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Boats

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The beautiful summer weather has finally arrived here in BC just in time for us to entertain long standing friends from the UK. I have seized the opportunity to take a short break to bring them up island for a visit to Tofino.

First – however – from Port Alberni a trip on the much loved ‘Frances Barkley’ down to Bamfield and back. The ‘Frances Barkley’ is a working ship and makes stops all down the Alberni inlet to deliver the post and all manner of other essentials to communities that have little or no road access.

Here be photographs…


Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

This is one cool way to collect a delivery…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

No fisherman’s tales here. This guy looks pretty proud of his catch…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

…and here is the ‘Frances Barkley at Bamfield.

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

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“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

William Arthur Ward

As posited in this entry in the ‘captain’s log’ of but a few tides back the good ship Dignity spent the past month berthed in a snug slip at Westport Marina – the which lies on the east coast of the peninsula but a little to the north of Sidney.

As was almost inevitably the case we did not get out on her as much as we would have liked (the weather broke, life got busy, etc, etc) and upon the brief voyages that we did essay we found at least one important job that needs to be done in short order (replacing the raw water pump. Boating people will know that this is not a good place to have a leak!).

That having been said much was learned and fun was had. The Kickass Canada Girl was introduced to the delights of Sidney Spit on a sunny day (as well as to the boat!) – my brother, our dear friend (and constant ‘bailer out’) from Saanichton and I supped ales at Port Browning on Pender Island (alcohol-free in my case – boo!) – and I discovered that I can conn my way into and out of a marina on my own, in addition to being able to take the boat out of the water single-handedly.

Pictures were – as you would expect – snapped and a selection are presented below for the reader’s delectation:

Time to get her name on that stern!

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThis is the passage between North and South Pender islands…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid…and this is Port Browning.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThese shots were taken at Sidney Spit.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidTime to head for home.

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

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183311Well – the good ship Dignity finally hit the waters again the other evening as our dear friend from Saanichton helped me to take her for a brief early evening sea trial to ensure that all of the bits and pieces were in full working order.

She had been sitting on her trailer for a good long time and was somewhat reluctant to part company with it. Those who know about such things will attest that the procedure for putting a boat into the water at the boat launch (once in position and having carried out all the ‘pre-flight’ checks, including freeing the vessel from its carrier) is to back the trailer sharply into the water and then to brake hard. At that point the momentum of the boat is meant to carry it gracefully off the trailer rollers and into the water.

In this instance Dignity – not having dismounted for a considerable period – took three attempts. I have no doubt that as she and I become more accustomed to the procedure the operation will prove easier to effect.

She was also a little rusty from not having been run properly for quite a while, and needed to be thoroughly warmed up before going into drive without futtering out (technical term!). Once fully awake – however – she demonstrated that the Penta V8 has more than enough power to get her moving in a serious fashion. She goes onto the plane easily and handles the water well. I am not yet sure what this will do for fuel economy, but I feel inclined in any case to handle her cautiously (as one should a lady!) – at least until I have had a chance to log some statistics.

As a next step I am contemplating finding her a berth in a marina for a month, so that I may spend some serious time gaining as much practical on-board experience as possible.

So much to learn…

 

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Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
“The day you hear someone call me captain will be the day I buy a boat.”

Guy Lafleur

To all those gentle readers who were way too polite to enquire just why I had suddenly taken to posting the lyrics to songs by mid 80s Glaswegian ‘Big Music’ bands (ignoring the fact that you were probably not the slightest bit interested!) – here is your answer:

…after a year of living on these glittering shores I have finally purchased a boat! Here she is…

For those who like to know these things she is a 20ft Double Eagle Sedan built in 1978. She has a Volvo Penta 350 5.7 litre V8 inboard motor and an 8HP Yamaha kicker. She’s no spring chicken but the Kickass Canada Girl and I both recognised her immediately as the boat for us. She was pretty thoroughly checked out – a marine survey and a mechanical inspection – and she is now up at SeaPower Marine in Sidney having some bits and pieces tidied up before we put her in the water for a sea trial.

Most exciting!

The Girl was very keen that she be called ‘Boaty McBoatface‘ – in honour of the splendid(!) eccentricities of the British peoples – but she was out-voted and the ship will indeed be called ‘Dignity‘.

God bless all who sail in her.

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Image from Pixabay

There’s a man I meet, walks up our street
He’s a worker for the council, has been twenty years
And he takes no lip off nobody and litter off the gutter
Puts it in a bag and never thinks to mutter

And he packs his lunch in a Sunblest bag, the children call him Bogie
He never lets on but I know ’cause he once told me
He let me know a secret about the money in his kitty
He’s gonna buy a dinghy, gonna call her Dignity

And I’ll sail her up the west coast, through villages and towns
I’ll be on my holidays, they’ll be doing their rounds
They’ll ask me how I got her, I’ll say, “I saved my money”
They’ll say, “Isn’t she pretty, that ship called Dignity?”

And I’m telling this story in a faraway scene
Sipping down raki and reading Maynard Keynes
And I’m thinking about home and all that means
And a place in the winter for Dignity

And I’ll sail her up the west coast, through villages and towns
I’ll be on my holidays, they’ll be doing their rounds
They’ll ask me how I got her, I’ll say, “I saved my money”
They’ll say, “Isn’t she pretty, that ship called Dignity?”

And I’m thinking about home and I’m thinking about faith
And I’m thinking about work and I’m thinking, how good it would be
To be here some day on a ship called Dignity
A ship called Dignity, that ship

Ricky Ross
Deacon Blue

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidLast Friday was not the first Canada Day that I have enjoyed in the country (I arrived for a visit on July 1st back in 2012) but it was the first such that I have experienced here as a resident. We duly made a weekend of it.

Sidney spreads its celebration over two days and features a firework display on the night before Canada Day itself. At the last minute we decided not to attend – both being somewhat weary from our busy weeks – and reasoning that we could probably see the display from our windows anyway – which we could. We thus also saw the results of the ‘computer glitch’ that fired half the display within the first ten seconds – followed by a lengthy pause before the rest of it carried on as it should have. Glad we didn’t venture forth for that!

Our dear friends in Saanichton hosted a barbecue for the day itself which was lovely for all sorts of reasons – not least of which was meeting his father (a most redoubtable gentlemen) for the first time. At the end of the evening they announced that they had some spare passes for the following night (the Saturday) for Butchart Gardens. Summer Saturdays at Butchart mean live music and – yes – more fireworks… so we did get to see some after all.

The traffic queues to get into and out of the gardens on a summer Saturday night are all too reminiscent of some of those in the UK. If, however, one has a boat conveniently moored in a nearby marina – as do our dear friends – one can sail the short hop across Brentwood Bay and up to the Butchart back entrance off Tod Inlet. To my great delight this was indeed the plan and we duly puttered our way over in style.

Boats – music – picnics on the lawns – a stroll round the fabulous illuminated gardens – fireworks! It doesn’t get much better…

Here be a handful of random images:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

 

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Image from Pexels…that’s fit to print!

New York Times masthead

Time for a quick catchup on some news from Victoria.

For the Kickass Canada Girl and I (wrong – but so right!) life sometimes seems to comprise such a constant stream of happenings and doings that our nascent existence here in BC evolves more rapidly than can reasonably routinely be communicated to those who are not fortunate enough to live at this end of the island.

To remedy this unfortunate situation herewith a brief parade of news items in no particular order.

Though I am myself a confirmed retiree – and delighted so to be – it was always a matter of some conjecture as to whether or not the Girl was entirely done with the world of work. After six months in which she greatly enjoyed a sort of trial run at retirement she perhaps unsurprisingly decided that she had more to give.

Following a couple of half-hearted applications for not entirely suitable positions the ideal opportunity finally offered itself. The Girl made a serious application – turned on the afterburners at the resultant interview and – to the complete lack of surprise on the part of all who know her – watched the interviewing board’s eyes light up not just with regard to the position on offer but also with a view to future elevation.

She is now working four days a week appraising the needs of clients of an extensive volunteer service that provides support for the elderly (and others) to enable them to live independently.

Hoorah for the Girl! Well done…

In my end of year post of December last I made reference to the legal matter that has resulted in our having to put in abeyance any immediate plans to renovate our house in North Saanich. Our initial hope was that the mere presence on our team of the big guns – in the shape of our hot-shot lawyer – would send the vendors scurrying to the negotiating table. Sadly they have thus far eschewed doing the decent thing and it has been necessary to serve the papers for a civil claim.

Hmmm! Matters grind on at glacial pace – in all regards save that of the ever mounting fees payable…

As also referenced in a jolly post but a couple of weeks back, my ‘Boating Essentials’ course reached its conclusion with yet another multiple-choice exam. To my intense chagrin I was yet again defeated by a single question in this test, though I did score well above the required pass mark. We then rounded matters off with a two day course on ‘Marine VHF Radio’, for the use of which it is obligatory to hold a certificate. I finally conquered my multiple-choice demons and registered a perfect score.

I can, however, take no credit for this happy state of affairs – that going instead to the Brentwood Bay Power Squadron. The preparation of students for examination by their training team is second to none and they have the awards to prove it. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole kit and caboodle and was most impressed by all concerned.

All that remains is for me to find a suitable boat…

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I liked this little sequence of images. The truck crane is used on the smaller islands for building projects and all concerned are so familiar with the procedure that the whole event took less than three minutes – following which tug, barge and truck disappeared in different directions.

Neat!

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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The Canadian Power Squadron ‘Boating Essentials’ course that is occupying a fair percentage of my time at the moment is fast approaching its culmination. This Sunday last found those of us taking the course – along with our proctors and other members of the Brentwood Bay squadron and of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue service – participating in the student cruise… an opportunity to put into practice some of the theory that we have been studying these past several months in the classroom.

Courtesy of those generous owners/skippers upon whose vessels we were guests, we started early from Tsehum Harbour, north of Sidney.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidThe morning was spent working our way slowly north west from Sidney round the head of the peninsula and on towards Cowichan Bay. The object was to enable the students practice navigation the old-fashioned (pre-GPS) way.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidOur reward for washing up at the correct location? Hot dogs from the barbecue at Genoa Bay courtesy of the squadron, which – thanks to the excellent tuition we have received throughout – was reached in good time for lunch.

This most welcome repast was followed by an opportunity to learn how to recover an unconscious ‘man overboard’ from the icy waters of the Pacific (kudos to the brave dry-suit clad volunteer from Search and Rescue for allowing herself repeatedly to be pushed into the dock!) before heading for home.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPotential recruits – or just after a ‘dog’?

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidTools of the trade!

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidI have made mention more than once in these ramblings of my intention – be it sooner or later – of owning a boat. So to do has long been an ambition of mine and it would be frankly unconscionable to live on this verdant coast but not to indulge my piratical fantasies around and about the Gulf Islands.

For a potential corsair I am, somewhat disconcertingly, really rather on the cautious side and I certainly won’t be making tracks to the nearest boat dealer until I have a good idea as to what I am doing. That – of course – means study!

As it happens one cannot in any case operate a small craft in Canadian waters without being appropriately certified. The Pleasure Craft Operator’s Certificate (PCOC) must not only be acquired before setting forth but must also be carried at all times when on the water. The test that one must pass to gain this qualification is straightforward and is mainly concerned with safety afloat. Helpfully it may be studied for and taken online should that be one’s preference.

With a typical desire to be thorough, however, I decided that I wanted to do more than just cover the basics. The next level up includes (though is not confined to) the study of maritime navigation the ‘old fashioned’ way – eschewing such modern aids as GPS. Naturally that appeals to my old-school nature.

Fortunately courses covering all such matters are conveniently provided by the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons of which – as befits an island city with water on three sides – there are no less than five within the Greater Victoria area. The website for the nearby Brentwood Bay squadron was the first to allow me to book a course online (some shaky web design on other sites!) and I quickly signed up for the PCOC course and a Boating Essentials course – to be given at a nearby school.

The PCOC was rapidly dispatched within three sessions culminating in a fifty question multiple-choice test. Being of a certain age I had not previously sat an exam of this form and I was dismayed at getting an answer wrong simply because I misread – through trying to hurry too much – the responses on offer. As the pass rate for the PCOC is a mere 75% this mattered not a jot, but there was pride at stake (mine!). I now await delivery by post of yet another vital credit card sized piece of plastic.

The Boating Essentials course will occupy me for the next two months and looks to be good fun. I have thus far discovered that once learned – courtesy of my Boy Scout upbringing – one does not forget how to tie knots!

If only the same were true of all else in life…

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