The Spandex Brigade

Seafire in Dogfish Bay

Seafire in Dogfish Bay

How the hell did the human race survive and thrive before  modern inventions like the discovery of spandex? Understand that the guy writing this is a jaded old curmudgeon. He knows that if he tried squirming his Michelin man wattled physique into a body condom dogs would howl and babies would cry.  Perhaps I am somewhat envious but I can’t comprehend the human need for generics. What is the need for sameness, especially when we like to glorify the indivual? Why do so many folks feel the need to wear a costume? What does looking like an insect clone have to do with fitness? Why do people drive to the gymn to exercise instead of going for a walk? Think green?

As I began to write this blog I researched Spandex on Wikipedia. Let’s just say it is not a ‘Green’ product. Apparently up to 80% of North American clothing contains at least some Spandex. Of course, if you’re charging around the ocean in a five-hundred horsepower boat, thinking green is not part of your mantra. Synthetic clothing, by the way, is not something to wear near any possibility of fire. It is nasty stuff.

I recall a classic photo poster of a Tour de France race in the mid-thirties. As he rides, one competitor leans out from his bicycle to light another rider’s cigarette. Perspectives! How they change.

It’s high summer now. (My panic factor is growing with an awareness of the noticeably diminishing daylight.) The marina is chockablock full with generic white plastic boats.

(“Daddy, why are so many boats named Bayliner?”) The bay is liberally sprinkled with more at anchor. Folks scoot about in their generic white RIB dinghies loaded with generic yapping, squeaking little dogs and children. These activities bemuse me but it’s the Spandex brigade that confounds me. This morning I’ve watched several people arrive at the dock in their Leakmore inflatables loaded with bicycles. They are all similarly costumed in Spandex with helmets, gloves, wrap-around sunglasses (Even though it’s cloudy today) and other speedy accessories. Off they go to explore Gabriola Island. Other landlubber bicyclists, yes, clad in Spandex, arrive from shore-side to ponder the gleaming mayhem of the summer fleets. There also non-cyclists who wander the docks extruded into a Spandex sheath,  even on blistering hot days. They are often mesmerized with texting and I wonder how many actually walk off the end of the docks into the cold embrace of the sea. I grumped at one texting dude in oblivion to others walking on the dock, “Didn’t you come here to get away from that bullshit?” Well I know that just because I don’t understand, that it’s wrong; but it all seems incongruous.

The refit on Seafire continues. I’ve now completed the pressure water retrofit complete with new water heater and cockpit shower. After several circular efforts all leaks are finally exorcized and my four-letter vocabulary is well-lubricated. There are few Rubenesque marine technicians for good reason. It’s really hard to fit into all the tight, awkward places one needs to access on a boat and  get yourself out again, without sawing off an arm! There’s often some painful contortion to reach that place an inch-too-far but eventually a new ingenuity arises and the job gets done. Chiropractors must make a bundle from we bilge-apes.



Day two of the weekend marathon sees  the new holding tank in place and plumbed. All of the storage space is now opened up and cleaned up. Cuttting two access lids gained me about a cubic meter of previously never-used space, an addition of huge value on any boat. I was also able to clean out thirty years of smelly muck that had accumulated in the void. A coat of paint and all of the essentials odds and sods and tools can now be stowed out of sight beneath a useable double guest bunk. (Well that depends on how friendly they are with each other , (“ Henry, we’ll have you kip in with Dirk”… So then the fight began!)

New and Improved

New and Improved

Day three; finished! The new crapper is in place, plumbed and working without any leaks. All of the bunk junk is now stuffed beneath it awaiting further sorting, culling and stowing. I slept on top of it all last night too exhausted to savour the victory. I woke up this morning, still exhausted but now smug with my success. I’ll have to admit that it will make a rather tight double-bunk. Still much better than some of the coffin-like sleep holes I’ve endured. Some nights, on a stormy passage, being wedged into the sail locker is the perfect place to try and rest.



Of further relief, the fleet of weekend warriors dissipated about noon yesterday. There was much angst and loud speculation about the wind. The weather report boomed  in high fidelity from vhf radios all over the marina. Apparently crossing back to the mainland is risky business if there is a white-capped ripple anywhere in sight. Perhaps it has something to do with hangovers. There was much revelry the night before. Several boats entered into a stereo competition, each demonstrating a personal bad taste in music. One neighbour boat was crewed with a couple and their copious spawn, complete with a squeaking shitlick dog, who were determined to hurry up and relax, no matter what the price… to their neighbours.

The female component was a hefty lass who, just at dusk, leapt overboard to declare that the icy, dirty water was “Beautiful”. She then began castigating her bookend-jumbo partner into joining her with loud invectives about his general manliness. He shrugged, poured himself another drink, and cranked up his stereo in the ‘repeat track’ mode. For the next half-hour the  marina endured Jimmy Buffet’s “Let’s get drunk and screw”, over and over, and over.

In the morning they joined into the deck-chair folding competition, which also involves struggling with shorepower cables, coolers, crab traps and other accessories to be restowed aboard. Then the race evolves into who who can leave the dock first. Usually the ones trapped in the back  of the marina are the first to cut loose. A few seconds ahead of the boats in front, they may swap gelcoat as they scrape past. In their haste they sometimes cut a few too many corners and run aground on the falling tide. There’s a reason it’s named “Shipyard Rock”.

You know I really don’t miss working in the shipyard;

At all.

Home waters

Home waters

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