While on a gorgeous white shell beach on Saltspring Island recently I noticed a string of small signs on a fence erected just above the high tide line. The tiny signboards essentially said “Private Property, Keep Out” but in reality read something like: “You are presently standing on public property but beyond this line is land of Consensus Reality, please respect it.” Huh?
I get the no trespassing theme but “Consensus Reality”? Come on guys! Saltspring was the ultimate Hippie haven in the Gulf Islands but times have changed. It is now the home of folks wearing locally-made llama wool hats and hand-painted designer gumboots while driving exotic SUV s (Stupid Urban Vanities) that never leave pavement. Maybe old Winston Churchill was right, “Capitalists are Socialists who’ve found an opportunity.” Peace man.
While I’m playing with words here’s one in which I found great delight. As I write, moored across from me is a gleaming white fibreglass castle. It is a gorgeous piece of stuff, whether or not you are awed by status symbols. I descended on the name like the old wordhawk that I am. The boat’s name is ‘ARES’, the Greek god of war. Say no more Admiral! Most folks would read the name as ‘ARIES’, the famous star and Astrological sign. For a boat, that would make sense. However I imagined a conversation between the boat’s owner and a local good old boy who has accosted him. “Dang mister, you Amuricans just can’t spell English. That’s one purty boat but it ain’t the way you spell ARSE!” Maybe the owner is a former Rear Admiral.
While I was writing my little environmental rant in my last blog, a potentially massive environmental disaster was beginning to uncrumble. We don’t know yet how extensive it is. There lies in the BC interior an area known as the Cariboo. It is bounded on the West by the Fraser River and on the East by the Cariboo Mountains. Despite over a century of exploitation by miners and loggers it is is known for spectacular scenery and pristine waters. A mining operation at the Polley Mountain Mine involved establishing massive tailings ponds behind earthen berms to contain the toxic slurry produced. Slurry, in this case, is the liquified waste from the mining process. Using water is the cheapest way to dispose of unmarketable contents which contain various highly toxic chemicals. The dams on the ponds have burst and billions of litres of slurry flow into Quesnel Lake and all of the subsequent rivers that run between the lake and the Fraser River.
It is possible that a large portion of the heart of our province is being poisoned; unstoppably. Not one government department knows exactly what chemicals or toxins are being released nor what to do to stop the massive discharge. There should have been an ongoing analysis at least by the Ministries of Mines, Of the Environment, and Fish and Wildlife. That no-one knows is a testament of gross apathy and incompetence. This is a disaster which was imminently preventable. Our Federal government is relaxing environmental controls on resource industries and it is an interesting co-incidence with the angst about the Northern Gateway pipeline. Once again, the greed of a few is damaging a broad environment as big as some countries and all living things within it, including people, who live there and anywhere downstream, all the way to the ocean. Then where? Once again it is obvious that the government is in the corporate pocket. How can I not rant?
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Well, I promised that this blog would be about a secret anchorage. It’s a place I’ve been passing by on tug boats and my own yachts for well over a quarter century. Actually I’m more interested in pointing out how we so often pass by wonderful things right at our feet in a quest to get as far away as possible whenever on a vacation. (No I’m not standing down my dreams about Mexico and Central America) I happen to live within the Gulf Islands on a boat, a piece of heaven by any regard. When there’s a good wind it is wonderful to see how far away you can sail in one day and there is generally a notion we all hold that going far is a logical thing to do. An extreme example are the kind of folks who brag about having “Done” Europe in ten days. We all know how much they saw.
The anchorage is no secret. It just seems that way when you’ve been going by it for decades in quest of someplace secluded and special. Less than two hours by boat from Silva Bay and within plain view of Porlier Pass it a place big enough to safely hold approximately six anchored yachts.
There is an abandoned farm and perhaps sawmill in this bay between two islands and one is left wondering about the people and their history here. Ancient native middens and old fire pits in this sheltered bay betray the long presence of the aboriginal people we displaced from this beautiful environment. I’ll be doing my research. Both Islands are privately owned but it is clear that visitors are respectful. There are fabulous beaches nearby and the Porlier Pass area is famous for it’s fishing. A bonus was a live blues concert held on one island. The music was as good as it gets, the band was tight and there was a great sound effect as it all echoed out through the forest. I’m usually incensed by someone else’s imposing music, but this was good. Really good.
Hundreds of yachts charged past to herd up in the popular anchorages to the North and South. Good for them! I prefer solitude. The photos say the rest.
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”