Monthly Archives: August 2015

Ain’t Complaining, Just Explaining

 

Find the Orca! The wonder of this coast is the magic moments that pass as if they never happened.

Find the Orca!
The wonder of this coast is the magic moments that pass as if they never happened.

It is August twenty-second. I have been planning to attend a barbeque party tonight which was intended to be the christening of a new sun deck at the house of my supervisor. I slogged back from the public showers in a driving rain. I should have just sat in the cockpit with my soap. My dinghy, which I’m intending to take, is filling with rainwater. Two tiny swallows sat huddled together in the middle of an overhead wire, looking forlorn and miserable. There are few insects on the wing to eat when it’s pouring rain and the little birds will have a long night ahead of them. They’re still here but soon the swallows be on their way south. At work, I’m beginning to winterize boat engines in preparation for their storage through the long, long winter ahead. At five pm the dock lights are already on, it is that dark this afternoon.

Unchained. A bald eagle breakfasting on a salmon carcass at low tide near my dock. The chain is a relic of the airbase days.

Unchained.
A bald eagle breakfasting on a salmon carcass at low tide near my dock. The chain is a relic of the airbase days. All the docks here are moored this way.

I’ve been upgrading the wiring in my mast. The boat is thirty-five years old, it’s due. It is an unpleasant chore, clambering up and down the spar, working alone and unaided. Standing on the top two steps, hanging back from a safety harness, the time up there is limited by the pain in my legs and back while scrunched in under the head of the backstay. There’s no room left there to have a bosun’s chair to sit in. Oh to again be that flat-bellied, willowy fellow who’s clothes I once wore. I was one tough monkey; then. As soon as I pulled out the old wiring and prepared the new, the rain began. Now I’m waiting for a break in the deluge to get to the party. It’s like beginning a painting project and having the sky open up. Sailors even joke that when the rain begins, somewhere, someone has just opened a can of paint. So blame me. Haar! Meanwhile I’m starting this new blog post while I wait on the weather.

Crossed wires. My first attempt at a new harness for the mast. The cross-ties are intended to keep the wiring from rattling inside the mast. It was a good idea! NOT!

Crossed wires. My first attempt at a new harness for the mast. The cross-ties are intended to keep the wiring from rattling inside the mast. It was a good idea! NOT!

The party proved a grand success with heaps of delicious food and crowds of happy people. Nobody talked shop and the rain ended with a lovely double rainbow. Sunday became another mast marathon. Up and down to the top, pulling on the harness of new wires, tugging it back down, then up a little more, until I’d exhausted all the ways that it was not going to work. Finally, in the early evening, the new wire emerged from the head of the mast. Just another jaunt or two up on the folding steps and that part will be finished.

Rainbow at the end of the party.

Rainbow at the end of the party.

Standing Headroom A thing of beauty, from the inside on a nasty day. There's even a heater.

Standing Headroom
A thing of beauty, from the inside on a nasty day. There’s even a heater.

Shipshape. Paint is the glue that holds old .boats together

Shipshape.
Paint is the glue that holds old .boats together

Now I’m writing over my Monday morning coffee. It is a ritual that I take a few minutes of “my time” before going off to work. It leaves me with a sense of empowerment and being in control before abandoning myself to the demands of the job. Apparently we start the week with three, out of six, water taxis with broken engines. The fleet manager with be wringing his hands anxiously. Some miserable days lay ahead. Of course there will also be some transient boaters each with the most important problem in the world. I just want to get my mast project done. That’s the most important problem! Right now! All those personal perspectives and I know where my priority will fall within the lineup of woes. End of the line son!

What do you see? After months of staring out my galley portlight at these old logs, I've begun to see a mummified pirate. Is it time to move on?

What do you see?
After months of staring out my galley portlight at these old logs, I’ve begun to see a mummified pirate.
Is it time to move on?

Tuesday morning coffee. A day older, more of the same. I was back up the mast last night, a brute for punishment to the bitter end. I borrowed a soldering torch but while up the mast, it broke, the nozzle and control fell to the deck with a load bang and then careened overboard with a dramatic splash several feet away. Remarks of a fecal context thundered down as a rain squall began to splatter my perch in the sky. For now I’ve finished my penance at the masthead, at least until new wiring connectors and a new vhf antenna and another torch arrive. That job should take only a few minutes and it will feel so good to know I’m finally done up there.

Now a recurring back injury is producing crippling pain but it’s up the ramp and hobble off to another delightful day. “Work shall set me free”. Haar! By first coffee break my back was in such a dreadful spasm that I went off to the Bella Bella hospital clinic for some la-la medication. It was closed. After a round in the emergency ward I finally emerged with a few pills that will help ease me through the remains of the week. This is the second visit to that small hospital. Both times I’ve been bemused and somewhat horrified by a character who sits in a dark corner in a wheelchair croaking repeatedly in a loud demanding parrot-like voice “I want my pampers!” It is bizarre yet strangely amusing; for a while. I admire a staff who can endure that daily grind. There are many types of courage which I do not possess.

Once back aboard ‘Seafire’ my e-mail included a video produced by Orbital Mechanics (you can find it on YouTube) which visualizes all of the world’s nuclear detonations since 1945. There are 2153 portrayed in total. It doesn’t sound like many. Right? It takes over thirteen minutes to watch them all flicker rapidly by! A staggering proportion have occurred in the US Southwest and the mid Pacific. Climate change? Dunno. Thirty dead whales (that have been found) in Alaska recently. Dunno! I do know that we do not fully understand all of the dynamics and properties of electricity yet all the while we’ve been messing with atomic energy for well over half a century. Nobody knows what the hell to due with all the atomic waste which continues to pile up. “Let’s bury it in your county!” Children quickly learn not to burn their fingers twice. What goes wrong with our brains?

Yep she’s all bluebirds and rainbows folks.

'Wonder' passing Bella Bella docks. A Disney brings fantasy past reality

‘Wonder’ passing Bella Bella docks. A Disney cruise ship brings fantasy past reality. Note Mickey Mouse on the exhaust stacks.

 

Economy Cruise. Someone's boat seat floats away.

Economy Cruise.
Someone’s boat seat floats away.

My internet is performing well enough now to acquire Netflix movies. Last night I watched ‘Mr. Turner’ starring Timothy Spall. No explosions or gun play, but a rich portrayal of England’s famous painter. It was a refreshing interlude from the drudgery of life in a shipyard. It is one of the few films I ever recommend and while I’m at it I’ll also plug another splendid movie named ‘Whiplash’.

Wednesday. Another day of trying to be three places at one time. Transient boaters who have a breakdown soon lose sight of the charms of this place when the necessary parts don’t arrive on time, or at all. They pay even more moorage and tediously wait and wait. It’s this old dog in greasy coveralls who has to placate them until their boat is finally ready to chug away around the corner to head for the next place, a hundred miles or more in any direction, where they can have yet more repairs made if required. I’m always bemused at how incapable some folks are of making even basic adjustments and inspections on their boats. They can’t grasp that self-sufficiency is a basic tenant of seamanship. To come into a remote area and throw yourself on the abilities of strangers seems, at least, naive. It is a recurring rant of mine.

Air Dried Lumber cascade fresh.

Air Dried Lumber
Cascade Fresh.

I think back to when boats had no engines or electrical gadgets. Sailors then were a very different breed. It was a time when, ashore, you got around by horse. Many of today’s white-knuckled warriors wouldn’t know which end the hay went in! At least the horse knew!

Bog Trotter Day

Bog Trotter Procrastinators Club Day

I am also fascinated at people who have an addiction to spending. I’ve been making my observations about this for many years and I swear it is true. For days they’ve been away from any place that will take their money and here they find a few small stores, a restaurant and an engine shop to help them satiate their urges. They’ll buy anything and seem quite happy to complain about the price. The other frantic activity involves cell phones. Folks will spend hours, head down, poking away at their “devices” trying to contact the outer world. The signal here is very weak and their frustration is a sadistic pleasure for me. I’ve asked a few people if they did not come up here to escape all that frantic urban claptrap. Their blank-faced responses are, well, blank. Text, text, text.

Heiltsuk Dugout Canoe Bella Bella dock

Heiltsuk Dugout Canoes, traditional and modern
Bella Bella dock

In the late afternoon today a pair of Orca whales suddenly and dramatically appeared at the docks where Seafire is moored. Only the whales know why they ventured into this shallow lagoon at low tide but I’ll accept the visit as a good omen. The adventure goes on.

I am a rock. Move me.

I am a rock.
Move me.

Friday night finally arrives with a promise of steady rain for the foreseeable future. My latest transient neighbour at the end of the dock is a 1947 vintage Cessna 195. I’m probably one of the few people here who knows what it is. It was a new-tech civilian aircraft at the time. She’s looking a little worn for all her years but still possesses a bull-nosed beauty representative of that post-war era. Come to to think of it, so do I.

A 1948 Cessna 195 Businessliner. 67 years old and still flying regularly!

A 1948 Cessna 195 Businessliner. 67 years old and still flying regularly!

All steam gauges, no video games on this instrument panel. Notice the handle for the crank-down window.

All steam gauges, no video games on this instrument panel.
Notice the handle for the crank-down window.

Saturday, August 29th, rain, low cloud, wind warning. The forecast was correct. The rain and humidity are horrific. The old Cessna leaves in mid-afternoon. It vanishes into a gray squall but is back at the dock within the hour. Apparently, hundreds of miles to the south Vancouver and Seattle are experiencing a massive wind storm and are bracing for torrential rain. People have died because of falling trees. Flood warnings are posted. Forest wildfires still threaten huge areas in the interior of the province but with the breaking weather, campfire bans are now being lifted in some areas. It is still August but we seem to enduring our first North Pacific autumn low pressure system. As I write, old Seafire is slammed against the dock by a violent burst of wind. It is only eight pm but the evening is already nearly pitch dark. We wear on into the next week.

Wishes and fishes

Best Wishes and Big Fishes

 

We do not really know what draws a human being out into the world. Is it curiosity? A hunger for experience? An addiction to wonderment? The man who ceases to be astonished is hollow, possessed of an extinguished heart. If he believes everything has already happened, that he has seen it all, then something most precious has died within him… the delight in life.”

Ryszard Kapuscinski ‘Travels With Herodotus’

Invisible Rocks And Hard Butter

Westward Ho. Part of a pod of Orcas gorging on salmon. Sure wish I could swim like that!

Westward Ho. Part of a pod of Orcas gorging on salmon.
Sure wish I could swim like that!

If tonight I die in my sleep, it will be as a happy man. Lately nearly everything has been going wrong, and I am not content, but today was wonderful, a respite from other realities. I left immediately after work yesterday afternoon with the intention of sailing around Campbell Island, final homeland of the Heiltsuk. I awoke this morning at my leisure aboard my beloved ‘Seafire’ while anchored miles away from where I work. I eased into the day.

Mysterious, poignant, inspiring, this Heiltsuk pictographs have many possible meanings. I hope it doesn't mean "Honest Henry's good used canoes!"

Mysterious, poignant, inspiring, this Heiltsuk pictographs have many possible meanings. I hope it doesn’t mean “Honest Henry’s good used canoes!”

It is now Saturday night and I am well along my route. I’ve picked my way past submerged rocks invisible to the eye but noted on the chart. I wonder about all the ones not noted but I’m always amazed at how intricately accurate modern navigation charts are. Today, for reasons of tide, the waters were often clogged with huge mats of forest debris. It is all natural, but floating logs are always a hazard to navigation. I’ve seen spectacular new country, found three beautiful Heiltsuk pictographs, spent the afternoon surrounded by a pod of killer whales gorging on salmon and am now anchored in an incredible secluded and peaceful anchorage. A light westerly wind blows at the correct speed and angle to work out four random chords with some fitting on the mast. It warbles and flutes exquisitely. I find it lovely and very relaxing; a zen wind.

On and on, the ripple never ends. Seefire's wake in very calm water.

On and on, the ripple never ends. Seefire’s wake in very calm water.

We're watching you!

We’re watching you!

Polka Dot Rock. Who knows what it means.

Polka Dot Rock.
Who knows what it means.

There is an archipelago of islets at the south end of Campbell island. Once anchored I decided to go exploring with my inflatable tender, as I often do, and soon meandered my way into an infinite maze of convoluted waterways at low tide. JR Tolkien would have loved it. It was very shallow in places, and still ebbing, rapidly, but I picked my way finally back to the west side of the maze where I’d earlier travelled with Seafire. I decided to return by simply circumnavigating the whole group of islets. It was close to sundown and getting cooler. I have a rule about always taking plenty enough clothing, surplus fuel, as well as survival gear, a VHF radio, some food and water and a chart of the immediate area. I did not plan on going far, or for long, and so did not bring the chart and extra gas.

How'd they get up there to paint the pictograph?

How’d they get up there to paint the pictograph?

Some natural art at the tide line.

Some natural art at the tide line.

Symetrics

Symetrics

The fish shack, Soulsby Pt. Campbell Island

The fish shack, Soulsby Pt. Campbell Island. I’ve learned that apparently the locals call this the “Seaweed Camp”.

The bay where I’m anchored has an islet bearing the remnants of a native fish camp. There is a fish trap and a cabin as well as the remains of a dock and a few out buildings. It is an idyllic spot, secluded with a narrow rock-studded entrance. It is also easy to miss. I did exactly that. I must have glanced away for a moment and kept on going.

Fishtrap under a flooding tide.

Fishtrap under a flooding tide.

A few miles beyond I realized my mistake. The shoreline is so indented with bays and islets that I zoomed right past the entrance to where ‘Seafire’ is anchored. I was getting mildly hypo-thermic , and realized with a stab of panic that I must also nearly be out of gas. (The outboard motor too!) I knew that I was ill-prepared to spend a night on the beach if the engine did die. Fool! The chagrin about my stupidity was exceeded only by the cold rapidly creeping into my old bones. I would be in for a very unpleasant night if I didn’t make it back to ‘Seafire’.

The fish shack out back. Fish trap at low tide.

The fish shack out back. Fish trap at low tide.

Into the labyrinth near low water slack. Yes, I tried it but the dinghy propeller fouled in the kelp

Into the labyrinth near low water slack. Yes, I tried to get through but the dinghy propeller fouled in the kelp

Sitting pretty by the Seaweed Camp

Sitting pretty by the Seaweed Camp

All’s well that ends. I’m back aboard ‘Seafire’ writing this with yet another mug of hot chocolate at hand. I hope to be fully thawed out by morning. My own mantras are ringing in my head about prudent single hand seamanship. I keep wondering how it would be at the moment on some dank dark piece of shore trying to keep a fire going while shivering the night through. There’s no fool like an old fool!

Happy Harry Heiltsuk on watch

Happy Harry Heiltsuk on watch

These moments of carelessness so often lead to a debacle which can rapidly assume epic proportions. It is how people disappear, or even die, because of a simple missed turn. And, I should add, I’m no novice at this trekking about business. It even happens to old salts! The sun’s warmth is now beaming through the windows as I write. It is Sunday morning and my core temperature is back where it should be. A hot coffee sits by the laptop and the promise of a fine-weather day lays ahead of me. The butter is hard this morning, a sure sign of summer’s inevitable passing and a promise of what lays ahead. Stan Rogers is playing on the stereo, his profundity and timelessness always uplift me. Sadly, like most of my favourite singers, he’s dead but then, that’s how one becomes immortal. He, at least, was much beloved before his tragic passing.

Fish on, fish on

Fish on, fish on

Last light, good night!

Last light, good night!

A gift from Japan. In days past these net floats were blown green glass balls and highly prized by beachcombers.

A gift from Japan. In days past these net floats were blown green glass balls and highly prized by beachcombers.

Last night at midnight I went topside to check the anchor’s set. The sky was black and cloudless. Stars shimmered and burned across the dome of infinity. In the entire Northern quadrant of the sky the Aurora Borealis provided a surreal and spectacular show. A pale green light waned then pulsed and grew brighter again as curtains of radiation danced slowly to a bizarre rhythm. What a way to end a spectacular day. My only regret is that there was no-one along to share it all. Well, maybe not that nearly lost bit. I did sleep well and I’m warm again.

Smell the cedar! A barge load of cedar logs heads south, hopefully to a BC sawmill and not to be loaded on a ship as raw logs. I could smell the cedar aroma from where I took this picture.

Smell the cedar! A barge load of cedar logs heads south, hopefully to a BC sawmill and not to be loaded on a ship as raw logs. I could savour the cedar aroma from where I took this picture.

How I savour mornings such as this! No one knows where I am, I’m indulging in the pleasure of writing and I’m aboard my wonderful old boat in a beautiful anchorage. I’ll soon have to reluctantly head back to Shearwater for another dreary week of greasy bilges and rusted bolts while aching to be out here. That too shall pass. I’ll move on.

A backwoods solution. The fuel lines had no screens inside Seafire's fuel tanks. These pickups are made from generic hardware store items including a stainless steel scrubbing pad.

A backwoods solution.
The fuel lines had no screens inside Seafire’s fuel tanks. These pickups are made from generic hardware store items including a stainless steel scrubbing pad.

Slowly the boat progresses toward readiness for Mexico. I’ve just installed a replacement control head for my auto pilot. It is a used one which arrived from Florida within a week. It performs flawlessly. The old one died a slow death and I haven’t been able to trust it for a long time. Sailing any distance alone, for me, requires a reliable auto pilot and now I’m back with all guns on that deck. The dream is alive.

I'm warnin' ya, I'll peck yer eyes out! A blue heron indignantly defends his bit of dock to the bitter end.

I’m warnin’ ya, I’ll peck yer eyes out! A blue heron indignantly defends his bit of dock to the bitter end.

Before I weighed anchor I went back into the labyrinth with the dinghy. A few hours before high tide, it is safe enough , there is no urgency about being stranded in there…unless the outboard quits. It is as confusing and disorienting as before and I marvel at how the hell I made it out of there on an ebbing tide. Even with the flooding tide there are swirling, narrow tidal rapids, a perfect place to break a propeller on a rock. My curiosity satiated, for the moment, I head for another week at Shearwater.

An August sunset in Shearwater.

An August sunset in Shearwater.

There are three sorts of people; those who are alive, those who are dead, and those who are at sea.”

– From an old capstan chanty attributed to Anacharsis, 6th century BC

“That’s The Way The Pickle Squirts”

It’s a metaphor which a friend, now long dead, used to express the vagaries of life. It makes a wonderfully descriptive image for me. More than once, as we stab at it with our fork, the ubiquitous pickle of life squirts us in the eye or stains our best shirt. We never know which way it might go, just like everyday life. We may as well find some humour.

Planetary system A tiny shell from a tiny beach with tiny barnacles for stars and palnets

Planetary system
A tiny shell from a tiny beach with tiny barnacles for stars and planets

Almost a week ago I was at work in a sooty, greasy bilge desperately trying to get a sailboat engine back together. The client had been tied to the dock for over a week while we waited for parts. They were very nice folks but did not understand that to do finicky work, a mechanic needs to be left alone to focus on the process.

The following hand-held video is intended to leave you with the sense of wonder I hold for the mid-coast of British Columbia. Note the stream running down the beach, the distance surf and the call of an eagle. If you can’t open it, the still photo below is from the same location.

Looking East onto Seaforth Channel from Fisher Point

Looking East onto Seaforth Channel from Fisher Point

It was one of those shoehorn engine jobs which requires a fully articulating third hand, on a three-foot-long arm with an eyeball in one knuckle of some very nimble fingers. My hands are two bunches of arthritic bananas. I hate asking folks to leave their own boat while I work but surely one shouldn’t have to ask for something so bloody obvious! Once I even explained that this particular job was rather like trying to do brain surgery through the rectum. They still had a way of pouncing on me just when that last one and only special-thread nut or bolt was almost in place and again went ka-ping down into the bilge. Murphie’s law says that nothing in an engine room falls straight down and that magnets will retrieve every bit of metallic debris before finally clicking on to the missing item. It happens over and over. Grrrrr! Finally the engine was back together, a second time, everything was good, all their ancillary problems were resolved, the bill had been ‘edited’ as tightly as possible, they left the dock next morning.

Seafire in Mouat Cove I'd just flushed a a pair of Sandhill Cranes here

Seafire in Mouat Cove
I’d just flushed a pair of Sandhill Cranes here

Three hours later they were back.

I had carefully explained that with their particular cooling system they would have to check the air bleeding valve regularly during the first day of operation. They now raged that the engine had overheated. They had charged off until the engine boiled over and then finally bled out a copious amount of air. Fortunately with no new harm done, the temperature had returned to normal, but now they were “gun shy” and were determined something might still be wrong.

GRRRRRRRR! With some folks you just can’t win! July was a blue moon month (Two full moons within one calendar month) and the boat with the engine trouble was named ‘Blue Moon’. This leads to yet another song title, “There’ll Always Be Another Blue Moon.”

Oliver cove Marine Park Someone wanted the sign for their bedroom wall. This spot, near Port Blackney is aleged to be where Vancouver careened his ships for repairs.

Oliver Cove Marine Park
Someone wanted the sign for their bedroom wall.
This spot, near Port Blackney is alleged to be where Vancouver careened his ships for repairs.

Is this it? Between two adjacent coves, this is the sandy nook which seemed most likely to be the place to careen a ship. Imagine the crew working with muskets and sabres handy, wondering who might come rushing out of the thick forest.

Is this it?
Between two adjacent coves, this is the sandy nook which seemed most likely to be the place to careen a ship. Imagine the crew working with muskets and sabres handy, wondering who might come rushing out of the thick forest.

If my guess is right, this venerable Sitka spruce would have been a verdant tree looking down on the events in that nook.

If my guess is right, this venerable Sitka Spruce would have been a verdant tree looking down on the events in that nook long ago.

The mid-coast area is not a place for weekend warriors who don’t understand the basics of boat and engine maintenance. But still they come. It’s how we make our income. One gets worn down as the summer grinds on. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of quitting at least once in frustration with either a customer, my employer or both. Clearly my days as a marine technician are nearly over. Physically and emotionally, I’m too worn, bent and busted to keep doing this. My finances are at an all-time low but I can’t go on like this. I was sure that I was on my way to Mexico from here but now I’ve got that old dead-end feeling again. That’s got to be yet another blues song! The problem is that when one turns a passion into a career, the risk of becoming jaded is very real. And here I am. Thankfully, I can untie the boat on weekends and re-affirm my sea lust is real and entirely reasonable; at least to me.

A strange sky in Oliver cove

A strange sky in Oliver Cove

Seafire at rest

Seafire at rest

A day well done,. Last light in Olivers Cove

A day well done,. Last light in Oliver Cove

A bonsai moment, typical small twisted tree found on one of my beloved islets

A bonsai moment, typical small twisted tree found on one of my beloved islets.

A mobile fishing camp. Once a working tug, the 'Glendevon' is splendidly refitted. Here she's moored in the head of Berry inlet.

A mobile fishing camp. Once a working tug, the ‘Glendevon’ is splendidly refitted. Here she’s moored in the head of Berry inlet.

Another sort of fishing machine. This friends are ardent anglers. Here they're working the waters at Idol Point.

Another sort of fishing machine. These friends are ardent anglers. Here they’re working the waters at Idol Point.

Gifts at the tideline. You never know what to expect.

Gifts at the tideline.
You never know what to expect.

Passing Squall. a view up Spiller Channel. no worries, fish on ,fish on.

Passing Squall. A view up Spiller Channel. no worries, fish on, fish on.

Buzz job. Later that day there was enough wind at Shearwater to spin the props on the big model Stranraer. I did as rough photo-chop of the supporting pylon to give a sense of what the real thing might have looked like.

Buzz job. Later that day there was enough wind at Shearwater to spin the props on the big model Stranraer. I did a rough photo-chop of the supporting pylon to give a sense of what the real thing might have looked like.

The Goose. This is from the same era as the Stranraer. It was acutting edge aviation technology at the time and 80 years later, she's still working for a living!

The Goose.
This is from the same era as the Stranraer.
It was cutting edge aviation technology at the time and 80 years later, she’s still working for a living!

Hakai Pass from 20,000' on a beautiful day. Looking southward out to sea.  Five days of sailng from Campbell river, this Pacific Coastal Beech 1900C had me back there in 50 minutes!

Hakai Pass from 20,000′ on a beautiful day. Looking southward out to sea.
Five days of sailng from Campbell River, this Pacific Coastal Beech 1900C had me back there in 50 minutes!

Since that sooty engine compartment of last week, I’ve taken a quick sabbatical back south to Ladysmith to take care of business, visit home and make sure my buddy Jack still recognized me. I’ve had so many setbacks this summer that my finances are in full tatters. My wife Jill provided tremendous support to get me the hell out of there for a few days. The soot from that last job is almost gone from my pores and I’m heading back to work at Shearwater already. Those few days off have passed all too quickly and I’m pecking this out at the BC Ferry terminal in Port Hardy. The huge hinged-open bow of the ‘Northern Expedition’ looms over me. Up at 04:30 to be here for 05:30 for some verbal abuse from a surly baggage cart attendant, (With arms folded, and head cocked she demanded, “Yeah, let’s talk!) I can’t find a hint of coffee or breakfast anywhere.

And then the aliens transported me aboard! BC Ferries 'Northern Expedition' with bow section raised for loading... and so we waited, an waited.

And then the aliens transported me aboard!
BC Ferries ‘Northern Expedition’ in Port Hardy with bow section raised for loading… and so we waited, and waited.

A tyee skiff meets Mickey Mouse.  Disney cruise ship southbound in /discovery Passage at Campbell River

A tyee skiff meets Mickey Mouse. Disney cruise ship southbound in Discovery Passage at Campbell River

The Real Thing. Before cruise ships and tyee skiffs, this is how real mean got around on the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Yes it IS a real dugout canoe

The Real Thing. Before cruise ships and tyee skiffs, this is how real men got around on the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Yes it IS a real dugout canoe.

SEE! And there are no leaks, it's holding rainwater.  What an ultimate art, form and function!

SEE! And there are no leaks, it’s holding rainwater. What an ultimate art, form and function!

This paragraph now comes from aboard. I’m sitting in a luxurious cafeteria waiting for the breakfast gate to open at 06:30. We’re supposed to sail at 7. The vessel is lovely and I know this wannabe cruise-ship is a jewel in the crown of the BC hospitality industry but speaking for coastal residents, I think a little less glitter and more accountable, affordable regular service would be grand. Features like a high-end gift shop selling cheap reproductions of Haida silverware has nothing to do with basic transportation. I’ve already ranted in previous blogs about the ineptitude of the entire BC Ferry Corporation so I’ll leave this alone. However, there was a time when this Northern coastline was much more heavily populated and served by various private carriers. I’ve never heard anyone recall that they felt at the mercy and whim of a down-south crown corporation board office. It seems the time when people said what they meant, meant what they said and kept their promises is a fiction from some other era. Folks have always been folks but I recall when integrity was a personal mandate. (Engines at full throttle since 07:07, we finally back from the dock at 07:35) By the time we have left the dock, Jill has driven back almost as far as Campbell River. As I sit writing, a “Rubenesque” lady and her clone daughter have reclined and fallen asleep. Their snoring takes me back to some of the tugboat foc’sles I’ve known. When i awoke from my nap, there was nobody around. Funny thing!

Yep, it's the same blog. Jill inspects old 113, a stean engine operated by Canadian Forest Products, who ran the last working logging railroad on the continent. When I last saw this locomotive, 25 years ago,  it was shining bright, belched clouds of steam and black smoke, hauled eco-tourists and backed up the diesel locomotives when they broke down. It seems so sad to see this machine pushed out of the way.

Yep, it’s the same blog! Jill inspects old 113, a steam locomotive once operated by Canadian Forest Products, who ran the last working logging railroad on the continent. When I last saw this locomotive, 25 years ago, it was shining bright, belched clouds of steam and black smoke, hauled eco-tourists and backed up the diesel locomotives when they broke down. It seems so sad to see this machine pushed out of the way in her home at Woss Camp on Northern Vancouver Island.

No voice command controls here. no airbags either!

No voice command controls here. No airbags either!

The summer grinds on, the daylight ever shorter, the evenings cooler, the rain more frequent. The list of before winter to-do jobs on ‘Seafire’ is begging attention. How it will end up is anyone’s guess but with all the crap, there has to be a pony somewhere. Yeehaw! There’s got to be a bright side I haven’t discovered yet.

REALLY!  Real telephone booths, still working.  At the Woss Café.

REALLY! Actual telephone booths, still working
at the Woss Café.

Enough grumpy rambling. Here are another batch of photos. As I edit them, I look forward to the summer when I can come to these wonderful waters and simply cruise. I’ll have my own tools and parts aboard. We’ll see what Murphy can do to me then. I recently explained to a lady on a passing yacht in for repairs that ubiquitous old Murphy was so devious she has us actually believing she’s a man. With a twinkle in her eye, this woman quietly replied, “Yeah, God too!”

God spelled backwards. Jack indulges in a favourite pastime in a pool on the Nimpkish River

God spelled backwards.
Jack indulges in a favourite pastime in a pool on the Nimpkish River

Being hove to in a long gale is the most boring way of being terrified I know.” …. Donald Hamilton