A Text Book Autumn

Just another autumn sunrise.
A little wind, a little rain, a little sun. These ships are still waiting for a cargo, week after week. home must seem very far away for the crews.

We are nearing the finale of a wonderful autumn. The weather has been superb. There have been weeks of flawless clear days and nights. The fall leaves have been spectacular. We have had only two or three frosts and now the rains are beginning in an almost textbook manner. The rivers are rising right on time for the salmon to spawn. I’ve been busy with my cameras so this blog will simply be another series of local graphics. Why ruin a good thing by writing polemic thoughts and observations? We are all aware of what horrors continue around the planet on a daily basis. Perhaps the joy of the moment is the best offering I can provide.

The October harvest moon and a star slide toward the horizon on a mid-month clear night. (Not a bad shot for a hand-held mobile phone!)
All through the night. clatter, bang, boom. One of the last working sawmills on the BC Coast. Not a great neighbour for a marina. There is lots of dust in the air, debris in the water and incessant industrial noise.
And then another dawn.
Autumn leaves on an old coal heap on the Ladysmith waterfront.
This was once a coal-loading terminal for the local mines, now all a memory.
Smokey Maples.
Part of the autumn ambiance.
Another day dawns in Dogpatch, the free-spirited anchorage next to our first marina. Soft light, calm water and smoking chimneys make for a deceptive peacefulness.
Ho hum, yet another leaf picture. Obviously I find the colours and patterns fascinating.
Nanaimo obscured.
Arguably looking its best.
Irrelevant but intriguing. With all sorts of new laws about “Distracted driving” I found this motorhome’s dashboard full of decorations as well as a squawking, flapping cockatoo an interesting case in point. No texting I hope.
Afternoon delight. One can only imagine what might go on in this old Cadillac Coupe de Ville on the edge of a field. With our current housing crisis the old crate IS huge enough to live in!
A favourite view of mine, a few minutes south of Ladysmith here on Vancouver Island. Afternoon shadows advance across the pasture.
Perhaps if I hide behind this thistle, he’ll just bugger off and leave me alone.
Banon Falls, a favourite spot for Jack and I to snoop around. Autumn brings a special beauty.
…And red.
Wots this now? An aviation addict all my life, and a pilot once, I can’t resist a pretty face. This is a T28 Trojan, the love child of the world famous Harvard trainer. How’s this for a personal commuter? The engine is a Wright Cyclone 1820, 1425 horsepower, 50 gallons of fuel an hour. And…it only seats two!
This old beauty is still in her colours from when she served in the the Nicaraguan Airforce. Introduced in 1950 as a trainer these aircraft also proved themselves good tactical aircraft right into the Vietnam era and then as front-line fighters and ground assault weapons for several Third-world countries.
Bloody lovely! Austere, deadly and beautiful all at once. It is sad that one of man’s greatest and most beautiful inventions was so readily turned into a weapon, but that is our nature.
You never know what you’ll find while poking around! I spotted this Yak 52 trainer behind a lawn mower in a hangar beside the T28. Built in Romania, they were a primary trainer for both the Russian and Chinese military. They have a magnificent sound. I’ve always wanted to fly one.
The big sleep. Remember that gorgeous tree in my last blog? How many months until spring?
Bull kelp and rock by the beach. There’s a photograph everywhere you look.
Mossy rock in the stream. Autumn rains are beginning to swell the rivers with rushing aerated water… perfect for the returning salmon.
Fungus galore! All shapes, sizes and colours are growing everywhere. A few are edible.
The streams rise, the salmon make their way up to leave their eggs and then die.
The end. The decomposing fish enrich the water, feeding all the little creatures that feed the salmon fingerlings and the cycle of life continues.
The eternal drama continues.
Now we return to our regular programing and nautical themes. This old fishboat is being converted to a yacht and she’s pretty no matter how one looks at her. Arguably, boats are the ultimate genius of function and form.

Remember that images can be enlarged by clicking on them.


The wise man learns more from the fool than the fool learns from the wise man.”

….Marcus Aurelius

Thousands Of Words In Autumn

An old adage says that a picture is worth a thousand words. Enough said.This blog is photos and captions only. Click on any image to enlarge.

Clear, cool, autumn air offers some fantastic vistas. This view is southeastward from Ladysmith Harbour. I wonder how the world looks to the Asian crews indentured aboard these freighters for up to a year at a time. Sometimes when passing close by, you can catch the aromas of their kitchen.
Shaggy Manes. These wild mushrooms, I KNOW are safe to eat. They have a lovely aroma and a delicate flavour. They do tend to emerge and then go bad within hours.
NO! Not these. If you are not absolutely sure, leave dem shrooms alone! Apparently some offer a very painful way to die.
NOPE! Don’t even think about it. these toadstools are lovely and incredible but probably should not even be touched with bare hands. They are amazing as they shoulder their way up from the hard-packed earth. The biggest one is about six inches across.
A day later. Damned people! Some folks have an insatiable need to destroy.
Follow that jet! Over the settling shadow of late afternoon a few hundred people chase the westing sun.
Fair Warning. Holly berries are ripe, only HOW MANY!? weeks until….
Follow that wet dog. He knows where the biscuits are.
Pomme d’Autumn
Now that we’ve had a frost or two we are truly in our “Indian Summer” Thus tinged these feral apples will be crisp and sweet, if only we had a ladder. The deer will enjoy them when they fall.
Black beach, big chain. An old ship’s forged anchor chain emerges from the coal grit of Slag Point in Ladysmith.
The maple and the holly, deep in the autumn wood.
Un-retouched. These are the real colours of big-leafed maples, draped in moss on the edge of a harvested cornfield near Cowichan Bay.
I’ve been wanting to capture this particular view for decades. I made a special trip based on the fine weather and was blessed with this. It is taken on the road to Cobble Hill on Vancouver Island and looks westward up the Cowichan Valley.
Koksilah backwater. Spawning salmon swim upstream through the marshland.
Degnen Bay, Gabriola Island.
A place of shelter and rest and for some, a long undignified dying.
Mayes Road, in another corner of the Cowichan Valley. I love this area and with a little imagination, i can transport myself for a few moments to Tuscany.
See what I mean?
Harvest time in the vineyards of the Cowichan Valley. There is always a good chance of a pleasant surprise around the next corner.
…Such as this immaculate antique Ford truck happily lurching along at a sane and stately pace.
Another corner, and there’s a cranberry farm in the distance.
The gauntlet. Native fishermen harvest spawning salmon with their hand-made spears. Across the bridge, in the near background, drumming aqnd chanting emerged from the longhouse. The smell of alder smoke filled the air. Magic!
A fresh, rich, tasty gift from the Creator
For a moment, through the corner of my eye, I thought…
Let’s face it! Sometimes a little imagination and a keen eye provide startling sights.
The organic mechanic.
“Low Cost Auto Motor Repairs”
The Cowichan Valley from Mount Prevost. A flock of ravens were playing in the updrafts until motorcycles arrived. You can see the cranberry farm far below.
Look up, way up! The white cairn on the apex of the cliff is where the last frame was taken.
Sansum Narrows, looking south past Cowichan Bay. For me, the joy of a newly-discovered trail.
The trail whereupon we plod.
Arbutus trees and Garry Oaks lined the sunny ridge.
My fellow plodder. Jack’s short old legs served him well. He loves a new trail as much as I. He has slept the entire following night and day.
My favourite tree in full splendor.
May there always be a bright edge on your horizons.

In life, one has a chance to take one of two paths: to wait for one special day – to celebrate each day as special.” …Asheed Ogunlaru

Among The Rocks

Once again I begin a new blog while aboard ‘Seafire’ and anchored in Silva Bay. I’m here to work on ‘Aja;’ that lovely little wooden schooner I’ve been helping revive.

‘AJA’ A storybook schooner. I have known and loved this little boat for many years, as she’s had name-changes at the hands of a few different owners in a few different harbours.

She’s moored on a lee shore at low tide in a brisk wind. I need to raft alongside of her. There’s no room for a mistake and so I’ve dropped the anchor to wait things out. Sometimes it is best to use your superior judgment to avoid demonstrating your superior skill. Prudence is a good thing. There are times when a lifetime of experience allows me to show off a little. Today is not one of those. So here I sit with the wind moaning a dirge in the rigging, the anchor burying itself in the mud while I tinker at the endless chores on a boat. I’m half a cable off an islet I’ve named “Dog Rock” because this tiny island is where the summer yachters bring their pooches in the morning. Jack and I use it too. Mind where you step. This area is an archipelago known as the “Flat Top Islands.” The islands actually form and protect this bay nestled in the shoreline of Gabriola Island. I have many memories of this place, both bitter and sweet. It keeps calling me back. The surrounding small islands provide several narrow, tricky entrances. Careful chart study is required of the newcomer. The old shipyard here is a clear warning of the rock-studded passages. It sits like a spider in its web waiting for the next victim. Every year there are a few hapless skippers who can’t read their charts or GPS plotters. Crunch! Gotcha!

Cyclamen! Mystery solved. A friend visiting from France knew instantly what it was and that it blooms in the fall. So, apparently, yet another invasive species of flora.
WTF? I found this T-shirt hanging from a branch while walking Jack one morning. It was gone the next.
Glorious golden autumn. I’m enjoying it while it lasts and dreading what will surely follow.
The Dogwatch. Jack is enjoying the last of the year’s sunny warmth and catching it while he can. Wise beast!

The following morning I get up in the dark and put on some coffee. The blackness is palpable. All night I’ve lain in my bunk sleeping lightly, tossing restlessly, craving for a sound or a bit of light. The sky is now overcast and in this corner of the bay the blackness is multi-dimensional. ‘Seafire’ is a cozy refuge, a storm shelter and a wonderful time machine which has transported me to new realms and wonderful adventures. On nights like this, it is also a prison. So now I seek distraction sipping at my mug and battling with the computer. It insists the paragraph I wrote last night does not exist. I finally find a back-way to sneak in to the app and add these words. I was weary when I crawled out of the bunk, this little cyber battle leaves me feeling exhausted already. The day awaits.

Global Warming! Actually just some low morning cloud and the Crofton Pulp mill in the distance.
Waiting for cargo. The Gulf Islands provide a secure anchorage while waiting to load at one of the Vancouver Area ports. There can be many tedious weeks spent aboard until finally able to slip in beneath the cranes and then finally head back out on the open sea.
Bulker by the beach. Its muted tones add to the subtle autumn pallet.

And, it proved to be a long but successful day. ‘Aja’ now has a reliably functional engine and among other things, a dependable bilge pump. I’m weary of repairing and rebuilding boats but there is something special in the seams of ‘Aja’ which leaves me wanting to dig in and begin the restoration. The boat is a shrine of all that is sacred to me. The full refit of this old beauty will be a career for the new owner but, I think, a worthwhile endeavour. I meander homeward with ‘Seafire’ wondering what lays ahead. I have no money and no prospects, only dreams. It will be an interesting winter.

The world in a puddle.
Despite two catastrophic amputations, this alder reaches out with a third attempt at life.

Meanwhile the weather is fabulous and I’m well aware that these golden days must be savoured fully. I know what lays ahead in regard to weather, and it ain’t pretty. Good weather is never paid for in advance. So here are some pictures of the fullness of autumn.

Crow’s nest. They hold a daily conference between their perches on various boats in the marina.
“I say old chap, there’s one just washed. Let’s go deposit some crowy cheer.” Remember Heckle and Jeckle?
When STOP means WHOA! In other words: “Git yer pitchins’ off ma land!”
Once, poor folk lived by the sea and ate fish.
October Ferry To Gabriola
(A novel by Malcolm Lowry)
October marina in the morning.

Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.” …. Hal Borland


Ghosts in the fog. Are they real or imagined? You decide.

I’ve found myself in a spot for the moment where I have no cash, nor any more credit, (Which is why I have no cash… a vicious circle!) not even for part of a tank of gas or for groceries. Clients haven’t paid me and the ripple effect spreads out. [ Dear Sir: ” The wolf which sniffs around so many doors these days, delivered herself of pups in my kitchen. I sold them. You get some of the money I owe you”] It’s a temporary shituation and may as well be regarded as an adventure instead of an ordeal. A little dose of humility is good for anyone. So I walk. It is sunny out.

I remember a time when all I owned could be stuffed into a back-pack. Out went the old thumb and away I went. The next adventure was always just around the corner. I was in much better financial shape. I had no money, but I had no debt. I was free! And I walked a lot but there was little romance in hitch-hiking Northern Ontario in January job-hunting. I once sat with my flat belly beside a road for over forty-eight hours in a minus forty degree blizzard waiting for a ride. It did not come until the wind eased and the roads were cleared. I know my present situation is temporary but it is still very humbling. I look at the tent camps of the allegedly poor and disenfranchised and reckon that perhaps half of these characters have a legitimate story. The trailers and motor homes among them don’t qualify.

The town of Dire Straits. This tent camp is in Nanaimo, there are more in Victoria and Vancouver. Now the cold rains of autumn are beginning. We’ll soon see who has been there by choice and those who truly are homeless.

Sorry. I know that some of the people living like this do it by choice, not dire need. I believe I’m qualified to make some judgments based on my experience long ago as a kid on the winter streets of Toronto and the north country. Thankfully there were some kind souls who saved my (then) sorry skinny ass and I have lead a reasonably productive and constructive life in the decades since. I also understand how quickly the blessed may fall when bad luck and circumstances turn against you. It can’t happen to you? Ha! Yes it can.

This morning I was on the phone with a friend. I misheard him say synchronicity. I heard “thinkronicity”. Turns out a new word was born which I’ve refined to “thinknicity”

A happy mistake. I was editing an image and pushed a wrong button. This is what happened. Wanna buy a good used Honda?

Synchronicity was coined by the German psychologist Carl Jung. It was a term for “meaningful coincidences” and as a vague allusion to the paranormal. Thinknicity is a word, in my mind, which describes the wilful direction of mental energy to create an event, or series of events, which first begins as a simple but focused thought. For example, I have been repeatedly able to will myself a parking spot in a busy traffic area simply by focusing my thoughts on that specific need or desire. I am not able to bend spoons, or levitate, but I know there is a tangible result which comes from clear concentration. I suppose prayer is another word and concept that is a similar thing, but I refuse to introduce even a hint of religion to any aspect of my considerations or spirituality. I am talking about the internal ability to create a desired effect with simple brain power.

Now that there has been a frost, these feral apples will be sweet and crisp and wonderful and too high to grasp.

With the concept of positive thinknicity, there is also a negative force. I am, I confess, much more capable with dark will, or as I once heard it, “Stinkin’ Thinkin’.” I can will things to go wrong for myself and in turn that creates a black spiral where nearly everything goes wrong like toppling dominoes. We all can do it and often do.

Using Newton’s theory, while a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion, thoughts can indeed create their own momentum. When a tendency for things to go wrong (“I knew it!”) is unleashed, it becomes a runaway cat and takes a lot to stop. Also, when you’ve ground yourself down in such a way, the energy required to reverse that tendency is enormous. I think it is a much stronger energy than positive thinknicity. So, food for thought at least, it would be nice to hear what you think.

The following quote is a fine example of which I speak. I found it while thumbing through the notepad at my elbow. Meanwhile, as I write I also watch a program about the city of Riga, Latvia. They’ve taken several huge concrete zeppelin hangars and turned it them into a fabulous public market. Swords into plowshares. Thinknicity!

Look up! A rare key tree. There’s a story to this image and I wish knew it.

A negative thinker sees a difficulty in every opportunity. A positive thinker sees an opportunity in every difficulty. “… Ritu Ghatourey

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.

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!”


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……
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

The Macaw’s Portuguese Water Dog

The ‘Macaw’
‘Macaw’ side view. Built in 1956, every fitting on her is solid bronze. The skipper’s crew is a magnificent Portuguese water dog named Wilson.

Well, a week and a half later I’m writing the next paragraph in the middle of another sleepless night. I’m back in Ladysmith after a very successful gig and back to frantically scratching around for survival dollars. The movie scrum is gone. A few remained to repaint the shops and put things back the way they were. Did it ever really happen? The fall rain and drizzle are back and life settles into a dreary routine. Only six months till spring. Southern latitudes are calling loudly.

Returning to normal. There have been a few spectacular weather days.
Full normal at the corner of Seemore and Do-Less in the wind and rain.
I’ve always been a sucker for a Bristol channel cutter. no exception here.
Active Pass. A conundrum unfolds. Many tons of ferry in opposing directions, swirling tides and fortunately, no other yachts.
Old S2. The second buoy up the mouth of the Fraser River. The tide is at an hour after low slack, which means that the ocean is flooding into the river and slows the current enough to allow boats like mine to slowly ascend the river. The Sea lion is ubiquitous to each buoy.

Once in a while I find a media item that I feel is worth mentioning. A friend mentioned a BBC series on YouTube called ”Great Canal Journeys.” It is hosted by geriatric British actors Timothy West and Prunella Scales. You do remember her. “BASIL!” Say no more. They’ve spent much of their fifty year marriage touring the canals of Britain aboard their own narrow boat. This series is beautifully filmed and presented; a welcome and refreshing interlude. Also prescribed by another friend, and also on YouTube is a series by Philomena Cunk (Hmmm, two lugubrious English female names!) She too is utterly delightful with subtle humour and charming wit, a master of Elegant rudeness.

The loveshack, a float house in the waters of Ladner.Of course it could be a Seagull mosque
Part of the wonderful float home lifestyle prevalent in the backwaters of the Fraser River.
Sand Heads. The iconic light and weather station at the mouth of the Fraser. It is where many voyages begin and end.
A lightkeeper’s house used to sit here where many a long, stormy must have been spent. So isolated and yet within close view of three million people.

I think I’ll make a cuppa and watch some more canal yachting. I always find myself wondering how they manage to find all those sunny days in England.


“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find  it with another.” ….Thomas Merton