Eggnog And Bullets

The Long Way Home Looking south from the air over the Western tip of Denny Island then south down Lamma Pass. I have my doubts about calm seas with the sun in my eyes.

The Long Way Home
Looking south from the air over the Western tip of Denny Island then south down Lamma Pass. If you look carefully, you can see the Bella Bella wharf. I have my doubts about calm seas with the sun in my eyes but this is the beginning of my route homewards.

(Click on images to enlarge)

Another dreary Friday night after a long dull day’s work. Rain, wind, darkness, not much to do, no-one to visit with, (many have already left for the winter) another weekend of aloneness to endure. I refuse to hang out in the pub and descend into that world of hurt and darkness.The weather is too foul to contemplate going anywhere and besides, in another ten days or so, I’ll be leaving Shearwater and heading back south toward Ladysmith. That anticipation makes the days drag by and the terror of what-in-the-hell -I’m-getting-into-next is gnawing at me. Then comes a nice surprise.

My wife calls them ‘Care packages’ and she’s mailed me one. We’ve been apart a very long time and I really appreciate her gifts of hope and promise. Today’s package is in a small but heavy box and upon opening it I discover a small tarpaulin which I’ve needed for the boat, two packs of my favourite coffee, a small sack of curry powder and a fabulous bar of very nice hazelnut chocolate. Delighted, my mouth is soon full of chocolate as I empty the powder into my metal curry box. The sudden sharp tang of the spice aroma blends perfectly with the melted chocolate. It is a new taste sensation, an incongruous blend of the smooth and the sharp, the sweet and the tangy. At the time it seemed very, very good. Try it sometime.

Williwas and Catspaws Another storm arrives in Shearwater

Williwas and Catspaws
Another storm arrives in Shearwater

Surf's Up! A barrel of water slams over the wharfinger's float house. In summer, the boat gringos like to sit on the dock in their deck chairs.

Surf’s Up!
A barrel of water slams over the wharfinger’s float house. In summer, the boat gringos like to sit on the dock in their deck chairs.

4pm under a very rare clear sky. It will soon be dark.

4pm under a very rare clear sky. It will soon be dark.

Eleven am Sunday morning. I used to love storms. We’re experiencing yet another one at the moment. The boat is bucking and squirming against her docklines as usual. The table where I sit writing is gimbaling in all directions, but so is the boat and so am I. It is all relevant. I don’t notice; I’m used to this weather. The day is over for me already, I’ll stay aboard until tomorrow morning. There’s nowhere to go ashore. I’ve already been to the wharfinger’s float house for a haircut. His partner is an excellent barber. Then I went for a huge plate of brunch in the restaurant. I know, I’m a high roller.

I ate while reading a few pages of a novel found in the laundry as the storm raged outside. Williwaws, waterspouts, horizontal cloudbursts and stacking waves are not notable anymore. They are a near-daily fact and I wonder how in the hell I’m going to get the boat three hundred miles southward into the face of this incessant adverse winter weather. There is much speculation afoot about how and if this old fool will make it home.

The staff, busy stringing up Christmas decorations, were happy and exuberant. Their obvious joy left me feeling dull and shrivelled. Tomorrow is the annual company Christmas party. There is huge anticipation, various company dignitaries are flying in for the event; weather permitting. I am dreading the whole ordeal, reluctantly inclined to attend only for a free meal and drink. This is a time of year which once had me feeling warm and fuzzy. Now I am the quintessential scrooge. The entire season seems crass and shallow, a meaningless orgy of superficial consumerism and general silliness. There seems to be little left about family, tradition and the simple joy of sharing. Humbug, dumbug and bumhug!

At the table next to me, five men speculated on the weather for a while then lapsed into silence as each fell to texting on their own cellphone. They had all found a differing weather report on their devices, which I found amusing, then hilarious as they wandered off alone into their personal cyber world. I trudged back through the white-capped puddles into the wind and rain. Now I’m back aboard ‘Seafire’ and settling in for the day. Nine days are left until I leave, weather notwithstanding.

Now seven more sleeps. The intense weather continues as horrific weather systems crowd onto the coast. Storm warnings are constant and of course the wind is all on the nose.

Another Storm Warning The barometer tumbled this low, to 987 mb, overnight. To use some old sailor's jargon, "She's up and down like a whore's knickers."

Another Storm Warning
The barometer tumbled this low, to 9807 mb, overnight.
To use some old sailor jargon, “She’s up and down like a whore’s knickers.”

I’m plodding through my last few days here, a dark comparison to the child before Christmas. I just want to be on my way. Last night was the annual company Christmas party. My trepidations proved accurate. It was a grand effort but an event far from being a ‘Party’. It’s over and the following morning, I am not hungover. I show up at work on time, the loyal good old boy. Perhaps it was good strategy to hold the event on a Monday evening.

A Smell Of Snow The white stuff on distant mountains can be smelled on the wind. It's time to go!

A Smell Of Snow
The white stuff on distant mountains can be smelled on the wind. It’s time to go!

One of the dubious joys here is that the only available public radio station is CBC 1. It is a venue addressing multiculturalism, ethnic minorities, social and political anomalies. It often manages to be incredibly boring, infantile and a master of dissecting moot points. Occasionally, however, there is a story posted which is wonderfully amusing. That is especially so when humour was not the intent. Yesterday morning it was reported that the city of Prince George hosted a training program for folks from remote communities which do not have any ambulance service. These people would go home as first responders. They will be able to provide various life-saving skills such as CPR, mouth to mouth resuscitation, the Heimlich manoeuvre, emergency child delivery and so forth. A good thing I think, especially when the story ended with an account of how this first-aid training had already saved a life.

A man and his wife had both taken the course. They returned home and were sitting down to supper. “We were just sittin’ down to dinner when I dropped a piece of broccoli. The dog jumped right on it and inhaled the whole thing. All of a sudden he started chokin’ real bad then he tipped over! Good thing we’d taken that training! We started thumpin’ him on the back and he honked that broccoli right up. We’re sure lucky we knew what to do.” The account was provided in rich backwoods jargon and I found it hilarious. Then I remembered a friend’s account of an old man trying to demonstrate the fine training of his dog. I put the two stories together.

Yep, woulda have really missed old Wiener, he’s an awesome dog. Uh huh. He always listens pretty good. Here Weiner. C’mon Weiner. HERE WIENER! WIENER! Come here! Wiener, GET DOWN!

Wiener, stop lickin’ me!”

As I write, CBC is airing a story about a zombie nativity scene. WOT? Really! This follows a story about that xenophobic idiotic Republican candidate Donald Trump, and how he is enthusiastically supported by thousands of bleating Republicans. Baaaah! The next story was that to date in this year of 2015, The USA has endured 355 mass shootings, far too many to report, even nationally! That’s more than one per day and there will certainly be more. This is on a continent which is rapidly becoming extremely Islamophobic. Folks who think like Mr. Trump don’t seem to understand that if we stopped bombing these people, maybe there would be an end to the mass exodus from their homeland. We are all descendants of refugees whether economic, religious or political.

No-one happily chooses to rip up their roots and start their lives over in a strange place and culture. As we condemn cultures we do not understand, except for the part-truths we receive from the media, we also choose to ignore how many millions have died under the grinding wheels of Christian greed and self-empowerment. Despite the eternal rhetoric about peace and love and compassion, no other religion uses a symbol of capital punishment as its icon and keeps the church doors locked most of the time. Any dogma which we choose to embrace has its extremists. We certainly have ours.

We are in the season of goodness and light and love and peace. Eggnog and bullets are not a happy mix. Right?

Right!

Silent night; Holy night. Down Wiener!”

High Slack A winter high tide of 16.1 feet. At low tide these pilings tower above the dock. Note how far into the trees the ocean has risen.

High Slack
A winter high tide of 16.1 feet. At low tide these pilings tower above the dock. Note how far into the trees the ocean has risen. Storm winds have pushed the tide even higher than the tide book forecast. Seafire is at the end of the dock on the left. she’s leaving in the morning.

December 11th, Friday again. I’m done counting sleeps and am instead listening to each up updated weather forecast, or rather, “Technical Marine Synopsis,” as they are now known. It appears that Sunday morning is time to go and there may be a weather window opening in the next day or two. The days have barely eight hours of light and with prevailing winds from the southeast it can be a very long haul south to Port Hardy especially when travelling alone. It is foolhardy to travel in darkness. With plenty of logs floating freely as well as many unmarked reefs, prudence is essential. The days are short and the nights are long so the first hundred miles on the way down from the north coast jungle can be very, very long indeed. That is about the first third of the journey home. From there it can still be a challenging voyage if the weather is adverse. It probably will be. I’m posting this blog just before I leave. Chances are that by the time you read this, I’ll be on my way. Wish me well.

A sunset over Queen Charlotte Sound from years past. Known by some mariners as the "Rock Garden" this is a challenging body of water to cross especially in winter. Hopefully it will behind me in a few more days.

A sunset over Queen Charlotte Sound from years past. Known by some mariners as the “Rock Garden” this is a challenging body of water to cross, especially in winter. Hopefully it will behind me in a few more days.

In turn, I wish everyone inner peace, someone to love, something to do and lots to look forward to. Have a warm and fuzzy Christmas.

Have A Warm And Fuzzy Christmas

Have A Warm And Fuzzy Christmas

When in fear, or in doubt, raise your sails and bugger off out.”….Tristan Jones

3 responses to “Eggnog And Bullets

  1. Safe Journey to you, Fred.

    Regards, Tania

  2. And a very Merry Christmas and happy holiday season to you. Safe sailing. We are both trying to sail south for Xmas – just different hemishetes!

  3. Great post, Fred. We are feeling the storms down here, too – one low after another, with just enough time to catch our breath in between each blast. I guess this is the “new normal” that our species’ profligate ways have wrought. It’s bad enough when we’re safe in our house, with our boat tied up in Silva Bay – I can’t imagine being out on QC Strait in this! Wishing you a good journey, and stay safe. I look forward to receiving your first post from southern waters.

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