SOUTH

Off to Mexico! Sandhill Cranes are migrating southwards by the hundreds
Off to Mexico!
Sandhill Cranes are migrating southward by the hundreds.

September 13th ; already! It has already been fourteen years since we were staggering in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Time flies, whether you’re having fun or not. There are teenagers starting high school this month who were then yet to be born and are now thinking about what sort of first car they might have. (Well, George Bush said to go shopping!) It seems we’ve learned nothing from those dark days except to be permanently afraid. The news has not really changed much. So seize the moment, it’s all we have.

Here in the remote archipelago where I live, the only radio available is good old CBC. They are the masters of tedium and nonsensical mindless interviews. While they do manage to produce the odd nugget from within their manure pile of rhetoric, one is soon wearied of incessant coverage of the same subject. Having already gone on for too many months, the primary babble is about the upcoming federal election, yet another damned month away. It has been dissected every possible way. That topic has now been dread-locked in with the Syrian refugee crisis. CBC’s undying, numbing perspectives are guaranteed to eventually harden even the softest heart.

All of the above has been interspersed this past week with a sudden zeal of reporting about sex education within the public school system. CBC has managed to turn even that subject into something as arousing as calculus. Their reports, interviews and forums are endless. It used to be such a tender subject. Openness is one thing. Desensitizing folks to their children’s interest in their own human biology is yet another. Allegedly some of those unborn of 9/11 are now already hardened porn viewers before they’ve left grade school. It is certainly a long way since I reviewed the woman’s underwear section in the Sears catalogue under the covers with a flashlight. Ah c’mon. Admit it! Yes, some of you did it too. That aside, CBC often manages to neither inform nor entertain although the occasional report of a beaver flooding a road is rather uplifting and, at least, real news.

An old buddy drops in. Rick drops in as the pilot of this Kamov 32. Russian-built, it is an incredible heavy-lift helicopter.
An old buddy drops in.
Rick drops in as the pilot of this Kamov 32. Russian-built, it is an incredible heavy-lift helicopter.

We’re still a week away from the calendar end of summer but clearly winter is approaching with a vengeance. The signs are clear. In a region that often only knows two seasons, we’ve already had two winter-class storms. The numbers of gringo boats are dwindling at the docks. The ones here now are southbound from a whole summer somewhere north. Many of those are lovely seaworthy boats skippered by people who are serious mariners instead of the white-knuckled weekend warriors in their Tupperware look-at-me bobbers.

Good enough! Definitely not Tupperware. A home-made console and who the hell needs two axles on a boat trailer? We're not going far anyway.
Good enough! Definitely not Tupperware. A home-made helm. And who the hell needs two axles on a boat trailer? We’re not going far anyway.

Now a motley gaggle of gill-netters clings to the dock , rafted six abreast at times, in hope of another fishing opening or two. Locals call this the “Stamp” fishery. If these fishermen can put in enough weeks trying to catch some fish, which involves endless waiting for another DFO opening of a few hours, then they qualify for employment insurance benefits to carry them through to next year. Judging by the obvious lack of maintenance on many of their boats, (Not all) these fellows are desperately impoverished. They are certainly not short of time to work on their boats although even scrubbing the decks seems too much for them. Yet they always have beer and cigarettes and often party into the wee hours of the night, waking up those of us who go to work in the morning. They don’t pay moorage, but do certainly contribute to the local economy in the pub and the liquor store which is why they’re tolerated but they’ll soon move on. Now the seine boats are showing up, to clean up the fish the gillnetters miss.

Waiting...and waiting. This photo was taken in July, some of these boats are stiil here.
Waiting…and waiting.
This photo was taken in July, some of these gillnetters are stiil here.

In the small lagoon where I am moored a school of Coho have circled relentlessly for the past week, apparently intent on somehow spawning in a culvert discharging fresh water several feet above the sea. Their condition is deteriorating visibly as nature takes its inevitable course. This is not where their life cycle began, their presence is a mystery to me.

The sky is now regularly dotted with flocks of cranes flying southward. Their wonderful resonant rattling calls are a haunting sound. These birds can stand four feet tall and have wingspans over six feet. They migrate from as far as Eastern Siberia to the American Southwest and Northern Mexico. Damn their beaks!

Spread your wings. we'll see you down south dude!
Spread your wings.
We’ll see you down south dude!

I’ve spotted several pair here during the summer. They’re furtive and damned hard to photograph. They circle and whoop to others resting in the local bogs but always they wing on out of sight as if following invisible lanes in the sky. Interestingly, they fly the same headings as the jets passing far above them. Some fly so high they are barely visible, others pass low enough so that you can clearly see them. Yesterday, several dozen circled and called while the sun glinted on their massive, powerful wings. They stir urges in me which can be simply expressed. South!

The cabin from whence my Seafire blogs flow.
The cabin from whence my Seafire blogs flow.

The cabin of a small yacht is truly a wonderful thing; not only will it shelter you from a tempest, but from the other troubles in life, it is a safe retreat.”

– L. Francis Herroshoff

Here are the photos I promised in my last blog.

Fungi Gigantis. This old fungus growths are huge.
Fungi Gigantis.
These old fungus growths are huge.
Don't stand still... something g will start growing on you!
Don’t stand still… something will start growing on you!
Seafire in heaven. Cultus Sound anchorage
Seafire in heaven.
Cultus Sound anchorage
This gang of ravens followed me everywhere I hiked. Their aerobatic skills and amazing vocabulary kept me spellbound
This gang of ravens followed me everywhere I hiked. Their aerobatic skills and amazing vocabulary kept me spellbound
A Stellar encounter. This Stellar Jay harrassed me until I pointed my camera and took this one shot
A Stellar encounter. This Stellar Jay harrassed me this closely until I pointed my camera and grabbed this one shot
There's no shell like an old shell
There’s no shell like an old shell
Out of the jungle and down to the sea. A secret bay with a hidden entrance
Out of the jungle and down to the sea. A secret bay with a hidden entrance
A jewel in the sand. Worn abalone shell
A jewel in the sand.
Worn abalone shell
Hanging in there. Bull Kelp and cedar snag
Hanging in there.
Bull Kelp and cedar snag
Think green. Moss and witches hair on a Spruce limb
Think green. Moss and witches hair on a Spruce limb
Lush Life. Wandering out of the forest on Gosling Island
Lush Life.
Wandering out of the forest on Gosling Island
Lion's Mane jelly fish. It's sting is vicious
Lion’s Mane jelly fish.
It’s sting is vicious
Colour on a grey day. Wild peas growing in the beach sand in the Goose Group
Colour on a grey day.
Wild peas growing in the beach sand in the Goose Group
Out of the rock grows a forest. A fresh perspective on the meaning of life.
Out of the rock grows a forest. A fresh perspective on the meaning of life.
I'd see a doctor about that! The old tree is about three feet in diameter. Grow baby, grow!
I’d see a doctor about that! The old tree is about three feet in diameter. Grow baby, grow!
There's always another corner to explore. What a place to visit. I'll be back to the Goose Group.
There’s always another corner to explore. What a place to visit. I’ll be back to the Goose Group.
Wolf tracks for company. What a wonderful thing to see these fresh paw prints.
Wolf tracks for company.
What a wonderful thing to see these fresh paw prints.
Bubbles in the sand. sung to the tune of "Strangers in the night".
Bubbles in the sand. Sung to the tune of “Strangers in the night”.
Happy feet. Gull tracks in the sand
Happy feet.
Gull tracks in the sand
A gentle dawn. Labour Day sunrise, Gosling Island
A gentle dawn. Labour Day sunrise, Gosling Island
A perfect arrangement. The beauty everywhere is amazing
A perfect arrangement.
The beauty everywhere is amazing
And so I moved on, my tracks being erased behind me.
And so I moved on, my tracks soon erased behind me.

 

Author: Fred Bailey

Fred is a slightly-past middle age sailor /, writer / photographer with plenty of eclectic hands-on skills and experiences. Some would describe him as the old hippy who doesn't know the war is over. He is certainly reluctant to grow up and readily admits to being the eternal dreamer. He has written several books including two novels, 'The Keeper' and 'Storm Ecstasy,' as well as 'The Water Rushing By', 'Sins Of The Fathers', 'The Magic Stick', as well as an extensive inventory of poetry, essays, short stories, anecdotes and photographs. His first passion is the ocean, sailboats, voyaging and all those people who are similarly drawn to the sea. He lived aboard and extensively cruised the BC Coast on 'Seafire' the boat he refitted to go voyaging, to explore new horizons both inner and outer. This blog was about that journey and the preparations for it. Circumstances prevailed which forced the sale of his beloved vessel. Now on a different tack, the voyage continues. If you follow this blog your interest may provide some of the energy that helps fuel the journey. Namaste Contact me at svpaxboat@gmail.com

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