Well, the exuberant celebration of spring blossoms is winding down. I’ll post a couple of Dogwood flower photos,.They’re now all gone from the trees. We’re into the black cottonwood, or alder as they’re commonly known here, season of blowing seeds.
It’s clear why they’re called cottonwood. The Scotch broom is in its spring bloom, much to the misery of allergy suffers. There will be a second flowering in late summer, but for now we’ll just worry about what we’ve got on our plate. Already, there is a smell of smoke in the air which heralds forest fire season. that’s just too darned early.
Before I go further I should mention a really awesome shop I visited up in Courtenay. A good kayak store is hard to come by but Comox Valley Kayaks have been in business for many years, and for good reason. I’d never stopped in before but was looking for a couple of items I could not find anywhere in Nanaimo. Even without my kayak along they fitted me out with the perfect items and at a fair price. The service was great, the staff knowledgeable and friendly (Even the lovely black German Shepherd) and the inventory quite impressive. I’m recommending them because I am that impressed. They only offer what is reasonable to expect, and all too rare it seems. That makes it commendable.
There was a wooden boat gathering in the Ladysmith Maritime Marina last weekend where ‘Seafire’ is moored. I walked the docks early on Sunday morning before many other folks were up and about. My camera whirred. Now these folks are gone home to more varnishing and painting and I’m left here praying for some cloud cover to do my own painting out of the direct sunlight. So without any social comment (for a change) I’ll simply post my photos and hope you enjoy them. By the way, the mystery about the little aluminum sailboat in the last blog has been resolved.
Lou, one of my faithful readers sent me information which reveal the boat was sold by Aerocraft Petrel Sailboats in the US. The boat was designed by the famous Philip Rhodes and built by Alcan Limited right here in Canada. Go figure huh? One photo I found shows a boat with a Transport Canada approval that indicates it was also sold by Eaton Viking. Cool! Thanks for the help Lou.
“If you can love the wrong person that much, imagine how much you can love the right one.” …Bob Marley
They tried to be furtive, at least when they were leaving. The long weekend had drawn to an end. A collective thunder rose as the armada of white fibreglass boats started their engines. A collective funk of cold diesel engine fumes choked the marina and then the shouting began. Few skippers backed or turned their vessel into the dock when arriving. Then began the ordeal of getting pointy ends facing the right way.
Despite the easy manouverability of twin engines, and bow thrusters, even on some sailboats, there was an improv dance involving waving book hooks, tangled lines mis-thrown as some boats were turned by hand. More than one vessel had a matriarch on the foredeck bellowing instructions. Sometimes there was a nimrod on the dock shouting even more orders although he had no attachment to any boat. (I know these fellows are trying to be helpful but I wonder if some don’t go off to the local mall and try to shoulder and tug cars in or out of their parking spaces.) It is all great entertainment. I hope no marriages came to an end.
Bemusing when it occurs on one vessel, sometimes there are half a dozen boats or more at it all at once. It becomes a scene from a bad movie. “Cirque Du Mer.” Eventually they all slink off toward open water, their cold engines blurping and belching, a mixed din of twin engined vessels
with names like ‘Serenity,’ ‘ Tranquility,’ ‘Zepher’ or ‘Time Out.’ A collective sigh of the regular marina residents rises above the wafting exhaust cloud. They’re gone! Finally! Then today’s new transient armada begins to arrive. This will go on all summer. One new boat, a single engined fibreglass trawler hull, quietly idled in. She spun sweetly into the dock and kissed it, now facing the right way. An elderly couple calmly stepped onto the docks, easily secured their lines and settled in with no drama. It was bliss to watch, poetry in motion. The name of the boat was perfect, ‘Schmoochee.’ Seamanship; yet it lives.
A sail charter boat, with a cargo of very-far-inland folks arrived adjacent to my berth and began attempting to back into the night’s slip. The crew, in gaudy storm gear and silly hats, milled about
on deck, each flailing their own boat hook. The skipper furiously manipulated the bow thruster, throttle and helm, but all manoeuvres proved pointless (Now that’s a clever pun) The tide was slack, there was no wind, it was clear and warm. The more frustrated he became, the more random his efforts proved. Finally one stout lady lept intrepidly and impatiently off the stern quarter and began heaving the vessel into position. A tall gangly fellow, holding the breast line, and who should have been first onto the dock, finally stretched his long heron legs down onto the float all the while continuing to text with one thumb!
The things I wanted to say! Even my old dog Jack, usually gregarious, wanted nothing to do with this mob. Their karma had run over his dogma. When the portly leaper began effusing endearments at Jack like “C’mere Honey” and “Hi Darling” I looked up from the project I knelt at on my dock and offered “Oh! You’re talking to the dog!” She huffed over to a neighbouring boat where a geriatric St. Bernard reclined on deck and began coo-cooing at him. Bernie’s response was a rumbling throaty growl. “Jeez,” she exclaimed, “Nobody’s very friendly around here!”
The next weekend was cold, wet and blustery, yet the marina hosted a wooden boat gathering. It was bliss indeed to see these examples of much loved old wood, copious varnish and gleaming brass. Despite the poor light, I did my best to take some worthy photographs. Now the weekend has passed, the skies are again clear and calm.Did anyone really expect something different. Sadly, we are experiencing what seems to be the beginning of a severe drought this summer. Every drop of rain is precious. I suspect it might have something to with the US Presidential Race. All that hot air!
Finally I slipped my own lines and left the harbour. A friend on Gabriola had an engine problem in his boat. ‘Seafire’ needed some water rushing past her bottom to clean off the spring aquatic growth and so here I am in Degnen Bay. I awoke after a calm night to the sound of roosters and sheep. Farmland comes down to the tide line and life seems as it should. The bay is allegedly named after a local pioneer but it is worth noting that many nearby place names were bestowed by Spanish explorers. Descanso means “to rest” and I wonder if degnen is not a derivative with similar meaning. In any case, it is hard to shake off the peaceful lethargy here. I’m savouring my coffee this morning well aware of my proficiency at dissecting the Spanish language. Nada!
Back in Ladysmith I plod away at a few projects and wonder what to do for income. I certainly don’t feel like trying to hold a regular job but there are bills to pay and dreams to chase. Meanwhile a third weekend arrives since I began this blog. Now the Maritime Society is holding its annual “Pirate Day’. There are certain folks now wandering the docks dressed in outlandish Hollywood costumes and playing at being children again. I can’t condemn it just because I don’t understand it and know millions of people love festivals and occasions to wear disguises and pretend to be someone else. There’s a bullhead fishing competition for the children. I’ve been warned in consideration of Jack to beware abandoned wiener bait with hooks attached. They were right. I got one stuck in my tongue!
Finally, she cried “JATOBA!” totally in delight. “I thought you’d never finish!” I’ve just completed designing and building a cockpit table for some marina neighbours. It was a challenging design-as-you-go project requiring lots of innovative thinking between steps. Of course, looking at the job now, I’m left wondering what was so difficult working it all out. Yeah right. I did not have to buy any more wood because of an oops and I still have all of my fingers.
Because teak is priced beyond belief and I found some Jatoba lumber at a very fair price; guess what? Jatoba has many names including “Brazilian Cherry” It is a stable wood, very dense, resinous, and very, very heavy, and very beautiful. It is also incredibly hard and is most commonly used here for flooring. Whilebeing milled, the rough lumber repeatedly stalled a friend’s industrial planer. It is also sinewy stuff and destroyed one new $45.00 router-bit in minutes.
Sadly, this wood comes from Central America and each massive tree taken is a death knell to a rich eco-system of old growth forest. I do feel a twinge of guilt using the wood and I realize that saying the lumber was already in the pile is a lame excuse. I do feel the sacred fibre was used for a noble project and that by flagellating myself in published word I am raising awareness of our consumer compulsions. I hope my humble alter to exploitation is washed in free-trade rum many times in the years ahead. This, the third weekend through which this blog has been written, is blistering hot, airless and languid. Even the summery din of motorcycles on the nearby highway is gone. There are no sirens. I close my eyes and think of Mexico. Then a parrot farts.
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”