to keeping massive dogs for protection.Paths between the village and the fort were heavily trodden.  A heady aroma of leaves crushed beneath foot filled the air. Outdoor furniture vibrated and rocked. There was a tension in the air.A lone flower hid among the bracken which grew on the edges of the last stream where the earth’s life-essence drained thinly into the sea. Even the forest’s air was heavy with drought. The forest continued to dry until leaves which were not able to contribute sustenance to the tree were cast away. There was need of a mutual nurturing. If not met, it could not be tolerated.As if caught in a permanent state of falling, one dessicated leaf was snared incongruously by a spiders silk and hung fluttering in the wind.All the while, vultures circled in the hot, rising air and waited.

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” – John Lubbock

Smoke and Brass Monkies

First things first! My friend Kerry, who has a deep passion for our First Nations People, and also canoes, was given this beautiful dug-out. It is believed to be from Haida Gwaii and up to 150 years old. Its symmetry is almost perfect, the hull thickness is exact. No computers, no lasers, no 3D printers. It is a fine little boat, about ten feet long and suitable for smaller folks or children who could have used it for harvesting clams and so forth. It may also have been used as a serving bowl at feasts and potlatches.              The real thing!

I took this photo in False Creek in Vancouver several days ago. This country bumpkin was a bit uncomfortable there. Friends (See their blog: Sage on Sail) are anchored in New York…and liking it! This scene would be Hooterville in New York City!

Our town. I can’t help but love a small town with a traffic roundabout at the foot of main street built around a genuine antique ship’s anchor. We’ve still got some water and, apparently, a bit of detergent. Note the auto body/ collision shop in the background. Some folks have difficulties negotiating roundabouts.

I have always wanted to have a boat named the ‘Brass Monkey.’ As I contemplate selling my beloved boat and replacing it with a smaller trailerable boat, I believe I would name it the ‘Brass Monkey.’ I’ve never seen a vessel with that name. ‘Seafire’ was very close to having that handle but fate intervened and she ended up with the name of a previous and beloved vessel. It’s a complicated story best saved for another time. The Brass Monkey fixation has to do with my perverse sense of humour. Over breakfast this morning I mused about a new blog called “Tales Of The Brass Monkey.” It could begin: “Hello my name is Balls; Claude Balls. Perhaps you are familiar with my first novel “Tiger Hunting in Burma.”

A “Brass Monkey” candidate. It is an Albin 27 and a perfect boat for “Frederizing.”

Bah ha ha, I get it, I get it!”

It’s a tired old joke from my elementary school days so very, very long. I recall we could get ourselves doubled over in gales of laughter about ‘Rusty Bedsprings” by I. P. Nightly. Was I ever really that innocent and so easily amused? Such are the weird mental meanderings of a creative old sailor on the Saturday morning of the beginning of a long weekend. It is BC Day this time. Years ago an edict was issued that declared there would be a statute holiday in every month of the year. That’s very civilized I suppose.

Taken late in the day on ‘Seafire’ with all the hatches open and a breeze wafting through. Just as we become acclimatized things begin to cool down. Today, it is a frosty 22 degrees C

Not bad for a temperate rain forest.

It meant moving Thanksgiving from November to October. Halloween was apparently not an adequate excuse for an official day off with pay. I don’t think Remembrance Day should be a legal holiday but there’s no point in blowing against the wind. When you retire, every day becomes a sort-of holiday and all too often you have to grope to remember what day it is. Too soon it will be guessing the month; and then the year. Your existence can become something measured by the space between medical appointments. I’ll tell you right now that I’m becoming increasingly suspicious of the whole damned Western Medical system and wonder about how many Porsche payments I’m helping make.

Hey Dad, it’s walk time. I’m waiting!

“I’m waiting again! Let’s go to the boat and have a treat. Huh?Huh?”

Jewelry store security. Bono is an 18 month-old Irish Wolfhound. He’s bloody gorgeous!
The local kennel where his likes are raised can be found at TyrconnellIW.SPACE (that’s a capital I before the W)

The weather continues to be clear and hot. There are several forest fires burning on just on Vancouver Island including a local one of over 190 hectares. All due probably to some idiot with a cigarette. So each day is smoky and airless. Last evening, even with hatches open, the boat’s interior was 43º C, that’s 108ºF! I’m painting the boat’s cockpit so for me it is up in the early morning to put the next coat on before the baking sun rears its angry head once again. I’d love an ocean breeze but I’m glad the firefighters don’t have any more wind than the fire itself creates. I know, from younger years working in the woods, what a hellacious ordeal forest fire fighting is. There is no romance in any of it.

The day the tree ran dry.

Ah c’mon! No jokes eh?

There’s certainly dick in the brook. Sorry folks, but if it doesn’t carry running water all year, it ain’t no salmon stream.

Our local forest fire, still burning and threatening almost eighty homes and farms.

The smoke settles in thickly at times. The ‘Averie Rose’ in the foreground is the gorgeous home of a couple who built her deep in the interior, then trucked her hundreds of miles to the coast. She’s very much “Eye Candy” and a good boat too.

There’s nothing like fresh sea air. Cough! Cough!

There is an expression about being “Drier than a popcorn fart” Here’s a meadow full of them. Pffft.

Wot a life! I met an old man this morning racing down the sidewalk in his electric scooter. He was resplendent in flowered Bermuda shorts flapping around his skeletal legs which were wrapped up in knee-high socks. He wore thick, huge sunglasses beneath a broad straw hat. A smouldering cigarette was stuck in his pie-hole. He complained about the smoke in the air. How do you respond to blatant idiocy? The smoke is acrid enough but nothing compared to the weekend past when a dock caught fire in Port Mellon over 30 miles away. The choking stench of burning creosote filled the air for most of the day. It is a toxic funk that sticks in your throat and nose, strongly reminiscent of a time when everyone used either coal or wood for cooking and heating and thought nothing of whatever might be spewing from local industrial smokestacks. Bleaach! Despite our local air quality warnings, there are millions of folks on the planet still living daily in far worse air pollution and know nothing different. Oh, the things we take for granted!

The pirate ship “Wannabe.”
She’s a beauty in her own right. At least she’s flying a courtesy flag.

A very handsome boat.
It must have taken all of the owner’s money…he had nothing left for a courtesy flag!

My kind of boat. A Bill Garden design, built of steel, dead shippy and able to go anywhere, any time.

It’s wood! Really? This is the bow of a classic Monk cruiser, immaculately kept and named ‘Thelonius’
You’ll get it in a minute.

The forehatch, “A ting of beauty.”

Our marina is so crowded with transient vessels this year that member’s slips are being assigned whenever possible. The revenue is most welcome I’m sure as we continue to expand and improve our facilities. Two temporary neighbours this week were tied on either side of the same finger. One, a typical fibreglass trawler, clone was crewed with two pre-geriatric couples. Drinks flowed copiously accompanied with loud guffaws and “Golly-gee, I think we’re having fun” raucous, imposing laughter. I said nothing (because I seem to have forgotten how to have fun.) Their dock mate was a cruise and learn vessel belonging to a lady who has run a successful sailing school on her boat for many years. In the morning she held class in the cockpit and then coached a teenage girl who, incidentally, backed the big sloop out and away; quite possibly for the first time ever. She did a great job. All the while, the trawler’s matrons stood up on their top deck with hands-on-hips, watching and making comments, especially during the backing out manoeuvre. The body language and mindless quips were entirely inappropriate and distracting to the student. Gormless people, finding entertainment with someone else’s dire circumstance, infuriate me. I tried to keep my head down but finally spontaneously offered that the student really did not need an audience. Two blank faces turned and regarded me with the all the deep wonder of pigs having a pee. I know, I’m just a cranky old curmugeon, but the instructor grinned and waved. The next day another guest dumped out the dock’s dog water bucket because he “Didn’t know what it was for.” Later he complained about the purple martins “Picking on him.”

As Jack might say, “Grrrrr.”

‘Puffin,’ another Bill Garden design. She’s decades old and pristine. She should be in a glass box on someone’s fireplace mantle.

How boats should look. These are the mast bands and the pin rail for the gaff-rigged mainsail. This twenty-six foot boat has sailed uncountable miles over very many decades…and, I think, she’s just getting started.

‘Puffin’s’ boom gallows, carved in the South Pacific more than twenty-five years ago. I think it says something about Lulu’s hand-made grass skirts and ukuleles.

For every goof there are also very many lovely people, with gorgeous boats and even some with wonderful dogs along for the cruise. I’m quite proud to be a small part of the Ladysmith Maritime Society which has become an ultimate cruising drop-in spot for vessels from as far away as the bottom of Puget Sound and even Southern California. One appeared the other day with home port displayed as Isle Grosse, Michigan. I don’t know where the boat is really kept but… goshdernit; we’re famous!

At the moment, I’m finishing up the final licks of the face lift on old ‘Seafire.’ The cockpit has lost its grubby tugboat ambience. Now if someone could do the same for me. I’m also working on an engine in a friend’s 1946 Chris Craft. This beautiful old wooden classic is the sort of boat I watched in the harbours of my youth. Whodda thunk that one day, nearly sixty years later….! Actually I do work on these old beauties every once in a while and it is always a bit of pleasure. No computers!

‘Django,’ a buddy’s 1946 Chris Craft. It has just been sold. Bittersweet indeed.

The final painting in the cockpit is now done. That, in itself, feels good. Also, the heat has eased and we have actually had a few sprinkles of rain today. Does this mean we’re on the slippery back side of summer already? Between the showers, the sun breaks out through a brassy pall of smoke. At least we’ve had no fire-starting thunderstorms, here, yet. I might be frustrated with my little life but I’m not bored. Summer wears on.

All finished. My outdoor office is back in business. It’s time to go sailing!

Don’t judge other people’s ability by the level of your own incompetence.” … Old Grumpy hisself

“Aaaah! Finally!”