A Ferry Tale

Since our island passenger ferry started up here about 28 years ago a lot of people have chosen to make this little rock their home. It means that they could now live in this park like neighborhood without having to own and run their own boat.

They wouldn’t have to encase themselves in rain gear over their nice clothes during the wet winter months. It means they wouldn’t have to wear gum boots while carrying their “good” shoes in a knapsack to change into later. It means their hair would look the same as when they left their house.

It is convenient and reliable. Although if it it’s really bad weather it may sit out a few runs.

But installing some kind of shuttle to the island was always inevitable. More and more people moved on permanently, it was close to town, it was affordable where renting or real estate was concerned, it would certainly develop and grow.

The first attempt for a passenger ferry was 35 years ago by a property owner named Don. But it was hit and miss.

The story went something like this:

A group of residents would be waiting at the dock to return back to the island from town. Waiting. Waiting. Still waiting.

Al: Where is Don? Its been half hour.

Mike: Bet he’s in the pub, I’ll go check.

20 minutes go by…

Larry: I’ll go get Mike and Don

20 minutes go by…

You get the drift. Eventually they all end up at the pub until Don decided he was ready to go.

During the 50’s there was a much smaller seasonal population here, summer vacationers. They came in canoes, row boats or power boats of their own, staying in tiny cabins along the Lee Shore of the island just across the gap from the huge provincial park of Newcastle Island.

It was a rustic place then. A far cry from that now since opting out of the Island Trust and becoming part of the city and hooking into sewer and water, forgoing our wells and septic fields.

And especially after Bob and Hilda moved over and built the pub and Bistro here 28 years ago along with its ferry service to carry their customers over, benefitting the residents in the process. The boats they brought in, 3 of them, are retired B.C. Ferry life boats. They’ve had a few augmentations done and carry up to 29 people safely and comfortably warm and dry.

When my kids were school age they took the ferry each day at designated “School Run” times which meant the kids rode free of charge. The ferry was given a subsidy by the school board to bring all the island kids in to town where a school bus would be waiting to pick them up, so that worked well.

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There are occasions during peak times of the day all year through that this little boat is full to capacity; in the mornings with residents going to work, and after work around 5:00. In the summer sometimes folks might have to wait for the next boat if the pub is really busy, which it is all summer long. But they are quick to send a second boat, so everybody eventually gets to where they need to get to. The key is to relax and not be in such a hurry.

I used to ride the ferry more often than I do now, back when I had an open boat and opted for warm and dry instead of cold and drenched. I used to know the ferry drivers well. I had worked at the pub for a couple of seasons as a line cook, bracing for those “double boat runs” full of customers that would pack the bistro for another busy summer night.

Now when I do ride there are more residents I don’t know that have moved onto the island.

Once not long ago when I took the ferry home and I had a few bags of groceries one of the passengers offered me a ride in his golf car. We introduced ourselves. He said he lived next door to James. I said “Oh yeah, just around the corner from my house”.

He said, “so you know James?” An infamous resident who has lived here for 37 years.

I said, “yeah, I’ve known him for 25 years.”

“You’ve been here 25 years?! Part time?” He was surprised that he’d never seen me before.

“No”, I said, “Year round. My husband has been here 38 . How long have you’ve been here?”

“Five,” he says.

The island is 1-1/2 miles long and 1 mile wide. And yet it hides people well. That’s also the beauty of this place. You can keep to yourself – be a hermit, or jump into the community and engage.

Yet while having my own boat is part of the allure of living here, part of that self-reliant and independent nature belonging to many individuals who take on the task of living a slightly distinctive lifestyle here, there may come a day when I’m really old and not capable of using my boat any longer.  Then I’ll buy my monthly ferry pass and look forward to communing with my neighbors both new and long known while plying the waters that set this “moated suburb” apart from the rest.

It’s all good in the hood.

I love my little community ~ 🙂

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Back in the Saddle

SO grateful to have our commuter boat out of the shop and back home! Yes, yes there is a passenger ferry we can use to get to town BUT when bringing groceries home it’s a 20 minute walk. No big deal if one had a car or golf car, but our car is broken down too and awaiting a haul off the island.

Fast and efficient once again!

 

 

# Island Life

So the 3 horse is working after all- thank goodness- but it’s a slow plough through the water to get to town. Bob, perched like a cormorant drying it’s wings on a log, sits exposed to the weather on the transom holding in one hand the handle of a pipe wrench that’s clamped on to the 50 horse to keep it on course, and the other hand holding the throttle of the 3 horse.

The wind was up but didn’t seem too rough. At first. By the time we got out into it the waves were oh, shoulder height. Yee- haw.

Brought back memories when we drove small open boats for about 18 years, ah yes, those were the wet, dare I say, drenched days of yore. When even the slightest chop would land us salt encrusted. But it was the dinghy years that I did fondly remember. In retrospect, madness.

Picture if you will an 8 foot inflatable holding two adults and two young teenagers. From a distance you wouldn’t even see what it was our four bodies were perched upon, a little closer you think, are they on an inner tube? Then add in the groceries. This at least wasn’t always the case, the kids used the ferry most of the time. Not as embarrassing.

Better still, is the year I was attaining my Bakers certificate at our university. I had to be there by 5 am. No ferry leaves here until 7 am so, of course I fearlessly donned my cruiser suit (a floatation suit) and goggles when there was frozen rain, and off I went on my “inner tube” into the January blackness. Of course.

Never, I say, never underestimate a stubborn woman.

Tugs out in the bay moving log booms must’ve shaken their heads. They would train their big lights on this little dot zipping by them as I waved my flashlight to alert them of my presence. A WTF moment for them I’m sure.

The kicker in this bit of insanity was that we sold our 16 foot fiberglass powerboat with its 70H to buy said inner tube and a 6H motor. Oh yeah, you see, we had bought a sailboat the year before and we needed a Tender or dinghy for it, and because the shouts of reason and common sense were entirely ignored, we gave up a perfectly great commuter with its trailer I will add, to scoot about on a piece of rubber. Sure- a tender for the sailboat and can be our commuter boat for a family of four. One boat, two applications.

A no brainer. Well, we got that right.

We then went on to a succession of open aluminum, popped riveted boats that required a half hour of hand bailing before setting out. Scoop, sploosh, scoop, sploosh. Repetitive moves that caused rhymes in my head, (scoop) got water (sploosh) in my boat (scoop) gotta bail (sploosh) if I wanna float.

Glory days my friend, glory days. But I was (we) were younger then.

Now, as of two years ago, we have our 16 foot aluminum with a canopy. Because I made it unequivocally clear to Bob that I would now tolerate no less. On one of our final runs in our last open boat before bringing our newly purchased boat home a huge swell reared and landed square in our laps, like a final ribbing from the sea, ha-HA, take that ya scurvy dogs, one last time will ye be victims of me soakin’!  To which Bob exclaimed,” AH, wet down to the ass!”

Which subsequently prompted the christening of the new boat, Nowetass.

So next week she’s scheduled to go in to have the hydraulics and the electrical issues dealt with and we’ll be back in business. In the meantime we must putt across at a snails pace and take the weather as it comes, but with the knowing that again soon we’ll be taking whatever the sea throws at us in dry stride and 10 times the speed.

Arrrr !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it rains it pours

Living on this little island has its charms by the cart full yes, but when things go off track the repercussions can be far reaching. Case in point, to begin we have an old van on the island, (barged over as all vehicles and golf carts are since there isn’t a car ferry here, only a small passenger ferry), which we use when we have to bring home large or heavy items or a big grocery shop day.

In the past 18 years when we didn’t have a vehicle here we used a wheel barrow, or if the item was really huge we enlisted a neighbor with a truck.

Except the time Bob, in a conduct that I can only label as masochistic, brought all the lumber and other building materials needed to build the large workshop adjoining our house by wheelbarrow. Bags of cement, 6×6’s 2×4’s, trusses. I was there, I watched it happen, I steadied the long lumber as he grunted down the road. But this type of behavior has been common when there were less vehicles over here. Once several years back Bob and a few other guys picked up a house and walked it down the road to another property.

Anyway the van is broken down, something to do with the steering column. Bob had fixed it, after spending a full day searching out the part in an auto wreckers. It worked for a couple of weeks, now not working. And because he hasn’t a clue now how to fix what he thought he fixed, and can’t simply take it to a mechanic for repair, it sits.  All right we’ve been carless before, and we have two wheelbarrows now (moving up), so it’s back to that for time being.

Now today heading down the road with wheelbarrow in hand we got to our boat, started the motor and shoved off, only to find the steering wasn’t working, hydraulics issue? We managed to get back to the dock, and when Bob looked below the console and touched a wire it sparked.

Luckily our neighbor was just then climbing into her boat and Bob got a ride to town. He needed to drop off the transmission for our sailboat today at the mechanics because that’s another thing that isn’t working.

Van down, commuter boat down, sailboat down.

After dropping the transmission off Bob drove to the marina where we moor our sailboat and picked up the three horse we use for the dinghy, brought it down to the harbor in town and put it in another neighbors boat to bring back to the island on his way back home after work.

I’ve probably lost you by now but I’ll carry on-

Bob jumped on the little ferry and came home, followed by a twenty minute walk in pouring rain.

After he rested and our neighbor called to say he deposited our three horse in our boat down at the dock, Bob then headed down to put it onto the transom as a kicker so we can at least get the broken boat down the channel where the marine repair guys can pick it up with their trailer and take it into the shop.

Bob came back an hour later. The three horse isn’t working either.

All righty then-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new addition to the Flotilla

Twenty-five years ago when we bought our sailboat and took our first cruise down through the gulf islands one thought came in my mind: Kayaking through here would be perfect. All inside waters between the string of gulf islands, nice and sheltered. From that time onward it was a desire to own one. Bob was not interested in having to paddle any where the wind could easily take him with less strenuous effort, and anyway our focus during that time was in becoming competent sailors.

The desire to have a kayak slowly crept back into the forefront once again and when a neighbor posted that he was selling his 17′ Current Design Solstice I jumped at it.

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Happy camper. Now to get Bob in one.

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My new Chill

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Thought I’d share the arrival of the new appliance. Exciting I know.

This is one mode of transport by which many of the islands’ things come to us. They have a truck and boat trailer on the main island too and are able to take the skiff to any place to load directly, then simply launch and pull out on our island. And visa versa. Anything bigger than what the skiff can manage is brought over by barge- a large barge.

These guys are the bomb. Every other week they come around and do a garbage and recyclables collection for a small fee. Each spring they organize a Garden Run, bringing everything from fencing, manure, topsoil and potting mix, to what have you. Just put your request in and they’ll get it to your yard.

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Up the access-

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Up the slippery slope-

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Up the steps-

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And in. After the 2 hours it took flipping the door so it opens to the right, peppered with expletives of course,(Guy at Home Depot said, Oh yeah factory takes 10 minutes, you maybe 20, it’s easy!), I whipped up a pizza (I had dough I previously made, so no biggy) and Bob and I cracked some champagne and waited for the fridge to come to temp before I moved everything from the coolers we had outside.

And that’s how we do it. 🙂

 

Freeze up

Protection ice floe

This is rather a rare occurrence for us west coasters to have our bay iced over for nearly 3 days, but there have been tales told that in the far past people have ice skated out to this little island.

The above photo is the third day as it’s finally breaking up. Bob and I have a welded aluminum boat which means it can take pushing through the ice, and we did. (This also scraps clean the bottom of our boat brilliantly too.) We went out to where our sailboat is moored and did a few circles around her to free her up and then we went all around the rest of the bay to break ice for those that are living aboard their boats and would have difficulty getting to shore with their row boats.

Off to a good start since this happened on January 1st  making it our first good deed for 2016!

Our sailboat in the icy bay 2016

gulls standing on ice

I’ve done it

My last entry was quite some time ago, and as I write now I realize I just hadn’t felt compelled to come to my computer to write out what I was processing in my mind- which is different for me, writing things out is my usual behavior in matters of gaining mental clarity. In that hiatus I entered my 57th year on this planet, and came to a decision.

After some lengthy deliberation I officially gave my resignation notice as of June 19th. Doing this three years before I had planned gave me small pause, only small. I love where I work and will miss my colleagues, but it is time and I feel good about it. Once I finalized my decision I felt relieved and lightened.

I will have the flexibility now to care for my mother who will be 90 this year and lives on her own 45 minutes up Island-no more renting away from home and husband each winter as in the past three years. No mandatory daily, dark, early morning winter crossings to get to work either, I can go at my leisure.

Time also to bring all those things I left simmering on the back burner to the plate at last. Hopefully nothing vaporized over the years, I won’t know until I lift the lid and have a look ~

Adjustment will of course ensue but I’m ready to meet the challenges!

Shrouded

The fog is back! Well, I suppose it’s a small price to pay living on the Wet, I mean West Coast; those poor East Coasters still digging themselves out from under the ice and snow. Here’s my world this morning on my commute to work. Have to admit fog brings its own beauty to the table, but oh can hardly wait for the sunny days to come!

My dock on P.I.
Log booms loom long, low and dark, town harbour beyond

 

Coming into the inner harbor
Coming into the inner harbor, the Herring boats have been working the last few days

 

The gas docks
The gas docks

Packing for Home- the nuts n’ bolts of island life

 

So moving my belongings of 3 months of living at the vinyl cabin back to my home island involves some logistics, which I would like to share! This process applies to anything of a certain quantity that one happens to be bringing over. For bigger items or larger quantities we have a small skiff company and a barge service available to us.

BTW – I am NOT whining!

First I pack up the car and drive to the marina parkade

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Carry stuff from car down to my boat- this day it took 2 arm loads down

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Drive car to my own parkade across the street. Why not keep the car at the marina parkade?  Difference of $50.

Walk from parkade to boat

Travel across the water to a drop off point

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Unload

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Take boat to my dock

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Taking my valuables, walk to house to pick up van (up to about 5 years ago out of 25 we used a wheelbarrow)

Drive van to pick up spot.

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load stuff (two trips up/down ramp again)

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drive to house

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unload ( two trips)

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And rejoice over all the money I save on Gym memberships!

Give me a moment, I need to think this over.

 

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I had intended to rent my vinyl beach cabin till the end of March but I called the owner on Sunday to let her know I would be vacating at the end of this month.  It’s been three winters now that I rented away from home,  away from my husband.  When I go home on the weekends it just doesn’t feel long enough. It doesn’t help matters that when my husband works he is away for weeks at a time too. I feel out of touch with my home,  with my neighborhood.  Like a visitor.

At the moment my siblings and I are beginning  again to make arrangements to move our mother down to where we all live,  something I was trying to make happen last year because I said to myself,  husband and siblings that I can’t keep living  away form home like this.  But I can’t stand the thought of my mom up here by herself everyday until a weekend when one of us can come and take her out.  She’s unable to drive so she can’t just up and decide to head out on her own.  She’s a shut in.  It was my solution to rent near her although extreme maybe,  and because I was the more flexible of us,  the more independent of us, I don’t know, I just did what I knew I could do, wanted to do without question.

But I most certainly can’t anymore.  I’m feeling stress now.  Of course where my home is has a lot to do with my decision to rent up here, If my husband and I lived in town it would be much less stressful. A move for my mom must happen this summer,  so by the winter she’s settled.  I want her to  be part of our loop by living in our small city.  So my siblings, her grandchildren and great grandchildren and I can  without much arranging  swing by during our day or evening  and spend time with her.  One brother struggles with even affording the gas it takes to drive up here to see her in her current home,  my sister works all week 9-5, my other brother is nearly non existent other than the obligatory visits, but usually it’s just a phone call, on birthdays and christmas.

Gestures of moving her last summer was progressing,  but then it all got bogged down with financial questions that she wouldn’t be able to afford to live in a private Independent Care accommodation.  That maybe she could just increase her home nursing care instead and stay where she is. My mom is part of a Life Interest Estate from her second husband which involves its own set of logistics that had needed to be addressed early on in the process so we would know how to conduct the whole transaction of moving.  So another winter came and here I am.

Now we know she can afford the move and my siblings are now fully engaged.

Just needing to breath all this out, thank you for listening.

 

 

Here and There

I have been grappling with this particular issue lately. At this juncture in my middle-aged life (as with millions of Boomers) it involves the concerns of caring for a parent, who if fortunate enough to have reached into their octogenarian years, appreciate and need their children’s attention.  A role reversal if you will.

My post heading Here and There is most illustrative of my current residential condition.

As you may know from my profile I live on an island and commute by boat each day to work. And now that I’ve been attending to my mom who lives on her own and is one hour away logistics have to be managed. Now from work I can be up There  (Moms place) in 25 minutes – no problem- but during the winter the days are then dark and wet or icy and to drive back Here  (home) after a day at work and traveling up to see mom makes for a long, long day with burn out waiting in the wings.

So last year I had rented a trailer a few minutes from her house up There to alleviate the return commute each evening. It was simple. On weekends I would return to husband and home back Here, and my sister would then be available to assist and visit our mom then.

Not the best recipe for the happiest of marriages but he is very supportive and understands the condition.

To move her to a closer proximity to us, her children, into an Assisted Living home is proving to be a lengthy process of waiting for assessment (which we are) to then be placed onto a waiting list. Which presently is at one year.

She is best where she is for now. And we can make it work.

But coming up to this winter I thought I wouldn’t “move” away again. I  decided to retire from my work at the university, that my mom is now my occupation. I could then spend the day with her, getting her out to swimming and walks, errands and appointments returning to my island home by the early evening. Happy wife, happy husband-

Well I was pretty set with that decision for several weeks.

Then I decided again.

I decided instead to once more look for a place to rent for the winter. I enjoy my work. I’m not ready to stop. I will give it one more winter. She may move by next year, she may not, or she may be gone. But one more winter.

And the sad truth be told, It is a temporary situation. It could all change in a heartbeat.

 

 

 

 

Water

Better late than never, having missed the first couple of days of Blog U Photography 101- Just me bringing up the rear. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to post regarding this particular theme about Water. It has quite frankly been my life in every way.

Born in Southern California I not only spent most of my free childhood time at Huntington Beach, we also had a pool in our backyard where at 5 years old I first became a fish. Never swimming on top of the water- always under.

When I was 14 my family moved to British Columbia, our first house was a modest home right on the waterfront. My aunt gave me a row boat to use in the bay and I did any chance I could. I would row out as far as I could and sit and think.

Today I’m living on a small island surrounded by water, married to a man who’s passion is sailing  (and being a Cancer makes him a “water sign”)- we bought a 30 foot sailboat a year after we married and have her still – and each other- 24 years later.

And each day when I go and return from work I take my boat 1.5 km across the water, winter and summer, storm, fog or clear and calm.

Of course one more thing – I live on the Vancouver Island coast. It rains a lot!1654168_10152168562130733_89031500_n

The comings and goings of a water logged Island dweller
The comings and goings of a water logged Island dweller