Monthly Archives: December 2016

Unplugged And Almost Blown Away

Dreaming of A Red Christmas. The storm arrived later in the day.

Dreaming of A Red Christmas. The storm arrived later in the day.

A blood-red Christmas sunrise! Really. Look! “Red sky in morning, shepherds warning.” The forecast is for a stout sou’easter to blow up this afternoon and hopefully push this damned cold air away. ‘Seafire’ is ice-bound at the dock despite the kindly ice-breaking efforts yesterday of Keith and his little steel dozer boat. The Prime Minister has issued his Christmas “Statement.” Yep, that’s what they call it on the Environment Canada website. Isn’t that just so warm and fuzzy? Even the old British Queen, despite a severe cold delivered a Christmas “Message.”

Iced In. Christmas morning.

Iced In. Christmas morning.

A Good Samaritan. Voluntary ice-breaking at Christmas time. Very much appreciated. Ice and fibreglass hulls are a poor mix. The ice always wins.

A Good Samaritan. Voluntary ice-breaking at Christmas time.
Very much appreciated. Ice and fibreglass hulls are a poor mix. The ice always wins.

A Russian aircraft bound for Syria with a load of entertainers has crashed just after takeoff from Sochi. Ninety-two dead on their way to entertain the Russian troops in Syria. The question is, of course, what the hell Russians are doing in Syria. Neither they, nor the Americans ever learn. Afghanistan? Vietnam? Ukraine? The missionary complex of world powers seems to be an irresistible compulsion. The concept of staying home and cleaning up ones own mess has always eluded we humans. Sadly, I am sure the Russian song and dance troup was fantastically talented. They always are. Part of the group was also known as the “Red Army Choir” I actually have a recording of them and I especially like their traditional renditions of the “Vulgar Boatsman.”

What?

Oh, “Volga” not vulgar! Сожалею! .So sorry! I know, and I’m not making light of a tragedy, but then that’s what they were on their way to do. Mr “Put it in” has declared a day of national mourning; quite unlike the aftermath of his repeated bombings of Syrian civilians. Now we are about to have Commander-In-Chief Trump joining the mix, with his already eager pro-nuclear rhetoric emerging from his itching twittering fingers. Happy New Year.

At the same time a 7.7 earthquake in Southern Chile had everyone on Tsunami standby. It never arrived there, but might show up here and hopefully, it’ll get rid of the ice. There’s something to look forward to. Enough! I’ve shut off CBC radio with all the dark news I can do nothing about, as well as the damned mutant Christmas carols. Where do they find them? Somehow a blues version of ‘White Christmas,’ left me craving for a little Tibetan throat singing. It would be a tad more Christmassy. A week later both these events are nearly forgotten, although up to a million Chileans are homeless.

Jill reads me the riot act. Actually, she's taking photos of Edgar the Eagle with her I-pad.

Jill reads me the riot act.
Actually, she’s taking photos of Edgar the Eagle with her I-pad.

Jill arrived back in Canada a few days ago from a quick visit home to Scotland. On the connector flight she contracted a severe bout of the Queen’s own snifflis and has been honking and coughing drastically ever since. Maybe my wife was aboard with a cargo of immigrants from Europe and what she has, and I’m getting, is an exotic strain of camel virus from Syria. I was south for a few days which involved surgery to remove a creature with no eyes that was growing in my plumbing. I’m sure it’s not the dreaded C-word, I’m too damned fat for that, but the recovery is a bit miserable. So we’re having a low-key Noel.

The brilliant red sunrise of this morning was rapidly pushed inland by a mass of warmer air. A stormy night is forecast with heavy wind, rain and snow forecast. A heavy ominous overcast has arrived. The cabin lights have been on since 2 pm. As darkness settles flags are beginning to crackle and the trees are flailing. It seems that yon virgin went south in search of a silent night. Meanwhile, in the midst of all this doom and gloom, we have a loaded barge with, among other things, a beautiful new crane, slowly listing further and further to one side. The freshening wind may capsize the whole rig but that’s life.

On Boxing Bay, the barge is listing badly and there’s a vicious variable wind blowing. Apparently instructions are to leave things alone, but it frustrates me to not try and prevent an apparent inevitable tragedy. No-one will be injured but the old adage of a “Stitch in time to save nine” seems appropriate. Finally a local working mariner gave in to his compulsions. Rob went out after finding a working pump, levelled up the barge and drove some wedges into the worst of the leaks. There are some great folks here.

 The Lst


The Lst

Rain and sleet are pelting in the swirling, gusting wind. It is a miserable winter day. Jill and I are confined to the boat. Friends invited us to a wonderful Christmas dinner yesterday but now we sit like two rats trapped in a small cage as the boat lunges and rolls at her lines. I feel badly that Jill has come to endure this. We are both ill and miserable. She will have an indelible impression of Weirdwater and I doubt it will be positive.

The next morning yields a grudging release of blackness just after eight o’clock. Barrages of ice pellets and thick rain drops have bulleted the boat all night. Jill is not eager for the boat to leave the dock. This is the first full winter I’ve spent here and I find myself marvelling at how the Heiltsuk and other coastal nations survived millenniums of winters. How did they stay warm? Fed? Sane? I can’t imagine sitting around in cedar-bark long johns for months with the incessant taste of fish in my mouth and a permeating dampness everywhere. We can romanticize the “Good Old Days” all we want, but clinging to select parts of an ancient culture does not seem to inspire anyone to return to a fully authentic aboriginal existence. I certainly do not have any interest. I like warm insulated rain gear, dry feet, electric and diesel-fueled heat.

I extend my speculations to being a pioneer on this coast. Not only did you have to live with, and learn from, the indigenous folks, yet felt compelled to implement white man methods whether they worked or not. If you wanted a little farmland each tree had to be felled by hand, then removed or burned. Considering that one tree might contain nearly enough wood to build a barn it was a lot of work. Then you had to deal with the stump. There are photographs of hollow stumps so big that people built homes inside them.

Vancouver Housing Crisis-100 years ago. Downloaded fro the archives of www.vancouverisawesome.com

Vancouver Housing Crisis-100 years ago.
Downloaded from the archives of http://www.vancouverisawesome.com

Many folks must have worked themselves to death. In many places along this coast, where people worked so very hard to carve out farms, or even whole communities, there is little or no evidence remaining of these human dreams. Perhaps a small feral fruit tree is the only monument to a hard and futile existence. That’s depressing, but then, how many of us will leave something of value to succeeding generations? The population on the central and north coast once supported a large fleet of coastal steamers and supply vessels. Now that population has dwindled to a tiny fraction of its former numbers and getting supplies in is an ongoing problem despite the availability of modern aviation.

Frosty Bog. Bleak beauty where deer and wolves roam.

Frosty Bog. Bleak beauty where deer and wolves roam.

The Devil's in the details. Finding beauty everywhere.

The Devil’s in the details.
Finding beauty everywhere.

The weather is dreary. Rain, wind, snow and clear skies can occur all withing twenty minutes. Our daily walk devolved to a 20 minute drive on sleet-slick roads and then checking my spam. First I was warned of a sexual predator in my neighbourhood and then someone from Mahé in the Seychelle Islands wanting to “Date me” tonight. I didn’t realize that Shearwater was so close to the Seychelles. I feel no warmer. I’ve managed to inherit Jill’s flu and have coughed myself to a near-death feeling. There are some residual effects of the surgery and every minute for the past few days has been misery. The weather is bleak and raw, at best, we have about seven hours of light. I fear Jill will never want to see this place again and I certainly understand. Today she flew home. The taxi operator in Bella Bella was not answering his phone and we began the long uphill walk to the airfield. A very kind lady summoned a relative and Jill had a ride. I am repeatedly amazed with the spontaneous kindness of many folks in Bella Bella and am cheered with the hope that provides. The airfield was fog-bound for most of the day. Late in the afternoon Pacific Coastal airlines sneaked in through the fog banks and Jill is now hundreds of miles to the south. It is one lonely night. I have a few more days to recover from my infirmities and adjust my head to the new year ahead. The daylight is supposed to be slowly increasing and there be more adventures ahead . Happy New Year.

Weirdwater. Weird Ice.

Weirdwater. Weird Ice.

Kliktsoatli Harbour. "Can't have rainbows without rain."

Kliktsoatli Harbour.
“Can’t have rainbows without rain.”

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”                                                                                                  ….Albert Einstein

Iwannasayphukit

"Must've been something in the eggnog!"

“Must’ve been something in the eggnog!”

It took me a while. I’ve been threatening to delete my account almost since I opened it. Told that I can’t succeed as a writer without a Facebook account I’ve decided to rename it Assbook. I DO NOT have over seventeen hundred friends and it is hard to believe there are more thronging to have me on their page. I’m weary of checking my e-mail to discover that someone else has determined I need to review images of their neighbour’s grandchild eating cake. Or their dog wearing a dress. C’mon! Sadly, there are several friends and relatives with whom I lose my link but the internet and cell service up here in the backwoods is too sketchy to wrestle with something which has proven to be more nuisance than benefit.

Winter solstice moon. Bitter cold, extreme tides, wolves howling.

Winter solstice moon.
Bitter cold, extreme tides, wolves howling.

Same moon, same night. A few miles down the beach. Photo downloaded from the La Manzanilla online bulletin board. Mexico on my mind.

Same moon, same night.
A few miles down the beach.
Photo downloaded from the La Manzanilla online bulletin board.
Mexico on my mind.

I became completely disillusioned when I tried to unsubscribe. It was a fight. Clearly Facebook does not want anyone closing an account. It is difficult to even find a Facebook has grudgingly conceded control. The account is deactivated for a couple of weeks until it is finally deleted. That ordeal confirmed, to me, I was doing the correct thing. I’ve learned there is a large group of frustrated former Facebook subscribers who hold similar concerns and also don’t want their personal information filed away in perpetuity. Trying to unsubscribe from Facebook has confirmed that I was doing the right thing.

It was extremely difficult. Is there life without Facebook? It feels better already.

"Not a word! I don't believe one damned word."

“Not a word! I don’t believe one damned word.”

I’ll readily admit I hold some “Big Brother” conspiracy paranoia. The masses seem mesmerized by the weaving tentacles of social media. There are insidious aspects of giving up information and control to some faceless force. Whether in Vancouver or Shearwater folks can’t seem to move without texting, texting, texting. Anything that can insidiously persuade masses of people to enslave themselves in common mindless activities frightens the hell out of me. I refuse to say “baa” and I challenge everyone to ask questions.

It is Christmas time. We’ve had a long bout of sub-zero temperatures. Ice and frozen snow cover our world, including the ramp down onto my dock. At low tide it is very steep and too dangerous to use with its slick crust of ice. We’ve had extreme tides in the last few days with a range of up to nearly eighteen feet. For a couple of days it seemed the ramps were inclined upwards at high tide. We were very close to being inundated. Thank the gods there was no wind. In a few more days, our daylight begins to increase in minute amounts. We won’t notice for several weeks.

WHOOSH! The ramp at mid-tide. As seen from the cockpit of 'Seafire.'

WHOOSH!
The ramp at mid-tide.
As seen from the cockpit of ‘Seafire.’

 On frozen pond. a deep freeze in the bog.


On frozen pond. A deep freeze in the bog.

My obtuse humour is ever-present. A few days ago, while bent to my work I came up with the name of an ancient village. I’ve already invented a community named Klem-Three which is a few miles up the coast from Klemtu. Now I’ve decided that Shearwater is sitting on an ancient site once named Iwannasayphukit. I don’t know what brought on its demise, but there’s still a feeling about the place. Everyone leaves. At this time of year, the name makes perfect sense.

What's Christmas without children? This is the local elementary school Christmas play, "The Elves And The Shoemaker." The school has an enrolment of nine.

What’s Christmas without children? This is the local elementary school Christmas play, “The Elves And The Shoemaker.” The school has an enrolment of nine.

I wish everyone a wonderful Christmas however you celebrate it. May all have someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to. And…BUMHUG!

A Seafire Christmas Best wishes for all.

A Seafire Christmas
Best wishes for all. (I’ll replant the tree in a few days)

 

The main reason Santa is so jolly is that he knows where all the bad girls live.”

… George Carlin

"Thas' better. Happy New Year and keep yer pecker up."

“Thas’ better. Happy New Year and keep yer pecker up.”

Frozen Weirdwater

Wrong Way Train Trust me...sitting at the head end of a sky train car hurtling into a tunnel marked DO NOT ENTER. A strange part of the journey on the way to the place in this blog's last photo.

Wrong Way Train
Trust me…sitting at the head end of a sky train car hurtling into a tunnel marked DO NOT ENTER. A strange part of the journey on the way to the place in this blog’s last photo.

CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE

All photos taken with my cell phone)

Weirdwater is a term of endearment I gave to Shearwater when I first arrived. It is a ‘Hooterville’ sort of outpost manned by unique characters, aberrant personalities and general misfits. I am one of them. I make no apologies for clinging to my individuality. After a few days in a large city I’ve affirmed my refusal to join the vast ranks of the faceless and mindless. As my hero Billy Connolly says, “Feckin’ beigists!”

Despite being involved with hurtling endeavours most of my life, I still have a fascination with the speed we creatures nonchalantly get around on our planet. Yesterday I started out within the nest of a few million people. It took me less than an hour and a half to cover the congested miles from North Vancouver to the airport terminal. There is no way anyone in a car could cover that distance within a multiple of the time and cost. I sat at the very front of the Canada Line Skytrain as we hurtled between stations. Two ladies in the seat behind spoke in loud Arabic. A wonderful language to listen to, both musical and staccato. It sounds as if that language is spoken from the back of the mouth, instead of the front as English is spoken. I need to develop a better grasp of my mother tongue before worrying about anyone else’s. At least today I write without the brain-addling effects of residual hospital medications and the resultant poor grammar. Within the muddle that Vancouver has become, as it morphs into a world-class city, I think it is wonderful to realize the richness of ethnic diversity and how that enhances our collective Canadian identity.

Oddly, contemplating communications, the night before I watched a splendid new movie called ‘Arrival.’ It was largely about learning how to find a common working language with aliens who had dropped in to help us resolve our global issues. No graphic violence or sex but very absorbing and thought-provoking. It was well done and kept me awake, (which may be due in part to a defective theatre furnace.) So now that I’ve survived the adventure of a hospital visit, fondled fresh produce yesterday on Lonsdale Street, watched a movie and savoured various ethnic cuisines I’m back to the blunt reality of being back here and living within parameters that are presently frozen hard. Despite the warnings of global warming it seems we are in the grasp of an advancing ice age.

Above the storm. Beneath the clouds a winter storm rages with blasting wind and bulleting snow. Warmer, moist Pacific air comes ashore rising over the colder heavier outflow air descending from inlaid.

Above the storm.
Beneath the clouds a winter storm rages with blasting wind and bulleting snow. Warmer, moist Pacific air comes ashore rising over the colder heavier outflow air descending from inland. Snow, snow, snow!

Holy Snappin'! The flags crack in a stout winter wind. The boing sea at the edge of the Port Hardy airstrip. The green stain on the wing is residual de-icing fliud applied in Vancouver.

Holy Snappin’!
The flags crack in a stout winter wind. The boing sea at the edge of the Port Hardy airstrip. The green stain on the wing is residual de-icing fliud applied in Vancouver.

Say no more. This photo explains it all. A very ugly weather day.

Say no more. This photo explains it all. A very ugly weather day.

Are we having fun? I was very happy to be inside the airplane instead of in a boat down below.

Are we having fun? I was very happy to be inside the airplane instead of in a boat down below.

Whoosh! Down underneath the solid overcast we hurtle northward past Safety Cove on Calvert Island. We have a wonderful tailwind.

Whoosh! Down underneath the solid overcast we hurtle northward past
Safety Cove on Calvert Island. We have a wonderful tailwind.

Yes! Readers know it by now. Hakai Pass country.

Yes! Readers know it by now. Hakai Pass country.

Any port in a storm. A safe enough anchorage but a boat on the hook there would be twisting and grinding on its anchor chain. A big catspaw is clearly visible well into the bay. Been there, done that. All too often!

Any port in a storm.
A safe enough anchorage but a boat on the hook there would be twisting and grinding on its anchor chain. A big catspaw is clearly visible well into the bay. Been there, done that. All too often!

The peaks of Denny Island. White patches beneath are snow-covered bogs.

The peaks of Denny Island. White patches beneath are snow-covered bogs.

My flight home was put on a reduced schedule because of a dire weather warning. After a treatment in the deicing station we ascended into the encroaching blizzard and flew north with the front tickling up under the edges of our kilt. We landed in Port Hardy in weather conditions that were on the edge then raced on up the coast with a brisk tailwind. The good old boy up front threw his IFR book out and dove underneath the clag to slap us safely down at Bella Bella in record time. This old pilot always loved flying low and fast. I enjoyed the ride thoroughly and wouldn’t have done a thing differently. (high praise indeed!)

Bella Bella no, not the big white patch. that's bog. The community is strung along the shoreline in front of the bog land. It is the center of the Heiltsuk Nation. The airfield is to the west of the village, on the right side of the photo.

Bella Bella
No, not the big white patch. That’s bog. The community is strung along the shoreline in front of the bog land. It is the center of the Heiltsuk Nation. The airfield is to the west of the village, on the right side of the photo.

On short final, a few seconds before landing in Bella Bella, Shearwater is at approximately the two o'clock position above the bright gleam, at the top of Kliktsoatli Harbour. HOME IS WHERE THE BOAT IS.

On short final, a few seconds before landing in Bella Bella. Shearwater is at approximately the two o’clock position above the bright gleam, at the top of Kliktsoatli Harbour. HOME IS WHERE THE BOAT IS! The view is Eastward over Seaforth Channel, Rithet Island is to the right of center, Lamma Pass in the distance on the right.

Now here I sit in old ‘Seafire’ trying to stay warm. The forecast is for a long spell of cold weather with temperatures about fifteen degrees below normal. A massive Arctic high is parked in the middle of the continent and outflow winds all the way from Saskatchewan whistle through the rigging. The water supply is frozen, the cabin is sixty degrees inside with a forecast of descending temperatures over the next several days. The dock pops and squeaks in the cold. Well I have complained incessantly about the eternal rain! BBBBugga! Be careful what you wish for.

Where the blogs come from... SEAFIRE is moored behind the islet beneath the arrow. Lamma Pass is beyond Denny Island. Past that is Campbell Island and on its Western side the waters open onto the open Pacific. To the right of the arrow the large building is the remaining WWII aircraft hangar where I work. The T-shape of the guest dock is visible. Between it and the hangar are the restaurant/pub, grocery store, hotel, fishing lodge, laundromat, a grocery store, marine store and novelty store. The postal code is V0T 1B0: Very Odd Town Only 1 Bar THAZZIT! Downtown Weirdwater

Where the blogs come from… SEAFIRE is moored behind the islet beneath the arrow. Lamma Pass is beyond Denny Island. Past that is Campbell Island and on its Western side the waters open onto the open Pacific. To the right of the arrow the large building is the remaining WWII aircraft hangar where I work. The T-shape of the guest dock is visible. Between it and the hangar are the restaurant/pub, grocery store, hotel, fishing lodge, laundromat, a grocery store, marine store and novelty store. The postal code is V0T 1B0:
Very Odd Town One Bar Only
THAZZIT! Downtown Weirdwater

You haven’t seen a tree until you’ve seen its shadow from the sky.” — Amelia Earhart

A Funny Thing Happened in Bella Bella

 

By Cracky! winter comes to Shearwater. The fresh water than runs into our little bay keeps growth on the hull-bottom to a minimum and also freezes quickly. I guess ice will also grind something off the bottom.

By Cracky!
Winter comes to Shearwater. The fresh water than runs into our little bay keeps growth on the hull-bottom to a minimum and also freezes quickly. I guess ice will also grind something off the bottom.

On my last trip south I learned that I had a tumour in my bladder. Yes, you can call that a “piss-off.” I’m getting used to being sliced and diced in the name of medicine so it’s more of an inconvenience that something to worry about. I went to the lab in the Bella Bella for some routine pre-op samplings and we discovered that once again I have tachycardia. I know I’m a tacky fellow but this is ridiculous. For the second time this year my pulse has set itself up around 140. The cure is a procedure called a Cardioversion. Essentially you are electrocuted and resuscitated successfully. Hopefully the heart rate is reduced to a normal thumpalong and life goes on after the reboot. That’s why I’m sitting in a hotel room in North Vancouver. Actually the Lonsdale Quay Hotel sits atop the public market and is a lovely, affordable hideaway in the heart of the mess which Vancouver has become. It seems weird to be here after sitting in the Bella Bella terminal, such as it is, barely three hours ago. The raucous laughter of the local women working behind the ticket counter surged while really good blues music boomed out of the coffee bar satellite stereo. They’re still there, now I’m here. I was amazed to realize that while I waited in the air terminal of the remote village of Bella Coola I was emailing to and from contacts in Scotland, Arizona, Nanaimo and South Africa, all within seconds. What an amazing world we have in our hands, if only we would learn to be more positive with it.

There's nothing like airport signs to keep you guessing. Thank fully someone decided there should be clear directions at Bella Bella International.

There’s nothing like airport signs to keep you guessing. Thankfully someone decided there should be clear directions at Bella Bella International.

"In the Early morning snow, with no place else to go." The flight line-up at Bella Bella. a gorgeous Beaver and a Cessna Caravan on amphib. floats.

“In the Early morning snow, with no place else to go.” The flight line-up at Bella Bella. A gorgeous Beaver and a Cessna Caravan on amphib. floats.

One dead-sexy airplane and where your Telus phone bills go. This Cessna Caravan is all painted up in company colours. note the registration on the tail. I took this photo while the pilot backed the airplane into position.

One dead-sexy airplane and where your Telus phone bills go. This Telus Cessna Caravan is all painted up in company colours.
C-FTEL note the registration on the tail. I took this photo while the pilot backed the airplane into position.

I’m no city boy. Vancouver has risen from a somewhat quaint city to a sprawlng steel and concrete monster with none of the personality I recall it once having had. Combine that neo-chrominess gleam and harshness with zero-minus temperatures the place has become like a metal dog bone. How people live here amazes me. I’m sure they’d feel the same way about seeing my boat frozen in at the dock in Shearwater. In the three hours of travel from the mid-coast rain forest I’m on a different planet. The flight from Bella Bella arrives at the south terminal of YVR. A direct flight takes less than two hours. My flight was via Campbell River presumably to round up the load with more passengers. For some God-stupid reason everyone flying out of Campbell River has go through airport security. That means get off the plane with all your baggage and be inspected by a squad of geriatric goons wearing latex gloves. Then tyou get back on the same plane. “Ziss ischt ze border to ze real vorld.” WTF? There are no security checks on a direct flight to YVR.

BRRR! That's Canada down there...and for a few thousand miles to the East, and North.

BRRR!
That’s Canada down there…and for a few thousand miles to the East, and North.

For a few rare minutes... The valley floor enjoys sunlight. Months can pass without that happening again.

For a few rare minutes…
The valley floor enjoys sunlight. Months can pass without that happening again.

It is the goofiest thing I’ve ever experienced. A flight to Vancouver is in domestic airspace and why US Homeland Insecurity is this far-reaching completely baffles me. One’s person and one’s possessions are x-rayed. Belt buckles and keys, laptops ecetera are fondled, drinking water dumped out, shaving kits swabbed. Geez Louise! I beginning to brace for rectal probes, DNA swabs and a thorough dog-sniffing. This, on previous inspections here, was accomplished by burly Amazons hurling commands in Eastern European accents. If I’m a bit non-plussed, you should hear the indignations from Amurican travellers caught in this foolishness. Some hefty corn and pork-fed hombre, probably named Duane, with an Iowa accent, crossed his arms and whined “Wots with all this shit anyhoww?” Last time I looked, Campbell River is not spiked to the world map anywhere near Islamabad or Kabul. I find it hard to believe that the friendly town is a nest for ISIS, El Quaida or the Taliban. Paranoia and politics have no bounds and I’ve learned not to voice any questions when being processed like a sheep. “Jus’ shaddup Lil’ Pokey and get back on the plane. They ain’t friendly heah!”

Yet another of my ubiquitous shots of Hakai Pass. Hawaii is somewhere out there beyond the starboard wingtip.

Yet another of my ubiquitous shots of Hakai Pass. Hawaii is somewhere out there beyond the starboard wingtip.

Snowy Meadows All that untrodden vastness! Snow angels and skidoo tracks...it's all yours. I'm not interested.

Snowy Meadows
All that untrodden pristine vastness! Snow angels and skidoo tracks…it’s all yours. I’m not interested.

A shuttle bus wafts the traveller to the main YVR terminal where one easily finds the Sky Train connection. For a very modest fee you are rocketed into the heart of the city, the train stopping to accumulate more sardines, between high-G accelerations and stops. I found myself disgorged in the old CPR station which is the hub of all lower mainland transit. I made my way to the Seabus (More fishpacking) for the ride across Burrard Inlet. My hotel looks down on the terminal. As I write I reflect on the mass-movement of urbanites.

World-over they have a perpetual need to push and shove and try to be first in any crowd. “Look you old bugger, that seat is going to same place this one is. Just relax!” Almost all have their heads bent to their texting, music plugs wired into each ear. All this density, all this detachment. Eye contact and smiles apparently frighten most people, but because I am a bit burly, and know how to fluff myself out like an old cock owl, I feel safe to conduct my ongoing survey for my amusement and research. Even a geriatric babushka seems to think a smile may be the foreplay for some indecent assault on one of her massive oaky legs. C’mon now! I know better than to smile at children, I might just be one of those!

The Seven Pillows Of The Kamma Single. What the hell am I going to do with seven pillows...alone? It doesn't take much to impress this bog trotter. Not even vaguely does it resemble my bunk in 'Seafire.'

The Seven Pillows Of The Kamma Single. What the hell am I going to do with seven pillows…alone? It doesn’t take much to impress this bog trotter.
Not even vaguely does it resemble my bunk in ‘Seafire.’

At the entrance to the hotel there is a Christmas tree lot where young couples painstakingly select the perfect tree. I’ve spent a lot of time in the forest, and being a logger I wax nostalgic to any coniferous smell, but there is something unique about the aroma of all those cut trees in the crisp winter air. It must be the blend of the different species but that fragrance instantly brings up images of Christmas memories warm and good, dark and painful. I move on quickly.

My Other Brother Fred I've often joked about him and you thought I was kidding. I could not resist the novelty of two mirrors. Yup...bushwhacked!

My Other Brother Fred
I’ve often joked about him and you thought I was kidding. I could not resist the novelty of two mirrors.
Yup…bushwhacked!

After occasionally sampling the fare of the only restaurant in the Shearwater / Bella Bella community it is a shock to indulge in a wide choice of ethnic restaurants and pubs. Meals are priced quite reasonably (compared to Shearwater) and the food is very good. You are not ignored if you are a single patron (unlike Shearwater) and the only problem is savouring the aromas of other restaurants once out of the one where you just ate a bellyful. I believe that was a simple essay on the merits of competition. Well, home is where the boat is and I must go back…for the time being.

Tiny Bubbles This photographer never knew he was my subject. The bubbles came from a machine and this bush baby loved them.

Tiny Bubbles
This photographer never knew he was my subject. The bubbles came from a machine and this bush baby loved them.

ATTESSA "That yer girlfriend's boat?" I don't want it, just wish I could afford it.

ATTESSA
“That yer girlfriend’s boat?”
I don’t want it, just wish I could afford it.

Hell! I couldn't even buy her flags.

Hell’s teeth! I couldn’t even buy her flags.

I’m now writing from my hotel room after two visits to the Lion’s Gate Hospital. Yesterday I had to endure a procedure that required me to endure a phallic object being stuffed down my throat in order to do an ECG of the dark side of my heart. I was semi-medicated. Today I was given the treatment; a Cardioversion. Yes, it was indeed the religious experience that it sounds like. Once again having to dress in a bum-flapper I was wired and plumbed like a fighter jet, all the while a geeky little doctor advised me about “THE RULES ” as he plunged and twisted an intravenous needle into the back of my hand. The broohaw was about how I would get home after the procedure. I walked a mile downhill to the hotel yesterday. Today I was wheel-chaired into a bus, hydraulically loaded aboard and driven down that same mile to a corner nearest the hotel. Landed on the sidewalk, I immediately walked three blocks back up the hill to a pharmacy to have a prescription filled. It felt great! What I really needed was a walk.

Street art on Lonsdale Avenue. I recalled a woman who called me an "Ass-half." she explained that she didn't think I was man enough to be considered and ass-whole.

Street art on Lonsdale Avenue. I recalled a woman who once called me an “Ass-half.” She explained that she didn’t think I was man enough to be considered an ass-whole.

It doesn't take much to impress a backwoods boy. In Small shipment of compost.hearwater we have to content ourselves with a bi-weekly shipment of compost.

It doesn’t take much
to impress a backwoods boy. In Shearwater we have to content ourselves with a bi-monthly shipment of compost.

I was delighted to find this nearby sign but it took a few minutes of asking before I could actually find the theatre. It seems that in the cyber age we're losing the simple skill of clear communication.

I was delighted to find this nearby sign but it took a few minutes of asking before I could actually find the theatre. It seems that in the cyber age we’re losing the simple skill of clear communication and signage.

Chiba Garden North Vancouver has done a lovely job of developing its waterfront. This little Zen world is beneath an overhead walkway, beside a leash-free dog park and next to a train track. Very nice.

Chiba Garden
North Vancouver has done a lovely job of developing its waterfront. This little Zen world is beneath an overhead walkway, beside a leash-free dog park and next to a train track. Very nice.

The real thing

The real thing

Ommmmmm

Ommmmmm

A promise of spring. despite the wintery weather...and it's not even winter yet.

A promise of spring. despite the wintery weather…and it’s not even winter yet.        Pussy Willows!

 

I’m grateful to all the good folks at the hospital, who work twelve-hour shifts in those windowless beige and puce chambers filled with moaning, groaning patients. Most seemed to enjoy my attempts at stand-up comedy. There’s nothing like a little comic relief to stir the pot.

One nurse asked me to “Wiggle up in my bed,” then “a little more.” I had some fun with that and discovered who did, and did not, have a sense of humour. To me there is nothing more comforting than a care giver with a sense of humour and nothing more frightening than one with none. Finally it was time for my treatment, the dreaded ‘Cardioversion.”

With a large electrode placed on either top and bottom of my heart, and a light dose of La La juice, there was an instant bolt of lightning in my chest. KA BLAM! Wot a buzz dude! All’s well that ends. My pulse rate is back within the speed limit.

I even liked the garden fence.

I even liked the garden’s fence.

Now I’m resting and waiting for the morning when, hopefully, I can return to Weirdwater. There is a snow storm forecast for Vancouver tonight. The windchill factor where ‘Seafire’ is berthed is predicted to be minus fifteen celsius. The adventure continues and getting ‘Seafire’ south never seemed more hopeless. This is the time that something really good might happen. We just have to hang in there.

Old Dick Head Someone has done a very nice job of emulating a Rapa Nui mola, but I, of course, took a ruder view. I'd love to have him in my garden, if I had one.

Old Dick Head Hisself
Someone has done a very nice job of emulating a Rapa Nui mola, but I, of course, took a cruder view. I’d love to have him in my garden, if I had one.

A ship in the night slips in but before dawn's early light I'll have taken flight. tomorrow night I be back in pit- pitch dark with only the howling of wolves. Seems strange.

A ship in the night slips in but before dawn’s early light I’ll have taken flight. Tomorrow night I’ll be back in pit- pitch dark with only the howling of wolves.
Seems strange.

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.”

….pub signboard downstairs

Staying Cozy

Go to Mexico…. End of blog.

A hospital room with a view. "Cain't beat it with a stick!" Room 8, Bella Bella Hospital looking down Lamma Pass

A hospital room with a view. “Cain’t beat it with a stick!” Room 8, Bella Bella Hospital looking down Lamma Pass

For most us who live in northern climes, especially those of us in coastal areas, we’re here for the season despite our most vibrant fantasies about Southern locations. Some of those who read my last blog, and are here for the winter, have enquired about the air exchanger which I built and installed to help keep old ‘Seafire’ drier.

This was once my business, I’ll try hard to not sound as if I’m trying to sell anyone anything. You can build one of these yourself very inexpensively if you are at all handy.

If you want one for your house, go to Home Hardware Online and type in “Humidex” or dehumidifier. If you have a tiny house, an Rv or a boat you may well have a problem with condensation, mould and /or bad odours. I am a mariner and so I’ll explain this with specific nautical considerations but the same physics apply whether in a picnic cooler or any size or type of home..

First, understand that a boat is designed to keep water out. That design also necessarily works quite well to keep moisture in. Next consider these simple principles:

Warm air rises.

Warm air holds more moisture.

Cooler air is heavier than warmer air and tends to sink.

Moist air is heavier than drier air and tends to sink.

These four facts are what creates all the complexities of global weather.

Within an enclosure, in this case a boat, moist stale air will settle into the lowest areas such as the bilge, lockers and cupboards; anywhere there is inadequate air movement. Soon there are copious amounts of water, mould and slime. Many people try to combat this by using heat sources and wrapping the vessel with plastic. It is the worst thing to do, warm air holds more moisture and drives cool, damp air down into non-ventilated areas. The plastic seals everything. If you walk the docks in wet weather you may notice older boats with hatches partially open. This is passive ventilation. Natural air flow definitely helps keep a boat drier.

I’ll mention the crystals marketed as a means of drying a boat and declare them to be snake oil. Yes, they fill with water extracted from the boat’s atmosphere and appear effective. However for every molecule of water absorbed, one more has been drawn into the already damp interior of the boat. If these desiccants are spilled, there is now a toxic, corrosive mess inside the vessel. Dehumidifiers are expensive, power-hungry and often require constant attention and servicing. The drawing below is from a brochure I designed in my business of building and selling air exchangers. It illustrates how air exchangers work. They are very simple, very effective and require no maintenance.

How it all works.

How it all works.

Here’s how you build one from pieces found in nearly any hardware store. The fan is the key piece and is what many folks call a muffin fan, or a computer fan. They are brushless and use miniscule amounts of power and may be 12 volt DC 120 volt AC as you prefer. Ideally choose one with an outer frame size of 5 or 6 inches. You can also find them quite affordably from several online sources. Now find a plastic box or make one of wood to set the fan inside and make one round opening four inches in diameter on either side. Install a round 4” collar into each opening. You will attach 4” flexible ventilation hose onto either piece of collar.

Just a fan in a box with some flex hose...KEEP IT SIMPLE!

Just a fan in a box with some flex hose…KEEP IT SIMPLE!

I acquired my box from the electrical department at Home Depot. The collars were 2- 4” abs pipe couplers which then were welded firmly to the edges of the holes I’d cut with abs pipe cement. Lead the two wires from the motor out through a small hole you’ve made in the side of the box and connect to a power source. Always use a fuse or circuit breaker. You can include a simple switch and /or a humidistatic switch (Often used with bathroom ceiling fans) to turn the unit on and off automatically at a specific humidity level setting.

A typical "Muffin" Fan

A typical “Muffin” Fan

Make sure the fan is extracting air through the flexible tube from a lowest possible point in the boat and that the fan is positioned as close as possible to the intake source. The fan discharge tube can be led to an existing ventilation cowl or ventilator or simply stick it through a port light. You’ll need a little imagination, but that is part of the fun and satisfaction. Folks often ask how these simple little machines work on a rainy day when the outdoor ambient humidity is very high. The answer is that by moving air into an enclosure it expands. The amount of moisture in the cubic mass does not and so the air becomes drier. You may want to provide a make-up air opening or grill to let the unit better pull the air down into the air exchanger but so long as there is negative pressure (or suction) the results of this little machine should be magic.

There need be only a gentle, quiet constant movement of air to make a noticeable difference. These small units work great in Rv’s as well. Have fun! I’m happy to answer questions.

UNPLUGGED I found this electrical cord on the dock still plugged in on the other end! Sea water and electricity make a poor mix.

UNPLUGGED
I found this electrical cord on the dock still plugged in on the other end! Sea water and electricity make a poor mix.

Ugly Punt Competition Eat your hearts out Bella Bella. I found this one in Nanaimo. Clearly, someone knows exactly what they need.

Ugly Punt Competition
Eat your hearts out Bella Bella. I found this one in Nanaimo. Clearly, someone knows exactly what they need.

UGLY TRUCK A Shearwater . Yes it still runs. Think of the captions: She's almost paid for. Ford Tough. Hydroponic Windshield. Complete with hair bags, Home of the organic mechanic.

UGLY TRUCK
A Shearwater Icon. Yes it still runs. Think of the captions:
She’s almost paid for.
Ford Tough.
Hydroponic Windshield.
Complete with hair bags,
Home of the organic mechanic.

The elegant punt. a clever local has used a fish tote and a truck canopy into a wheelhouse . Glass windows and an opening windshield with wiper must look real good,from inside, on a snotty day like today.

The elegant punt. A clever local has turned a fish tote and a truck canopy into a wheelhouse . Glass windows and an opening windshield with wiper must fine,from inside, on a snotty day like today.

Good old CBC Radio occasionally has an outstanding story. Last week, in the wake of Fidel Castro’s death, an interview with his sister, Juanita, was aired. She had joined him in the revolution but after it had succeeded she abandoned him and fled the country. She accused him of betraying the democratic ideals of the revolution and of founding a new dictatorship as cruel and insidious as that of Batista’s. Living in Florida she was also ostracized by her fellow Cuban refuges. She had not seen her brother in fifty-two years. For the last two days, CBC has been off-air; storm damaged we suppose.

A Big Sniff. We all know bears can't read. Right?

A Big Sniff.
We all know bears can’t read. Right?

Another tragic story, to me, came from Ocean Falls; a few miles up the inlet from here. This community is the site of a former company town built around a paper mill there. The entire location is abandoned with only a few fringe-characters clinging to life in this macabre setting. Two young cougars had been allowed to frequent the town site and after they’d killed a seal on a dock it was decided they had become too familiar with the small community to not be considered a hazard. Conservation officers were called and the beautiful cats were shot. I make no judgement on this story, I don’t know the details. It does seem interesting that almost invariably, when raw nature and civilization interface, the creatures which conservation officers are sworn to protect, will likely be shot.

Hanging Bear...the legend! That's one helluva lawn ornament. In for the winter in the carpenter shop.

Hanging Bear…the legend!
That’s one helluva lawn
ornament. In for the winter in the carpenter shop.

Hey hey, Hey hey Bang! Some wit has expressed their regard for the Great Bear Rain Forest.

Hey hey, Hey hey Bang!
Some wit has expressed their regard for the Great Bear Rain Forest.

I have written this blog while sitting in my room in the Bella Bella Hospital. The view is spectacular. It is easy to imagine that I’m in a grand hotel except for the tubes and wires. It’s more heart trouble and it ain’t no fun. I’m being shipped to Vancouver next week for treatment, another session of electrically stopping and restarting my heart. I should soon know how to do this myself by now. The staff here are wonderful and have helped ease me through a grim ordeal. As night began to fall and the few buildings on Denny Island which I could see began to light up, it was dramatic to realize what a wilderness we live in. Just miles and miles of miles and miles. So few people. Then the wind-driven sleet and rain slammed onto the window and shrieked under the eves. Isn’t it funny? I used to pass here regularly on the tugs. I once started a story called “how many shades of blue.” Now here I am, sitting in the biggest, bluest building in town watching tugs and barges go by.

A northbound tug in Lamma Pass. It is a view of how I first discovered Bella Bella sliding by the wheelhouse windows. The R. W. Large Hospital was the biggest building on the foreshore. it still is.

A northbound tug in Lamma Pass. It is a view of how I first discovered Bella Bella sliding by the wheelhouse windows. The R. W. Large Hospital was the biggest building on the foreshore. it still is.

Much later I’ve finally been allowed to go, with a pocket full of pills and instructions for a hospital in Vancouver next week. I stand alone on the sea bus dock waiting for the last boat back to Bella Bella. It is very dark and a penetrating wind tears into my no matter where I seek shelter. My wife is tending to family business on the other side of the planet. I have not felt so cold, bleak, hungry and alone in fifty years. Dark memories crowd into my head. Finally back on the boat I arrive to hear the gale alarm bleating. It certainly is an ugly night. Before dawn, two parked helicopters will be blown about and smashed into each other. I make a mug of tea and turn on the radio to sit and defrag a little. I learn that Andrew Sachs has just died. He was 86. He played Manuel on the BBC Series ‘Fawlty Towers.’ I smile as I remember him and his famous line.

Que?”

The Real Thing Surf Bird, Prince Rupert. Wooden hull, aluminum topsides. A true beauty passing by.

The Real Thing
Surf Bird, Prince Rupert.
Wooden hull, aluminum topsides. A true beauty passing by.

Tough Bird Edgar the Eagle sits in the early morning rain, inches from death in the power lines, looking as bedraggled as I feel. There's a long winter ahead.

Tough Bird
Edgar the Eagle sits in the early morning rain, inches from death in the power lines, looking as bedraggled as I feel. There’s a long winter ahead.

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

…Albert Einstein