The big Ice of 2017

Our little far western corner of North America has alway been mecca for vast populations of eastern Canadians ever since the West was settled and word got back that no one out here owns a snow shovel. True, there have been exceptions throughout the years that we get a surprise dump that shuts down the city of Vancouver, or over on the island may give the kids a few Snow Days.

Bob who was born in Ontario smirks at these times. We don’t know snow he says. Because our dumps, er, snowfalls might bring 4-5″ at most and even this will hobble us for a bit. We don’t have a big budget here for snow removal, sanding trucks, salt stockpiles. We also don’t drive in it very well in it.

This can be a tragic event. I’ve seen cars approach a stop sign like it was an afternoon in the middle of July. Oh yeah, palm-to-face, there’s white stuff under my tires; you can literally read the realization on their face as they pirouette through the intersection.

Busses don’t fare any better.

This year Vancouver got hit with a few good winter storms that brought a fair amount of snow for them. Then it would warm a bit and rain, then freeze again and snow. It got messy for the residents. No one could make it down the road without serious injury it seemed, people careening and slipping everywhere. The city used 5,000 of its 6,000 tons of its annual allotment of salt.

Cue the beleaguered store clerks as they brace themselves for a sudden frantic run on all the hardware stores and Home Depots for bags of salt and those elusive snow shovels. Sorry, they say, we’re out of stock we have more coming in on Friday. They tell you this on a Sunday with a lopsided shrug and a twitching eye.

Meanwhile across the pond here on the big island we didn’t have the full extent of that. For the most of any winter here we generally bask in greenery, but this year we did get damn cold though and things froze hard along with some snow. We had temperatures well below freezing for weeks at a time. The upside was all the dry, clear, crisp sunshiny days that came with the big chill.

It was so cold the sea around my tiny island and half way across the harbor froze.

Luckily for us we have an aluminum boat which makes it easy to break the ice, which we did around a good area of the anchorage and docks in an attempt to help others that have smaller boats and are under-powered to break away through the ice from their moorages. Also for those living on their sailboats in the harbor who become ice-locked and unable to use their dinghies to get to town. So we made our way around slowly and chewed up the bay a bit.

Protection Island 01/2017

While scooting around the sailboats anchored in the bay near Newcastle Island we noticed a woman who was in a kayak working her way from town, where there wasn’t ice and I don’t know if she knew how much ice there was out near the middle of the bay when she started out, she  gained enlightenment too late as she sat perched upon a massive ice sheet. Make way, us to the rescue. We freed her then crunched ahead of her breaking a chunky swath for her to paddle through to get home.

The crew for the wee ferry had to work hard to break ice, just as iced in as everyone else, they had to cancel the early runs. Once they could get under way the harbor Search and Rescue boat appeared and continued to break ice for them well into the middle of the bay where the ice ended before heading off to see where else they could be of service.

So that’s our big ice saga, created a small community burble around here. Today the weather warmed a bit, the sea is once again fluid and things are as they normally are in January: grey, drizzly, and cold. A few degrees above freezing. But I have to be honest, I loved the past few weeks of brilliant sun and piercingly clear days and nights, and secretly hope we get a bit more of it in the following months. January especially can be such a long dreary grey month otherwise. I’d rather have sparkle.

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# 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 !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washing up

 My kitchen sink

When we renovated the kitchen several years back we decided not to install a dishwasher thinking there is just the two of us, how many dirty dishes could there be? Not well thought out when one of us is a chef. I can utilize A LOT of pots and pans and cutlery when putting a meal together, but in my defense, I am a clean cook, meaning I clean as I go so I keep a handle on the fall out.

And although I find myself periodically pining for a dishwasher I do find it relaxing washing by hand. Sometimes. When I was younger living at home this was when I sang – over a hot soapy  sink, alone in the kitchen with good acoustics. Other times it seems as though my hands are constantly in the sink.

My hands, when I look at them I think of a commercial when I was a kid. It promoted a particular dish soap claiming you wouldn’t be able to tell who was the daughter and who was the mother by just looking at their hands. If my hands today were put up they would have no trouble guessing who was the mother; I’d win, hands down. I never wear gloves, my hands are in and out of water constantly when in the kitchen,  I should take out stock shares in Aveeno moisturizer.

But it’s all good; Bob washes up after dinner often, or in the morning before I get up – and to be honest washing up by hand is a meditative act. Hot water, fragrant soft bubbles and the slow action of rubbing a dishcloth around and around a plate gives you time to think – or sing.

 

 

 

Shrouded

The fog is back! Well, I suppose it’s a small price to pay living on the Wet, I mean the 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!

Log booms loom long, low and dark, town harbor beyond
Log booms loom long, low and dark, town harbor 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

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