Cream and Scum

Seafire Dreaming some dark and stormy nights it's hard to remember perfect moments like this in Clatse Sound
Seafire Dreaming
Some dark and stormy nights it’s hard to remember perfect moments like this one in Clatse Sound…and to imagine what can be ahead.

Warning: This blog contains a photo which some may consider offensive

You’re getting past your shelf life.” How’s that for a remark from your doctor? He’s a great guy, one of the last country doctors I know and an avid permanent local. He has a great sense of humour which is a tremendous virtue for a doctor. On the water taxi ride back from the Bella Bella Hospital to Shearwater I began to reflect on what he really meant. The life I’ve lived has already taken me decades past my shelf life. I’ve done a lot of dangerous and stupid things in my time and know full well that none of us has more than the moment; no matter what we might think. I am not afraid of dying but I certainly hate not living. And living up here alone in the boat, through the winter, is proving to be nothing but an existence. After enduring a winter here in the Great Bear Rainforest I know I must make some immediate moves to change the prospects for the rest of my days. I don’t quite know how to change my status as an economic refugee, a common whore, especially when this old bilge ape is just not able to work as hard as he used to.

A Punter's View Sea-trialing a ubiquitous local punt with a new outboard motor
A Punter’s View
Sea-trialing a ubiquitous local punt with a new outboard motor

This blog was originally begun as a running narration of my vessel ‘Seafire’, myself and those who would join me on adventures and voyages to exotic destinations. It has taken on a life of its own and seems to teeter on a theme of finding wonder, humour and insights from the moments at hand. The years roar past like a runaway express train. For some reason I was cursed with hard wiring which seems to prevent me from ever getting my leg over a financial fence and achieving my simple dreams. Some friends tell how easy it is to just “DO” things but that formula eludes me. I have had many adventures which are too incredible to describe here; yet what I have dreamed of the hardest and longest still eludes me. Now my health is failing me and I have to modify those dreams and my lifestyle. I do also understand that with the correct lifestyle I can regain fair health and still live out some of those dreams. It is a conundrum which only I can resolve. The end of January is fast approaching and I’ve accomplished nothing here except to barely survive. But perhaps that in itself is an achievement.

"Feelin' nearly worn as my wheels." I decided it was time to replace the office chair wheels with something slightly less worn.
“When push comes to shove, Feelin’ nearly worn as my wheels.” I decided it was time to replace the office chair wheels with something slightly less worn.

Some sailors cheerfully go to extreme regions where they freeze-in for the long cold polar night. I’ve done my time in the Great White North. I cannot imagine eight to ten months of this as I sit here in the boat, writing at 03:00 and looking out at the blackness around the bay. There is no wind or rain tonight, for the moment, which perhaps is why I cannot sleep. It is too calm. What a place this is! Endeavours here are a strange waltzing boogie between the practical and the incongruous, the insane and the brilliant. To survive here one must mould themselves to bend around, and into, the culture of a many-faceted work camp community manned by characters, like myself, (Imagine a little town full of Freds) who don’t fit into the mainstream of the Southern Coast. I tend to simply do my job and then retreat into a hermit crab existence within this boat. But enough claptrap about the gloom of winter weather and frustrated dreams. There’s lots else to write about.

I often bemoan how my prime link with the outer world is CBC Radio. The radio and this laptop computer are my only company aboard the boat. (Really! No rubber dollies.) With a patter of human voices in the background, life is a little more bearable although many CBC programs are eternal manure heaps of rhetorical blither. Occasionally, for me, a nugget shines out from within the brown. One of those recent undungings was a half minute playing of an old but recognizable tune. No-one announced what those notes were, but it was instantly clear to me as a snippet of the theme music from a CBC series called ‘The Beachcombers.’ That tune is available online as are many of the 387 episodes aired over eighteen years. The show began in 1972 and was a near-instant hit. Set in beautiful little Gibsons BC the simple plots unfolded along the waterfront and still, even now, hold a pleasant charm. If you know who Relic was, you know the show. That series accomplished two things. First, I believe, its portrayal of life on this coast drew a migration of Eastern Canadians to the West. The image of an easy-going life in a picturesque setting had to be a magnet to a hippy generation that often travelled with only a thumb and a backpack. Those same folks are now entering their geriatric years and became the next generation of middle-class establishment which now owns some of the most expensive properties in the country. There’s a quote that goes, “A capitalist is just a socialist who’s found an opportunity.”

The Real Thing A locasl beachcomber's boat, the venerable and beautiful 'Pender Chief'
The Real Thing
A local beachcomber’s boat, the venerable and beautiful ‘Pender Chief.’ Beachcombing is the enterprise of finding merchantable logs afloat and washed up on beaches. No living timber is taken, it is solely a salvage operation. It is how I began a career which led me to full-time tugboating.


I think the second achievement of this TV series was that it portrayed as perfectly normal for whites and indigenous people to work and interact with each other on a fully equal basis. There were no exclamations about race or gender. Everyone was just one of the community. A local Sechelt native and prominent Hollywood actor, Chief Dan George, often guest-starred on the program and added a rare dignity. Anyone old enough to remember the show will soon fondly recall their favourite episode. However, there are now folks old enough to have a driver’s license who have never seen or heard of the production. If you see a geezer on the side of the road, wearing a headband and tattered bell-bottomed pants, they may well be on their way to check out the Sunshine Coast. It’s never too late. The food at Molly’s Reach is great. Peace man!

Knowing the ropes a beachcomber's workplace. a beach skiff and a shallow-draft tug. It's a great lifestyle and sometimes you can make a little money too!
Knowing the ropes
A beachcomber’s workplace. A beach skiff and a shallow-draft tug. It’s a great lifestyle and sometimes you can make a little money too!
Value added Beautiful clear cedar timbers milled from salvaged wood. It doesn't get better than grass roots commerce.
Value added
Beautiful clear cedar timbers milled from salvaged wood. It doesn’t get better than grass roots commerce. Bonus scr

Speaking of peace there is the Trump subject. How many damned times a day do we have to hear something else relating to Trump? I’ve found myself counting the seconds after the radio is turned on until I hear the dreaded T-name. I try to avoid political contemplation at length in this blog but the media has been battering us with all things Trumpety, Trump since the beginning of the long presidential campaign. I’ve had enough. I’ll simply say that I wouldn’t want to spend any time in a life raft with this dude. Same thing, by the way, for Hilary. My dog is so smart he is well able to play stupid as it suits him. I think Trump may be playing a similar game. Listen carefully when he speaks about his “Big beautiful wall.” While it is assumed he is talking about his contempt for Mexico he carefully talks about protecting “Our borders.” Guess who has the only other border Canada. Many US citizens do not really see Canada as a sovereign nation and we have all these resources. Get it? Sleep tight.

Clearly he also has low regard for China so here’s a proposal. Major US retailers, like Walmart and Costco, sell little that is NOT made in China. Maersk shipping built special container ships just to accommodate Walmart’s huge demand. The shipping line returns those tens of thousands of containers to China; empty. So Mr. T, if it’s America first, perhaps US businesses should sell only US manufactured goods. Huh? And you say you will close all your hotels outside the borders of the US? Oh, and please, please bring all those crap fast food American restaurants back within your beloved border. Free enterprise. Ever hear of that Donny? NAFTA. Not A Freakin’ Thing’s Allowed! I’ve done a lot of business in the US and it seems to me that Americans hate being beaten at their own game. How’s that for a rant?

I WARNED YOU! Something under this dock grows, no-one is sure what to call it. Here are some possible captions: Cojone Del Mar But it's natural! No bull A family resemblance Neurotic Photo It must be spring Got DNA
I WARNED YOU! Something under this dock grows, no-one is sure what to call it.
Here are some possible captions:
Cojone Del Mar
But it’s natural!
No bull /Got DNA
A family resemblance
Neurotic Photo/ Old Sea Scrotum
It must be spring/That reminds me
Got DNA /”Well, doc, it kinda’ feels like a barnacle.

Meanwhile, up here in Gulag Shearwater the vicious weather has returned. High winds with massive gusts have stormed us for the past two days and nights. Old ‘Seafire’; is slammed repeatedly. The heavy boat is tossed about like a bath tub toy. Sleep for the past two nights was impossible. My binnacle cover, which was tied securely, was gone this morning. There’s another few hundred dollars blown away. It was due to be replaced, but I wanted the old one for a pattern. Shingles nailed to the dock were torn up by the wind and flung helter skelter. The weather was too foul even for our intrepid tugboat skipper to run a freight barge over to Bella Bella. I’ve sold my vehicle to a fellow there and need to deliver it. By water taxi we’re about fifteen minutes apart with rides an hour apart. BC Ferries offers a vague and irregular service which runs bi-monthly on average. Tonight I’ll board the ferry at 23:30 hours and then spend the night trying to sleep in the vehicle once ashore in Bella Bella.

Night Moves Midnight, pouring rain ink darkness, I wait at the ferry dock, the only passenger.
Night Moves
Midnight, pouring rain, inky darkness, I wait at the ferry dock, the only passenger.

All’s well that ends. It pummelled down rain all night, I slept fitfully. The transaction is complete, paid in full along with some fish. Then my new friend delivered me back to my own boat with his. There really are plenty of good folks out there yet.

A gift of fish. It's lovely to do business with gracious people.
A gift of fish. It’s lovely to do business with gracious people.

At least Donald has never heard of Shearwater. Ah, here comes the wind again.

Cream rises to the top. So does scum.” …Ian Graham.