Monthly Archives: May 2018

Blossoms and Boats

Red Dogwood in full glory.

Well, the exuberant celebration of spring blossoms is winding down. I’ll post a couple of Dogwood flower photos,.They’re now all gone from the trees. We’re into the black cottonwood, or alder as they’re commonly known here, season of blowing seeds.

Cottonwood seeds ready for launch.

A drift of Cottonwood seeds. Only one in a million needs to take root.

Until the next rain, the stuff will be everywhere. Doesn’t this look like a warm and fuzzy creature?

It’s clear why they’re called cottonwood. The Scotch broom is in its spring bloom, much to the misery of allergy suffers. There will be a second flowering in late summer, but for now we’ll just worry about what we’ve got on our plate. Already, there is a smell of smoke in the air which heralds forest fire season. that’s just too darned early.

Standard White Dogwood blossom, British Columbia’s floral emblem

Dogwoods downtown

Apple blossoms, just to help the perfume in the air.

Scotch Broom, an invasive species that tortures some allergy sufferers. I think the flowers are beautiful.

Before I go further I should mention a really awesome shop I visited up in Courtenay. A good kayak store is hard to come by but Comox Valley Kayaks have been in business for many years, and for good reason. I’d never stopped in before but was looking for a couple of items I could not find anywhere in Nanaimo. Even without my kayak along they fitted me out with the perfect items and at a fair price. The service was great, the staff knowledgeable and friendly (Even the lovely black German Shepherd) and the inventory quite impressive. I’m recommending them because I am that impressed. They only offer what is reasonable to expect, and all too rare it seems. That makes it commendable.

The Ladysmith Maritime Society’s own wooden boat fleet. Lots of varnish, elbow grease and love.

The ‘Ontario’ the way we used to run our navy.

The grates of wrath. No place for bare toes.

Morning calm, head of the parade is ‘Herself’

Now where’d I leave my mug?

Foredeck detail of a 1954 Chris Craft

Hit me

What is there to say?

The name says it all

A stack full of pipes

A gleam in her eye

The office

There was a wooden boat gathering in the Ladysmith Maritime Marina last weekend where ‘Seafire’ is moored. I walked the docks early on Sunday morning before many other folks were up and about. My camera whirred. Now these folks are gone home to more varnishing and painting and I’m left here praying for some cloud cover to do my own painting out of the direct sunlight. So without any social comment (for a change) I’ll simply post my photos and hope you enjoy them. By the way, the mystery about the little aluminum sailboat in the last blog has been resolved.

That little tin sailboat again. There were over 1400 of these sold. Where are they now?

Lou, one of my faithful readers sent me information which reveal the boat was sold by Aerocraft Petrel Sailboats in the US. The boat was designed by the famous Philip Rhodes and built by Alcan Limited right here in Canada. Go figure huh? One photo I found shows a boat with a Transport Canada approval that indicates it was also sold by Eaton Viking. Cool! Thanks for the help Lou.

‘Herself’ and nothing but.

If you can love the wrong person that much, imagine how much you can love the right one.” …Bob Marley

Under The Wires

Montague Morning
Looking north from our anchorage. This mega motor-sailor drew me in. It has no character but sure is grand.

Montague Harbour, Victoria Day Weekend Saturday (Already a week ago) We’re anchored off the north beach of Montague Harbour. There are boats around us but nothing in comparison to the plastic mat of floating Tupperware inside the harbour itself. You can probably walk across that bay by stepping from boat to boat. I wonder if yachts are included in the calculation about the tonnage of plastic debris littering the world’s oceans. I know, I own one too. At night, the dazzle of all the mast and deck lights looked like a piece of the city. I guess I simply don’t understand getting away from it all.

Now THAT’S my idea of a real boat. Rugged Westcoast beauty with a low-maintenance hull and work boat toughness.
Hit me!

No name, no flag, shit-brindle-brown hull and dead lovely. A fine-looking tugboat conversion kept us company as we left Ladysmith Harbour.

Jack under an ancient yew tree at Montague.

Looking northwest into the Gulf Islands. Wish you were here.

The Yew Crew

In the heat of the afternoon Jack dug a hole and settled in.

North Cove, Thetis Island.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a small farm with a beach? Hey that’s my cow under the Corona umbrella.

There is the usual hub-bub of screaming babies, yapping dogs, whining runabouts and jet- skis, loud raunchy music, shouting, squealing young people and a few grumpy-looking older farts; like me. I’ve never anchored off this beach before and generally avoid the harbour itself, especially during the summer “Yachting season.” I don’t like going where the crowds go and I don’t like the high-voltage electrical power lines which hang over the harbour. It is all nice enough I suppose with all those folks trying to hurry up and relax. Jack certainly likes all the other dogs and the easy digging in the shell beach. There are always annoying people and it seems that the most imposing, noisy characters stop and hang out next to you. One group stopped and dig for clams right on top of the dinghy’s beach line. Apparently I’d beached the skiff on the only place where there were clams. I just let it be.

Western Trumpet Honeysuckle…don’t ever call me that again! This wildflower is a passion of hummingbirds and its stems were often used by natives for bindings and weaving.

Stonecrop in bloom on Portland Island. It was once revered by pagans and placed over their doorways as a protection against fire.

In the lazy calm of Sunday morning the sound of waking children drifted across the flat water and mixed with the honking of geese futilely defending their territory. Dogs yelping happily on the beach played with sticks. Jack and I rowed ashore to join them.

No mooring above the high water mark. Aftermath of a winter storm at Port Browning.

A Petrel dinghy. Ever heard of one? I can’t find any information. It is made of beautifully formed aluminum!

An incredible view from the pub deck at Port Browning. You can see across the border into US waters. Jack was even permitted to be with us on the deck. How civilized!

The Stern Light.

We meandered on south to Port Browning. There is a lovely pub with a spectacular view, a fine beach and best of all, a broad lawn where dogs are welcomed. Now on Tuesday morning we’re waking up in another beautiful anchorage on the south side of Portland Island. Sleep is glorious, long and deep in the gently rocking boat, once you’ve jammed your salt-sticky toes between the sheets. It is placid with a rich light and calm waters. Seabirds mutter on the shore among a profusion of flowering stonecrop. Too soon we’re back at the dock in Ladysmith, four days shot past as if in a dream. We live in this wonderful part of the world, it is our home. Sometimes that reality is taken for granted and a trip through the Gulf Islands is a great way to refresh the appreciation of where we live. And, by the way, not once did we have to stop and shuffle papers with any officialdom. Let’s hope no-one decides to build a wall.

Seafire anchored at Portland Island.

One of the fabulous beaches on Portland Island. An old man later sat in that inflatable dinghy, still well up on the shore, and practiced his rowing strokes. I thought it was hilarious.

A real boat. A beached peapod, rigged for sailing.

A view from
Portland Island into Fulford Harbour on Saltspring Island.

Our final stop along the way was Telegraph Harbour on Thetis Island to take on a little fuel. $200. bought 132 litres! That’s almost $1.50 per litre, in a country which has plenty of its own oil and natural gas. It makes economic sense for me to sail on down to the US for fuel where the price is approximately half of ours and it is a resource that came out of our ground! Yep another yelp about the chicken farmer who goes to town to buy eggs.

Does this hurt your eyes? It was intended to. A sunrise over a fantastic wee private island next to Portland Island.

Evening dreams of some place far away.

Sleeepy! You are getting sleepy. Jack nods off after a long walk ashore. Portland Island has wonderful hiking trails.

Still sleepy.

The sun has been beating down out of a cloudless sky. Slopes and meadows which usually stay green until early summer are browning already. Mid-summer flowers are already in bloom. This spring has been an orgy of blossoms, a rich, massive display of exotic colours. Blooms which usually linger, this year have suddenly come to their end. On the sea, there is a thick oily-looking plankton bloom which most of us agree we’ve never seen before. Fools and new-comers predict the weather but I suspect we may be in for either an incredibly hot, dry, smokey summer or it will turn wet and cool. It is a given that there will be a lot of complaining no matter what happens and certainly global warming will be blamed. No matter, each day is all we have and we may as well do our best to enjoy what we have. If I am not on the boat painting furiously to take advantage of the fair weather I’ll be on the beach under a Corona umbrella.

An eagle buoy. Yep, that white stuff is bird droppings, usually cormorants and gulls.

“Stop waving your back flippers at that boat. See! Now they’re pointing one of those THINGS at us.”

Seafire’s lovely old rowing dinghy. Keep on floating.

Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.”…. Will Rogers

Maple Street

Maple Street doorway. Imagine all who have passed through here and what their business may have been.

A little rain on Maple Street

Old town charm in spring

It is suddenly all around me. I race to absorb the magic of it all. The grey eternity of winter and the crawling advance of early flowers have past. It is like waiting at a crossing for a train. You can hear it in the distance, slowly, it seems, approaching then suddenly roaring past. A few days ago thousands of geese and swans flew northward again high into the thin cold sunsets. Suddenly, friends gone south for the winter are back and on the same day, the martins returned, squabbling and flitting about as if they’d never left their little purple turds staining whatever they fall on. It has been an especially vibrant spring for trilliums and fawn lilies. Each time now I bend to photograph another flower the little voice on my shoulder says “Fer chrissakes, how many more do you need? A flower is a flower is a flower. C’mon!” But the breath-taking perfection is irresistible to me. There is an intensity of colours and a hope for better times ahead. For a few days in the past week the temperatures soared and I was among the winter survivors who emerged wearing shorts, my fluorescent knobbly legs absorbing the delicious warmth. I want to sop it up like a sponge, taking nothing for granted and storing it away for the next winter ahead which we know is not really that far away. As you get older you begin to see things that way.

Two blocks from the beach.

It rained today. Painting boats was out of the question. On the old Saltair highway south of here there is a lovely little bookshop. The owner doesn’t much care if he sells any books. He likes being surrounded by books and sits placidly reading while his ubiquitous Polynesian music plays softly. He says he simply enjoys the company of others who like books. A few minutes further there is a wonderful Thai restaurant in Chemainus that makes incredible food. A lunch was in order. The restaurant nestles on a quiet, old residential street. The repast was superb, elegant, exotic. The proprietor’s five-month-old baby girl, a black-eyed smiling beauty, greets patrons from her carriage in the corner. Within a few doors of the old building I’d found enough good photos in just a few minutes to complete this blog. Photography is a grand way to celebrate life, finding beauty and inspiration in simple things we look at and seldom see.

Spring rain in the park

The greening

These plants are called Vanilla Leaf and are a traditional insect repellant by hanging them in bunches.

The profusion of brilliant wildflowers continues.

More trilliums

Meanwhile my struggle with the holy grail of making a first film continues. It is a noble quest while I shall win. I am learning all the things which won’t work. That’s progress!

I’ve waited all afternoon!

.A natural law: A dog at rest tends to stay at rest.

A dog in motion tends to disappear.