It seems, for me, that many great trips begin with a passage on the M.V. COHO to Port Angeles Washington. With a minimum of fuss she backs and turns her 341′ length neatly from her berth in Victoria’s inner harbour, then manoeuvres nonchalantly out for the channel and idles her bulk past the rocks for the open Strait Of Juan De Fuca. Today we cross on a calm sea under a lowering sky. There is a gentle swell on our beam, that siren call of the open Pacific. At least to me it is. The old girl rolls gently and seems to enjoy herself. (You can easily pick out the landlubbers. “Weah not in Iowa no more Doreen!”)
This old beauty is the remnant of the famous Black Ball Line. Built in 1959 she is in immaculate sea-worthy condition. Clean and clearly loved by her non-uniformed crew this old ship is privately owned and actually makes a profit; she keeps on running year after year. The crew perform their duties with practised ease and in far fewer numbers, it seems, than on a BC Ferry. (We’ll blame crewing regulations!)
Her modest self-sufficiency flies in the face of our BC Ferry fleet. This provincially owned and individually manipulated (Note I did not say managed) corporation has older vessels as well as near-new European-built luxurious super ferries. Often rust streaked and grimy, the fleet is run by massively overpaid executives who are constantly trimming services and increasing fares. One recently appointed board member, whom I know, was previously at the helm of a very successful family logging business which had been founded by his father. He ran the business into total bankruptcy. He was soon accepted to help manage our provincial ferry fleet. I’m sure we would find that his annual BCF remuneration package, including benefits would have most of us feeling set for life. Yes a single year’s worth! Yet the corporation consistently tries to increase fares on its patrons. For those readers who are not familiar with life in this corner of the world all I’ll say is that other ferry services, including the one run by Washington State provide efficient, safe and reliable transport. Enough said. It can be done.
I am off once again to the annual Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria. It seems that the last one was only a few weeks ago. Despite several health issues and my hopeless finances I am able to attend thanks to the very generous support of my wife Jill. Once home again, I must find new sources of income, finish refitting and outfitting old ‘Seafire’ and the little trailer then get down to Mexico. Two doctors have now suggested the move. Despite my general disdain for quacks I intend to take their advise this time. I’ve been talking about this dream for long enough. Einstein once said that you can’t solve a problem by using the same thinking that created it in the first place. Maybe, if I put on a tie, BC Ferries would consider me. My financial prowess would certainly put my in line for a position on the board of directors.
Four days later I’m back on the Coho northbound for Victoria. Events at the Fisher Poet’s Gathering are all a happy blur. My performances were all a splendid success and my duties as an MC went without a hitch. My ego has been massaged, my writing and reading talents have been affirmed and I’m heading back to the old dogfight with a slightly swelled head.
On the first night all the performers have a dinner where we share some of our new work with each other. By coincidence, I found myself seated next to a California fishermen whom has the same last name. It was our first meeting.
“No shit, your name is Bailey too!”
“Yep, even the same spelling. But then it’s a common name. I doubt we’re at all related.”
“Probably not but do you know Uncle George?”
“Oh yeah, you know him too!”
“God yes! He must be one ancient old fart by now! How is he?”
“Same old dick he ever was.” And the so the improv banter went much to the amusement of the rest of the table. It’s a great joy meeting other birds of a similar feather and the time passes in a rush as we visit with each other and present our work to the public, some of whom come great distances to see and hear what we have to offer.
I spend my free time there touring and photographing the town which is a lovely place self-resurrected from the ashes of its demise after both the fishing and the forest industries collapsed. Spring is arriving a bit early this year, blossoms were out everywhere and there were some warm, clear sunny days much to everyone’s delight.
I’m posting plenty of photos which help describe Astoria and some of its charms. I’m looking forward to next year already. I’m also happy to report that I have finally successfully posted one of my books, ‘The Water Rushing By’, on Amazon/Kindle where it is available as an e-book or as a print-on-demand paperback. I’ve several other books to upload into their inventory so there’ll be no dull moments. Sideways Ho!
“When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem starts looking like a nail.”…anonymous