My Father’s Kite

Johnstone Strait calm; a rare moment. I have sailed the strait for many years and know its many moods all too well. It is volatile, vicious and entirely unpredictable. When wind is against tide it can be very dangerous even to larger working boats. Small fishing boats and kayaks can easily be seduced into a hellish situation. For the moment, savour the calm.
Sundog warning. Sundogs often announce a coming change in weather.

I really hate it. Why do some people force you into a situation where you have to be an asshole? I arrived at my beloved Naka Creek campground looking forward to performing a few chores and generally relaxing. Libby was with me and I didn’t want to force her through anything extreme. What a tremendous dog and friend she has proven to be! This was her first time in the backwoods and we both needed it to be an entirely pleasant experience. As I was setting up camp two vehicle loads of folks arrived together. Eight people tumbled out with their three dogs. One of the joys of a place like this is that you usually meet other kindred spirits. Not this mob, “Weah Heah!”

My neighbours camp in the morning. Step right up, let’s shoot some skeets. Haaa!

There was a flat tire on my trailer and I immediately set about changing it. In the middle of the job, while pulling on the tire iron, the matriarch of my new neighbours promptly stumbled over to announce to me that I had a flat tire. “YES, I do.” How does one respond?

Really? I hadn’t noticed” or how about “Naaw, just practising, just in case… you know?” I was polite but bent back to my work. They were a rowdy yuckity-yuck sort of gang and managed to be boisterous until very late. They constantly bounced frisbys off my camper until 10:30 in the evening, hooting and stomping right beside the vehicle despite acres of free space all around. I was quite proud of my restraint despite a huge urge to explode outside for an ugly confrontation. Eventually the din moved up the road, little Libby’s growls subsided and we drifted off to sleep.

The goons next door. When they weren’t wandering round and about, or bouncing their toys off my camper, they’d sit like this for hours. Whale watching perhaps?

I was going to refinish the roof on my trailer. Awake by 05:30 I decided to wait until my neighbours arose and had a chance at breakfast. They had set up several tents over a hundred foot radius . There was no point in deliberately antagonizing an apparently tense situation. I decided that there was no point in seeking any blessing from these folks so i just went to work. At 10:30 I fired up my generator and sander and went to work, hoping to finish quickly. There was a breeze but it was blowing away from both our camps. After a half-hour of my industry there was only ten minutes until I was finished. That’s when the shit the fan. While up a ladder I was accosted by mom and pop, who despite the obvious wind direction, claimed “All my dust was blowing all over their table.” I replied that I could see it was not and that I’d be done in a few minutes, sooner if they left me alone. They slunk away, befuddled by the geezer who was not going to back down.

The second night was as rich with rudeness but I still didn’t react. What’s the point? Later, next morning, while taping the edges of the roof the manure started flowing again. This time it was about what would happen to me when I dared to start spray painting. Stupid people! Spray painting? Really? The innuendos about what was coming my way were stunning as were the threats and photos of me “Fer evidence.” “We’re gonna report you!” Clearly some folks watch too much TV. I resolved to outlast them. When it became clear that I was not about to budge on their account, they began deflating their big rubber ducks and set about the arduous process of loading up all their “stuff.” Their prime objection had been that I was “In a project and not fishin’.” It’s a splendid free camping area with plenty of room and no need to be near anyone else. Why they had chosen to be in my face is a mystery. They were gone when Libby and I awoke from our nap. I have a knack for finding confrontation. I don’t want it, I do not look for it but damnit, I won’t back down when people want to be bullies.

I understand how so many of our people are in dire financial circumstances. Our greed has caught up with us. We all live under the constant dark clouds of multiple wars, the after effects and implications of covid, as well as the growing loom of terrifying possibilities such as more pandemics, artificial intelligence, ever higher taxes, impossible housing costs. There’s a lot to worry about but there’s no reason to try to punish other people because they don’t conform to your expectations. Well blither and blah, blah. Have a nice day! Smirk, smirk.

Austrian behemouth. These round the world trekkers found Naka Creek while many locals don’t know or seem to care. That’s a good thing I suppose. Keep it wild.
An elderly German couple came in this beautiful European Ford van to watch whales. In the spot next to them was another couple from Switzerland.
Despite many hours behind their battery of photo artillery, they saw nothing. The trick of whale watching is to not watch. They’ll suddenly appear.
That camera lens alone is probably worth more than my old camper… and is entirely wrong for aiming at a quickly appearing and vanishing whale.
My wind gauge. When When Libbys ears are both horizontal, it’s blowing about 15 knors.
Libby disappeared inside the confines of the camper. Here’s where I found her.
Libby loves exploring and clambering along logs. She’s looking up Naka Creek to where she’d later ford the river.
Libby’s Ford. Her tiny legs carried her across without hesitation.
Libby outstanding on the beach. She’s a very big little dog.

And now for the “Rest of the story.” Remember Paul Harvey? Good…day! Now I know how old you are!

Where the heavy old man’s stool failed in the gravel and he lost his kite. The spool caught up in the small spruce trees across the river. The kit is above the frame.
Kite and anchor.
Look up, waaay up.
Libby finds the kite.
All’s well that ends. It’s an uplifting (No pun intended) story. This is the way someone left it for me.

When my father died, now well over twenty years ago, I kept a few trivial personal items. One was a kite in a wee bag. It ended up in a jumble of miscellaneous items in a locker on my boat and then eventually found its way into my old camper. I’d never really looked at it and had forgotten about it until cleaning out some storage in the camper. I decided that I’d celebrate the exodus of my nemesis neighbours by trying to fly this forgotten toy. My old dad would have been ninety-nine in another two days, so this seemed fitting. He’d died exactly on his birthday like the old English train spotter he was; right on schedule. Now another marker, still on time.

Libby and I set off to a rocky promontory beside the mouth of Naka Creek. The wind along Johnstone Strait was warm and steady. I planted my carcass on a folding camp stool and soon launched the relic aerodyne. Damn! It flew beautifully. I was a boy again! The kit rose steadily, tugging firmly and soaring upward like the proverbial homesick angel. Soon at the end of its string I spliced on another piece of fishing line and she climbed ever upward. Then the stool collapsed. You know what happened. The spool on the bitter end of the string skittered away across the rocks and then in a welter of spray crossed the creek like the tiny wind-surfer it was. The kite dipped for a moment and then rose higher yet as the spool snagged on the last limb at the top of a spruce tree. There would be no climbing up to fetch my airspace hazard. Now anchored firmly the kite rose to maximum altitude. I had filed no flight plan. It became a tiny coloured speck in the sky, like a Chinese spy balloon. I wondered how long before the F-18s showed up.

Well” I mused, “this is a grand ending to all the dark memories about me and my father. I’ll always see his kite stuck up in the clear blue sky. Closure!” Then I thought, the wind will quit after dark, that kite is coming down! Day VFR only. Libby and I treked back along the beach, back through the campground, along the road across the bridge, past a lone camp trailer with two vicious dogs and finally into the log sort about a half-kilometre downwind of where I’d lost my kite. All the while we’d had our sky beacon to guide us. Finally we stood directly beneath the prodical kite and I reckoned where it might land when the wind dropped after dark.

We returned early next morning, full of vague hope. Libby trotted eagerly ahead, her tiny feet setting up tiny puffs of dust. I knew there was slim chance of ever seeing the kite again but you cannot catch fish if you don’t go fishing and I needed to feel that I’d done all that I could. A log sort is a huge cleared area used to store and sort logs before reshipping them to a distant mill. This one is about twenty acres in area. Unused for a while, young alders have sprouted up about two feet in height all over the huge clearing. “There’s no hope” I thought. Then Libby raced ahead to where the kite lay, neatly folded by someone. Much of the string was tidily wound around a stick. After my previous anus-a-thon, my faith in people was completely and instantly restored. What else can I say? Thank you certainly seems hardly enough.

Libby, queen of the road.

And so the good mysteries of life float to the top. Things that matter. Naka Creek is enduring an overpopulation of mice. They’re everywhere, Libby was intrigued. I have a folding plastic table with crossed metal legs. How do these cute little guys manage to get up onto the table and leave their poop spore copiously? How?

An ancient moral. “Never lose your head over a bit of tail.”

Out beyond ideas

of wrongdoing and rightdoing.

There is a field.

I’ll meet you there.

Jelaluddin Rumi, 13th century.

Author: Fred Bailey

Fred is a slightly-past middle age sailor / writer / photographer with plenty of eclectic hands-on skills and experiences. Some would describe him as the old hippy who doesn't know the war is over. He is certainly reluctant to grow up and readily admits to being the eternal dreamer. He has written several books including two novels, 'The Keeper' and 'Storm Ecstasy,' as well as 'The Water Rushing By', 'Sins Of The Fathers', 'The Magic Stick', as well as an extensive inventory of poetry, essays, short stories, anecdotes and photographs. His first passion is the ocean, sailboats, voyaging and all those people who are similarly drawn to the sea. He lives aboard 'Seafire' the boat he is refitting to go voyaging, exploring new horizons both inner and outer. This blog is about that voyage and the preparations for it. In spite of the odds against it, the plan is to sail away this fall and lay a course southward. If you follow this blog your interest may provide some of the energy that helps fuel the journey. Namaste Contact him at

3 thoughts on “My Father’s Kite”

  1. Lovely post and photos. Who knows, maybe “someone” just beyond our seen fields took down the kite, wrapped the string, and pointed it out to the dog! Either way, how serendipitous! These little things aren’t little at all, are they. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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