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September 1, 2001

 

Wednesday, August 15, 01: False Creek, Vancouver, BC --- 49°16.0' N and 123° 7.37 W - Wind 8k, sunny, 80°, barometer steady

Crossed Straight of Georgia to English Bay, wind 8k, passed Burrard Bridge, passed Granville Bridge to Charleston Bay, harbor crowded, typical hectic big city. Granville Public Market good for vegetables. Expensive, can't wait to get out.

Saturday, August 18, 01: Snug Cove, Bowen Island. Union Steamship company Marina --- 49° 22.7' N and 123° 19.9' W - Wind 4k, cloudy, 70°, barometer falling; August 19, 01 raining, stayed in harbor; August 20, 01 more rain, stayed in slip; August 20, 01, heavy rain; August 21, 01 overcast and rain, frontal passage to clear Fri.

 

Finding good coffee beans in the Gulf Islands is easier said than done. This website's title page refers to, "the smell of fresh coffee wafting from the galley." Coffee plays an important role in the management of "Love of Liberty." Every grocery store around here seems to have its own unknown brand of 'special coffee bean roasted to perfection' - that is bitter, stale and tasteless. There are even dedicated 'tea houses' here that sell no coffee. Being somewhat desperate I engaged in another tireless pursuit, and I found a worthwhile coffee. I'm enjoying a locally produced, genuine Canadian product: "Kicking Horse Coffee, Grizzly Claw Roast." Just the name itself quickens the pulse. Advertised as "Fresh roasted with 100% pure Canadian Rocky Mountain Air." you can believe me; Grizzly Claw Roast will get you started in the morning. Roasted with 'pure Canadian Mountain Air' and nothing less. We are running low on this Grizzly Claw Roast, and are about to move away from the Gulf Islands. I haven't seen any more Kicking Horse Coffee in the stores. Alas, we'll have to return to the noxious blends.

Although there is overcast here, I have not seen any smog or haze. The rain and overcast go away at times, and the nighttime summer skies are crystal clear. I enjoyh stargazing, but it eludes me. This afternoon's breeze died down. The otters quit cavorting on the seawall rocks. The city orchestra finished playing Tchaikovsky's "1812" Overture in the shoreside park. The bagpiper walking the boardwalk has gone home. Sunset was at 9:22 PM. Add an hour for twilight, and it's 10:22 PM. The stars do come out, but it's too late. I'm 62 years old. I can't stay up THAT late. The summer triangle, with Deneb, Vega and Altair, is there but not for me to see. I got out of my bunk at about 2 AM, and from the porthole in the head, I looked out. There were two bright planets and Dr. Carl Sagan's 'billions and billions' of stars in the western sky. It was a fantastic sight that kept me awake for 10 minutes. I went back to bed.

The boat is in Snug cove on the east side of forested Bowen Island. The Union Steamship Company Marina here is small, but they have several deep water berths. Onshore, the marina offers secluded cabins for rent, and there's a pub nestled in the trees. Nearby the pub, there's a cozy restaurant with pane glass windows, white tablecloths, cloth napkins and wineglasses set. Superb hamburgers are sold from an umbrella covered pushcart on the marina lawn. The town directory suggests a walk around the harbor paths and a visit to the marina sailboats. "Love of Liberty" is in the marina, and we meet a lot of these marina meanderers who ask about our hailing port (Annapolis). And then, they ultimately ask, "How do you like cruising a boat?"

For some reason people are amazingly curious about this boat. When they find out we live aboard, their curiosity continues, and they begin a conversation. I enjoy talking about life aboard, about how things really are - the good and the bad. I say, "Life aboard is simple with few obligations. You don't need much stuff. We enjoy it."

One lady quickly said, "You're an American aren't you?"

I said, "Yes, I'm from the U.S., from California. What made you feel that I was from the U.S.?"

Thoughtfully and slowly, she said, "I know a friend in Vista, California, and he's very laid back ... like you." (Emphasis added)

I laughed to myself, and I thought, "1.) You should have seen me five years ago and 2.) You should visit Los Angeles."

Truly, simple boat life has benefited Ellen and me. We have owned houses, and we have owned boats. I like houses, but not as well as boats. To simplify their life, I have found that people like to leave houses to go out on boats. Those people say, "I'm so glad that I'm out of the house and on the boat!" Or, they're in low spirits when they say, "I have to go back to the house now." I've said that. I think they say that because they dislike mowing lawns, vacuuming, and fixing leaking faucets. After the kids grow up and after you retire, the house becomes a monument to a time in the past, too large, filled with things and immobile. It's there, complex as it is, making you powerless to change surroundings. Aboard the boat, I don't need high boys, low boys, sofas, wing back chairs, coffee tables, floor lamps and king size beds. Not even window shades, draperies or shelves for old trophies. We don't have collections of ceramic butterflies, or grandma's silver tea set. All that is 'stuff'. Stuff in your life is like cholesterol in your blood. Your kids leave their stuff with you because THEY don't want to be held down by it. Stuff fills your damp basement, your garage and the rooms of your house. After many years, it completely fills your space. Then, when that happens, you never can move.

 

In Ganges Harbor, Salt Spring Island, a short while ago, we were moored dockside at the town's government-operated float. Ahead of us on the dock were the fresh water spigot, a hose and about 50 feet of open-dock mooring space. Fishing boats and cruising pleasure boats moved in and out of that dock space all day. For no charge, they 'tanked-up' with fresh water from the town's public water source. (I recall being charged 10 cents a gallon for water back in Buck's Harbor, Maine.) Wind and current conditions at this dock were often unfavorable, and that made entering this short dock space a challenge. We were 'bumped' on the starboard side once and 'lightly rammed,' bow-on, by boats trying to get in to the dock's water spigot. Inside our boat we could easily hear the magnified sound of approaching fast-turning propellers. Helplessly, I'd wait for a 'round,' incoming. From within the boat, propeller noise is a swishing-growling sound that penetrates the hull - and one's mind. Alerted like a prairie dog, I'd drop my book, stand up erect and peer out the hatch.

Ken kept his sailboat in a marina that specialized in chartering large powerboats. He just had his boat painted, and it was perfect, gleaming, and flawless. His boat's berth was, sorry to say, located amongst several of the larger charter yachts. In the Northwest the summer months have the best weather and that draws a steady stream of urban and suburban boaters to the water. Most of them do not own a boat, but are wealthy enough to rent a large yacht for a boating vacation. Middle aged bankers, officious politicians, tired stock brokers and exhausted doctors pass a short boat handling quiz, pay the handsome fee and take charge of a behemouth on the seas. I admit virtually all of us, to varying degrees, are amateurs in these boating affairs, but managing a very large yacht takes some near professional skills. These large demanding rental boats were frequently 'captained' by persons whose only qualification in the maritime was that they had passed a short docking test and had an open wallet. So, having passed the examination and having boarded their-yacht-for-a-week, with suitcases still on deck, the new captain ascends three decks to the boat's flying bridge. He eases into a cushioned seat behind the helm and fires up the mega-horsepower engines. A dockperson frees the mooring lines. With each hand on a throttle the new skipper adds power and goes for it. A rented 48-foot Bayliner can satisfy concealed primal urges. Two feet before the skipper is an array of gauges, switches and instruments, copied from the space shuttle. Mounted thirty-three feet forward on the boat's pointed bow is the ship's stainless steel anchor, flukes pointed out. At the stern there's loud noise and hot exhaust. IN THE WAY is Ken's boat and his fresh paint job. Before the new paint had fully dried, his boat was run into, scraped and scratched three times by charter boats as they left for the cruising grounds. ¨

Here at the Ganges public dock our boat, "Love of Liberty" is no less a target. I keep notes describing collisions with our boat. Here's a typical note: "7-25-01, 8:25 AM, hit by blue and white Ocean Floater, had two kayaks on deck, (one red, one yellow), WN 3722 LD, boat named "FAR FROM NORMAL." Damage slight."

With best regards to all, Terry and Ellen

 

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