Lately Into The Morning Not So Quietly They Go

"Take me to your leader...if there's any intelligent life up there." A Medusa Jellyfish stuck under the dock. Amazingly, it struggled quite heartily for a while, then relaxed and let the tide take it on its' way.
“Take me to your leader…if there’s any intelligent life up there.” A Medusa Jellyfish stuck under the dock. Amazingly, it struggled quite heartily for a while, then relaxed and let the tide take it on its’ way. Captions: ‘Drugs!’ or ‘I think it winked at me!’

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.

Liskable. I love wooden boats, especially if they belong to someone else. All that scraping and varnishing.
Liskable. I love wooden boats, especially if they belong to someone else. All that scraping and varnishing.

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.

It rained on their parade but they seemed to have fun.
It rained on their parade but they seemed to have fun.
My favourite, and she's one of a kind built in fibreglass. 'Romance arrived with the sweet music of a softly chuffing Gardiner diesel and a Golden Retriever hanging over the name board
My favourite of the weekend, and she’s one of a kind built in fibreglass. ‘Romance’ arrived with the sweet music of a softly chuffing Gardiner diesel and a Golden Retriever hanging over the name board.
Say no more
Say no more
In the early morning rain
In the early morning rain
Tis so!
Tis so!

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

'Nimpkish' a converted seine boat
‘Nimpkish’ a converted seine boat

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.

Elbow Grease and love.
Elbow Grease and love.
MV 'Tum Tum'
MV ‘Tum Tum’

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

'Fifer Lady' built in Fife Scotland in the 1930's and shipped to Victoria
‘Fifer Lady’ built in Fife Scotland in the 1930’s and shipped to Victoria

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!

Captain's Gig
Captain’s Gig

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!”

A picture of persistent love.
A picture of persistent love.
Under the hood. A vintage Hercules diesel.
Under the hood.
A vintage Hercules diesel.
" oh lord it's hard to be humble...when you're perfect in every way."
” Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble…when you’re perfect in every way.”

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!

Degnen Bay
Degnen Bay
Degnen Bay petroglyph. It covers at high tide.
Degnen Bay petroglyph.
It covers at high tide.
Peregrine Falcon Nest. a penthouse over a Purple Martin nesting box.
Peregrine Falcon Nest.
a penthouse over a Purple Martin nesting box.
Feeling down at the bow? Loagy, sluggish, nail-sick? Are you feeling abandoned and unloved. YOU'RE NOT ALONE!
Feeling down at the bow? Loagy, sluggish, nail-sick? Are you feeling abandoned and unloved. YOU’RE NOT ALONE!

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. While being 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.

The Rum Board
The Rum Board
My Mexican furniture factory. I found the election hat in Sinaloa and needed it here to keep the sun of my noggin.
My Mexican furniture factory. I found the election hat in Sinaloa and needed it here to keep the sun from blistering my noggin. Click on this or any photo to enlarge it. Note how blue the recently-new router bit has become. This is VERY hard wood!
Nearly finished. What gorgeous boards!
Nearly finished. What gorgeous boards!
Meanwhile, back on board 'Seafire'... New Davits
Meanwhile, back on board ‘Seafire’…
New Davits
...and new cockpit seats. Yep, more Jatoba!
…and new cockpit seats. Yep, more Jatoba!

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.

Feeling nearly faded as a rose. But still beautiful. Uh huh!
Feeling nearly faded as a rose. But still beautiful.
Uh huh!

In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

…Abraham Lincoln

Soft Butter


Finally! A few days ago, as I prepared my morning toast, I realized that the weather had warmed enough for the butter to have gone soft. It’s still pliable today. A friend who was once giving me advise on sailing to warmer climes suggested that “You hold a heading due south until the butter melts, then turn left!”

Lately, other friends seem to parrot each other in their advise to me that the boat is looking good, “Just untie it and go!” They’re right I know. Sometimes you just have to shut your eyes and jump. Still, there are bills to clear up and I don’t want to be looking over my shoulder once I leave. And, like it or not, there are a few items of prudence to be addressed before venturing out onto the briney deep. You can’t steer a steady course by looking back at your wake for bits bobbing behind or men in brown shirts with pieces of paper to serve to you. So the plod forward continues into the warmth and brightness of late spring and early summer. I know I have the positive emotional support of many; so with all that good karma I can proceed with confidence believing that this will work out quite well and that by Christmas of this year, I’ll be blogging away from somewhere in the Sea of Cortez. There seems to be, in all worthwhile endeavours, a steep climb through fog where one’s faith is severely tested. From previous experience I know that fog may not clear until you are crawling onto the summit. So, in the meantime, may all of our karmas not run over any of our dogmas.

Neither fear no ignorance nor poverty!

Now then, discussing karma, I do intend to take a little time and enjoy life a bit this summer. Gabriola is a wonderful place to do that, especially in summer with most folks are in generally good spirits. There are all sorts of summertime art and musical events happening here on this island which is populated with so very many talented people. Currently, I’m trying to set up a gig for a friend who will be here in mid-summer. Richard Grainger is someone I describe as the Stan Rogers of England and he’ll be playing Vancouver Island at various venues in mid summer. A link to his website and wonderful music can be found in my ‘Blog Roll’.

Gab morning 11

At the moment the local museum has an exhibit up about the Hippy era when so many islanders first arrived here. Now advancing into a pre-geriatric age these old flower children have come a long way. Last night I reviewed a long series of snapshots of life back then. Some of those young hopefuls are now entering their geezerhood. I peer into the faces of of those I encounter and wonder at how quickly forty years and more have passed. Some of them still look vaguely recognizable against their aged photographs. Now some have their own grandchildren out in the marijuana patch breast feeding their own progeny. The beat goes on!Gab morning10


Political and social protest now seems to have largely devolved to online petitions. Of course, with broader comfort zones it is interesting to see how perspectives change. Now these once barefooted squatters whose mantras included ‘Share the wealth man’ have come by inheritances that allow then to wear designer gumboots while driving an exotic foreign SUV (Stupid Urban Vanity) sporting a ‘Think Green’ bumper sticker, listening to satellite music stations and grumping that texting on their BumbleBerry cell phone is not possible everywhere on the island; the signal here is intermittent. The trees on the perimeter of their private estates are festooned with ‘Private Property’ signs. I’ve heard a capitalist defined as “A socialist who’s found an opportunity”. It’s true! I know of people who were threatened with violence for the offence of anchoring in front of someone’s beachfront holdings. That was on a local Gulf Island especially noted for it’s free thinkers and liberal lifestyle.

Not everyone became a happy heir or a successful entrepreneur. I see the dead look in some eyes which seem to grieve for how life turned out so unjustly. (Or maybe…’s just drugs) I don’t know if many of us deserve our fate, good or bad, but for those who realize that their hope of communal enlightenment and nirvana generally turned out to be bullshit, here’s a quote from Winston Churchill: “The inherit virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.” Then again in all fairness, as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans”.

That is being relayed by this failed capitalist who has come to truly wonder at the sad concepts we all hold of being owned by our stuff and of people actually feeling we can have exclusive possession of own piece of the planet. Other folks do seem to have truly found themselves a comfortable niche and apparently live a contented and harmonious existence. Kudus indeed!

A few of the island’s residents are quite opposed to concepts of people living as they choose, for example, on their boats. I guess that I may well be regarded as just another old boat hippy who doesn’t know the war is over. For some, it’s not. If you insist on employing the hyper-anality you came to escape, go for it. If it bothers you more than me, who’s got a problem? 

Most folks understand that the price of freedom is responsibility and you can’t “Do your thing” if it means getting in someone else’s face. Unless, of course you are one of those devil’s advocates whose thing is peeing in someone else’s cornflakes. So put on a tie-dyed T shirt with a slogan that says something like “Nuke A Gay Whale For Jesus”. Different strokes for different folks dude! If you like to ride naked on an alpaca while playing a didgeridoo, there is plenty of real estate available here. Just make sure you have a good water well and don’t dare to cut down any of your own trees!

A grand thing about living on this beautiful and diverse island is how so many different flavours of humanity, from career-welfare potheads to semi-retired multi-millionaires, are generally able to mix and mingle and live together peacefully on this little rock. Gabriolans are noted for their loyalty to each other as fellow islanders and often joke about the ferry link to Nanaimo as ‘Going to the other side”. Thankfully, it is a reliable ferry service.

Peace Man!

Degnen Bay
Degnen Bay
Welcome to my nightmare!
Welcome to my nightmare!