Invasion Of The Dufi

Invasion Of The Dufi

Pick me! Warm weather and perfectly-timed rain showers have produced a bumper crop of succulent blackberries. Delicious right off the prickly vine, they are also a seedy treat when thawed and used in baking during the long winter ahead.
Plum full. A feral plum tree was almost “Ripe for the picking.” I picked a hatful to bring home to fully ripen before the birds took them all. No apologies. They are plum yummy.

Friends report nasty weather in far away places wet and hot, wet and cold,depending where you are. Here on Vancouver Island the weather is superb for the beginning of August, exactly what one would expect. We’ve had a little rain now and then and there is a gentle breeze so the temperature rising through 28° C seemed perfect for a long-weekend Sunday morning. Without a boat, what was there to do but go for a drive? Driving a near 200-mile route in a circumnavigation of Southern Vancouver Island it was soon obvious that Paradise has been fully discovered and over-run.

Rugged beauty. This is ‘Noroue, a Corbin 39 cutter. She has been the pride of a dear friend who has taken her around the South Pacific. Well equipped, a good voyager, spacious and cosy below, she may be coming up for sale. She’ll take you anywhere and be a fantastic home.

The small town of Lake Cowichan lies inland on Vancouver Island at the east end of the lake from which it takes its name. The lake, and its sister named Nitinat, almost bisect Vancouver island into two halves before draining via the Cowichan River into Cowichan Bay. The two lakes drain in opposite directions. It is the short stretch of solid land, about eleven-hundred metres, between their head water streams which formally keeps Vancouver Island a single entity. The name Cowichan is an anglicized perversion of the original Coast Salish Quw’utsun which means “Warm valley.” It is lyrical and easy to remember, especially when used so often. The name is synonymous with fantastic handmade native woollen goods as well all the wine now produced throughout the area. I’ve joked that among some of the undulating vineyards here, you can almost imagine you are in Provence.

Across the Jack Gap. Clearly it was built just for him. This is on Butte Islet in Ladysmith Harbour, recently purchased as parkland by the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
Money well spent in my opinion.
Arbutus aromatherapy. It is the time of year when dried leaves fall from our unique Arbutus Trees. When stepped on they emit a fantastic aroma.
Smooth! A Gulf Island peek through an Arbutus (aka Madrona) tree. One of my favourite trees!
A summer view from Coffin Island in Ladysmith Harbour. I have a new appreciation of being able to get out there on a full-sized boat. My inflatable boat just does not fill the bill for long trips but Jack loves it.

It was certainly a warm valley today with the truck thermometer peaking at 32°C (89.6ºF) while stuck in the crawling traffic on the main street of the little town. Stopping to photograph the chaos would have just added to the danger and chaos. Folks wandered everywhere and the sights were amazing. Bobbling mounds of human anatomy, apparently held together with stringy bits of clothing, looked absolutely out of place as folks in various states of undress wandered through the swollen traffic of a historic, rustic community. I am no prude, nor a letch, and I’ve long-ago accepted gay rights (I’ve yet to hear of a heterosexual rights parade) but geez people! Obese rights? Bummer!

Rafting down the Cowichan River from town is a summer tradition. You could have walked the river without wetting your feet. It was jammed with flimsy plastic donuts filled with squirming, squealing pink creatures of various shapes and sizes. I thought of spawning jellyfish. There was no place to stop and photograph the incongruous sight. Plastic debris in the planet’s waters is clearly an urgent situation even well inland. There is also probably a carpet of aluminum drink cans on the bottom of the river.

Don’t laugh, it’s almost paid for! Actually this 1919 Franklin is a local vehicle regularly driven. Note the standard license plates. One hundred years old, it will outlive cars yet to be built. Beep!
Currently boatless and RV-less, this factory-built Japanese RV certainly caught my eye. It is cleverly designed; although a bit small for my needs, but I’ll take it!

The drive was a frustration of strange driving habits. I coined several terms for the characters encountered along the way. ‘Dufus’ will do to cover them all. Is the plural, Dufi? For some reason, there were repeated near-head on collisions with motorcycles leaned hard over on the wrong side of the road’s curves. Have you ever noticed how folks tend to use a common driving quirk on any given day? Laws of random stupidity were clearly in effect. There is a paved logging road stretching between Lake Cowichan and Port Renfrew which is on the open outer coastline of the island. It can be a beautiful leisurely drive of about an hour. Yesterday’s little trip was not. There is no centre line painted and expecting the next WTF was soon an obvious requirement. It was impossible to drive and also admire the scenic splendour of the route. There was no relaxing. I took no photos.

Some photos beg to be taken.  Someone donated this old umbrella to a local dog park.

Every spot providing any access to the clear forest streams was clotted with parked vehicles. Each tiny camping nook held at least one group, all campgrounds were seething with weekenders. It seemed impossible that the backwoods could be so overrun. Botanical Beach Park at Port Renfrew was so clotted with people and parked vehicles that creeping along the access road was a challenge. All this in the name of ‘getting away from it all.’ How I miss my boat! Finally hunkering down on a tiny bit of roadside beach, the Strait of Juan de Fuca was airlessly, flat calm. Very eerie indeed; this is a body of water known by many professional mariners as “Wanna Puke Ya Straight” in respect and dread of its often huge tormented seas, a product of days of usually strong winds against eternal massive tides.

Morons! Stopping for a roadside pee, we found this abandoned campfire still smouldering. Yes, I did! It is incredible that anyone can be so incredibly stupid and ignorantly selfish. Folks love the back country but have no respect. They left all their plastic junk as well.

Returning homeward along what were once back roads, one of which, after many decades of use is now blocked, was also hell. More WTF! New routes led through what was once a distinct suburb of Victoria. Langford is now a sprawling, faceless, soulless mess of grey boxes which folks call home and blurs into a megalopic sprawl. Where they’ve come from, and what all the people do here is a mystery to me. There is no fruit to pick, no more lumber to stack, few fish to pack. WHAT do they all do? It would seem that everyone must be hard at it building ever more houses for ever more of the inbound. I am reminded of all those dreary British row houses, but they at least have a bit of character, and a regular displacement of pubs. Here, it seems, the most common vendors of distractive substances are now marijuana dispensaries.

Next winter’s milk. This corn will feed local dairy cattle.
Cows? It looks edible to me.

The final leg back to home is the gauntlet of the Vancouver Island’s highway. Even though I drive it often, there is always another new subdivision and even more shopping which has sprouted up like another patch of toadstools. The quaint charm which drew me to Vancouver Island seems lost. Perhaps I am simply jaded, but the swelling population on the south island has precluded what once was. I keep seeing something new and find myself asking, “Hey isn’t that where the old ……….. once was?” Victoria just feels like any other city now. The city’s inner harbour has been mutilated with a monster yuppie yacht marina. Folks in boats of less than fifty feet appear to be an endangered species. There is now a plan in place to ban the ubiquitous horse-drawn carriages. I suppose flowers will be next on the hit list. Or perhaps the Parliament Buildings; a great location for more condominiums. I admit I am a tiny part of the problem and this island is not much like the place it was when I arrived almost four decades ago.

Yesterday I realized an affirmation about my latest video effort which I posted recently on YouTube.

A comment about our drinking water and how carelessly we consume it, I put it together after buying some bottled water to carry in my vehicle. I discovered the water had been bottled in Texas! Of all places! With its dusty aquifers, from where does Texas import water. Sudan? Well, (There’s a pun!) please give it a thumbs up if you like the video at all. I truly appreciate every bit of help.

Leaf it be.  An interesting natural abstract.

With a tough enough time selling my own books I seldom flog someone else’s work. However, I have just finished devouring ‘The Devil’s Highway’ by Luis Alberto Urrea. The writing itself is tremendously artful, combining the subject of illegal walk-in immigrants trying to cross some of the most hostile deserts in the world, with the convoluted bumblings of politicians and bureaucrats in both the USA and Mexico. This book gave me a new understanding of the US Homeland Security effort and I am very sobered as someone who likes to walk in the desert. My jokes about ‘Homeland Insecurity’ will be subdued from now on, these folks have a thankless job and their efforts are as much about saving lives of those lost in the desert as about catching illegals. Even if you do not have a fascination with the area, or care  anything about it, the work is an absorbing read and one of the best pieces of writing and research you’ll find in a long while. We gringos do tend to take so much for granted.

Got it! Nice crest!
I trespassed. I had to photograph this rare pine rose. Actually, a feral rose bush has vigorously invaded this feral pine, another invasive plant and part of an abandoned garden at an abandoned logging camp at Jordan River on the shore of Juan de fuca.
The rare Jordan River Pine Rose.  Seeds for sale!

Today has become a glorious cloudless, hot, calm holiday Monday holiday afternoon. The local British Columbia Day fireworks had Jack the dog in a fury last night. Now all is placid. Traffic on Mad Max Way, aka the Island Highway, seems to be humming along nicely without, for the moment, any chorus of sirens. Is it time to get out there and become part of the problem?

Dem’s da berries! Soon to be ripe.
Stone daisy. Just add water. This bunch is growing on the river bottom along the Nanaimo River.

We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.” Jacques Cousteau

New And Improved

Yet another Dog Patch dawn.
Life goes on down on the waterfront without my daily presence. Jack and I continue to survey the rhythm of life from afar.
‘Rolano’  In the first photo this is the boat in the distance on the right. This shot of her was taken two years ago on Cortes Island. I would expect to see Popeye doing a jig on the foredeck. She’s someone’s dream. “I yam wot I yam!”

Regular readers of this blog will have noticed that the format and appearance of this blog have suddenly changed. I have found a local cyber wizard whose magic fingers worked their wonder before my eyes. He left me feeling like a cave man! The blog is hopefully now more appealing and easier to navigate for both myself and visitors to find specific subjects. My ulterior motive is to increase my readership and thereby make the site a good place for businesses to advertise. I thank all my regular readers for their support but it’s time to try and monetize. All donations gratefully accepted even though I have no Phoenix church fire fund. I should explain why the blog is now called “Part II.” It is simply referring to the blog as it evolves past the sale of the boat for which this work was first named. The crew lives on.

The Rig. I join the millions of Rvers on North American roads. Hopefully my small (18′) trailer makes some sort of statement… it is all I need. Yes, all the lights work, even the ones on the roof rack. After a near-fatal near-encounter with a mule on a Mexican road in the night, I’ve decided that seeing what I’m going to hit is a good idea.
Them’s the brakes. To avoid worst-case scenarios I inspected and serviced all four trailer brakes. Auto manufacturers make bold claims about what their product can tow but never discuss stopping. It is one of the reasons I decided to buy a larger truck. It achieves the same fuel consumption as a smaller four-cylinder import truck I owned and yet has the mass to keep the tail from wagging the donkey.

A few days ago my old dog Jack and I walked around what know as our river loop. It is within a local regional park and our regular route is a little over a mile. That’s not far but Jack, with all his sniffing side-explorations, he is usually exhausted by the time we arrive back at our vehicle. The return leg is along one bank of the Nanaimo River where we often see interesting wildlife and flowers. At the moment fawn lilies and current bushes are in full bloom. We usually meet other fine dogs in the company of their lovely owners. Despite a gloomy damp overcast, we enjoyed our trip there. That evening a message from Google appeared on my mobile phone. “Did you enjoy your visit to the Nanaimo River Regional Park today?” What the hell? This old dude was frightened and angry. What cyber eye watches when I go to the bathroom? Or hug my dog? Or anyone else for that matter! Is there no privacy or any more respect for the individual? I have no secrets nor conduct any nefarious activities, so why are my daily activities being monitored. I know it has to do with the settings on my phone but what an affront! I am not broadcasting my activities. Why can’t they focus on the bad guys?

Damn I miss my boat! I suddenly ache to again be in places without cell phone coverage. On the water, I’m less vulnerable to other’s invasive snooping. Obviously, by using GPS tracking, big brother monitors who is where doing what. The thing is, I did not use my phone while on my walk today and I am totally mystified. If I’d made or received a call I would understand. If I go online to research any item I’ll soon get popups about similar available products. That I understand, irritating as it is. But this! Some days the biblical prediction about “The Mark Of The Beast” seems entirely possible. Suppose we all were required to bear a micro-chip which would work not only as an electronic transaction facilitator but also as a constant tracking device. If you did not have one, you could buy nothing, get no medical services, have no employment, in short, do nothing within society. Not having one would be an ultimate crime. Big brother would know where and how long you slept, with whom and how often you went to the bathroom. If one truly wanted to live “off the grid” they would have to become like a Sasquatch and probably be hunted as vermin. A wild, far-fetched idea perhaps; but try travelling without a credit card. Really! We’re not that far away from such madness.

George Orwell knew his stuff, just like Alfred Einstein knew his black holes. I understand that I use the internet to to do my research, communicate with folks, post my blogs and videos. Every time we look at any imaginable item online we have to endure pop-up cyber sales pitches from several sources for that item for days afterwards. Privacy is what we give up for modern convenience. It is part of what we call being on the grid. We live like sheep with ear tags, which, by the way, are now often herded with drones. Shepherd for hire!

Work on the truck and trailer is finally at an end. (for now) The time has come to actually hook up and go somewhere. As usual the spending curve has been steep and alarming but I now have all the gear to be fully self-sufficient for extended periods. I have tools including a massive jack-all, shovel, axe, mechanical tools, a power saw, an air compressor and a lovely little generator to run it and charge the trailer’s batteries as needed be. There is also a solar panel. I have a kayak to perch on my home-made roof rack and an inflatable boat which I can roll up and transport in the back of the truck along with a new outboard motor and all the other gear. To complete my heap of “stuff” there is also an old bicycle. It is rebuilt but looks suitably shabby to help discourage thieves. I know it works. I look shabby and no-one ever tries to make off with me!

A Trillium in the woods. They are beautiful to me.
Beside the pathway a few days ago.
Their evolution this morning.
To soothe an old sailor’s heart.
Weep not for me. I will bloom again.

I know I’m doing the same old thing as I have with all my boats. I put my time and resources into trying to make a perfect vehicle and never get around to actually leaving. The funds have all gone into my notion of perfect road worthiness. Other folks just go and deal with issues along the way. Learning a little more spontaneity is clearly something I need to work on. My positive negativity was learned during my aviation indulgence and usually, I have few nasty mechanical surprises on my adventures. Of course, there was the old van which I recently took south that, despite careful preparations, still managed to provide plenty of troubles. Those issues did lead me to meet new folks and have new adventures. Blessings and curses, they go hand in hand.

Where Jack and I begin a favourite walk… flowers everywhere.

Here’s a link to my eighth completed video posted on You Tube. As my self-taught skills slowly evolve I already look on my first efforts with a little bit of chagrin. Videography is a challenging and frustrating art. I had to start somewhere and have a huge new respect for accomplished video artists, especially those who produce brilliant wildlife works. Maybe, one day I’ll be able to humbly approach their ranks and stand among them. That’s something to work toward!

Seen one, seen them all. Well maybe for you, but not for me. I am still in a state of numbness at the moment, my recent blogs explain why well enough. It’s called mourning. However, spring is reluctantly advancing and although late, there is a profuse display of flowers. First the snow drops, then the fawn lilies and next as berry blossoms and periwinkles appear, so come the trilliums. A long-ago refuge from southern Ontario I revere them as the rare and official provincial flower of that province. Here in BC, they are much more common but just as magically beautiful. Despite their delicate appearance they are hardy and grace the forest for two or three weeks each spring. I find each one is unique. It is impossible for me to settle on one single photo as representative of their fleeting spring extravagance. So here are a bunch . Not one was picked. Enjoy them while they last. All photos in this blog were taken with my mobile phone. My serious photo gear languishes on the shelf. As usual, all images in my blogs can be enlarged simply by clicking on them.

Blooms on Forward Street on another rainy day. Ladysmith Harbour lays in the background.
WTF flowers. I found these in a local front yard. I don’t know what they are, but I sure like them.

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” …Maya Angelou.

Changing Spark Plugs In The Rain

Schooner Spring
How can I post a ‘Seafire’ blog without at least one nautical photo? Beyond the greening meadows of Swallowfield a schooner drifts gently on calm water.

We’ve had several lovely days of spring weather. The afternoons have been glorious. The blossoms have emerged and the woods are leafing out with that fabulous early-spring chlorophyll green. Magnolia trees bloom. In order to survive the reality of being boatless I have been head-down busy. I have over six years of blogs to review, categorize and tag. In that process I’ve come across wonderful photos which I’ve forgotten and I realize how rich were the years when ‘Seafire’ was part of my life. I am a very fortunate fellow.

I swore that I’d never buy a black truck again nor one manufactured in North America. Here’s my previous truck parked beside my new one. I swear I’ll never own another boat again!
Original paint! I saw this 1952 GMC flat deck at the BC Ferry Terminal in Horseshoe Bay. The same age that I am, it is still working for a living and in much better shape! My GM truck is 67 years newer and will probably be in the scrap yard while this old beauty is stilling going strong.

I am also tinkering up my new old truck and trailer and it seems that I am turning that endeavour into a career. The to-do list goes on and on. A final job under the hood was to install new spark plugs. It sounds easy enough but with the sexy new-style spark plug wires, it was a challenge. Of course, as soon as I opened the hood and disabled the engine a cold, steady wintry rain began that was born on a gusting wind. I’m sitting beside the fireplace now with a tepid coffee and soggy joggy togs. They’re not sweat pants this morning. I haven’t had breakfast yet, which is part of the trendy Keto diet I’ve embarked on. My health issues demand that I shed some poundage so it’s fish and spinach for me. The doctor was mumbling about getting my stomach stapled, I replied that it would be a lot easier to staple my mouth. I also responded that after my recent trip through the US, I know I am NOT obese!

And now for the ubiquitous annual spring flower photos. This is the first Dogwood blossom I’ve seen this year. The petals are green before they mature into white or subtle pink. The Dogwood is British Columbia’s provincial flower.
A feral daffodil
Gravel blossoms. I’ve no idea what these little flowers are.
Fawn Lilies have emerged everywhere in the woods.
Oregon Grape in bloom.
Trilliums too.

But I know he’s right, I’ve spent too many years talking about going back towards my flat-bellied youth but lip laps don’t burn many calories. It’s get off the pot time. There was a time when buying shirts was an effort to find some that allowed my arms to fit through the sleeves. Now it is about finding something which will button around my belly. I’m in big shape. I’ve joked about having a place to set my beer but I can no longer be a gluten glutton. It’s killing me. As Hercule Shwarzenegger might say, “My pecs have fallen.”

I retain an indelible image from my recent trip south of a portly man wearing sweat pants with a revolver in a holster strapped around his girth. The sheriff from Bigofme! Bib overalls are another fashion favourite. I’ve even seen those striped beauties cut off above the knees for a summer fashion statement. Ad diamond knee socks and rubber Walmart sandals. You’re stylin’ dude! Now add a T shirt that says “I’ve Beat Anorexia.” It ain’t funny but it is! Some folks actually seem proud of their personal grandeur. In a US motel a while back I saw a TV ad from a liposuction clinic advertising how you could lose thirty pounds in one day. The next ad was for McDonalds. That’s funny!

Spring trail. Jack is somewhere ahead of me absolutely savouring all the spring scents.
“Run through the jungle.” Well crawl, hack and stumble maybe. Soon to be hidden under a fresh verdant blanket, this tangle will get a little thicker.

One bit of progressive news is that I’ve acquired a dinghy for the next boat. It is another Achilles inflatable which is in great shape. Achilles are made from a product called Hypalon which survives the UV damage of southern latitudes quite well. They also perform very nicely. This one can be deflated and packed in the back of the truck. I’ll have a seaworthy boat wherever I go, even in the desert. I found a fabulous price on a brand-new outboard for it, which is a first for me. (Both the price and something new) No more cobbling on someone else’s cast-off. How decadent is that?

Fresh! A spring morning after the rain ends.
The greening of the slough. After a long bleak winter, everything is lush and beautiful.

Nothing lasts forever, everything comes to an end. Since the first paragraph of this blog, I have finally completed the dreary ordeal of reviewing and stuffing each blog into its own little box. I can see how the blogs have improved through the years. My attitudes have changed and I hope that the boring, repetitive rhetoric which I’ve produced at times can be forgiven. There has been a lot of navel-gazing and negative comment. If I can see that now, surely I am evolving positively. I have also noted how friends have set out and completed adventures and dreams. I’m still here blogging away and yapping about what I’m going to do. Seafire is gone. She was the precipitation of this blog which was supposed to be about all the voyaging ahead. It would be a good time to say thank you to my readers and end the blog.

Oh for the wings of a vulture!
Ugly as sin when perched, a turkey vulture is incredibly beautiful in flight. They are soaring masters and ride fleeting breaths of rising air like dreams. For some reason they kept circling me!

But, the blog has become a force of its own. And, there is plenty of voyaging ahead. This effort helps give my life added meaning and from reader’s comments around the globe, I know it does make a positive contribution. If I achieve nothing else, I provoke some folks to ask questions and wonder at all the wonders. So begins ‘Seafire Chronicles’ Part II.

Jack in dog heaven in the soft sand on the banks of the Chemainus River.

Life is what happens while you are making other plans.” … John Lennon

Everything improves with age … I’m incredible!” … Bumper Sticker

You Guys

…but not this one.The ‘Taconite’ was built in 1930 by Boeing of Canada. The solid teak hull is 125′ long. Her annual budget just for paint and varnish must be formidable.
Back in the puddles again (You know the tune!) This is Jack’s bliss. He can plunk around like this all day.

Last blog I briefly outlined some experiences with scammers while shopping for an RV. Well, some folks don’t learn. Through various windows on-line I came upon a site that promised to find paying work for my writing and also offered online training manuals to help my writing and marketing skills. All I had to do was sign up. Yup! Dummy!

Being wary I did peruse their site carefully and then decided to take a chance. Their prices seemed reasonable enough to consider risk-worthy. I subscribed. While I was immediately welcomed to their fold, there was no receipt provided for my payment. A warning light began to flicker. I downloaded their manual but my computer refused to open it and offered some dire warnings. I finally noted that there was no upfront contact phone number or email address. My brain was finally on full alert as the monkeys on my shoulder again began to chant, “chump, chump, chump.”

Daylight in the swamp. A little sun and warmth changes everything.
When I was a young boy I’d gather these, soak them in paint thinner and light ’em up…just like in the movies.

I called my credit card provider and began the process to unravel my stupidity. They helped me find a contact e-mail address and so the letters began to flow. The counter-measure dialogues began and continued until I mentioned my blog and a promise for negative advertising. They agreed to reverse the charges and told me in polite terms that it was my fault if the download could not be opened. However, all the gadoodle settings are just fine and always updated. I am since wisely advised that I should always first check online to see if there are any reviews or scam alerts about any online services that are enticing. Good advise! So… will you take a posted dated cheque for that bridge? It’s more proof that there’s no fool like an old fool.

Wonderfully camouflaged and a master of stealth, the rare Log Elk could venture forth in broad daylight for a drink yet seldom be seen.
An ancient Gary Oak beside the moth of the Chemainus River. Imagine all it has seen through the centuries.

I have paid off a loan with the Royal Bank from the proceeds of the sale of ‘Seafire.’ which releases me from a hefty monthly payment. Being on a fixed income, I can now breath much easier. This ‘Omnipotent Bank’ is like all others, an organization which is not warm and fuzzy. I had no such expectations. They squeezed me for every possible penny. One of the reasons I had to give up ‘Seafire’ was that this bank refused to honour a disability insurance for which I dearly paid a monthly premium. Heartless greedy bastards! They can go on the ‘S’ shelf with the other scammers.

Spring in the saltmarsh.
It was covered in snow two weeks ago. This is the estuary of the Chemainus River. It looks like an interesting place to kayak.
Ah shucks! For me? It’s tulip time again.

Here in Ladysmith on Southeast Vancouver Island it is safe to finally declare that it is spring. Afternoon temperatures are suddenly into the teens. (We’re metric here, you folks in the US.) In town the streets are alive with the sound of lawnmowers, leaf blowers and pressure washers. Down on the highway there is the snarl and throb of motorcycles. Young folks in their cars are over-revving their engines and squealing their tires with the slam-slam-bam of rap music on boom box speakers at full volume. I think I preferred heavy metal, and I hated that. Folks are wearing shorts that display their fluorescent white shanks all the while still togged up in toques and winter jackets. As I write, neighbours cavort on their sundeck in the shade of late afternoon. The men are shirtless, the women are wearing tank tops. It is still very cool out of the sun but clearly spring is a state of mind as much as temperature. Birds sing spring songs, children play loudly in the streets, old farts sit and write blogs about what other folks are doing out there.

On that note let me share this with you. It is too hilarious to just leave. I swear it is true; I am not making it up. Subscribing to a daily e-bulletin board, which is faithfully and wonderfully posted, from La Manzanilla, Mexico I have read some amazingly stupid and gormless gringo complaints. Presumably folks go down there to see something different and experience the exotic. But then there are characters who write stuff like this. It is the ultimate and I copy it verbatim. “While I have enjoyed my stay here (For the most part) this morning I was again awakened by really, really loud birds. I could take this if it was a once in a while occurrence but it’s been happening every morning. Shouldn’t you guys form a committee or something to do something about this? My landlord neglected to mention this “little issue” and it’s another reason (dusty streets, buses without climate control) I’m withholding my rent payment again this month.”

I repeat that I did not make this up. This uproarious humour was seriously posted by someone calling themselves “Broman.” Imagine having this dude on your strata council!

I had to comment. I suggested that birds, dusty streets and warm buses are all part of the romance of Mexico. I wondered which Arctic city the whiner calls home. Maybe the problem is a daily tequila hangover; but Geez Louise! I know we are surrounded with the “me” generation and then there is the “me too” bunch but where the hell do these people come from? YOU GUYS…yeah right! There were sixteen other responses as scathing as mine.

Another sure sign of spring.

At my home, I’m busy tinkering-up my new used truck and trailer. This old aircraft mechanic does not like to wheel out onto the runway without having everything in top shape. No Max 8 surprises for me. This habit has helped kept me alive through the years. I call it being “Positively negative.” I have repeatedly learned that by assessing worse case scenarios and preparing for them is an excellent habit. In addition, my frenetic activity is a way of dealing with my loss of ‘Seafire.’ In my “spare” time I’m working to upgrade this blog and do a much better job of marketing it. It’s gonna be good! But busy, busy for now.

My ubiquitous annual snowdrop photo

Living on Vancouver Island has its transportation problems. Residing on an outlying island multiplies the expense and inconvenience as well as lost time. But no-one is forced to live removed from the mainstream. Commuting is a big business here. BC Ferries has a stumbling way of dealing with what is a life-line to thousands. Many folks commute to daily business in Vancouver by riding on a scheduled floatplane service. Harbour Air has become the main player after acquiring most of the smaller charter companies along the South Coast. It is a lovely flight between either Nanaimo or Victoria to Vancouver. Another company, Helijet provides a spectacular fast and high ride joining the three cities but at a spectacular price.

Now Harbour Air is actively working to prototype the first e-seaplane. There is a thorough description of the plan and its practicality in the Forbes article linked below.

I envision the flight manual. “ When preparing for flight, be sure to unplug the electrical supply to your aircraft. Coming to the end of your cord may abruptly impede the takeoff run.”

On another page in the Times Colonist Newspaper, an editor rehashes considerations for a bridge or tunnel between Vancouver Island and the mainland. It is weary rhetoric but Jack Knox writes nicely. “Moving to an island and complaining about the lack of a bridge is like moving next to a farm and complaining about the smell of manure.” Well put, I think.

Willow Flowers
A Downy Woodpecker. Constantly on the move,this wee character is very hard to capture with a cell phone.

In many communities, volunteer police informers whom I call “Wannabe cops” stand on the side of the ride with fluorescent vests and clipboards. They try to intimidate motorists into submitting to the letter of the law, whatever their interpretation may be. They infuriate me. There are laws about intimidation. I weary of people trying to empower themselves at someone else’s expense. I hate any hint of a police state. We already live with enough fears. Yesterday, while in nearby Duncan, I watched three geezers, as described, put on a grand show of making notes on their clipboards, apparently recording driver’s infractions of the rules. Two of these enforcers, deep in conversation, stepped off the curb to cross the street without looking and nearly had their bottoms dusted by a car making a left turn through a red light. They noticed nothing. If you can’t see the cars, how do you see the cell phones? I wished I’d recorded the event with my cell phone, but then I might have set myself up for a ticket. You guys! There is just no cure for stupidity!

I photographed this photo hanging on the washroom wall in a Thai Restaurant. A perfect picture of pure joy and innocence, some-one had to add the leaf and completely pervert the message. You can come up with your own caption, there are plenty.
Seafire III. It’s not very salty but she sure pulls to windward quite well. What adventures lay ahead?

From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.

…Dr. Suess

A Bog Trotter And A Bilge Ape

BUSINESS FIRST: I’ll be doing a writer/salty dog presentation at the Ladysmith Maritime Society dock on May 12th at 2pm. There’s a link to a nifty poster bellow. Also I’ll be participating in the River’s End Poets Gathering in Steveston in the Cannery Museum on September 22nd in the afternoon.Talk on the Dock -3 sml file


Race Rock Light from the west
Deep sea vessels anchored in the Gulf Islands waiting for cargo. Mainland Canada in the distance.

Friday, April 13th. A January gale complete with slashing ice-cold rain hammers horizontally outside. Jack and I went out in the rising blast this morning to photograph flowers. We got some good shots and came home cold and wet.

Nettles in the rain.
So many flowers look so similar I’m afraid to hang a name on these.
Tension and balance
Fawn Lilies and Oregon Grape flowers. It has been a fabulous spring for these lilies.
The misfit. Weeds are only plants someone else says are bad.

I’ve been trying to teach myself how to use a popular film-editing program. I am frustrated and humiliated. Page 1 in the manual immediately referred me to page 249 and so it has gone. When I learned to fly, and to drive, I was turned out in the local cow pasture with some basic cautions. I taught myself what happened when you pushed this, pulled that, turned the round thing and stomped on that. Yep, I made mistakes, but progressed steadily and gained confidence to the point of competence. I’ve never had an accident on the road or in the air.

My life at sea has gone similarly and no-one knows me for being timid. Now I’m confronted with a set of neo parameters which immediately demand a total fluency in a new blither-gabble all the while pushing this, double-clicking that while holding F49. I’m sure I’ll learn, thousands of others have, but golly durnit! Let’s start with the foundations and the framing before we worry about the flower boxes and the heat pump. All I want to do is make a few simple films. Surely I don’t have to run away to film school. Ummm well…!

A nickel and a robin’s dead egg. I found it where it must have fallen out of the nest.
The coin is show its size.
A troll brain. Actually a spring fungus.
Jack is my faithful companion. He loves snuffling about while I take my photos.
A rare purple trillium

After deleting the first film-editing app. in frustration, installing another program then uninstalling it, I’ve re-installed a slightly different version of the first film app. It is called “Lightworks.” It is apparently a professional grade system and did allow me to print a 200 plus page paper manual. I can have this for referral while I plod into this. The other program had plenty of tutorials but I don’t know how to have the program up and running while at the same time watching an online tutorial. There have been lots of walks in the woods this week! I have been called a “Bog-trotter” by a certain in-law; that is essentially correct.

Current flowers

I have, however, just had a wonderful local experience out of the bog. They’ll soon have a fresh coat of paint on their facade but they are easy enough to find here in Ladysmith. The IRONWORKS CAFÉ and CRÉPERIE are on the main highway between the 7/11 and City Hall. There’s parking around the corner and immediately across the highway below the shoulder. Please use the crosswalk. The coffee and food and staff are all excellent. Soon, as the weather improves, their patio under a huge spreading chestnut tree will be open to enjoy an excellent fare. Check it out when passing by. There’s nothing like a fresh crepe to make your day. It leaves me feeling good to mention someone doing something right. And no, creeps are something entirely different. We have some of those too.

Vanilla Leaf.
These plants can be bunched and hung to use as an insect repellant.
The picnic table. Now, wine, cheese, smoked fish, warm fresh bread.

For some reason of coincidence I’m posting four photos of interesting trucks I’ve recently found along the way. The big Volvo 4×4 from Germany certainly caught my fancy. I could hear the waves on a remote Baja beach the moment I saw it.

The Lurchenwagon
A Volvo 4×4 motor home from Germany parked at the docks in Ladysmith
A lo-brid truck with a little flare.
Another whimsical effort at a home-built truck. no airbags, no crumple zone.
Mack Attack. This old Thermodyne looks as if it could haul a few logs yet…if there’s someone man enough to drive it.
Now that’s a driveway marker! There’s always something interesting around the next corner.
More headwork up another back road.
A lovely country home nestled in the woods
And so the three little pigs lived happily ever after.
A rock house.

On the subject of trucks I’m going to wade into this one as delicately as possible. I am impressed with the tremendous collective expression of condolence for the Saskatchewan hockey team that met with such tragedy last week. I am intrigued by the mass mourning for lost hockey players. Yes hockey was the common thread which brought them to be together in a bus yet while they were part of a hockey team they were also human beings with the full range of fears, hopes, dreams and problems we all have. Should these sixteen dead have been young children or senior citizens or a group of indigenous folks would there be the same outpouring of grief? Would flags being flying at half-mast? What if this tragic loss was innocent civilians killed as collateral damage in a rocket attack in Syria? How about a sunken boatload of Middle-Eastern refugees? Are their lost lives of less value? Well, we may never even know about their tragedies, so how can we grieve, but my point is that participants in a national sport seem to hold a higher value than other mere mortals. This trendy scramble to join the funeral parade demeans the entire grieving process. Even my on-line banking site is thick with photos of hockey sticks. You’re right; I don’t get it. Sorry if I’m being obtuse. I’m not saying it is wrong because I am out of this particular loop but surely there are some obvious questions to be raised about our cultural values.

Magnolia blooms in an alley off main street Ladysmith

And I find myself lacking another comprehension. Argentine prawns in our superb local butcher shop. I just watched the daily return of our local prawn fleet to our docks which are just down the hill within sight of the butcher shop. What are we doing?

The mannequin looking out. It’s very eerie to see at first. This grand old building in Ladysmith is reputed to be a former brothel. It looks over the harbour.

Hockey, prawns, film-making; is there nothing that makes sense. I am down on the dock a lot these days tinkering on ‘Seafire’ and other boats nearby. That, at least, is something I fully understand and clearly where I fit in. This old bilge ape knows his place.

How’s this for distracted driving? Something else that is hard to make sense of. I’ll bet there’s a mobile phone in there somewhere.
Heartbreak. This is the saddest photo I’ve taken in a long while. In the spring of 2000, just after major heart surgery, I finished building this Gloucester Gull dory and rowed and camped my way through the Gulf Islands. It was a lovely bright yellow boat that rowed like a dream. I later sold it. It has rot in both ends and has clearly seen no love since I last saw it. Her sweet lines are still obvious.
A photo taken from the same dory on a happier day.

Once you’ve become a pickle you can’t be a cucumber again” … Steve Earle

A Constant Gardening


No comments are necessary here. These photographs were all taken within a couple of hours at the official residence

Ho Hum, just another rose garden
Ho Hum, just another rose garden. Let’s get out of here. The aroma of these roses brought back childhood memories of a English gardener father, languid Sunday afternoons in the park and a brass band playing on a huge gazebo. I was bored stiff!
The devil is in the details
A concrete bird and rose petal soup. The devil is in the details.
Bad boys raiding cherry trees. Hmmmm...cherry-grazed venison.
Bad boys raiding cherry trees. Hmmmm…cherry-grazed venison.
BUT IT'S BAMBI! The enduring legend of the urban deer.
The enduring legend of the urban deer.
Fading beauty. My Iris eyes weren't shining
Fading beauty. My Iris eyes weren’t shining.
No balcony, but what a view it must be. This gable is a familiar landmark from out at sea.
No balcony, but what a view it must be. This gable is a familiar landmark from out at sea.
Flowers everywhere, and they all have a name...and one in latin.
Flowers everywhere, and they all have a name…and one in latin.
Martian Asters?
Martian Asters?


of British Columbia’s Governor General. Nice work if you can get it! The grounds are open to the public, and believe it or not, there is no admission charge!

The ocean view from this property is fabulous and the gardens are indescribably beautiful. The gardens change with the seasons and are well worth the visit, even if you’re not interested in some incredible flora, and surprising fauna. They are not far from the bustle of downtown Victoria and have been a well-kept secret for a very long time. That is changing and they are being discovered by the tourists but the aura of peace and order has not been diminished. This garden may not have anything, or it may have everything, to do with sailing. Without destinations, the voyage between is meaningless.

Stems are redd, petals are green, bassakwards, know what I mean?
Stems are red, petals are green, bassakwards,
know what I mean?
Bee down collateral damage and the nectar overdose.
Bee down
collateral damage and the nectar overdose.
Bzzzzz, incoming honey dipper.
Bzzzzz, incoming honey dipper.
The Dancer
The Dancer
All natural colour everywhere
All natural colour everywhere
 Danged purty, whatever they're called

Danged purty, whatever they’re called
It's real!
It’s real!
An ocean glimpse
An ocean glimpse, through the trees. Hard to believe this is a few blocks from a city’s core.
Griffon and flowers
Griffon and roses
A painter's bliss
A painter’s bliss
No fish, no coins, but a beautiful fountain among the blooms
No fish, no coins, but a beautiful fountain among the blooms
Lady bug, lucky bug
Lady bug, lucky bug
La Vie En Rose
La Vie En Rose
One starts to not see it all
One starts to not see it all
Translated it means "No milk today."
Translated it means “No milk today.”
Hey you, get offa ma rock!"
Hey you, get offa ma rock!”
Stunning to the bitter end
Stunning to the bitter end
Look up, way up. A redwood blocks the sun
Look up, way up. A redwood blocks the sun.
The ubiquitous and rare bronze tap flower
The ubiquitous and rare bronze tap flower
a hidden gateway to the magic garden
a hidden gateway to the magic garden
Stunning glasswork on someone's front lawn
Stunning glasswork on someone’s front lawn
One more for the road
One more for the road

The world laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ho Hum, Pass The Rum

A Weary Traveller. I found this moth on the hood of my vehicle. His wingspan was about three centimetres. The photo was taken with my cell phone. Some technology is amazing.
A Weary Traveller.
I found this moth on the hood of my vehicle. His wingspan was about three centimetres. The photo was taken with my cell phone. Some new technology is amazing.


It’s blog o’clock. I haven’t written a blog in a while and, at the moment, don’t really have much exciting to write about but my readers should be warned that yet I live. Each day is pretty mundane. Life is ticking by, my health is improving and the wounded ankle is slowly healing. I’m walking and swimming as much as possible. Part of my dream is to hike along cactus-studded ridges and look down on this boat anchored in translucent warm, green waters below me. Yeah, like the Sea Of Cortez! I want to be in good shape for that and I know that being in big shape is a death spiral. I reckon that I’m packing around the equivalent of a sack of concrete in my Value Village jeans. If any of you flat-bellied folks want to get ready for winter, I’ll make you a package deal on several pounds of blubber.

"Lard Tunderin' Jasus!" Fierce as it looked, this cumulonimbus cloud fizzled out and faded away. A snap-shot with my cell phone while at a stoplight.
“Lard Tunderin’ Jasus!”
As fierce as it looked, this cumulonimbus cloud fizzled out and faded away. A snap-shot taken with my cell phone while at a stoplight.

I’m also beginning to realize that I imbibe a buffet of prescription medications. I’m sensing that the pills are a toxic stew which does nothing to improve or maintain good health. It may be having the opposite effect and I’m noting how one thing leads to the next. Is my excess weight due, in part, to the influence of my daily drugs? I know that when I’ve sworn off some of these concoctions, the weight loss is soon noticeable. One new prescription’s fine print noted that if mixed with another drug, already in my daily intake, there could be dire consequences. At three bucks a day for this one poison, I declined to participate in someone else’s Porsche payment program.

Profusion. Scotch Broom, an invasive species, seems to have especially brilliant flowrs this spring, much to the delight of thousands who are allergic to its pollen.
Scotch Broom, an invasive species, seems to have especially brilliant flowrs this spring, much to the delight of thousands who are allergic to its pollen.
A free tree in every one! Cottonwood seeds enjoy their say, much to the irritation of those with allergies
A free tree in every one!
Cottonwood seeds enjoy their say, much to the irritation of those with allergies

It’s my body and it’s up to me what goes into it. A person should not blindly trust strangers to keep an eye on the details of their health anymore than one should trust a new mechanic with their vehicle. It’s simple. If the flab goes, so do the damned pills and perhaps, if the pills go, so does that excess weight. It’s all connected. And so pass the rum, chum. Now that’s a medicine I understand and can even advocate. Yes I’m aware of the side effects. That’s why I drink it!

"C'mon up to my box baby" Purple Martins at their nesting box beside 'Seafire'
“C’mon up to my box baby”
Purple Martins at their nesting box beside ‘Seafire’
When the summer's business of raising chicks and eating tons of bugs, the Martins will fly all the way back to Mexico. Enviable I think!
When the summer’s business of raising chicks and eating tons of bugs, the Martins will fly all the way back to Mexico.
Enviable I think!

Meanwhile I’m tinkering the boat back into good shape and watching other boats come and go. Damn! That makes for a big itch! There have been some beauties pass through already. One monstrous old Tolly Craft appeared within the painful thunder of two extremely loud Detroit Diesels. (If a tugboat produced that much noise, it would never have a crew.) Everyone in the marina was holding their ears. The geriatric skipper wore an intercom headset and mercifully shut the engines down promptly. The yacht gleamed and although it displayed no name, it caught even my eye. Within minutes of docking, the couple aboard it were out, up, down and around polishing and buffing. That went on until sundown when the flickering blue of television filled the vessel’s cabin. Wot a life! A Fart Parkerson-type sailboat next appeared bearing the name “High Heels.” There are things I just don’t understand. All that money, apparently, with no imagination. Yesterday an old geezer pulled up beside me at a stoplight. He was driving an Audi R8, a gorgeous, rare sports car. Its V10 motor rocketed the car away as if I’d only imagined seeing it. I looked it up on the internet and discovered the price tag is $164,000. And it only seats two! (Maybe the chap was a pharmacist!) I wonder how it would look jacked up in the air with big fat wheels.

Warm and fuzzy snow. For a few days there are drifts of Cottonwood seeds then it rains. (These large hardwood trees are commonly known as alder.) They can grow very large. Each seed is about the size of a small grain of salt.
Warm and fuzzy snow. For a few days there are drifts of Cottonwood seeds Then .it rains. (These large hardwood trees are also commonly known as alder.) They can grow very large. Each seed is about the size of a small grain of salt.

Just off the end of the marina where ‘Seafire’ is berthed, a local marine contractor is breaking up a decommissioned steel tug. I can hardly bring myself to photograph the process. It seems so very sad. Each day there is less of the tug and a higher pile of scrap on the breaker’s barge. The smell of burned paint and the shower of sparks from the cutting torches are like the effluent of an Indian funeral ghat. In a bizarre way I relate to the worn-out old hulk. I hope that when my day comes there is a more glorious or, at least, discreet ending.

A dissection in progress. The bow stem cap and forebits are lifted away. how many hours I've spent off-watch leaning on bits like these while watching the world go by. It was as far away from the noise and the rest of the crew you could get.
A dissection in progress. The bow stem cap and forebits are lifted away. How many hours I’ve spent off-watch leaning on bits like these while watching the world go by! It was as far away from the noise and the rest of the crew you could get.

Call It Fred

There may well come a time,

When I’ll be shark shit.

I hope, at least, the bottom feeder will be a fish

And not a politician.

How my time in this dimension

Comes to an end I do not know

Except that with luck it will occur while at sea.

Hopefully I can be afforded the dignity of being discharged

in something like a sailbag ballasted enough

to take me quickly to a depth where the big fish are.

Passing through the belly of a gleaming sleek beast

I will become an object of low regard

Yet I will still exist, drifting, dissolving, feeding little fish.

They in turn, as you know, will feed bigger fish and so on

Until a time arrives when I am a shining smiley in your net.

You came name that fish.

Call it Fred,

It’ll all be the same to me.

The aspiration of finding a decent J.O.B. is dwindling. Apparently nobody wants to hire an old fart like me and pay me for my decades of experience. I also do not have a certificate or license for much of anything. You seem to require a document to do anything now and I marvel at all the things I have done in my life without paperwork. As we all know, a ticket is no assurance of competence but I won’t get into that rant now. I also have no interest or social skill to be a box store greeter or a security guard so, I’m desperately looking for a clever and legal means of producing an income, hopefully something I can do while travelling. That of course means working online and this Cyber-Neanderthal has got some adventures ahead on that path. In my heart of hearts, I don’t really want employment ever again, but there are other realities. Living under a bridge is not one of my ambitions.

A boat wit no name. This glorious, gleaming stinkpot represents values I can't comprehend.
A boat with no name, all fifty-plus feet of her. It does have an oxygen tent.
This glorious, gleaming stinkpot represents values I can’t comprehend. (But I wish I could afford it!)


High Heels ...enough said.
High Heels
…enough said.

It is now past mid-May and proving to be a very dry spring. Hopefully Vancouver Island does not end up burning like Fort McMurray but a serious drought does appear imminent this year. The creeks are dry already and the days are an endless stream of cloudless warmth. Every day, in an effort to stave off the blues and various anxieties I try to find the beauty in the world around me. Some days that is especially hard to see, but not because it isn’t there.

Tubular Bells
Tubular Bells

Other mornings the amazing natural wealth all around becomes obvious in overwhelming clarity. With the dry spring the wildflowers are profuse. I’m trying to improve my skills with the photo mode of my LG cell phone. It can produce some excellent high-quality images despite the clumsiness I find in using it. I’ve restricted my photography for the moment to that single device. All the photos (Except those of the birds) in this blog were taken with that one mobile phone.

Columbine among the blackberries
Columbine among the blackberries

So, this blog proves to be another photo essay. “Thar be new adventure to write about just over the horizon Billy! Stay the course!”

The Nurse Stump
The Nurse Stump
Everywhere you look!
Everywhere you look!
Leaves of grass There is richness and beauty even in the simple symmetry of a clump of grass.
Leaves of grass
There is richness and beauty even in the simple symmetry of a clump of grass.
Morning cuddle
Morning cuddle

There are times when the wolves are silent and the moon is howling.” George Carlin

Hard Butter And Strange Birds

Hard Butter and Strange Birds

Blackberry season began in July, with a little rain at the right time it'll be a bumper crop
Blackberry season began in July, with a little rain at the right time it’ll be a bumper crop

The seasons have moved from late spring to mid-summer. We’ve had blistering hot weather, then a few days of rain. Now the evenings and mornings are cool. The butter in the galley is once again hard at breakfast time. It’s great weather for sleeping. My dog Jack and I wake up one toe at a time. The rain has helped produce a profusion of blackberries and some are already ripe for picking. It seems the plants are producing their treasures a month earlier this year.

Silva Bay is blessed with an annual migration of Purple Martins and Barn Swallows. They’re delightful as they chatter and zoom about through the rigging. I wonder if the annual influx of yachters aren’t a clever device which the birds use to attract the biting insects they in turn feed upon. This year’s brood of baby birds is well on its way to being ready to fly south. That magic is amazing. Birds return to mate and nest and produce tiny eggs. Those eggs in turn become ugly little dinosaurs which rapidly evolve into beautiful creatures born with a navigational intuition which which will take them as far away as Central America then back to this bay next spring.

Don't look now but I'm tellin' ya, somebody's watching us! (to guage their size, the wire they're perched on is about 1/4"thick)
Don’t look now but I’m tellin’ ya, somebody’s watching us!
(To guage their size, the wire they’re perched on is about 1/4″thick)

An e-mail I received recently advised not to worry about old age: it doesn’t last that long. I forwarded that message on, explaining there are things to do before I end up as a few puffs of smoke in the crematorium chimney. A song playing on the radio has the lyrics, “If I die, I wanna die old.” Hey baby, there’s no if about it! As I rushed about the business of the day a lady discovered an inert heron floating by the docks. It was freshly killed. The bright crimson at the back of its head was evidence of a mortal tangle with an otter or a collision of some sort. In my haste I debated briefly about taking a photo but then rushed off to the tasks at hand. I can still see that dead heron. Beak slightly parted, bright, sharp yellow eye staring serenely into my soul, an image more indelible than any photo. This morning I open the hatches to a perfect dawn with the birds calling and chattering. There is a perfume of fresh newness as if the world had just been unwrapped, an incredible gift which we so often don’t quite see. Baby birds, dead birds, life, death, dawn, sunset, the days whirl by. Life has no apparent meaning for me. How I wish I could learn to enjoy life’s plateaus and find the ability to live fully in the moment!

Stainless Steel Bowtie, A custom-built SS CQR anchor at the front of a visiting mega yacht
Stainless Steel Bowtie,
A custom-built SS CQR anchor at the front of a visiting mega yacht

Now the hot weather has returned. Yesterday afternoon when I stepped into the boat it felt cool. The thermometer read 29ºC. This morning the bird’s noises are subdued. Old men wipe the dew from their white boats. Flags lift and drop flaccidly. It’s going to be a blister! Forest fires rage across the continent and the global warming faction is saying, “See, I told ya!” Uno cervesa por favor.

Pilot Bay afternoon, Gabriola Island
Pilot Bay afternoon, Gabriola Island

Days later, the grand summer weather continues, thankfully today we have a moderate Westerly breeze. Yesterday was windless and airless, an absolute torture to work bent over in the sun, at least for this aging old fair-haired boy. Days like that leave me wondering at the feasibility of my Southern dreams. I say that even as I continue my research on Mexico and Costa Rica. That seems ludicrous in this paradise which is my home; but the nights are shortening. Another long, grey wet arthritic winter is coming. I’m also questioning the sanity of staying in a place that seems doomed to self-destruct politically, economically and environmentally.

High Summer
High Summer

My pal Jim has now arrived in Hilo, Hawaii with his boat. He has sailed a hurricane- pace tour of the South Pacific. His next stop will be back here in British Columbia. I admire Jimmy totally in his ability to realize his long-held dream and I look forward to helping welcome him back. Much of his journey was cursed with a lack of wind. When you’re out there with your little windship rolling and rolling day after day, your rigging is self-destructing while your precious fuel and water supplies dwindle and the nearest ports are thousands of miles away, you are left feeling very tiny and somewhat doubtful. Fortunately on the leg from the Marquesas to Hawaii Jim had perfect winds and describes it as the sail of his life. The passage was made on one tack with only minor sail adjustments. Good for you Jimmy and mucho kudos to Donna, the wife who has provided ground support for him throughout the journey.

A winter scene in the Broughton Archipelago, something the summer sailors never see. That's a dolphin chasing a school of Oolichan. Imagine it all covered in thick, black crude oil.
A winter scene in the Broughton Archipelago, something the summer sailors never see. That’s a dolphin chasing a school of Oolichan. Imagine it all covered in thick, black crude oil.

This place called British Columbia where we live is an ultimate home, especially for the mariner. We have 17,000 nautical miles of shoreline to explore. Even in the harshness of winter our weather is often better than summers elsewhere on the planet. Despite the rising social economic issues we’re having to face, we are privileged to still hold a claim on this piece of the planet. Unfortunately the politicians on our payroll won’t respect our will and are intent on wholesaling our assets to the first bidder. We pay retail prices at the gas pumps while there is a determination to pipe oil for many hundreds of kilometres from the environmental mess that is Northern Alberta to coastal shipping facilities. It is incredible, it is stupid. We are posing a monstrous environmental threat on our land and our waters to wholesale raw resources outside the country. We in British Columbia will receive little benefit once the project is completed. The oil will be shipped in vessels manufactured from some of our own iron ore and coal. Other ships line up to load raw logs from the docks of shut-down sawmills. I repeat my weary metaphor about the chicken farmer who goes to town to buy eggs.

Whose pockets does the money go into? What the hell is going on? I know this is all weary rhetoric but the threat of impending disaster seems to skip off the top of our heads. We should be in every politician’s office, on the lawns and in the chambers of every government building with our pitchforks and chainsaws and environmentally friendly weed eaters until we regain control of politicians and their weighty bureaucracy which is pledged to serve US, the people who hired them. If it were anyone else in our hire, we’d fire them. This blog is not a venue for rants. I can easily slip into pages of diatribe about the rape of our fisheries, our forests, our water and mineral resources but we’ve all heard it before.

The real problem is our complacency. We let the corporations and bureaucrats run our lives while insidiously steering us deeper into their carefully designed consumer rut. Until our own personal comfort zone is clearly threatened we won’t lift our heads from the drinking pool. It pisses me off! Wake up! Look around! Ask questions! Don’t believe everything, perhaps anything, thrown at us. We evolved with questioning minds for good reason. Use them!

1964 Cheoy Lee Bristol, A first cousin to Avanti, the Cheoy Lee I'm finishing up. The Bristol owner reports that the boat, formerly his father's, is on its third teak deck!
1964 Cheoy Lee Bristol,
A first cousin to Avanti, the Cheoy Lee I’m finishing up. The Bristol owner reports that the boat, formerly his father’s, is on its third teak deck!

Jill, my wife has just returned from a visit to her old homeland of Scotland. (Where the price of gas is double ours despite their own tremendous petroleum resources. Yep, more inept politics) She had two gruelling weeks of dealing with her ailing mom. For once the weather there was quite agreeable but she was held to a regimen of caring for the needs of family. She came back to Canada with a delightfully funny story about a dead parrot. Her brother and his wife live in an old school house. It is a wonderful building with two-foot thick sandstone walls, high ceilings curling stones on the front steps and rolling farm fields for a view. Even their mailing address is wonderfully quaint, being in part: The Old School House, Drumlithie. One morning one of the dogs noticed a bright flash of colour in the back garden which proved to be a dead parrot and an interesting toy. This is not an ordinary find anywhere, let alone in Scotland, a country definitely not known for any abundance of tropical birds.

After a wondering discussion, it was decided there wasn’t much else to do but put the mystery of the dead bird out in the trash. Of course the bird was soon mentioned at the local pub and the thistle telegraph buzzed with the story. Within hours the telephone rang with a call from a neighbouring village, a few miles across the fields. Someone wanted to come and claim the remains for burial. Old Hagis, we’ll call him, was retrieved from the tip bin and carefully cleaned of coffee grounds, bits of eggshell and other detritus. Two women arrived, mother and adult daughter. Both, apparently, were beyond Rubenesque These two very round people, both dressed entirely in black, had come to take their beloved Hagis off to the big limb in the sky.

It’s a wonderful story with a vivid splash of Monty Python.I can see both John Cleese and Michael Palin having fun with this one. Apparently the remnants of the Monty Python gang are getting back together to work up five more shows. They don’t have to pretend to be geezers anymore. Also, in the wake of the ‘Two Fat Ladies’ cooking show, BBC is now airing something called ‘The Hairy Bikers’.Two middle-aged blokes are trying to follow in the wake of Jessica and Clarissa. Fat chance!

Rear view of a flower bent away from the sun
Rear view of a flower bent away from the sun

I’m now writing on the first Sunday morning in August. The boat is anchored in a tiny bay in the Gulf Islands which I’ve been passing by for over 25 years. I can see through Porlier Pass to the mainland mountains over thirty-five miles away. Ancient fir trees lean over this little bight. Eagles call, kingfishers chatter, schools of tiny fish roil the water. The morning breeze is fresh and warm and fragrant, the day is full of promise. Jack is anxious to go ashore. There is some wonderful exploring to be done here and I can post an entire blog dedicated to this lovely secret place.

In fact, I will.

Making honey on a very big flower
Making honey on a very big Cardoon flower

On the sea there is a tradition older even than the traditions of the country itself and wiser in its age than this new custom.

It is the tradition that with responsibility goes authority and with them accountability.

…for men will not long trust leaders who feel themselves beyond accountability for what they do.

…And when men lose confidence and trust in those who lead, order disintegrates into chaos and purposeful ships into uncontrollable derelicts.”

“On The Collision of Wasp and Hobson”
Wall Street Journal – Editorial 14 May 1952

Going South?
Going South?


Jack's nemesis.
Jack’s nemesis.

It is another glorious late spring morning. New spider webs stream and sparkle in a rising Westerly wind. A small fleet of sport fishing boats has appeared at the docks, probably driven in by the wind. There’ll be a gang of frustrated fellows wandering the docks with drinks in hand. Testosterone and booze make a bad mix. The day will wear on. The fish stories will get bigger as the tide in the bottles falls.

That's me in the corner...from where the bloggings flow. Seafire is on the left with the inflatable dinghy hanging from aft davits. My DeHavilland alrm clock is moored on the other side of the fuel shack
That’s me in the corner…from where the bloggings flow.
Seafire is on the left with the inflatable dinghy hanging from aft davits. My DeHavilland alarm clock is moored on the other side of the fuel shack

It was my birthday two days ago, absolutely not noteworthy to anyone but me. There’ll be no long weekends held in my honour. Such is life when you’re not a queen, not even an old one.

I spent the day working and trying not to mention the date to anyone. Being sixty-something is nothing to celebrate. It is not something I’ve put any effort into. But by the evening I was sequestered away here on the boat feeling rather sorry for myself. I feasted on corn chips, hot salsa and cheese followed with a brick of marbled halva. This was all washed down with copious amounts of very good scotch. At least I celebrated with a healthy, balanced diet. Well, scotch is organic! No gluten I’m aware of; just one glutton. By the way, what ever happen to trans-fats, the poison of popular paranoia last year? Next day some dear friends, Bob and Deb, had learned my secret, baked me a cake, made a lovely gift (A bouquet of fresh herbs) and bought me a card. I went over to help them with a project and was greeted with a cake with candles and the B-day song. It was all quite touching. The warm and fuzzy feeling lingers. Thanks guys.

Jack discovers yet another little boat
Jack discovers yet another little boat

There is another warmth and fuzziness in my life at the moment. Fibreglass! The 1966 Cheoy Lee Frisco Flyer I’ve been working on for the past year needs new decks. There are, as Steinbeck said “Boats built to sail and boats built to sell”. This is a great sailing boat, well built for sailing offshore and very pretty. It was built in an era when yacht building techniques were transitioning from wood to fibreglass. Solid plank decks were once the way things were done on boats. On yachts the ultimate wood of choice is teak. The bare teak is pretty and an excellent traction surface and of course can be a sign, or often facade, of quality. Most teak decks are a composite sandwich of wood between two skins of fibreglass. The teak is then set on top of that strata in a poly sulfide bedding compound and attached with the copious use of screws which pierce the upper layer of fibreglass and set in the wood core. It is a recipe for self-destruction as each screw hole will eventually allow water to seep into the core and then the rot sets in. This darned thing is only forty-eight years old and needs rebuilding!

The Deck job.
The Deck job.

The first step is to saw, chisel and grind the old rotten decks away. All the while, I must be careful not to compromise the inner skin. It is the foundation for the new deck. That will be made from new layers of fibreglass matting and roving, a foam board core, more roving and matting on top, then a coat of gel coat and finally paint. Then all the fittings need to be cleaned, polished and reinstalled. Sounds easy right! First I have to remove the deck fittings which involves unfastening or breaking each rusted nut and bolt. That means for every fastening a weird dance of clambering above and below to attach wrenches to each nut. Sometimes the wrenches leap overboard, sometimes they slip and fall off below. One becomes adept with a magnet on a string. Once that masochism is complete, the deck needs to be supported with props and beams from beneath to keep its shape and prevent a stout lad like me from falling through. I won’t try to describe the incessant itching as minute glass fibre slivers work their way into your skin. Then there will be the overpowering tang of the liquid resin. For a change of misery try a fibreglass under a finger nail. It’s the romance of the sea Billy! Who but old sea farts like me have the patience to see this horrible job through. Arrrrgh! Nought’s forever! It just feels like it.

Bee Happy! you knew I was going to sneak a flower photo in. Right?
Bee Happy! You knew I was going to sneak a flower photo in. Right?

Meanwhile an email arrives to announce that my buddy Jim Poirier and his daughter Karmen are now anchored in French Polynesia. They are in a bay at Rikitea on Mangareva Island in the Gambier Group. This is a group of islands, islets and reefs surrounded by a huge, almost square atoll. It is certainly worth looking up on Google Earth. So Jimmy, you’ve no reason to be thinking of me (But thanks for the e-mails!) I’ll have my mind on other places like that as I endure the sweaty itches and noxious fumes of my penance on deck. Another acquaintance is off to visit friends in Wales for a few weeks. Tony and Connie will now be in the south of France and I keep thinking of Rodger and Ali who are somewhere, by now, far south down the coast on ‘Betty Mc’ on their way to leave that boat in San Diego for the summer. Then they’ll fly to Inuvik to their other boat where they’ll work a course eastward, as ice permits, in the Northwest Passage. It’s not just my job that is leaving me with an itch.

This morning we had a new visitor. A sea lion was hauled out on our docks for the first time that anyone here can remember. I managed to grab a photo a nano-second before Jack attacked. He actually nipped it on the backside! It is amazing how nearly a half-ton of blubbery creature can levitate and plunge into the sea so quickly. What incredible strength! I always marvel at the power of these beasts. They have a generally gentle nature but also are quite territorial and stubborn if they lay claim to a specific spot; especially if they have the strength of numbers. Jack is a dauntless little dog with an indelible memory. He has encountered sea lions in Oregon and wisely respected their numbers. Perhaps he saw this as an opportunity for a one on one encounter. The math about a forty-pound dog against an eight-hundred pound sea lion clearly eluded him. The beast apparently returned to the dock once my little black monster moved on. I shall always remember a boy’s remark after I’d shown his family a large heard of the noisy smelly creatures. “Sure glad they can’t fly!” Close your eyes and imagine. Pigeons and gulls pale in comparison!

Cheating on Jack! Playing stick with Olive, a buddie's lovely friend.
Cheating on Jack! Playing stick with Olive, a buddie’s lovely friend. Photo by Bob Wyche



Then and now. A gorgeous 26' 1955 Chris Craft posed beside a contemporary yacht, How much is enough?
Then and now.
A gorgeous 26′ 1955 Chris Craft, once an ultimate yacht,  posed beside a contemporary yacht. How much is enough?

On the subject of bad smells, my deck job is certainly drawing a lot of interest every time I open a container of fibreglass resin. It is an indelible aroma that instantly grabs you by the throat, from inside. No matter which way the wind is blowing, folks come from all directions to complain. They have a wonderful sense of timing, arriving just when I’m up to my elbows in the goop which is hardening as I apply it. It is not the best time for an amiable conversation. I try to gently explain it’s just another smell of the sea and point out that I’m at ground zero. I AM aware of the funk and absolutely hate anything to do with fibre glassing. I’m not doing this job because I like it. In fact, I’ve been around this stuff so much that I actually can’t smell it when I’m bent over an open pot of resin. That’s scary! The only good part of working with fibreglass comes when the work is all done. “Now bugger off!”

This blog is now running through the second weekend in June. We locals are enduring another annual fishing derby; or should I say drinking derby. Some of these folks drink into the wee hours and are not able to get up at first light and go fishing. As the day evolves, the wind rises and soon it’s too rough to leave the dock, especially hung-over. The drinking begins again. It is amazing how folk’s sense of entitlement rises with the amount of booze consumed. The docks become clogged with drunks lolling in deck chairs who had no regard for letting other people pass. I passed, several times with my gear and supplies, enough said. By 04:00 the ruckus was dying down. At 05:00 the first boat headed out fishing after idling next to my bow, and bunk, for a very long time.

Six steps from the top. Installing mast steps on 'Seafire'.
Six steps from the top. Installing mast steps on ‘Seafire’.

By 08:00 it was again too windy to head out on the heaving seas. (Yes, a pun!) By 11:00 the deck chairs were again occupied and the bottles were out. Apparently the wharfinger’s office was inundated with folks looking for Tylenol. Of course old grumpy hisself was slathering the fibreglass resin liberally, the wind was blowing across the marina. Haaar! Take that you louts! Any more bother tonight and I’ll call in the Waltzing Wazulas Naked Pagan Lady Mariachi Klezmer Brass Band to parade the docks at first light. I’ll bring up the rear with a tuba.

They're gone now...till next spring
They’re gone now…till next spring

Then again, I have a lovely recording of Gregorian chanting. Hmmm, set the Cd player on repeat and full volume on the cockpit speakers. Then I could go ashore to sleep in my trailer. Vindictive thoughts may cross my mind but I really do pity people who have to punish themselves to escape the desperation of their daily lives. Too bad they have to impose it on everyone else. They’ll take their agonies back home with them tomorrow and spend the next week telling people about how much fun they had. Some will even have a dead fish to show for their investment. I’ll be able to again shlock and grind my fibreglass in peace. I can also go back up my mast to install a few more steps without someone wanting to chat.

Entrance to the magic garden. a local property.
Entrance to the magic garden. A local property.

Writing that had me recall the night I walked into the Silva Bay Restaurant and greeted one of the servers. I told her how seeing her, “Made my day.” With a straight face she replied, “Oh Fred, that’s so sad!” God bless everyone with a sense of humour.

(By the way, just so you know, I have a friend who has a sweet original, classic Davidson D9 sailing dinghy. It’s for sale with all the sailing and rowing gear. The asking price of $850. is less than quarter that of new clones of this famous sailing skiff/rowing boat. It’s a grand accolade when someone begins to make reproductions.)

Splendour In The grass. My pal Jack.
Splendour In The Grass.
My pal Jack.

Another Sunday morning dawns with a high thickening overcast and a pale sun shining through it. A few boats head out to the killing grounds and the rest of the mob are too hung-under to give a toss. Well, they may have to toss once or twice yet. It’s peaceful. There is a gleaming plastic castle afloat moored across from me. It blocks my view of half the world and I want to rename it ‘Sound Barrier’. The boat hasn’t moved in days and all I’ve seen is one older fellow who appears on deck from time to time. It’s none of my business but still I ponder about boats and wealth and how people go about things. I’d love some fresh perspectives.

Waterfront home Narrow beach, good moorage. "Dunno, he went down to the boat a few minutes ago!"
Waterfront home.
Narrow beach, good moorage.
“Dunno, he went down to the boat a few minutes ago!”

In the evening, as I returned to my boat at dusk, a small drama unfolded. Some die-hard fishermen were cleaning their catch over the side of the dock. There was a sudden loud squeal of indignant panic and fear. A Seal had ambushed a lovely Chinook the fisherman had and the tug-o-war was on. The seal lost but it did my heart good to see nature fighting back.

Now on Monday morning, the wind is roaring. Despite a forecast for rain, there is not a cloud in the sky. One lay-up of fibreglass is drying and as I finish this blog the wind gusts to gale force. The Beaver float plane just left with another load for Vancouver. It’ll be white knuckles and loaded sick sacks today. Meanwhile a gorgeous cold-moulded wooden ketch has appeared at our dock. Nothing pretentious here, just an obvious love of the sea, sailing and the shape of boats. Her teak decks are properly done with an absence of mechanical fastenings. All teak plates appear to be simply and firmly bonded without any damnable screws.

A proper teak deck. More perfection aboard 'Wildwood II'
A proper teak deck. More perfection aboard ‘Wildwood II’
Someone's gorgeous woodworking project.
Someone’s gorgeous woodworking project.

I’ve no witty remarks with which to end this blog. There is only so much you can write about fibre glassing and other folk’s fishing and drinking or is that dishing and frinking? The voyaging dream is very much alive even as the days thunder by and sooner in, sooner out, sooner done. Back I go for more. Then there’ll be some sailing to be done.


Men in a ship are usually looking up and men ashore are usually looking down.”

…John Masefield

Fred Leaves The Dock

My Wake Soutbound from Point Roberts after clearing US customs
My Wake
Southbound from Point Roberts after clearing US customs
Into the night. it was one of those evenings when the sky and the light begged photographing everywhere
Into the night.
it was one of those evenings when the sky and the light begged photographing everything everywhere
Shining mountain, Shining ship A loaded tanker at the Cherry Point WA refinery dock, Mount Baker in the background
Shining mountain, Shining ship
A loaded tanker at the Cherry Point WA refinery dock, Mount Baker in the background
Flight When all fails, look up then fly away
When all fails, look up then fly away

I’m starting to write this aboard ‘Seafire’ while moored at the Victoria Harbour Commission Wharf Street dock. Victoria was a very old queen and it is the Victoria Day holiday long weekend when we celebrate that long-lived monarch. There are also a few more old queens here in Victoria, English or not. (It’s up to you how you take that) So one excuse is as good as another to have a celebration. It’s a sunny Sunday with a lovely westerly breeze. Folks are out having a good time. Food concessions are booming, the squares are full of live music while vendors in white kiosks tempt the crowds with wonderful treasures. There is a happy din of buskers, marching bands and general mayhem. I’m sitting in the boat watching and hearing it all, feeling weary and waiting for guests.

Thalia Bee My neighbour at the dock on the Victoria waterfront
Thalia Bee
My neighbour at the dock on the Victoria waterfront

I’ve been up since one o’clock this morning when I weighed anchor in Port Townsend. It seems that whenever I need to make this wonderful crossing, the best ebb tide to ride back home to Canada is in the wee hours. There wasn’t much wind, thankfully. When a Westerly blows against the tide in the Strait of Juan De Fuca a small boat is left bashing and swirling like a bug in a toilet. On the tugs we called it the Strait of “Wanna Puke Ya”. The strait is like an inland sea. It is huge. It drains the entire massive Strait of Georgia and all its tributaries, as well as Puget Sound and its mountain tributaries. Mixing with the infinity of the vast North Pacific, the tides swell back and forth twice a day.

Dawn on Juan De Fuca Strait
Dawn on Juan De Fuca Strait

The Southern side of the Strait is guarded by the imposing Olympic Mountains so-named, allegedly, by Juan De Fuca, a Greek pilot with the earliest Spanish Explorers. I’ve no way of knowing if the story is true but it always come to mind when I’m out there dodging freighters, nuclear submarines, fishing boats, tugboats, and miscellaneous other vessels from anywhere around the world. If rough seas and marine traffic don’t keep you awake, there are copious logs and other flotsam to go bump in the night. I try to imagine being in this cold, remorseless piece of ocean, with not one light ashore, where only the towering timber crowded down to the shore. Neither were there any lights to mark the reefs and banks and points waiting to snag the luckless or unwary. Was this possibly the fabled Northwest Passage, the express lane back to the other side of the planet? Was it the edge of the world? Imagine the imaginings while standing aboard a small wooden ship that was slowly being eaten by ship worms as you sailed into the unknown. You had no engine, no charts, no electronics. Only your intuitive seamanship kept you alive as you sailed into this uncharted realm. Eventually, amazingly, you found your way all the way back home to Europe again.

Under the D, a weary sailor tries to catch a little sleep
Under the D,
a weary sailor tries to catch a little sleep

Last night I Listened to an Asian accent on my VHF radio calling repeatedly for Tofino Traffic Control on the frequency for Victoria Traffic. He insisted despite being advised several times of the correct radio channel to use. A small matter about a twenty-thousand ton or more freighter confused about places a hundred miles apart in the ‘Graveyard Of The Pacific’. (Perhaps the terror about foreign tankers invading our coastal inlets to export our crude oil is justified.) When I pulled into my berth here, the wharfinger expressed amazement at my ability to dock my boat alone. I, in turn, am amazed at his wonder. Is basic seamanship becoming worthy of mention? Mind you, the fabulous million-dollar Ocean Alexander power yacht tied ahead of me is registered to Bend, Oregon! Huh? That’s a very long way from the sea, nearly half-way to Kansas in fact. “Dorothy? Hello Dorothy!’ “Is that you Roger? Roger!”

Beamliner, a nautical yuppy
Beamliner, a nautical yuppy!

Have you ever noticed how Bureaucrats love to move their, excuse me, our facilities and offices around. One of the great Canadian games has become trying to find a post office. No don’t go to the old post office building, it’s something else now. Victoria is a great example. It is quite unreasonable to expect a government office to be in the same place two years running. The new address is seldom in the newest phone book. On my way into the harbour I noticed a new dock in front of the Coast Hotel Marina. There was no legible sign saying CANADA CUSTOMS, only little grey signboards and a tiny phone box on a post in the middle of the dock. It looked suspiciously official so I swung the boat in for a closer look at the little signs. Sure enough!

I made fast and went to the phone box with ship’s documents and passport. I lifted the receiver. A recorded voice explained in French that if I wanted service in English to please press button one. There were no buttons! I imagined a burly Amurican son in the same situation. “Dang, these Canajians sure do parlé the old Espanol kinda funny!” Eventually a live Anglophone voice began asking who I was and where I was calling from. I explained in puzzlement that I was using the official telephone on the Canada Customs dock in front of the Coast Hotel. Eventually it occurred to me to add “In Victoria….BC…. Canada”. There was a pregnant pause, I assume while this person, in Ottawa or New Brunswick (Or Washington DC) in an underground office, confirmed there was such a place. I was promptly given a clearance number after a few more cursory questions. “Oh Canada, we stand on guard for thee.”

Hit Me! Somebody went boink on the center-line
Hit Me!
Somebody went boink on the center-line

I’m not complaining about the cavalier treatment. After all the searches and surly interrogations I’ve endured from both Canadian and US Customs and Immigration officials this was too easy. I at least expected a quiz about illegal bananas or swarthy terrorists lurking in my bilge. Nada. Nothing. Rien. Eh bien! I expect we’ll be having our taxes raised yet again.

By another stroke of luck I actually found fifty feet of empty dock space into which I could tie my forty-four feet of boat (Including her guns and appurtenances). So I did. After the wharfinger made it clear whom he felt was boss (The Victoria Harbour Commission has always made it clear ‘Zat you VILL occomodate Zem’ …. this despite being the first live folks you talk to in the biggest tourist town in Canada) but then went on to compliment me on my boat handling. I’ll forgive him his officiousness….this time. I suppose it IS normal to see boats crashing into other boats with a plenitude of shaking fists, waving boat hooks and high drama. My flat response is that I read about how to do it in a magazine. There’s no point in trying to explain about a lifetime at sea.

The old customs house in Victoria Harbour
The old customs house
in Victoria Harbour

Do people compliment a flight crew on a successful landing? There are some things you’re expected to do right. Aren’t there?

Victoria was throbbing with the various activities of a long weekend as well as the wind-up for the Swiftsure race next weekend. This is a famous non-stop sailing race from Victoria out to Swiftsure Bank and back to the harbour. The race leaves one day, runs through the night and ends sometime the next day depending on wind and current, and the management thereof.

S.A.L.T.S, vessels Pacific Swift and Pacific Grace...NOT Swiftsure racers!
S.A.L.T.S, vessels Pacific Swift and Pacific Grace…NOT Swiftsure racers!

It has evolved into a huge international event and the preparlibations require a week’s head start. I had a great visit with my good friend Tony Gibb who with his partner Connie are visiting their old home port. Their boat is currently stored in Phuket for the monsoon season. Their adventures and photos are documented on their blog “Sage On Sail.” (There’s a direct link in the side bar of this blog)They have both been a tremendous inspiration to me and their blog provided the impetus for this one. Tony and I visited on the same dock where I last saw him and Connie. They threw a huge party with the carefully traditional ceremony of officially renaming their sailboat ‘Sage.’ That was three years ago. Already. I also had a lovely visit with my daughter and her friends and felt ready to deal with life for a few more days, especially after the flu ordeal. I’m almost feeling whole again.

There's 50 ways to leave this town
There’s 50 ways to leave this town
Take the third Otter on the left
Take the third Otter on the left
Don't laugh it's almost paid for ...A liveaboard boat in Victoria Harbour, 70 feet of waterfront unreal estate
Don’t laugh it’s almost paid for!
…A liveaboard boat in Victoria Harbour,
70 feet of waterfront unreal estate


Downtown Victoria, my kind of high-rise
Downtown Victoria, my kind of high-rise

This morning I’m lolling about in Montague Harbour, half-way home to Silva Bay from Victoria. I’m in no rush, I have to wait out a substantial ebb tide. There’s no point in trying to fight a tide when a bit of waiting will put you at the same place at the same time without burning a large amount of fuel. Sailing, in part, is about dealing with what you are handed. My work will be still be there when I get back. I’m listening to a wonderful radio station based on nearby Saltspring Island. It’s called CFSI Green FM and is one of the best music mixes I’ve heard. It is a commercial station, but even the ads are nicely done. And… it has no news broadcasts! Dead luvly! You can find it online by taping in Green and I’m happy to make this plug.

Trial Island Light, Port bow. note the sails have been scrubbed.
Trial Island Light, Port bow.
note the sails have been scrubbed.

By the way, what does the term” Sustaining member” bring to mind? This raunchy old salt immediately conjured up some very bawdy images. Yeah baby! It is actually what I heard NPR radio calling folks who donate funds. Sponsor, donor, patron are words now supplanted by “Sustaining member.” God bless the politically correct. Or as Billy Connolly says, “Bloody Beigeists!”

The light was on, but nobody was home! A solar panel at the Trial Island Light Station, now unmanned
The light was on, but nobody was home!
A solar panel at the Trial Island Light Station, now unmanned.

Speaking of politically correct, I conversed this past weekend with a brassy American woman who told me she hated Mexico because it was “Full of Mexicans.” I replied that I understood the US had the same problem. “ Huh?” she ruminated. “Well,” I said, “It’s full of Mexicans too. They do your dirty work!” Nope, no phone number from that one.

Arbutus Trees in full bloom, achoo!
Arbutus Trees in full bloom, achoo!

I’m now finishing this blog back in Silva Bay. The flu symptoms cling on but it’s time to go back to grubbing for some income. The weather is fine with a threat of rain and the latest spring flowers are putting on their show. The Arbutus trees are in full bloom and the air has a cloying tang as if someone got carried away with the bathroom air freshener. My sinus passages are quivering. I hope it does rain and scrub the air.

Yep he's home again! More damned flowers
Yep he’s home again! More damned flowers
The Broom is already going to seed. Achoo again1
The Broom is already going to seed. Achoo again!
Arbutus root burl
Arbutus root burl

Old Lord Nelson once said that ships and men rot in port. After five days away from the dock I’ve been reacquainted with the reality of what this old boat is really about. That was long overdue. It’s meant to go places. She does that very well. The old prune barge is fast, stable, comfortable and easy to run and she’s paid for. She draws compliments from all who see her, even other seasoned mariners and land lubbers too. I’ve left her lines singled so we can cut loose again. Soon.

Forest Mystery
Forest Mystery

Inner Weight

A ship heels in wind and sails well because it has inner weight.

With inner weight, we yield to the way of things and move just-so in the winds of the world.

When inner weight has been found, trust its deep and constant balance.

From this centre that no one can explain, the difficult is made easy and adversity is mastered. But no one knows how.”

… Ray Grigg, ‘The Tao Of Sailing’