FROGS

Say Goodbye!
A last glimpse of Seafire with a new owner at the helm. It’s all over but the drinking. There shall be no looking back. This blog will continue to bear the same name for the time being.

I am an autodidact. The trouble is that I never payed attention in class. I did well enough in school and even graduated with a scholarship a year ahead of the rest of the class. Then my real education began and don’t, for a moment, confuse schooling with education. Some of the stupidest people I have known possess box loads of degrees and certificates. I attended the old school and the university of hard knocks. Some folks ask me from time to time where I went to university. I simply say that I graduated from Perdue, which really was the name of my high school. There’s no point in explaining further.

The problem is, that at my age, the clever self-taught one who thinks he is some sort of writer, has new-to-me words appear and I wonder why I’m only learning them now, words like autodidact which is the name for someone who is self-taught.

And if I am so damned clever why am I standing on an empty dock with my prized ‘Seafire’ moored somewhere else, now documented with someone else’s name? I should be softly singing “Free at last,” but I am now living in a big emptiness. It is, however, only temporary.

Now that I’m beach bound all I can do is watch the boats head out. Leaving Ladysmith Harbour, someone greets the morning light and  fading fog. That will be me again. Just watch me!

I have a plan. In the weeks leading up to this wistful day, I’ve been scouring on-line sites which advertise RVs and others which advertise trucks. Eventually, I want to own a displacement-hull powerboat, big enough to live in and seaworthy enough to voyage at least as far as Mexico. The right boat will be tough to find. First I need more funds. For the moment I will satisfy myself with land-based expeditions.

Nice RV dude! Precariously perched, the shack’s straps have come loose. I scooted on by.

I do want to satiate my strong land travel-lust. I have considered every option. There was a time when crawling under a tarp stretched across an overturned canoe was perfect, even romantic, but now my knees are too shot for kneeling in a canoe. I am well past even the tenting concept. I have tried the camper van notion and am not inclined to repeat that. I’ve considered truck-mounted campers but don’t like that idea for a few good reasons. Motor homes are not my cup of tea. So I have settled on the trailer concept. For me a trailer that can leave the pavement and also be dropped while roaming about with the towing vehicle only.

I first owned a home-made teardrop trailer. My early blogs of five years ago described a trip to Mexico with that trailer. I loved it but soon the romance wore off. I almost froze to death in it one night in Nevada. It had only sitting head room; so the simple endeavour of getting dressed while inside was challenging. Getting dressed outside was also interesting. “Mommy, what is that man wearing,” and that before I’d pulled on a shirt! Sticking your bare feet outside into the darkness with a good chance of stepping on scorpions while going to pee did not pique my sense of adventure. The tiny, cute kitchen in the back, under a huge lid, was not so great or exotic when the rain and wind came.

My first rig. Cute but a bit too tight for a fat-arse like me. It was a memorable trip.
Everyone loved that tear-drop trailer. The Mexicans called it ‘La Chiquita.’ The smell of coffee first thing in the morning always brought someone by to say hello and beg a mug.

My second trailer, was a beautiful conversion of a 12’ cargo trailer. I loved it. I could stand upright in it and I had a porta-potty for those night time functions. Cooking inside, or sitting to eat and write was next to impossible. There was a lovely retractable awning outside, which is where you spend most of your time as you go further south, but the notion of cooking or writing there in inclement weather soon paled as well. What would be perfect for me was a trailer small and tough enough to survive being towed on primitive roads. I needed separate, comfortable beds for at least two people, indoor cooking and dining facilities, some sort of bathroom facility and adequate storage as well. That will allow total self-sufficiency for 7 to 10 days without going to town. That’s a tough order to fill, especially on my budget. Building exactly what I need is very appealing but the cost of doing it right would be formidable.

My second attempt at dreams on wheels. I was proud of this trailer, but had not thought about what to do in foul weather.
When finished it had a lovely interior and the most comfortable bed ever with loads of storage space beneath. The bunk also converted instantly into a great work bench.

For a towing vehicle I also required an affordable, reliable short-wheel base 4×4 truck with enough power to tow the trailer yet be good on gas, have a canopy to store extra fuel and water, a small generator, a small air compressor, extra tools and also enough room to carry a small boat, outboard motor and a kayak. Most of the time, four-wheel drive is not necessary but when you need it, by gad you really need it. I wanted all of this for less than $20,000. I know! I am a dreamer. Both pre-owned trailers and good used trucks have ridiculous prices. My only hope was to find something online, even if it meant flying and driving across the continent. Importing any vehicle from the US is essentially straight forward, yet there are so many clauses and codicils, that one has to be quite wary. Imagine showing up at the border with a vehicle which may not be imported under any circumstance because the clearance lights are wrong. Vehicles over fifteen years in age are generally permissible but still vulnerable to subjective opinions of individual customs officers about things like the location of clearance lights. Yes, I did read that. And, every import is subject to GST which really chips into tsavings you’d calculated. Then, once over the border into Canada, there are two separate safety inspections to pass before the vehicle can finally be registered in your home province. Geez Louise! I looked anyway. Day after interminable day, all over the continent, for several hours at each sitting. This endeavour furthered my autodidact education and my standing as a masochist.

Next, I considered something a little bigger yet still affordable.
The chickens were not included. I declined.

Simply put, we’ve all heard it before, “If it’s too good to be true, it is.” I think I can safely claim that three quarters of the ads I pursued were scams. Firstly, if something is advertised in an area a great distance from where it is alleged to actually be, raise a warning flag. There was a disconcertingly consistent bullshit story with an almost word for word same script. Repeatedly the story was that a lady officer in the military was about to be re-posted, usually overseas. Old dad had died and this beloved truck, or RV, was a too-sad reminder of him and they just wanted to clean things up before their imminent deployment. The transaction would be done through E-bay and the sale item would then be shipped to me. Photos of the vehicle were extensive and showed something in immaculate condition. I made several inquiries, simply out of bemusement and also the theory that once in a while the ad might actually be legitimate. WRONG! That gambling philosophy is what gets a lot of folks into trouble.

One ad, placed in Craigslist-Kootenays described a near-virgin Rialta motor home which, it turned out, was claimed to be located in Prince Rupert, several hundreds of miles away from the Kootenays. (First Alert) Considering the remoteness of this location, it did seem plausible that the price was less then half of other quotient prices especially with the story I was given. A senior lady from Prince Rupert was in a California hospital with her husband who was waiting on a donor to provide a heart for a transplant. Because she was so far from home, and desperately short of funds, she had arranged for a quick sale through a third party, a shipping company in Prince Rupert. If I met her price the RV, and all paperwork, would be shipped to me. In response I explained that I never buy shoes without first trying them on. I proposed to fly to Prince Rupert, inspect the RV, do a lien check and then pay by bank draft. Clearly, paying a shipping fee out of such a low price did not make sense, nor did the notion that some unnamed shipping company was quarter-backing the deal. I have not heard back from her. In previous years there was an experience with some Nigerian scammers claiming an interest in a sailboat I advertised. That is a whole story in itself.

There must be masses of stupid people out there. Scammers would not be plying their trade so vigorously if they weren’t making money. There was a strange pleasure pretending to be a potential dupe until I finally wearied of kissing all those frogs.

I’m sure it will be here in a day or two. I know I put it in the mail. The side of this old mail truck was too good to walk away from.
One more shot I could not resist. This is part of the remaining old town in Nanaimo

Well I did find both the right trailer and a great towing vehicle, right here on Vancouver Island and within a day of each other. Oddly, the same thing happened when I bought ‘Seafire’. I looked at boats all over the continent, as far away as North Carolina and Toronto. I found her languishing in Blaine, about forty miles away. Go figure eh! Including taxes and insurance I am well within my budget for truck and trailer. Now I just have to get rid of the frog breath. Speaking of which, today is a fine clear, warm and sunny day. While writing this I am in a beautiful, luxurious semi-rural home dog-sitting for some friends. At the bottom of this acreage lies a small swamp. The frogs are singing heartily. Wherever I look, I can see no snow. Is it really spring?

Maple Bay spring dawn. It is spring! Beneath the fog lays a flooded field where swans swim and feed up for the long flight northward.

Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail.” Kinky Friedman

A Last Night

The last light on the last night. What a comfort this lantern has been.
A last look. Then I turned away and refused to look back.
It is spring time! Somewhere.
Life at the edge. Eeech.

Hunched over the steering wheel with bleary eyes I was once again in my old camper van driving into a town where I had never been before. It was raining and sleeting heavily. I was tired and hungry and just wanted to find a place to park for the night. The gas gauge was tsappingon empty. I worried that when I went to fill up the gas tank, my credit card would be rejected. Then I woke up from my terrible dream. There were a few nights much like that on my recent trip. That lost and lonely feeling is much how it is for me again tonight.

I am aboard my beloved ‘Seafire’ anchored in a beautiful nook known as Maple Bay. It will be my last night aboard this wonderful vessel. Tomorrow I meet with the buyers for a sea-trial. On the following day the boat will be hauled out for a survey and once that is past, the deal is near completion. I feel like a convict on the night before his appointment with the hangman. At least he has the sweet hope of oblivion. The ship’s chronograph rings out seven bells, right on time. It is nineteen-thirty hours (7:30 pm) I am reminded that the clocks are to be turned ahead tonight for daylight savings. The clear evening sky held a little light until about a half-hour ago. It is damned cold. There is snow along the shore right to the waterline.

Maybe I’ll buy a tiny motorhome and run away to the desert. Isn’t this sweet? I’ve  never seen one so small.

So here I sit, the aging man who lived in this egg, surrounded by the teak and brass in what has been my world. The one oil lantern remaining in the boat is glowing brightly, its cloying bittersweet reek fills the cabin. The furnace is belting out a lovely warmth and I reminisce about all the nights through the years spent aboard sitting right here, at this table, while the rain hammered down or the wind howled while the boat slammed against a dock or tugged frantically at the anchor chain. There were summer nights when the hatches were open to let in the fragrant night air; sometimes there were swarms of mosquitoes. Around the boat, seals and sometimes whales or dolphins snorted and splashed. Occasionally while anchored in some remote north coast bay there would be wolves howling in the surrounding rain forest. Sometimes the northern lights would begin to pulse and throb in the black, star-studded sky. There have also been nights in the harbour of some city where the lighted buildings towered above me and sirens howled above the constant drone of traffic. I don’t like cities. There have been times when I have sat here feeling like the loneliest man in the world but so very often I wanted to be in no other place.

And the days, those magic days, when the world passed at a stately speed between five and eight knots. Grey days, sparkling sunny days, none of then were bad; even those long hours bashing through monstrous breaking, foaming, hissing mountains of briny water when you knew that what you were doing was insanity. Sometimes the boat was surrounded in thick fog. It always made sense to me. I and this beloved little ship have seen an awful lot. We never made it to Europe, or even to Mexico, which was the original plan, but without that dream I would not have experienced much of what I have. A friend e-mailed me today to remind me of my recent metaphor about having to draw the arrow backward to launch it forward. Life is a long series of rapidly passing moments which ricochet between choices, some good, some bad.

When I edited this photo I had to go check that it was flying right-side-up. It was. For a moment the wind had folded it over. An inverted flag is an international distress signal.
I felt the wind and the sun on my face as we skimmed along slowly toward our destination.

Today on the short three-hour voyage to this bay the wind freshened out of the north. It was cold and clear and beautiful. I hoisted the sails which have been tightly furled away far too long. For two hours I motor-sailed, then the wind faltered and died. It was as if the gods wanted me to have one last dance with the wind. I will miss this boat, dearly and desperately, I know that. I also understand that you can’t steer a steady course by looking back at your wake. There is no ocean voyage that is not made between points on shorelines. Land and sea are meaningless without each other. After days or weeks out upon the broad, curving eternal face of the open ocean you make a landfall, often in a port where you’ve never been before. You rest, re provision, find new charts, make repairs and modifications. Then recharged you sail off on a new course to a new destination. Life is an eternal journey. I will send postcards, many of them. Meanwhile, tonight will be very long.

A light in the fog. Then darkness fell and the long night began.

Two days later, the sea-trial is completed, the buyers are happy. I am waiting for the surveyor this morning. There are only some simple formalities to complete the transaction. Then I will be boatless, for the moment.

I learned last night that a new friend, one I made on my travels in the desert, has died. For many years Frank was only an acquaintance until I spent a few days visiting with him in Ajo Arizona. We bonded like brothers and made plans about where and when we would meet again. We had met through a mutual friend who was a life-long close friend of Frank’s. Fortunately Jimmy was able to spend Frank’s final hours at his bedside. Any man who has a friend like that is successful indeed. When circumstances took Frank’s leg he was able to give it a positive spin and became an advocate, at a high level, for the disabled. He took his personal challenge and turned it into an advantage for himself and many others. He was courageous and positive. Nothing held him back. Only a few short weeks ago he took me for a drive in the desert. This one-legged guy drove his standard shift vehicle by using a stick to work the clutch. He didn’t miss a shift.

This short eulogy is all that I can do. My sadness is overwhelming. This is a reminder that one should live among their fellows like each goodbye is the last one. It just might be.

Those who knew him will miss Frank dearly. I took this photo just a few weeks ago. I am assured that his beloved little dog Xena (his half-a-lap dog) went to a very good home.

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.”

… André Gide

Starry, Starry Dreams

Global Warming. It felt good.
A moment later. A harbour seal gulps some air and dives away from the bow of the Gabriola Ferry. You never know what the next moment will bring. Keep your eyes open.

Two days back was the first real day of autumn here. When I stepped outside early in the morning the sky was a velvet black and the stars were brilliant. They seemed to be moving until I realized a bright satellite was passing and creating my first illusion, or perhaps delusion, of the day. A thin film of frost formed on the windshield as I turned on the wipers to clear away the heavy dew. First frost! At the beginning of October! Here on Southern Vancouver Island! Proof! Global Warning! Meanwhile fellow bloggers send brilliant posts from their exotic travel locations. Bugga! Now, as we stumble into Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, it is raining furiously, intermittently drizzling as it will for the next six long dark months. The good thought is that it is not snow. Yet.

Boooooop!
Some mornings, with the right light, even a freighter can beautiful!

Life goes on as I try to resolve technical issues on friend’s old boats. They’re people I like and their boats are wonderfully unique; character vessels worth special attention. I’m an older character with the experience to see a project through but I really would rather be done with resolving challenges. Poverty, however, is a powerful master and I find myself grubbing for the next dollar while sliding backwards. I know there are lot’s of of folks my age in the same state of financial duress, but it doesn’t make life any easier. A former tugboat dispatcher used to say, “ She’s all bluebirds, just freakin’ bluebirds!” Yup I can hear the flutter of their little wings. A shoe maker told me this week that his business is booming. “People,” he said, “are repairing their shoes again instead of just throwing them away.” That is a good thing, but also a sign of how the middle class is being eroded. Enough said.

Set yer sights on a Ford.
Good shooting!
Hinged windshield, cabriolet top, see-thru mirror, intermittent wiper, real-wood interior, an ultimate suv. But…no airbags.
Isn’t it amazing? The beauty to be found in something so old and rusty?
Perched on a bank above a highway, the old truck is still working for a living. Now it advertises a local pizzeria.
A logo on the truck’s door.
Bearclaw farms? Maybe, the Bearclaw Bakery. Who knows?
Another old Ford. This I believe began its life as a 1932 coupe. You know the Beachboy’s song “Little Deuce Coupe.”

Some times things just go in streaks of bad and good. Like the bio-degradable dogshit bag I found stored in my jacket pocket from months ago. No, no, it was an empty bag. The little green sacks have a shelf life after which they start becoming earth once again. I discovered I had a pocketful of ragged green confetti which fluttered everywhere and stuck to everything. I’ll have little green bits appearing inside the boat for months to come. They don’t like being vacuumed up and they sure do not want to wash away. They just stick harder. On the trip back across the Strait from Steveston the boat took an especially nasty roll. The kettle, which I had not bothered to stow, leapt off the stove. It landed on its spout and the whistle vanished. While tidying away the green stuff, I finally found my beloved kettle whistle. Some days, life indeed seems predestined. At least I leave no loaded little green bags tied neatly and sitting on the edge of paths or even hanging in trees. Why DO people do that with their dog’s do?

There is no poo fairy which comes along and gathers them up. Ya packed it in. Now pack it out.

Dog Star. This beautiful character was apparently rescued from South Africa!
A good dog is worth the effort.

The weather forecast for the weekend is a mixed bag of sun and then rain. What a great job; to be paid for being correct once in a while. Certainly here in Coastal British Columbia where the entire North Pacific slams against a barrier of jagged mountains and tortured inlets, the local geography often makes its own weather. What is happening in one place can be entirely different than the weather even ten miles away. Any one of the Gulf Islands can have entirely different weather occurring at the same time on opposite ends of that particular small land mass.

Porky was a vegan.
This beasty was the main course a a friend’s daughter’s 3rd birthday party.
It begs the caption ‘Lard Smokin’ Harsoles’ He was some tasty though! Or, as some Newfoundlanders would say, : De arse is otta her by!”

Or

The Boat ramp on a fine autumn morning.
From whence the previous photo was taken. ‘Seafire’ on the local drying grid, a place to quickly work on  a vessel’s bottom while the tide is out. As usual, there was a load of free, and unwanted, advise from the jetty above. “If you know so much about it, then you know to leave a man at work alone. The tide ain’t goin’ to wait on your bullshit !”
It’s autumn again, already!
Another sure sign of fall.
“… She awoke. It was daylight. As she lifted her face from the cold, damp soil and reluctantly opened her eyes, she felt like a turnip in a pumpkin field.”
Another photo of yet another beautiful and mysterious flower blossoming in the fall. Does anyone know what it is?
No,. not rats! This is some old  flax packing which I replaced in the stuffing box of ‘Seafire.’
I know, I know “Wot’s a stuffin’ box?” Well, I’ll tell you……
Wired!
Yet another project on a customer’s boat

 

I do wish that people would stop being so arrogant as to believe we alone are responsible for Global Warming. We certainly are not helping and urgently need to clean up our act, but hard, clear evidence shows a warming/cooling fluctuation that has gone on for millions of years. Our existence is a gnat’s fart within that history. Long after the passing of the virus that is us, the weather will still vary wildly as it always has. When I was in school, there was speculation about the impending doom of the next ice age. Wherever the profit of paranoia leads, we follow. Remember the Ozone Layer? We need to remove our heads from where the sun never shines, give ourselves a good old dog shake and indulge in the available joy and beauty of the moment. It is all we truly have. And go ahead, be brave, ask questions!

And yet another job. Sea water, hot gas and cast iron make a poor combination. Trouble is, I can’t find one to replace it. Everyone who manufactured these parts is out of business. It is an exhaust elbow from a boat engine and a very unique casting which no-one else has ever seen before. Have you?

 

Things could be worse. Yesterday morning in Cowichan Bay. It looked like two boats had been rafted together. First one sank, then the other.

We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.”

W.H. Auden

Boats And Mountains

‘Thane’ A spray replica gleams under the love of new owners. Built in the mid-80s, this boat has become a Southcoast icon. She recently visited the docks at the Ladysmith Maritime Society.

We’re moving into the doldrums of early summer, this time with a short heat wave. Well, that is heat as defined by our coastal standards. I saw 34°C yesterday on my thermometer. The forecast strong NW winds did not come. The air was hot; it felt good to me. The streams have already dried up, all the open grassy knolls are brown, I fear for what may lurk in the fire season ahead. I’m tinkering on little jobs on the boat which go so much better when it is dependably dry. Unfortunately dry also comes with the intense heat of sun reflected from the calm water around the docks. In two more days it will be officially summer. While I work, touring boats come to the dock, full of happy laughing people. That’s always a rub when the sweat is running into your eyes.

Fresh paint on the cabin top is the beginning of the facelift project. It can be called, “Putting lipstick on the pig.”
Finally! A transom ladder to make getting out of the dinghy much easier after clipping into the davits. It has been a bugger through the years.

 

I am wondering what the future has in store. I ache to untie the boat and go on a jaunt but finances, or the lack thereof, are preventing that. Often however, when things appear desperate, it can be a time just before a great adventure or opportunity begins. So like the little boy locked in the barn, I’m shovelling all the manure aside because, with all the shit, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere! The scene fades with the old Lyle Lovett song “If I had a pony, I’d ride him on my boat….”

Salvaged winches newly installed to help hoist the dinghy on the davits. Such decadence!

Two days later it is now officially summer solstice. The days will begin getting shorter again. Any day now we’ll see our first Christmas ad. Haaar! Speaking of ads here are two products I’ll mention. First is something new to me called “30 Second Cleaner.” It reeks of bleach but whatever else is mixed into it does indeed work miracles. A sail cover which was embedded with black mould from the wet north coast did not respond to any of my efforts. With a bit of this stuff it was looking like new in five minutes and that included a prolonged rinse. So it was whoohaw for me.

By Cracky! Deep-cleaning Simple Green. The windows were old but clear the day before.

The other product must be familiar to nearly everyone, the liquid that cleans everything, is environmentally-friendly, you can even drink it they say, the concoction smells good and won’t harm anything. It’s a cleaner called “Simple Green.” I’ve been removing the frames around my plexi-glass boat windows to repair and paint them. I sprayed the organic gorp beneath the frames to remove years of muck. It ran down over the windows but heck, it was “Simple Green” so I didn’t even think of rinsing things down. Two days later, I returned to discover the effect as noted in the photo. The windows were old but craze-free before. It “Cleans everything by cracky!”

A great way to deal with a problem, a Turkish wine. I couldn’t resist the label. These guys have been making the stuff for several thousand years. Very, very nice!

Now, $800. later, I have all the new plexi in hand, not to mention the bedding compound, the cutting and installation after the unpleasant job of removing each old windows and prepping up for the new. There are also lifelines to replace and stanchions to upgrade. It’s all expensive and unpleasant work and won’t increase the value of the boat one dime but I’ll feel better once it is all done. These are jobs that have been on my “to do” list since I bought the boat seven years ago. While I am at these jobs, I may as well paint the cabin-sides; there’ll never be a better time. For once, all this work requires making no new holes in the boat.

Look Ma, no computers! An antique Hercules diesel idles beautifully where it is nestled in a gorgeous x-navy gig. It is elegantly simple.
Old as me! A 1952 GMC 3600. Original paint! Beauty eh? Wish I looked that good.
NO AIRBAGS! But…there’s a deluxe push-button AM radio, two spot lights, a sun visor and factory-installed signal lights.

My incentive for all will be a cruise for a couple of weeks once I’m done. I’ll be as broke as a church window once the face-lift is done so of course it’s a great time to go. Yes, I’m looking for crew. Vamanos!

Moo Noon.
On the way to the mountain. This old farm boy can never resist good looking cattle. These are a Scottish breed, Aryshires.
A view from Mount Prevost over Mount Maxwell on Saltspring Island.
Looking down on a falcon. Taken hand-held with my new-used 500mm af Minolta lense. The bird was about 500′ away. What a great lense!
Under The Volcano. Mount Baker from Mount Prevost.
Fog on the far side of Victoria Airport. It was a harbinger of the coming rain. Note the boats fishing in Saanich Inlet. It is now pouring as I post this blog.
Hanging some old friends. These sandals died today, the worn soles finally came unglued. I’ve trod the desert , the beaches of Mexico, and many other magical miles in these. I wonder if anyone will notice them hanging up there twenty feet in the air.
Yes, there will be flowers.
Wild lilies on the mountain.
Stinging Nettle Flower
The glory of summer. Sweet peas and Chickweed.
Yep! More Indian Plums. Fully ripe now with an ant standing guard.
Twins! Two spring fawns and their mom on the road down from the mountain.

Sunday morning, one window done. It dawned to prove the weatherman correct. There was a 40% chance of rain. I know how to make that 100%: just start prying a window out of my boat. Sploosh! On top of Mt. Prevost a few hours later, we looked out on a grand vista; the Cowichan Valley. The plaintiff calls of a steam whistle echoed up through the forest five hundred feet beneath my toes. It was the little locomotive at the Forestry Museum in Duncan a few miles away. Then came the chatter of a Peregrine Falcon, soon spotted sitting on a limb far below the high cliff where we stood. It was magic. After a rest, a warm gentle rain began to spatter down. It felt great after the clamber to the top. We began the steep descent back to a parking area down the mountain. The boat is calling.

Dinghummer! Harmless and properly named a Crane Fly it is also know as a Mosquito Hawk or a Daddy Long Legs. This beast is a sure sign of summer.

The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman.” -William Shakespeare.

Donuts In The Snow

IT’S OVER!
Red light, green light, crossing the highway in Ladysmith. Taken through the windshield with my mobile phone.

I posted my last blog ten days ago. When I awoke the next morning it was beginning to snow, just a wee skiff to keep the children happy; so I thought. I’ve spent many years in the great white north where a metre or more of snow overnight was not newsworthy. You just carried on. I regularly drove hundreds of miles on wilderness roads in extreme conditions of cold and deep snow. If you ended up in a ditch or broken down it could prove fatal so you drove accordingly and carried a few extra items in the event of emergency. If you saw someone off the road you stopped and made sure no-one was in trouble. It was all in a day’s passing. Here, if there’s enough snow to cover the ground, it is best to simply stay home. Today, the forecast is for 17 or more centimetres. A few people will die out there. Only half that fell and the sirens still wailed constantly all day.

Well, Jack enjoyed his Christmas. His new blanket was tasty!

The white stuff is slippery and if you have experience as a winter driver, you know that no amount of ability is enough when there is zero traction. Superior drivers use their superior experience to avoid situations which require superior skill. Unfortunately there are many motorists who apparently have no clue about winter driving. Steep hills covered in wet white grease and littered with goggly-eyed drivers stuck in their suv’s is reason enough to stay home. Those television ads depicting an all-wheel drive vehicle bursting through a bank of fluffy, dry snow forget to tell you one thing: you’ve got to stop sometime. Last night I saw a plug for an Alfa Romeo suv. (Stupid Urban Vanity) It was a gorgeous vehicle! But somehow I doubt the Italians fully understand Canadian driving conditions, not that many of these look-at-me-mobiles ever leave pavement. So I stayed home that morning and sat here pecking away at my writing.

The same old view south. In the distance, ships wait for cargo at another sundown, not a nice way to spend Christmas.

Then there was a horrific train wreck just south of Seattle. It was the very first run with paying passengers on a new high-speed rail service between Seattle and Portland. The train leapt off the rails and crashed down onto the main interstate highway in the state of Washington. The carnage incurred prevents this from being a hilarious story. To ad to the ludicrous tale, our boy Donny Trumpet (He’s always blowing his horn) was tweeting within three hours of the crash that this was a great example of why his infrastructure funding bill should be passed forthwith. The gormless ass! There were still people, dead and alive, trapped in the wreckage as he massaged his pathetic ego! Here on Vancouver Island we have solved any issue with railway safety. We cancelled our rail service.

Christmas morning; a brief respite. Jill and Jack savour a few minutes of sunlight.

 

Tracks in the snow.

Now over a week later I slide this blog off the back burner of my writer’s stove with a story from today’s local newspaper about a visiting Calgary man who “Spun a few donuts in the snow at Transfer Beach last week to clear a path for his 70-year-old mom to walk.” There’s a photo of a little car sitting in the middle of several circular furrows. That this was a news-worthy story says a lot about the pace of life in Ladysmith. I’m wondering how long this dude has had his mom going in circles. Such is our existence between Christmas and New Years. The days are grey and wet, the nights are long and wet. My sense of humour is short and dry. Outside on the final Friday of the year, I go to the local pool to swim my final lengths for the year. This morning I crawled out of bed one toe at a time and now dawn reluctantly squeezes the black sky to a porridge grey. A thick fog descends with a syrupy penetrating drizzle. In the afternoon, the drizzle turned to snow.

The bunk job completed. The deck beam and storage shelving are new. Apart from difficult angles, the real trick was to make everything look as if it belonged.
Open for business. This is the guest berth, until recently used as junk storage. Well, it’s junk if you don’t know you’ve got it or can’t find it. Emergency tools stored handily. The wheelbarrow handle has been adapted as an emergency tiller.

When I went aboard ‘Seafire’ to check on her, it was colder inside than out, like a tomb. This old boat has been my home, warm and snug through some long winter nights. I feel as if I’ve abandoned her and wonder where I will be this time next year. Well, life has to be lived as it comes, one moment at a time. When you look back, even 365 days, you’ve already forgotten so much of the blur. Just this moment, it’s all we have.

I wish everyone the best in 2018. May we all have something to do, someone to love and something to look forward too.

Happy New Year
May your days be sunny and your seas calm.

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” … Hal Borland 

Bang! It’s autumn again.

Flags, or what is left of them, crackling in the cold, wet onshore wind.

It has already been forgotten by most. Like all the other tragedies in our culture, the recent events in Las Vegas are already well-faded into a blur with all of the other horrific mass killings in North America. Given a little time some sick bastard may try to make a movie about it, just like two films just released about the marathon bombing Boston Marathon Bombing. Of course WWII is still rich fodder for films and books. It’s been over 70 years and we’re still fighting that one…and haven’t learned a damned thing! Greed knows no shame.

It’s not any hurricane, but still enough to draw storm watchers to the beach.
Surf’s up! This is at Point Holmes,just inside Cape Lazo at Comox. The view is Southward looking down the Strait of Georgia. These boulder-strewn tidal flats were so-named by the Spanish explorers. It means the “Snare.”

Life goes on. Finding a parking spot in the mall is as tough as ever, the nine-month television hockey season has begun. In the Caribbean, so recently in our amazement and now forgotten, millions are still without power and water after the hurricanes. Then there are those digging out from Mexico’s earthquake and in Lala land coroners are going from burned home to burned home looking for remains to identify. There are famines, floods and ethnic cleansings occurring around the planet. In Mogadishu, Somalia, a single bombing vapourized hundreds of people and injured hundreds more. That incredible evil has barely made our news. It seems we’re more concerned that our very wealthy Federal Finance Minister failed to report,in his list of assets that he owns a multi-million dollar villa in the south of France. “Oh yeah I forgot about that one.” Now here’s a guy who wants to reboot the middle class! All this comes to mind aboard ‘Seafire’ before going to work on Monday morning. It is still pitch dark outside at seven o’clock. An angry wind swirls around the boat. The mast and rigging are moaning and I sit here sputtering and gasping in the grip of a vicious virus; Snyphlis Exotic. I have decided that I’m too ill to go to work today. Somewhere in the rush of the wind I can hear Louis Armstrong singing “What a Wonderful World.” Then a leg falls off of my table.

Now that I’ve cheered everyone up, I’m going back to my bunk. At the moment I’m virtually useless and there’s no point in infecting the rest of the work crew with this nasty bug. As the thin light of a stormy morning reveals the low scudding clouds I ruminate with a mug of hot chocolate in hand. I think of good things.

A week earlier, before a previous storm. Looking across the Strait of Georgia to Desolation Sound. Calm and pleasantly warm.
North to Alaska. it is much nicer meeting these guys here than in a narrow, fog-bound channel of the Inside Passage. The smoke in the distance is from the paper mill in Powell River. It is an excellent wind indicator. Mittlenatch and Savary Islands are behind the tug.
Godsmile! I soon found out why she was looking so content.
This is why! These photos were taken while delivering a boat from Campbell River. An hour later we were running for shelter. I stood hand-steering in an open cockpit with a bitter cold wind and driving rain with only two hours to go. It’s all about the romance of the sea.
Never look back! I had right-of-way but this fish boat held it’s heading although we were on a collision course. Some things never change, world over. Never trust the other guy to play by the rules. The squall has just passed ahead of us.

I’m not in Shearwater anymore.

I have roads to drive away upon in any direction.

My wife, and my dog, are only a short drive to the south.

There are times when I would have had to work no matter how sick.

I’m free to write nearly anything I want without fear of any kind of persecution.

I am aboard a wonderful boat which I can untie and go anywhere in the world.

I’m not in Shearwater anymore.

The table was easy to fix.

The leaning shed of Fred.
One of my projects, more storage on the docks. It is built on a narrow raft and we have a small shed stability problem.
After the storm, low snow for mid-October.

In the evening the weather has advanced to a full gale. I sit inside beneath the shuddering mast listening to the screeching wind. I write placidly, while safe, warm and dry, recently-fed and still able to dream about a future. Who could ask for more? Someone to love, something to do, something to look forward too; while doing no harm. There is nothing more.

The sea is the last free place on earth.”… Humphrey Bogart

It’s Funny now!

Dawn, Roar Islets
A long shot of the same view.
A westward view from the roar Islets. You can see in the distance how they earned their name.

Finally the clouds begin to break up and a glorious blue sky arcs overhead. A forecast of Nor’west wind begins to show promise and then I discover the leak. We’re sinking! Having to return to Shearwater to be hauled out is a notion which horrifies me but I turn in that direction and think furiously. Along the way, I resolve to relax so I break out the fishing gear as we approach Idol Point, a famous spot for big salmon. Even I can catch fish here. Incredibly my downrigger line breaks, I lose forty feet of line and the lead cannonball which holds the baitline down where the fish are. Bugga! It’s going to one of those days. I resolve to avoid Shearwater no matter what. If a worst-case scenario evolves, I have enough pumps aboard to keep us afloat until I can careen the boat in a suitable spot.

I called this shot ‘Goodbye Weirdwater.’ I didn’t want to go back there again.

I turn southward into a narrow channel. I want Jill to feel and see the magic of these winding waterways. We pass pictographs and marvel at the miles of breathtaking scenery. Eventually we anchor in the Tribal Island Group and I attempt to make repairs. I find a broken clamp on a piece called the stern tube. It is behind and under a bundle of wiring and plumbing as far down and back into the bilge as I can reach. The trick is to install a new clamp. This requires finding one of the correct size, reaching in, wrapping it around the rubber stern tube, fitting one end back inside the screw guide which tightens it, getting that screw to start, moving the clamp into place and holding it while tightening the whole thing, but not so much that the threads are stripped and you have to start over again with another clamp…which I don’t have.

Bilge Blues. Yep, in there, stick your head and arm in there. No, no ALL the way in, to the back, about a foot past where you can see the big hose.
Yep, I know the wiring is a mess, it is another job I’m saving for Mexico. Yeah right!
Repairs complete. We move on but Jill decides to ride the foredeck while the bad karma dissipates.

This is achieved by using one hand only with my arm contorted and extended fully into the abyss of the bilge. I cannot see anything with my arm in there and I must work by feel only. It hurts. Tools and parts fall into the bottom of the bilge and have to be retrieved. I repeatedly shred my arm on an invisible sharp point but it seems a little blood is always part of the mix in these scenarios. Old fat bastard knows his days as a marine technician are near their end. I joke that I used to do my best work in the dark with my eyes closed! Ha! This is a young man’s calling. Two hours later I’m able to announce success; the leak is under control. Jill has endured my curses and grunts by trying to read. I know that standing-by during these ordeals can be at least as difficult as actually doing the work. All’s well that ends. It’s funny now.

I visit this place a second time. It is magic to see this from the boat.
100% natural. Another part of the same pictograph …unretouched.

We spend the night in the Tribal Islands Group. It is a splendid place. The sky is clear, both the sunset and sunrise cast a splendid light. Under a clear sky and a light breeze we cross Queen’s sound to the Goose Group of islands. That is a blog all on it’s own.

The gap. Looking westward from our anchorage by Iroquois Island, in the Tribal Group. We passed through there on our way to the Goose Group.
Islet and kelp bed in the same anchorage.
The winter gardener has shaped this tree well.
Green. Again taken from the same anchorage looking Northwest at low tide.
More green. Some mornings the light is magic.
Salmon oil, after it was poured down the galley sink drain.

If you can’t repair it….maybe it shouldn’t be aboard!”

Lin & Larry Pardey

Easter Flashes By

BIG! This barge stopped briefly in Shearwater while I was leaving for the weekend. The “Ocean Oregon’ was being towed by the ‘Arctic Taglu’. Once this monster is loaded with logs it will go south where the timber is reloaded on a ship for export.
LITTLE! ‘Seafire’s’ tender is a 10’6″ Achilles inflatable hypalon boat. It has an inflatable floor and performs much better than previous aluminum hard-bottomed inflatable boats. It’s a keeper!

Good Friday morning, Easter weekend. The anchorage is placid. There is no sign of human presence anywhere other than myself. ‘Seafire’ is anchored in a finger-shaped bay off of Troup Passage. I’ve dreamed of this for weeks and the thought of being here sustained me through the haul-out last weekend. Here I am with three full days on my beloved boat away from Shearwater. I’d love some company but I’m happy enough with my own self and am free to follow a random schedule having to bend or explain anything to anyone.

Freedom! Heading out for the weekend on Seaforth Channel. A few miles west it opens onto the entire Pacific Ocean, a tough call to resist.

Yesterday at 5 pm, quitting time, I was still in a bilge wrestling with a last stubborn bolt. There is always one. If I hadn’t beat the damned thing it would have haunted me all weekend. I won. By 6:30 we were all shipshape and had slipped our lines. That we is ‘Seafire’ and me. There was even a thin sunlight as we left the bay. Two hours later the anchor went down here as the last light of the day ebbed away. The stereo is playing an amazing album of eclectic Spanish music. ( Carlos Nunez- Discovery) It would be nice to share this bliss but this blog is as close as I’ll get to that. Soon it’ll be anchors aweigh to see what’s around the corner, and then the next. What a feeling to be content in the moment at hand and not want to be somewhere else.

Into the mystic. Northbound up Bullock Channel. It, in turn, opens onto Spiller Channel.

I’m travelling northward up a network of inlets and passages to a place called Ellerslie Lake, a sacred back water to locals. The scenery and fishing are supposed to be fantastic. We’re in the middle of herring season. There might be wildlife to see with all that surplus feed in the water. By mid-afternoon ‘Seafire’ arrives and the anchor goes down in a magic world which is entirely mine. There is a logging camp miles back but here the solitude is absolute. The silence thunders out. I launch the dinghy and soon find a forgotten joy as I skim across the flat water. I love exploring in my trusty little Achilles and can quickly cover many miles in a radius from where mother ship ‘Seafire’ is anchored. The skies have cleared a bit. A golden evening light bathes the area and it will be best to take advantage. I decide to visit the falls and find a rich reward of soft pure light for the effort. As the tide falls the is a tidal gorge to navigate in and out of the large lagoon below the falls. The lower the tide the more the rapids increase.

Anchored beneath the mountain. We all need to occasionally be reminded of how tiny and insignificant we are.
Natural Art. I could see a fish in the reflection at the tide line.

I remind myself that I’m entirely alone as I pick my way up and over the boiling water but I’m having fun for once. I love white water and soon I’m into the lagoon. In another two miles I arrive at a spectacular water falls running into the sea. The light is fading and I know the rapids will be steeper each minute I linger.

The prize. The falls  which drain Ellerslie Lake. I’ll go back and explore when it’s warmer.
Over the edge. Yeehawing my way down the rapids from the lagoon at Ellerslie Lake.

I’m not a kid with a canoe anymore, and I don’t want to spend the night here if the rapids become impassable. The rapids are considerably more violent and steeper but the hardest part is making a decision to just do it. Then you pick your way through and it’s over. I’m hungry and getting cold. Finally back at the boat I’m numb, my arthritic hands burning with painful coldness. I have never worn gloves but the time has come. God bless my diesel furnace. Despite the warmth of my kerosene lamp and the music I play, Stan Rogers then Ibrahim Ferrer, nothing warms my core. The music of Cuba seems incongruously far from the cold grandeur of this incredible place.

Warmth at last light. I turned up the furnace and put the kettle on promptly on my return.

I am still filled with pain and stiffness in the morning. This sucks! The fog and rain has descended again and my body, and soul, ache for warmth. Damn! This getting older will be the death of me! After breakfast I clean up and decide to crawl back into bed. The weather, and the way I feel, are equally grey. At 13:00 I am up and after consulting the charts I decide to pull the hook and amble back toward Shearwater the long way. I’ll find another place to anchor tonight. The weekend is already half gone, but then, half still lies ahead. The rain squalls continue. I am glad that I seized the sunlight of last evening

It blinked! I swear!
An interesting anomaly on the top of a cliff looking down on the anchorage.
Serenity.So calm that not every one notices the photo is posted inverted.
Now which way is up? Another calm evening, now in Wigham Cove…just me and the seals.

 

Soon the seals will have it all to themselves. I always find it amusing that they lay curled up like a sausage in a frying pan.

I meander down Spiller Channel for a few hours. I explore Neekas Cove and Inlet but something doesn’t feel right and i continue on my way. I’ve learned to listen to my intuition about anchorages and go or not to go decisions. There may practical reasons but experience produces an inner voice which is often correct a\nd I don’t analyze what I intuit. The wind rises on my nose but we make fair speed and it is so pleasant to feel the boat travelling as it has not for too many months. I tuck into the secure basin charted as Wigham Cove on the south end of Yeo Island. I cook a simple supper of ground beef well-imbued with smoked chipotle pepper and garlic. I fill some pitas with the potent mixture and feel a lovely glow spreading within. Warmth! Simple pleasure!

Sunday morning finds me nestled firmly between the blankets, suspended in a stupor between sleep and wakefulness. Sunlight shafts into the cabin. A light fog is dissipating to reveal a near-cloudless sky. I ache for a place to walk but the cedar jungle crowds everywhere, There are no meadows or trails, only a thick tangle of brush and windfalls and interlocked branches. Some beaches offer a place to amble at low tide along a small edge of this impenetrable mystery of endless forest. Wild creatures can magically appear and disappear silently into and from this thick maze. I crash and thrash to try and intrude for a few yards and then retreat, defeated again, to the opening from which I began. I am an alien here.

It will be a sleepy Sunday, it suits my lethargic mood and I prepare for the last leg back to my berth in Shearwater; after yet another nap. I feel exhausted and want to stay here for a week.

You’re back! Got any fishy bits for me?

Later in the day the boat is back in her berth. It is as if the weekend never happened. Monday dawns with a cloudless sky. It is windless and warm, 22 degrees C. by noon. I’m back in a bilge covered in black muck and l am already looking forward to the next weekend. This too shall pass.

Life goes on. Taking seed in the end of a dead-head below Ellerslie Falls. Loggers once shot their timber over the falls. Now the forest will re-establish itself one way or the other.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving”…. Albert Einstein

RAIN

Hopes Rise Again

Between spring rain showers the sun comes out and reflects the sky on the sea’s surface. The foggy spiral is a stream of muddy water from a nearby culvert.

Saturday, April 8th. The rain is pounding down as usual. I’ve hauled the boat out and she’s sitting high and wet. Despite the forecast there is always a 50/50 chance of something different occurring. But this time the weatherman was correct. My seat in the boat is about eight feet above the ground. It feels strange. The boat is motionless although I find myself involuntarily swaying at times. My little brain is not used to being motionless aboard the boat and is reinventing my environment to what I’d prefer. Or perhaps I’m simply disoriented at this altitude.

A perfect day for painting a boat…NOT! Fortunately the were enough chores other than painting that could be done in the rain. This is a view from the cockpit of ‘Seafire’ while sitting in the yard.
My mussels. Scraped from the bottom prior to pressure-washing, these clump of mussel lay within the reflection of the travel lift which hoisted my boat from the sea.

What is incredibly stupid is that I’m sitting up here waiting for the rain to stop. In Shearwater…yeah right! I need it to dry up enough to get a fresh coat of anti-fouling paint on the bottom. That is a toxic elixir which, for a while, prevents the growth of marine flora and fauna on the hull beneath the waterline. It’s been eighteen months since the last haul-out. ‘Seafire’ was developing a copious crop of mussels and barnacles after a long winter at the dock. Remember an old Gordon Lightfoot song about sitting in the early morning rain? Here I am. The rain buckets down then tapers to a light shower and finally stops. My hopes rise again. Ten minutes later, the next biblical deluge falls without warning. One of the joys of getting older is knowing that nothing lasts forever. Sooner or later, I’ll have a window of a few hours. Persistence pays. Sunday morning some sunlight thinly ladders down and I scamper into my rain togs but, despite a constant threat, I don’t need them for the whole day!

The weary job of preparation. I’ve power-washed the hull and blasted off any loose paint. In places it is over one eight inch thick, an accumulation of thirty-six years. One of my priorities upon arrival in Mexico will be to have the boat hauled.
I’ll have the bottom scraped to bare fibreglass and painted with a locally-proven anti-fouling paint. Warm water and higher salinity render our locally approved paints impotent to prevent rapid growth in southern waters.
New zinc anodes are bolted on. These are sacrificial anodes designed to absorb stray electrical current in the water and slowly erode in place of having bronze through-hull fittings decay and crumble. The pink splotches on the propeller are evidence of electrolytic damage when anodes are not replaced in time. There has been no further breakdown since I have taken ownership of the boat.

One of the sweeter feelings I know is relaunching a boat after the bottom has just been serviced. It is never a pleasant duty working on a boat’s bottom. It feels good to be finished. Not only is the angst of being trapped ashore relieved, the boat glides so sweetly through the water. Before, there was a slight resistance to movement, now she’ll want to go somewhere, anywhere; and guess what? Easter weekend is just a few days away! Haa! As evening dusk settles the skies lower with dark swollen clouds. Because of the threat I worked the whole day frantically trying to beat the next impending downpour. With the sharp toxic tang of the fresh bottom-paint filling my head there came the high ringing calls of migrating Sandhill Cranes. It is spring! There is no doubt! Robins chittered and sang from obscure corners in the forest, staking out their territory where they will raise their young. It is spring! Tonight as I post this blog a rich golden light illuminates the bay and highlights the green of the trees and the mountains. a sparkling three-deck white yacht has just arrived and anchored out. It is the first of the season. It is spring!

Painting day. Dawn breaks with the possibility of a few dry hours ahead.
Now for the rusty stains in the white gelcoat, especially bad under the counter near the stern of the boat.
Finished! Stains are now gone.
A very pretty transom. With copious amounts of oxalic acid and elbow grease the stains are gone.

Eventually comes a deep satisfaction when I remove the masking tape. There is a crisp, clean fresh line which divides the black bottom paint from the clean white hull above. I find a bottle of fibreglass cleaner and spend a few hours scrubbing away with oxalic acid trickling down inside my sleeves. The rust-hued discolouring on the hull is gone. I’ve no time or energy to polish the hull but I’m proud of the results of my efforts. Soon ‘Seafire’ will be back in the water, rocking gently at the dock ,eagerly tugging at her lines. She’ll seem much happier. I know I will also.

A sure sign of spring. Sandhill Cranes wing their way north, their sonorous calls are a wonderful song of hope. Finally, it is spring! The wing span of these beautiful birds can be over six feet (2 metres) amazingly, many people never look up to see this wonder in the sky.

One of my distractions is reading. I am presently finishing a book by Yann Martel who wrote ‘Life Of Pi.’ This book is called ‘The High Mountains Of Portugal” and was published just last year. It’s third section is a story about a Canadian senator who moves to a small rural village in Portugal and learns to live with a chimpanzee he impulsively adopted. Here are a few lines:

…I think we all look for moments when things make sense. Here, cut off, I find these moments all the time, every day.”

… No, what’s come as a surprise is his movement down to Odo’s so-called lower status….Peter has learned the difficult animal skill of doing nothing.”

After The Crash

Eagle moon January 12th Cold, clear, calm, icy!
Eagle moon
January 12th
Cold, clear, calm, icy!
January First, 2017
January First, 2017

 

In a recent blog I promised that, despite the winter doldrums, I would find something interesting to write about. How about a runaway forklift? I repaired the wiring on a forklift which had died outside my engine shop. Once it was running, I did some final electrical checks and then gathered up my tools. That was when the back-up alarm began to sound. The heavy machine lurched backwards, accelerating as it went. One hundred feet away sat a row of boats. The first two were aluminium work punts and then a very expensive fibreglass sport fishing boat. In horror I jogged toward the impending disaster, my brain screaming “No, no, no!” The punts were shouldered aside, as the smoothly idling forklift zeroed in on the prime target. Fortunately the ground was covered in ice and the trundling attack came to rest as blocking was flung aside and a pile of pallets splintered. One driving wheel spun in useless frustration. I was able to clamber aboard and shut the engine off.

Beep, beep , beep, bee...Shit! The reverse runaway forklift. Thank goodness for the ice. The expensive boat behind the forklift was spared by one inch.
Beep, beep , beep, bee…Shit! The reverse runaway forklift. Thank goodness for the ice. The expensive boat behind the forklift was spared by one inch.
Safety First! The ubiquitous local aluminum punt often requires welding repairs after rocky beaches and stormy seas. Stacks of pallets are a great way of positioning the vessel at the best height. Creak, crack, tilt.
Safety First!
The ubiquitous local aluminum punt often requires welding repairs after rocky beaches and stormy seas. Stacks of pallets are a great way of positioning the vessel at the best height. Creak, crack, tilt.

Collateral damage was minimal and the dislocated punts came to rest an actual one inch from the hull of the grand boat. The forklift controls were worn. As it idled the shift lever vibrated itself down into the reverse position. I made appropriate repairs immediately. In my bunk, I dreamed of the machine launching itself over the end of a barge. The reverse alarm beeped its way overboard and then made a most peculiar sound as the machine sank. All’s well that ends. As the daylight faded a near-full moon rose into a crackling clear sky. Hopefully this heralds the end of our cold snap. It has been a rare event for which we are ill-prepared.

The old castle road. Would you believe a WWII jeep trail through local bogland
The old castle road.
Would you believe a WWII jeep trail through Denny Island bogland?

The weather has now returned to the many shades of grey slanting rain and gusting wind. It’s just another long, tedious day after tedious day on the mid-coast of British Columbia. The broken dock chains have been replaced. Slam-bashing winds have wracked the docks every night since and all is well. Yesterday, despite the cold lashing rain, there were rolls of fog on the distant mountains that had a spring-like look. Perhaps it is just wishful thinking but there really was an hour of sunlight in the late morning. One of the joys of getting older is knowing that nothing is forever and winter will eventually end. The trick for me is to find and savour those brief golden moments.

Winter dream.... When the sunlight is high and warm and long each day. ....Many more sleeps!
Winter dream….
When the sunlight is high and warm and long each day.
….Many more sleeps!

The weeks grind on. Donald Trump is plugged in at his newest ivory tower and even up here, it seems, the world is puckered up in anticipation and dread. Yes, even here in the remoteness of the rain forest. I suspect that in four years we’ll discover his rhetoric was largely empty promise and threat, just like a politician. He will have been forced to acknowledge possession of all normal human bodily parts. His ambition as the world’s next fuhrer will be fully deflated. Simply understand to never, ever trust a fat man with tiny hands.

Any sign of spring is desperately cherished. A moment of sunshine, its warmth on one’s face. I heard geese today. They’re local birds, but haven’t called like that for months. Beneath the docks, billions of herring swarm and glitter. That is a sure sign of good things to come. Today while on a sea-trial out in the bay I saw a huge humpback whale. I’m sure it was gorging on the spawning herring. Later, as I walked back to my boat, I heard two wolves howling nearby. There’s hope!

January Moon Rise The long sleepy wait for spring. Beneath the calm surface, the tides ebb and flood, the herring begin to return by the billion. The year's timeless cycle turns as ever.
January Moon Rise
The long sleepy wait for spring. Beneath the calm surface, the tides ebb and flood, the herring begin to return by the billion. The year’s timeless cycle turns as ever.

Politics is the gentle art of getting votes
From the poor and campaign funds from the rich,
By promising to protect each from the other.”
~Oscar Am Ringer, “the Mark Twain of American Socialism.

Look Ma, no batteries!
Look Ma, no batteries!