A Gentle Roaring

A Gentle Roaring

When I stepped outside there was a gentle roaring in the air. All the ditches and the nearby creek were running madly. The West side of Vancouver Island had received over 220mm of rain in twenty-four hours; here on the East side we’d only endured a little over 100mm. Roads and bridges are washed out. Rivers and streams are over their banks. An idiot kayaker drowned. It is sunny at the moment, more rain and snow are in the forecast.

“If I pretend I can’t see you…? Blue Herons are a favourite bird, aloof, wary, self-reliant and a wonder to see in flight. Folks often describe them as looking like Pterodactyls.

And so the year seeped into February, still wet, still winter. Wet news is no news any more.

Between storms. At the head of Oyster Bay inland from Ladysmith.

A friend in Sweden e-mailed to say the temperature there was – 26°C and there was so much snow it was being piled in the town square. I couldn’t bring myself to e-mailing him a photo of snow drops emerging in the local woods. There was a time when enduring, and even enjoying, cold and snow was a manly thing for me but the romance now eludes me..

Nanaimo river raging. A spring cleaning and why the crabbing is so good in the river estuary.

All that rain, for the moment, has passed. The interior of the province continues to deal with heaps of snow and the ski hills are doing wonderfully. Spring is slowly creeping back. For the last three mornings, we’ve actually had a sunrise, little buds and tiny flowers are poking their noses out. Yesterday I watched a hummingbird try to scavenge a meagre breakfast from the flowers on a hazelnut tree behind my fence. Life has been so dull there’s not much else to write about except the weather. Little projects on ‘Seafire’ continue but the old saw about “when you have the time you don’t have the money” is certainly true.

Home on the range. This home made range has guided yachters safely into the rocky entrance of Pirates I’ve come and gone, there has never been anyone home.Cove. In all the decades

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and so to give my wife a well-deserved break I’m out on the boat; alone. I know I wouldn’t want to be house-bound with the likes of me so here I am boat-bound with the old bugger hisself. Ostensibly, I’m out here to harvest some prawns. I made one set today and brought one up. Yes, one spotted prawn. I ate it.

A small meal, very hard-earned. The two perch were in the trap, dead already, they’ll make good bait.

There’s a gale warning up but for the moment it is tensely calm. I’m anchored in a few feet of water in Pirates Cove near the north end of the Gulf Islands. It is one of those ‘World Famous’ cruising destinations which is jammed with yachts for many months of the year. Tonight I am blissfully alone, just me and the raccoons ashore. One other yacht is tucked into a far corner, stern line rigged ashore, just as the ‘book’ demands.

They’re close on a lee shore. If the forecast proves itself and their anchor pulls in the thin mud there…..they’ll be screwed.

In the morning I’ll see which part of the weather forecast is correct and make my decisions from there. I always feel complete and at home when aboard any boat, especially my old friend ‘Seafire,’ but retrieving a prawn set alone in rough water is especially challenging. Not only do you have to be able to find your floats, you need to manoeuvre the boat and hook the line aboard without getting it tangled in the boat’s propeller. Then you need to bring all the line and the traps aboard. Thank the gods for my electric windlass. If you use a big, bright float it is easy to find but in high wind and large seas big floats tend to sail off with your gear. So you need to have everything anchored adequately which means more weight to haul up. High visibility also makes it easy pickings for prawn pirates and there are plenty out there. Bastards! There are low-lives who will take your set; traps, floats, prawns and all. The cost of new floats, 400’ to 500’ of line, weights, traps and bait is easily a few hundred dollars. Unfortunately in these southern waters you need to stay within sight of your floats for a few hours while the traps “soak.” Hopefully you can catch a fish or two while you wait. I am one of the world’s worst fisherman so I can offer no advice on that subject.

The high price in the store of fresh seafood is breath-taking but still much cheaper than the cost of getting it yourself. There are also all the multiple costs of the boat itself. And, for perspective, it is worth noting that there are millions of people out there at this moment who would love to be able to experience this sort of problem. Instead it’s couscous again… if they’re lucky!

Tony, this view’s for you, wherever you are in the Caribbean.
This photo of Mount Baker is taken from my favourite anchorage at Kendrick Island. The mountain is 88 miles away. It towers over much of Puget sound and much of the Southern Strait of Georgia. It is visible over a tremendous radius and distance. This frame was taken with a 100-300 Sony zoom lense, hand-held on the foredeck of ‘Seafire.’ Not bad huh? (The summit is 5089 ft./1551 m. above Sea Level)

Thursday morning arrives as a “No hurry” sort of day. The low clouds hurtle past the writhing tree tops. There’s no point in wrestling with prawn gear until the wind settles down. I can find enough trouble without looking for it. My neighbour leaves. The sloop is a large neo-look-at-me shining black phallus. It is loaded with short dark-eyed folks who penguin about on deck in bulky cruising suits. They come close alongside as they depart. I stay inside. There is a lively debate on the foredeck as several crew peruse a fluttering chart. The boat veers toward the wrong side of the buoy in the narrow shallow channel. I brace myself and notice their home port is marked as Seattle although a Canadian ensign cracks in the wind. At the last moment they swerve into the correct channel and mercifully disappear around the point. I unpucker.

A local hazelnut orchard in full bloom.
Nutflower!

I have often lamented the droning rhetoric of CBC Radio, especially in regions where it is the only sound on the airwaves. Here, where the sky is bulging with radio signals, I’m listening to CBC Radio 2. which seems to have been reformatted. They play music, a good eclectic mix. Last night I listened to a wonderful mix on a four hour program called “After Dark.” Go figure!

Finally!

Now that I’ve consumed an entire pot of bilge bitters seadog coffee it’s time to vibrate my way into the remains of the day. By the time I had washed the breakfast dishes the surf was up in this anchorage which is usually a millpond. There is a brisk Norwester blowing into the open end of the cove.

Condo Peckmore.
Folks like to make the owls from bits of fir bark.

The end of the second day finds me anchored in my favourite spot on the south coast, Kendrick Island. It lays on the south side of Gabriola Pass which separates Valdez and Gabriola Islands. The view is spectacular, especially with the crystalline clear air which comes with the cold northwest wind. I look up at Mount Baker, miles away across the Strait Of Georgia. There are no shore lights here. Now that night has fallen the stars throb brilliantly. I am refreshed simply to be here.

Gull Gotha.
Nobody ever makes a bird house for seagulls.

I made one set today in the relatively sheltered waters of Trincomali Channel. Recovering the traps took over an hour. With a rising wind blowing against the boat and nasty steep seas it was a challenge but I would be damned to give it up. “Give me my prawns or giv e me death!” There are enough for a meal, hard-won tasty. I’m writing in the main cabin back lit with two oil lanterns. At the moment the radio is playing a program called “Reclaimed.” It throbs with global indigenous hip-hop and punk rock. So much Hey hey, hey hey. Some of this neo-native music is brilliant. Kudos! It IS warm and fuzzy in here tonight.

If the wind continues tomorrow, I’ll leave the prawns in peace and head back to the marina. It’s time to get ready for my gig at Fisher Poets in Astoria next week. There’s no wind, yet. But a bright red sunrise shows it’s sullen colour for a few minutes and the forecast is utterly confusing with wind to come from all directions. I give up; it is time to head home, for now.

Red sky in the morning, it is time to give it up and go home.

Here are two quotes from Annie Proulx’s latest book, thick and well worth the read.

And who could count the new inventions and occupations? Colleges emerged from raw ideas; daring men invented river flatboats to penetrate the wilderness; shipmasters, not content with trade or passengers, began to pursue whales for the costly and fine oil; teacups finally had handles, an effete fad that Nicolaus thought would soon die out. And that fellow Franklin’s inventions: the lightening rods, which had saved hundreds of churches and houses from destruction, and the stove, which encased fire safely. It was an exciting time to live.”

Nothing in the natural world, no forest, no river, no insect nor leaf has any intrinsic value to men. All is worthless, utterly dispensable unless we discover some benefit for ourselves in it – even the most ardent forest lover thinks this way. Men behave as overlords. They decide what will flourish and what will die. I believe that humankind is evolving into a terrible new species and I am sorry that I am one of them.”

… Charley Duke Breitsprecher

Both quotes from ‘BARKSKINS’ by Annie Proulx

Jewels of dawn.

Flying Back To Bunga Bunga

 (No disrespect intended, it’s what some of us call Bella Bella. Bella Coola is Bunga Cunga)

Yes Really!
They’re out there.
Like it or not, it’s spring…and the flowers know.
Well now that I’ve showed you mine…! Another Southern delight for me, Arbutus trees.
The hook. A salmon jaw left over from last autumn’s spawn, hangs at shoulder-height. Part of the annual drama is the distribution of the dead fish. They feed both flora and fauna as their bodies return to the natural world.
Jack’s new ride. He loves it! So do I. My new used 4×4, full-sized crew cab truck, with a V8 engine gets slightly better gas consumption than my previous small SUV and import truck with much smaller engines.
Go figure!
I know you’re leaving. Again! Without me!
Little Boxes. People choose to live in this sterile environment on the water front. It’s all about a view. There was a time when poor folk lived by the sea and ate fish. If I had the price of one of these condos, there would be photos in this blog with palm trees. In three hours I travelled from this warm sunniness…
…This! WTF? It’s officially spring tomorrow. The long white strip is the airfield on Denny Island. We’re about to land in Bella Bella. Kliktsoatli Harbour is reflected in the spinner.
Moments later over the metropolis of Shearwater. Check gear down. You can see the nose wheel in the spinner. The aircraft is a Beechcraft 1900D; a fabulous airplane.
Dodd Narrows. Just out of Nanaimo Harbour we pass the yachtsman’s dreaded southern approach to Nanaimo. Here the narrows have recently turned to ebb. soon there will be nasty whirlpools and back eddies and a current of 6.7 knots. Oh yeah, add some spinning logs and a few terrified weekend boaters!
Trincomali Channel. Looking south through some of the Gulf Islands past Porlier Pass and into far-distant Plumper Sound. A tug tows logs between two deep sea bulk ships waiting to load in Vancouver. The anchorage on the right is Pirate Cove, famous to Westcoast yachters and former home of notorious Brother Twelve.
My old stomping grounds. Degnen Bay below and Silva Bay beyond. Hello old friends all.
“That you Mac, or is it Harmac?” A tired, ancient joke about Nanaimo’s smelly pulp mill. In the distance on the left is the other foul pulp mill in Crofton. In the center is Nanaimo’s busy Cassidy Airport. Ladysmith is just beyond on the shores of Oyster Bay. A fabulous place to come home to.
The curve.
The open horizon has always been impossible to resist for this old pilot and sailor. This view is of the Southern Strait Of Georgia.
South YVR. The floatplane is a DHC3 Otter. I’m sitting in another one. The seaplane terminal is on the Fraser River on the south side of Vancouver International Airport. The terminal is adjoined with a wonderful pub, ‘The Flying Beaver.’
The Otter Office. The panel of an Otter cockpit. When I first sat in this seat, fifty years ago, these aircraft were powered with a thundering radial engine. All instrumentation was analog “Steam gauges”
Modern computerized “Video games and turbine engines have turned a wonderful airplane into an incredible one.

 

On arrival at the YVR South Terminal I flopped my big old wheeled travel bag onto the weigh scale. The ticket agent raised an eyebrow at the readout. I looked down at the bag and said, “Don’t move around granny, you’re almost through.” The young lady raised her eyebrow again and asked with a posh English accent, “You are joking!?” I grinned.

Well, we have to be sure!” I wasn’t actually feeling jovial, I was just trying to mask my dismay about returning to Shearwater. Lately it has not been the magical destination one could hope for; more of a ‘Club Dread.’ As I pocketed my boarding pass, I looked away over my shoulder and said, “Hi Jack.” Then I smiled to the ticket lady. “Nothing like a sense of humour to stir things up at the airport.”

Rather!” But then she began to smile.

I’d ridden the float plane across from Nanaimo with two former neighbours. They were on their way to Varadero in Cuba, a five hour flight from Vancouver. As I edit today’s snowy photo’s back aboard ‘Seafire’ they’ll be sipping mojitos on the hotel patio and watching the sun set over the Carribbean. BUGGA! Some co-workers have quit and left during the week I’ve been away. Will I be next? One of those folks has since been in contact from Thailand. Good for him.

Goodbye Nanaimo. Now bound for Bella Bella the view is west across the strait to Nanaimo and it’s magnificent harbour. I wonder when I’ll see it again.
The letdown. Beginning our descent to Bella Bella, we get a glimpse of a snowy mountain.

There was brilliant sunshine on the south coast today. We flew north over a broken overcast. Near Bella Bella we slid down through a hole in the cloud and began our final descent. I hope I didn’t curse aloud. More fresh snow! Bloody hell! Three hours earlier I’d been watching a woman blow huge soap bubbles for kids on the Nanaimo waterfront in the warm spring sunlight. Now back to this! What the hell? I throw my gear aboard ‘Seafire,’ slam the hatch, turn up the heater and hunker down for the long night ahead. The forecast for the week ahead calls for rain and snow flurries, just like last week. The next light on my horizon will be the Easter long weekend and I’m resolved to gloomy weather then.

Moments Before…
landing in Bella Bella. One of my joys in a 1900 is being able to watch the instruments. An old seat-of-the-pants pilot, I marvel at the efficiency and precision of today’s modern aircraft and crews. They possess an entirely different skill set than mine.
The real thing. After repairs our travel lift is back in action. First up is this locally designed and built offshore sail boat. It incorporates traditional and novel ideas. Built of aluminum, twin-engined, twin-ruddered, it is a floating bomb shelter which I can see sails and works very well. It is a joy to see. There is a great beauty in this practical and capable vessel.

The poor old boat is suffering mightily thanks to the weather. The finish on the exterior woodwork has been seriously damaged this winter. I cannot do anything about it or the other jobs waiting for a little warmth and dryness. The general spirit of the whole community seems diminished as we wait for signs of a reluctant spring. Yesterday morning, in Nanaimo, while walking Jack, a flock of wild swans flew low overhead. They weren’t heading north.

It will be a while until we see them flying over up here.

A bouquet of hope. Surely spring will come some time soon.

Don’t let the same dog bite you twice.” Chuck Berry

Trailers, Boats, Trailers, Stuff

Trailers, Boats, Trailers, Stuff

Missing: One teardrop trailer. May contain a piece of my heart.
Missing:
One teardrop trailer. Contains a piece of my heart.

I miss my teardrop trailer. Actually, I think I miss having it. I loved the statement it made about minimalism and how it Iead me to meet a lot of great folks and kindred spirits who were drawn to it. I’m cool, I own a teardrop trailer. This begs the question: “Is it the idea of escape that helps sustain our dreary lives?” We know that the idea of wilderness keeps the urbanite happy in their world. I‘m returning from Vancouver and can’t imagine many of the folks there, with whom I shared air, surviving for long in the BC backwoods. But, they can look up to the mountains and still see the beginning of infinite forest. Is it that concept of potential escape that helps keep them contentedly locking bumpers with their fellows? The presence of getaway tools and toys helps make life more bearable. And what do people look out to in flatland cities for inspiration?

Organic Island The first sign on Gabriola Island, just past the pub.
Organic Island
The first sign on Gabriola Island, just past the pub.

I have to mind my words. I admit that I am the guy who makes derogatory comments about “Stuff” and how it can own you. After seeing the monstrous boxes people like to wrestle along paved routes in pursuit of their personal bliss I can assure you I know what I don’t need. I did soon realize that it would be good to stand up inside a trailer, for several reasons. Changing clothes lying down is  a challenge better left to the young. It would be good to have enough room to use a bucket inside in the middle of the night. Tip-toeing around large Mexican scorpions in the dark was a convincing argument in favour of up-sizing my parameters of minimal. If I don’t want to travel alone, I do need a little more room. But, that’s it! I want to keep it simple.

The Photographer, another fat-arsed nut taking pictures in the rain
The Photographer
Another fat-arsed nut taking pictures in the rain.

Spending fortunes to connect the dots between the Wal Mart parking lots of North America or visiting campgrounds to park a few feet from another RV is a passion which eludes me. I suppose travelling thousands of kilometres to compare notes on microwave ovens, electric canopies, satellite television, or sewage mascerators can hold a special mystique for some but it’s beyond my interest. And yes, the same is true of boats. Almost invariably, the bigger the boat, the less it is used. Those hulls are filled with electronics and luxurious comforts irrelevant to making safe passages and when a gin palace does leave the dock it merely moves to another marina. A massive industry exists to maintain all of this decadence. (As I was perusing my dictionary I discovered the word ‘Epizoon’: An animal that lives on another animal.)

Geeze, can't we have a little privacy?
Geeze, can’t we have a little privacy?

Home again from my Mexican Teardrop Trailer Marathon, once that tiny trailer was sold, I began looking at small commercially built trailers. I considered a Boler, the famous seventies-era fibreglass bubble trailer. Over-priced, inadequate ground clearance, and poor use of interior space were reasons that turned me away. I went to a few RV dealers and looked at their fare. I was appalled at the cavalier workmanship and poor construction materials. The pricing was certainly first rate. The canned sales pitches chased me off. Trailers that were going to “Be gone any minute now if ya don’t grab it” are still on the lots in the same spot.

Epizoon!

Use it or lose it? This is what happens when you leave your sails furled all winter.
Yeech! Use it or lose it!
This is what happens when you leave your sails furled all winter.

I love the idea of multifunction. I always try to install upgrades on my boat that do more than one thing. For example: dinghy davits over the stern which also hold solar panels. That concept also makes sense for trailers. Few commercially slapped-together travel trailers appear able to stand up to rough roads or packing heavy toolboxes. I’d like a minimal yet rugged mobile shelter where I can stand up inside, lay down comfortably, perform basic human functions including cooking in bad weather and also store necessary personal belongings and supplies. If that shelter could also be used as a mobile workshop for this old yacht tinker, so much the better. A workbench can double into a large bed which also houses tidy storage space. If not in use for either work or play, the trailer can warehouse belongings where I’ll need them when I return from a sailing trip. It seems like a winning idea to me. I intend to spend much of my future time in southern climates where one need only be inside to sleep securely. An outside awning provides the main living space and a sheltered work area when a trailer is earning it’s keep. See! A person can rationalize anything. I’ve now got the vehicle to handle a slightly larger trailer, which a month ago seemed an impossible step without any money, so onwards and sideways. There is magic in the process of setting goals and working toward them despite long odds. All it takes is attitude and determination, or in other words, brute force and ignorance. I wrestled with the notion of having both a boat and a trailer but it does make sense for me and the future I’m working toward.

Easter weekend anchorage looking toward Mt. Benson behind Nanaimo
Easter weekend anchorage looking toward Mt. Benson behind Nanaimo

So, that’s why I’m on the BC Ferry ‘Coastal Renaissance’ this morning heading to the mainland. It’s a grey day with thick clouds hanging low over the peaks of the north shore of Georgia Strait and Howe Sound. A fleet of seven sailboats races before the Sou’east wind. Their fluorescent white sails remind me of my organic green sails on ‘Seafire’. The verdigris after a long wet winter is amazing. I could have avoided it by using them occasionally through the winter and next year they’ll have to go to Mexico to avoid this travesty again.

REFORM SCHOOL Actually, St. Anne's Convent, a national historic site in Victoria BC
REFORM SCHOOL
Actually, St. Anne’s Convent, a national historic site in Victoria BC

Yeah, Mexico again. I know! That brings me back to this trailer stuff. I’ve decided that a 6×12 enclosed aluminium work trailer could encompass all my needs. I’ve found one that has been converted. It has side windows, insulation, a bed, lighting, cabinetry, a roll-out awning on one side, a side door with screen, and for much less money than buying one and taking the time to fit out. As usual, I don’t have any money. I manage to live hand to mouth and the tax man has not been kind to me this year despite, or because of, my minimal income. I’m also going to look at supplies for the next rebuild phase on the little Cheoy Lee that seems to have become my career. My brain says the trailer is the way to get those supplies home. I’ll report on my floundering progress at the end of he day.

The bench, in the heart of Victoria
The bench, in the heart of Victoria

Spring here marches inexorably onward. Friends from Mexico forward me photos that show spring there. In January and February there were plenty of blooms. Now there’s a profusion of brilliant colours everywhere. (Maybe it’s a celebration that most of those damned gringos are gone for the summer.) Especially brilliant are the Prima Vera flowers. Drifts of brilliant yellow crown the trees and litter the alleys of the town. The serious gringos stay on, most of their compadres have fled back to northern latitudes. I’m told that it is the humidity, not the temperature that increases drastically. One simply has to adjust to the local lifestyle. That involves getting up with the roosters, siesta time in the afternoon, and then out and about in the evenings. That is the traditional approach in warm climates everywhere and it certainly seems very civilized; especially in comparison to how we run our lives according to the clock. Ever notice what happens when someone is asked if they’d like to have a meal? I can almost guarantee that they will first check the time, which of course has nothing to do with being hungry… which is one reason many of us are so chubby.

This, yet again, brings me back to this trailer business. If Mexico in summer becomes too severe for a gringo to live on a boat, (Which can indeed become a miserable, airless sweatbox on hot, windless days)take the trailer up into the interior mountains and explore the heart of the country at cooler altitudes. Bear in mind that locals in Mexico have no options about vacations or escaping summer heat or hurricanes. Their finances barely let then survive where they are. The concept of a vacation must be entirely alien.

Jack still on track. This is taken two weeks afer the previous photo in the same location.
Jack still on track.
This is taken two weeks afer the previous photo in the same location.

As I’ve previously mused, I’ve held considerations about selling old ‘Seafire’ but the yacht market is very soft. These days, regardless of the surveyed value, a boat seems to draw only about twenty-five percent of that dollar figure. Sadly, some boater owners refuse to accept reality. A lot of cheap boats are out there these days but they’ve had little invested recently in their care and maintenance. You do tend to get what you pay for.

Fiddlehead uncurling
Fiddlehead uncurling

The law of supply and demand, however, governs prices. That’s the way the pickle squirts. Besides, sad as it may be, this old boat is the sum total of what I have to show for thirty years of buying, fixing and selling boat after boat and, it’s my home. Do I really want to give it up? If I advise anyone on what sort of boat to buy, I suggest assessing your needs now and in the future. Even if it means waiting a bit, go for the future needs and do it right once. How I envy folks who have done that and own a boat for several decades. It is a comfortable union and amortizing the cost of ownership over a longer period is clearly most sensible. There is also nothing like having an intimate knowledge of a vessel and its quirks and capabilities. I should add, by the way, that smaller boats, easily stored and travelled on trailers, are beginning to hold a premium value because their operating costs are considerably less than boats which require a dock or mooring.

Moss growing in the shadow of a fern
Moss growing in the shadow of a fern

I’m told that in the RV world, people move from tents to tent trailers to a bigger trailer to ever larger motor homes and finally back to a small trailer or a camperized van. I am amazed, despite all the reports of a faltering economy, at the hundreds of thousands of RVs I’ve seen on the road and circulating through dealerships. On Vancouver Island alone, there are billions of dollars in RV inventory which appears enough to outfit the whole damned country. Once on the mainland, the acres of RVs for sale are massive. Surely, not all folks are abandoning their houses to live in a trailer or motor home. There is so much I just don’t understand.

Casa Yerba Buena, a favourite house on Gabriola island, over 100 years old, lovingly restored
Casa Yerba Buena, a favourite house on Gabriola island, over 100 years old, lovingly restored

Now I’m writing on the last ferry for the day out of Horseshoe Bay for Nanaimo. It’s been a long day. I have not been in the Vancouver Area for a long time. I could not live there. Vancouver and its surrounds once held an almost quaint charm, but I guess that was forty years ago. It is now just a soulless mess of concrete, glass and metal like any other contemporary city. I did my business and got out of town. Old Jack the dog rode shotgun for me today. I wonder what goes on in his brain as he placidly sits with nose pressed to window watching the world swirl around him. Just the smells and sounds of this alien place must be utterly befuddling but he takes it all in stride. His presence has a calming effect while I drive on streets where people seem aggressive and confrontational. I recall that once they seemed to be relaxed and courteous. Vancouver roads now remind me of the Toronto I left behind forty years ago. Is it time to move on again? Where south? I inched along in the homeward bound traffic snarls to Port Coquitlam to look at the trailer conversion. Damn! It is exactly what I need and is in incredible condition, like new. Negotiations are under way. I have to raise the mucho dineros for this one. If it is meant to be, it will all fall into place.

Spring moss
Spring moss

I bought some fibreglass products for a job. An old man, in a decrepit warehouse in the middle of a muddy yard, sells fibreglass supplies and offers excellent advise. Next door a monstrous glittering edifice of greed, the “River Rock Casino” towers over this little remnant of life as it used to be. There are no computers in sight, everything is calculated by hand and head. His prices were far less than elsewhere and he loaded me up with free catalyst, mixing pots, pens and other sundries. Happy at my interest in his obvious experience, he was also appreciative for my commerce. Relieved to learn that I had not waited for him earlier in the day he explained that his wife has Alzheimers and he spends the mornings tending to her needs. In turn I noted his integrity and tenacity in the face of the modern way. ‘Well”, he responded, “I’m here to help people, not bullshit them. Call anytime you need some advise.” Gotta love the ‘Old School’.

They disappeared into the forest, never to be seen again.
They disappeared into the forest, never to be seen again.

I’m writing in the ferry’s cafeteria. Three decks below, towering over my vehicle, sits a travel trailer such as I’ve never seen before. It is huge, seemingly the size of a boxcar! It has at least two entrances with folding steps, remote self-levelling jacks hang down in several places, there are several bits that “Pop out”. For all I know this thing could have a swimming pool. Someone wants to rough it in style. The whole thing disgusts me.

 Spring One picture, one word
Spring
One picture, one word

It would be nice to be able to afford it. Money isn’t everything but a change of problems would sure as hell be interesting. Remember, a capitalist can be defined as a socialist who’s found an opportunity. Epizoon!

Writer’s Block

The Harbour Light, looking out from Silva Bay to Howe Sound across Georgia Strait
The Harbour Light,
looking out from Silva Bay to Howe Sound across Georgia Strait

Thank you! It’s working. My Flickr photostream is becoming easier to find due, in part, to your interest. https://www.flickr.com/photos/flickrfred/ will get you there; I have over two hundred forty frames up so far.

The Morning After
The Morning After

I’m hoping to earn some income from my writing and photography as I travel. In today’s world, if you have no cyber presence, you don’t exist. It would be much nicer to sit with pen and paper beneath a palm tree writing the world’s ultimate novel but that is only fantasy long lost. I know that I cripple myself by avoiding the mad scrum of twitter, titter, squeak, squack and honk yet I have to do something to validate my creative existence in the cyber world. A few years ago a publisher told me that e-books weren’t “Real”. Now it seems, writing is not legitimate if it isn’t an e-book. So, that’s what I’m up to with all this effort at seeking attention.

The old and the new
The old and the new

I’ll admit I’m a dinosaur in this modern world of computer-everything but I’ll hold my low regard for the sheep-like manner in which people eagerly accept persuasion to follow corporate marketing innuendo. Our culture has become hopelessly addicted to cyber devices. It seems that even a primal survival instict, fear, has a declining sensitivity. We are rapidly loosing the ability to fend for ourselves to the point of wandering into danger’s way while texting, tweeting and gaming. People drive and walk with head-down texting focus as they stumble through traffic, crowds, the woods and even on the docks. Kerplunk!

More old and new
More old and new

Amazingly, in our enlightened age, few ask questions. Our thumbs keep twitching out unimportant messages and we stumble along without looking where we’re going. Letter-writing has become a lost social art. Correct spelling and grammar are a foundation of clear communication. Language and communication is a cornerstone of civilization and we apparently don’t much give a toss about those basics. I recently saw a dictionary of texting abbreviations. (Lol ddba wm yy2.) No! I don’t want to have children with you! Huh? Coincidentally, as I write, a radio announcer reads a story about how people “Are married to their smart phones”.

Don’t we see how addicted and reliant we have become? Whenever the electricity goes down or we lose one of our devices we panic. Even in the backwoods of Mexico people appear entirely dependant on their cell phones. It seems like a deadly epidemic to me and I’ll admit that like it or not, I’m infected with the cyber bug as well. But I do care and will maintain a questioning attitude. You wouldn’t imagine the blank look I got in the cell phone store when I said I wanted a phone that only made calls, took calls and messages. Neanderthal!

I will readily admit that I heavily utilize the internet for research. A few minutes online can easily replace a day in the library. But, it doesn’t replace the collective intellectual energy of a building full of books.

It is important to remember who is slave and who is master.

Honey Bee evening patrol
Honey Bee evening patrol

Most offshore sailboats don’t even have a sextant aboard anymore. We DO have access to all sorts of satellite rescue systems when our incompetence prevails. If Uncle Obama flips the switch and there is suddenly no GPS available it will be a total disaster. I’ll admit that my sextant lies dormant in its case and I’ve forgotten how to use it. Mind you, leaving the dock is the first step to needing it. Here comes an embarrassed, pregnant silence.

Think Green
Think Green

I’m having a bout of writer’s block and as I poke away at my laptop the tely is on playing the 1961 movie ‘The Misfits’. It is a beautiful film made on location in Nevada. Marilyn Monroe is outstanding, her acting is incredible and Clark Gable is grand. He utters lines like “People can get so afraid of dying that they don’t ever live. Of course there’s danger in most worthwhile things”. In real life he died within days of finishing this film. Eli Wallach, Thelma Ritter and Montgomery Clift all turn out stunning performances. A believable script encompasses human longing and weakness within a parable about greed versus the environment. I love the clever use of light in black and white films and this one is certainly no exception.

The old Waco biplane had me lusting heartily. John Huston was the director and the messages about fiscal wealth versus integrity and compassion, from over forty years ago, are stunning. Not surprising, it was a flop at the box office. Few know of it. I think it should be re-released.

Quacks
Quacks

Now it’s Sunday, a week before Easter. Another stellar weather day dawns. We will almost be able to hear the leaves bursting out and see the flowers opening. Fluorescent white flesh is on display everywhere and I smugly flaunt the remains of my Mexico tan. Then as the evening sun settles behind the trees, it’s back into our woolies. Drifts of fir and maple pollen fill the air and everyone’s sinuses. Folks are finally back on the docks checking to see if their boats have survived the winter. They offer the usual annual cliché yucks about how boats are holes in the water that you shovel full of money. I offer my standard responses about how a “Stitch in time saves nine” and that houses are holes in the beach that you shovel money into while the scenery never changes. A few visiting cruisers are appearing at the marina now. Next weekend the marina circus will begin for another year.

Step into the picture
Step into the picture

A friend en route with his yacht to Easter Island and then the Marquesas stopped at the Galapagos two days ago, for forty hours! He had a passage From La Paz, Baha with light winds and he ran low on fuel but forty hours? I’m sure he has his good reasons but I can’t imagine how hard it would be to put to sea again without a decent rest and a long reconnoitre of that fabled place.

Jimmy has his daughter Karmin aboard and I hope they find a place to stop and can make their marathon a wholly pleasant odyssey. He’s put so much into preparing for this journey.

Gabriola Pass light
Gabriola Pass Light

Other friends have left their boat ‘Sage’ in dry storage for the monsoon season in Northern Phuket and are coming home to Victoria for a break away from the heat and humidity where they have been sailing. Connie and Tony did this once before on a tiny Vancouver 27. They spent seven years exploring the South Pacific and Japan. Their blog ‘Sage on Sage’, is what prompted me to start my own. I am deeply inspired and humbled by folks who are able to achieve their dreams.

Good on you all.

Now it is Monday morning. As the sun rises in the East (As usual) a high thickening overcast is rapidly approaching from the South. The barometer is holding steady, for the moment, but it looks like rain to me. It didn’t rain. In fact this afternoon my pallid shanks were sticking out again beneath a pair of tattered work shorts. This evening there is a new overcast blocking any view of tonight’s lunar eclipse.

It was quite a day. I don’t know why but I’m experiencing a massive lethargy and depression accompanied with all sorts of strange pains, swollen glands, and a generally pathetic state of being. I know, I know, it shows in my writing. Spring fever, allergic reactions to all the pollen in the air, a chronic attack of self-pity, I can’t explain it. Other folks report they are laid low with flu so I’ll go with that.

In the midst of this gloom a friend recommends going online to a ‘TED Talk’ and looking up an essay by a conductor and classical musician named Benjamin Zander. “Yeah right”, I thought as I typed in ‘The Transformative Power Of Classical Music.’

It was spell-binding, a midday epiphany.

This brilliant man explained things about classical music which I never understood and then leads the viewer on to some wonderful concepts. “Who I am being, if my children’s eyes aren’t shining?” Who am I being, if other people’s eye aren’t shining?”

His message, I think, is to apply your unique gifts in such a way that other people are inspired and enlightened.

Become a bird that flies above the fields. Fences are no longer obstacles”.

Now it is Tuesday morning already and I’ve awakened cynical and jaded as ever. That might have to do with the aches and pains of my battered old frame. (I used to wonder why old folks were so often grumpy!) Jack the dog is out on deck surveying the world and absorbing the moment in the light of the rising sun. He has, as usual, the correct philosophy and is immersed in the moment. I’m sitting with my morning coffee pecking away on this blog trying to find a clever ending. Perhaps a final quote from Zander will work.

Never say anything that won’t stand if it is the last thing you ever say!”

Hmmmmm. Flap, flap, flap, bang!

Skunk Cabbage, all through the woods, A hydroponic aroma clung in the trees
Skunk Cabbage is blooming all through the woods
A hydroponic aroma hangs in the trees, but then that smell is common on this island in a lot of places!