Love and time

I’m feelin’ kinda uncertain ’bout this blog. I started, then stopped. Don’t know I want to keep goin with it, but here it is again. We just celebrated our 40th anniversary, the missus and me. Quite a milestone, especially when you look round and see how hard it seems for folks to stick together over the long haul. I often get asked how did we do it? In times when people seem as shallow as a koi pond in Death Valley, how did plain folks like us manage to make it stick for so long? And not just in terms of time, but to stick it out while keeping such a high regard fer each other?

The last bit’s important, ‘cause I knowed folks who lasted a whole lifetime together, but most of that was a cobra and mongoose act that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, all spite and nastiness. It ain’t just time, but the quality of time that counts.

 And it’s about here that I disappoint folks: we made our marriage more-or-less work mostly ‘cause we got lucky. And we met each other when we was still kids and when you grow up together, it makes a bond like family, like the original family, but way better. I never spanked my woman.  

Of course that ain’t no miracle cure for a marriage, ‘cause hooking up when you’re still kids increases the likelihood that you grow away from each other, ‘cause most folks change with the years and that funny boy that made you laugh at 18 can bring up murderous fantasies when he’s a dumb and lazy out o’ work 46-year-old. It can cut both ways.

So we got lucky that we met young before we was wise enough to get a good look at each other. We got lucky that we didn’t lose our regard an’ feelin’s fer each other over all them long years. We did take a hiatus from each other for a few years in the middle, but that’s another story.

A marriage that lasts, dependin’ on luck ain’t fair, but that’s the way it goes. You gotta find the right person, and you gotta stay in love. Nobody wants to fall out of love, but it happens. Someone changes and it’s game over. Like a flu virus that mutates and suddenly the flu shot don’t fit no more.

Fer a love to work long term you gotta be the same, but different. You gotta be the same deep down, but different how you are. Deep down the missus and me are big ol’ softies and cry a lot and hold hands too much at the movies. But how we is in the world is opposite. She is a true Admiral: thoughtful, organised, on top o’ things, quietly in charge. And a bit o’ control freak. I’m kinda like a pirate – dumb an’ loud, but a load o’ fun.

She mellows me, and I help her get the flagpole outta her ass.  Together it works.

Lots of things have changed about ourselves over the years, but deep down, where we hold each other, it hasn’t. When I was a young punk, I was trouble and troubled, but I did a lot to pull me head outta my ass. It took a long time but she stood by me, and saw how hard I worked at being less of a fool. That was important.

It don’t matter if yer a loser or a arsehole if she sees you tryin’ yer best and tryin to make something of yerself. It’s the battle that counts. If she sees you not even tryin’ she’ll eventually give up on you.

Of course if she’s also a loser and an arsehole, then you’ll either motivate her to keep up or you’ll outgrow her. Or you both can spend yer time being losers and arseholes with each other. Like Trump and Melania.

When you think about it, there’s a lot working against anything lasting long term between a man and a woman. Like that gawddamn monogamy. It’s unnatural it is, and that dumb rule is probably the biggest killer of long-term relationships. Who’s the asshole who thought o’ that anyway? Should be strung up with his own intestines. 

Where was I? Oh yes. Making it work. Lissen, the first thing ya gotta do is forget that there’s someone better. It don’t exist. Everyone is as crazy as a shithouse mouse, and if you dump someone for this crazy, the next fool will just be a different kind o’ crazy. You can’t get away from crazy, mostly ‘cause you is crazy too. 

In my mind there is very few deal breakers: loss of love, violence, overindulgence in booze an’ drugs come to mind. But becoming irritatin’ or growing a big ass ain’t among them.

We live in a world where folks shop for mates with a gawddamn laundry list of features, like they was buyin’ a car. It’s so dumb. You gotta be compatible o’ course, like I talked before, but the biggest thing is that she can love you, despite knowing what a dick you is, and you can love her despite her third nipple on her forhead. You both gotta love real deeply. If that can happen, you’re halfway there. If you’re together ‘cause you is scared of being alone, or you need someone to fill that Sauron’s pit in yer heart, sorry, but yer is screwed from the start.  

Havin’ said that, love is necessary but insufficient. There’s lots o’ ways you can disagree and be incompatible without it bein’ a deal breaker, but the way you is crazy has gotta be different. When I see folks crash and burn, so often it’s ‘cause they is too alike in the crazy department. Problem is, crazy is drawn to the same kind of crazy, but when you mix it up you end up with two times the crazy and everything goes to hell. The best o’ times and the worst o’ times, but eventually you burn each other out.

Say your crazy is you don’t trust folks. If hers is the same, you got two folks not trusting each other and you can see where that’s gonna go. In the beginning you’ll think you hit the jackpot ‘cause at last someone gets you, but sooner or later all that the mistrust will blow you apart.

But if your crazy is you don’t trust, yet she’s very empathetic and trustin’ but thinks she was probed by aliens in Tofino, she can work with your trust problem and you can buy her tin foil for hats. Nothing’ gets outta hand.

In my case, the missus needs structure and routine, while I need freedom and loose women (So I get one outta two, which ain’t bad). So she holds down a regular job while I spend my days plannin’ practical jokes on her, like that explodin’ frog in her bed.

She brings in a regular wage, an’ I bring in the occasional windfall from the ponies. I also keep the boat shipshape and take care o’ her, includin’ her womanly needs. We is basically best friends who live our lives exactly how we would if we were apart, but choose to spend it together. Not much sacrifice but lots o’ compromise.

That part is critical: you gotta be yer mate’s champion, fightin’ fer her right to live and do as she wants to. You gotta put the other first. And if you both do that, it’s amazin’ what you can accomplish together. But it’s gotta be honest – you can’t give to get. You gotta give without hope o’ gettin’ anythin’ back. Both o’ you.

You gotta give up on the gettin’. Absolutely. You gotta give to yer opposite, and then go about takin’ care of gettin’ for yerself what you need. It ain’t her job to provide anythin’; it ain’t yer job to provide anythin’ either, but you both choose to give, outta love. There’s a big difference between expectations and imposed responsibility vs open and freely giving because you is just crazy about each other.

So everyone takes care o’ their own shit and everyone gives everythin’ to each other, and it’s wunnerful!   

It’s an old sayin’ but true: the more ya give, the more ya get.

So much I seed folks holding back, holdin’ out for the right person, most times based on dumb things like appearance, money, status, tits, worry about crazy, an so forth.  ‘And o’ ‘course them folks end up alone.

Here’s the thing: if all you can draw is really crazy ugly folks, then you’s likely really crazy and ugly too, and if you want somethin’ different better get a good mirror and get to work.

So give up findin’ the perfect person. And give up havin’ one foot out the door. My biggest problem for too long in my marriage was looking at the horizon, imaginin’ what was out there. It was stupid. When I finally smarted up and decided to throw my whole heart into the ring, everythin’ changed. She didn’t stop bein’ the pain in the ass she can be, but I started lovin’ her for bein’ a pain in the ass. I forgave her all her faults and loved her for her human frailties and dumb little tics. She was perfect in her imperfection. I came to adore her. And there’s nothin’ like bein adored to help a woman to flower (and grow a bit of a swollen head, alas, which only proves she’s human).

Point bein’ is that she didn’t change, I did. O’ course I’m ridiculous in me devotion ‘cause she’s probably no better than any other woman, but real love requires you don’t look too close and you keep those rose coloured glasses close at hand.

But that’s the secret to being very happy in a marriage: don’t look too closely and don’t ask too many questions. Because we are all crazy and there’s not much we can do about it. Sure, you can sand off the rough edges in therapy, but we is who we is, more or less, and how we relate is crazy too.

People might look at you like, “Holy Christ, that’s one messed up pile of doo over there,” but it don’t matter if you love and yer happy.  It don’t matter if he wears diapers and she pees on him. It don’t matter if they shoot teddy bears and set grass fires, if they love their time together. Ain’t no one’s business how you make it work.

Buddha was a sailor

There’s an old quote from the children’s books Wind in the willows, often passed around the boat community:

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not.

Often reduced to: There’s nothing half so worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

Never was a phrase so damned true. A kid’s book, but then some of the greatest truths come from kid’s books. I still sleep with Winnie the Pooh under my pillow and I’ll fight anyone who wants to make somethin’ out of it.

After being on boats many, many years – it may be different for folks who have to work on ‘em, as opposed to those who just mess with ‘em – there’s nothing that can compare.

The other day a neighbour in Princess Bay fired up his sailboat’s engine, and listening to that burble of exhaust almost bought a tear to me eye. That’s the sound of freedom, of adventure, of not knowing what the day will bring. Closest thing a landlubber will relate to is firing up an old VW camper for trip down the Baja, and how often does that happen?

With a sailboat you can be going a lousy twenty miles and have more adventure, more risk, and more joy of arrival than that 4,000 km journey across two countries, and no goddamn cops, neither, nor crazy sunsa bitches with guns. When’s the last time you heard of a sailor climbing his mast and shooting up the place?

Stinkpots are less so, of course. You put it in gear, shove the throttle, and try not to hit rocks. That’s pretty much it. No wonder every knucklehead out there drives a stinkpot: my dog could do it. But with a sailboat, nature is in control and you’re forced to work with her, and she got a real dark sense of humour.

Sailing takes, cunning, skill, patience, practice, and balls. The first time your asymmetrical gets hit with a gust from nowhere when you’re close hauled and your 20,000 lb vessel spins around 180 degrees in her own length, while heeling over at 50 degrees, you realize you’re in control of jack shit, and you only make headway when nature feels like it.

You’re like a lizard picking flies off a lion: it’s all great as long as the lion goes along with it, but if it changes it’s mind, lizard poop will be flying. Oh yes, sailin’ keeps you humble.

The one advantage a stinkpot has is way more room for unit length than any sailboat. Stinkpots are made for comfort and dockside swinger parties. Oh sure, you can cruise with them, but be prepared for a second mortgage to pay for the fuel. I talked with one fella who blew over 30 grand in fuel taking his 40’ boat down to Mexico and back. That amount of carbon should help stave off the next ice age.

I’ve never understood how a 30,000 lb boat that you can move by pushing it with a finger burns so much damned fuel, less than 2 miles to the gallon. I had a 24’ RV that weighed 10,000 lbs and you couldn’t move with two guys pushing on it, and yet got ten miles to the gallon. I’m surprised the conspiracy idiots aren’t all over that.

The sea is the last frontier where a fellow can still go where he damned well pleases. No roads, no cops, and no rules that anybody pays attention to, least of stinkpotters. Lots and lots of space, empty space and wilderness with no goddamn bears to rip out your gizzard in the middle of the night. I bloody well hate bears. Every goddamn bear should get a 00 buckshot enema as far as I’m concerned.

Boat life is also great for meditatin’. Being a student of the Zen arts and a certified crystal master, I’ve long sought out enlightenment an’ wisdom among the waves. It’s a natural for those of us with a sensitive disposition that makes our livin’ on the sea. But I got this problem: each and every bloody time I figger I got this bitch called life nailed down, time comes along and shows me to be a complete fool. I thought I had it all figgered out in my twenties. Nope. Again in my forties. Nope. And until recently I thought I had it figgered out as a wise old man of th’ sea. Again, nope.

Now that don’t mean I don’t see things and haven’t got a few points to make, but I now get that there ain’t no one big truth, one final big flash that goes off and then you and the Buddha are clinking beer mugs. If there’s anything I do know now is whatever truth you think you might got is truth for you, right now, and I bet a diamond to a barrel of pig shit, that truth will be traded somewhere down the road.

And what seems so damned obvious to you, might only fit you, and the path only you are on, while if you try to tell it to the next guy, he might look at you like you got a dick growing out of yer ear.

Maybe that’s the problem with movements. Maybe that’s the problem with self help books and seminars: maybe only you can figger out why you’s so squirrely, and followin’ somebody else’s ideas is just a distraction from the crap only you can see and only you can deal with.

For me, boats has helped me on my road to enlightenment. But that’s me. Boats has taught me patience, humility and damned near equanimity. For me wife, they just make her wet her pants and swear like a longshoreman, which don’t help her along her enlightenment path one bit.

Now I ain’t saying there aren’t any big truths: there are, and theys mighty big ones. But I can’t tell them to you; I can only say what pointed me towards ‘em. You gotta find them yourself, and you will as long as you keep lookin’

Afterwards, when we’s old and hoary and laughing at all the stupid shit all those young folks do, we can probably compare notes and agree on some big principles. But we wandered our own paths and ended up at the same place, and that’s not by accident.

But we each gotta find our way there. And screw Deepak, he’s no sailor.

Goodbye to moorage on mooring

The time arrived to leave our mooring this week. I hated to do so, but I’m not complaining. We had a dandy spell of weather this last month, especially after that crapshow of a September: day after day of sunshine warming our solar panels. Couldn’t have asked for a better fall.

Problem is, it weren’t always enough. If the morning started with fog or some high cloud moved in, or the wind blew from the wrong direction we didn’t get enough to top up the batteries. It took a perfect day of wind from the northwest and fully clear skies to completely recharge with these long nights. And that’s the trouble: not only is the sun lower and weaker, it doesn’t even show it’s face above the trees until late in the morning, and it waves goodbye so damned early in the evening.

So like a mouse that moves into your house in the fall, we’ve scurried away to more comfortable demesnes just ahead of the inevitable November storms. And now that we’s on the grid again, I’m suddenly noticing that there was a fair bit of stress out there, monitoring everything, keeping the ship going, so to speak, with little help from shore. Each day started with a look at the sky and the weather forecast, checking the direction of the wind to try and get an idea of how it looked that day for our batteries.

I’d adjust the panels for a best guess if I were leaving for the day, and hope that’s how things would unfold, but weather in Brentwood Bay is a strange girl, and the winds often box the compass, so if you ain’t there to adjust, your 400 watts could drop to 40 in a twinkling, like a first date when you bring up your genital warts. With the sun so low, the panels have to point in the right direction or they’re kinda useless.

Now it ain’t that I don’t got a genset aboard; I do, and it’s a good one. But it eats fuel and so you have to keep the gas coming in for the days when the sun don’t do its duty. Each morning I check the battery levels, decide if it’s gonna need a genset topup, run it for a bit, check remaining fuel, come back at end of day, check batteries again, run genset again if the wind were a dick, get more fuel. I don’t like storing gas aboard so I only use a 10-litre jerry can, which is good for maybe 2-3 good charging cycles.

My battery charger can only do at best 85 amps, and as the batteries charge up that amount drops off. I usually shut ‘er down at 45 amps or so cause after that I’m wasting fuel. She’s usually about 75—80% charged by then, and it takes forever to completely top off. So we’re rarely at full charge.

I could put in a bigger battery bank, but then you gotta run the genset that much longer to recharge, so not much point.

It’s a crazy amount of bullshit to mostly power a fridge, which uses up at least half of our power during the day, (more when it’s warm out, but then we got lots more sun).

And on top of the power issue we also need water. I’m damned proud to say we lasted a full month this time – imagine 2 people living 30 days on 75 litres of water! Showers are for more sociable folk, and besides, with the amount of rum I drink, the stuff comes through my pores, kind like I ooze my own hand sanitizer.

But now that we’s plugged in, life suddenly feels a lot easier: no more watching the weather so close, hauling gas, running gensets, watching how you are using power. And no more diesel furnace for heat. That’s another big one, cause I don’t like burning fuel while the missus and I sleep, so we shut ‘er down at night. And when it gets down to 5 degrees – like it has on several clear nights – it’s damned chilly to get up to. The old lady’s hot flashes keeps our sleeping cabin warm like a potbellied stove, but the temperature in the salon would crack the nuts off a Greek statue. It gets so cold you could warm it by opening the fridge. And it takes a good hour of the furnace running full blast to take the edge off it.

And no there’s no more running back and forth by dinghy. That’s kinda a mixed blessing. After blowing’ your sails out at a party, that last crawl back to the mooring late at night in the rain can be really shitty, especially when you gotta first bail the dinghy! But I love mornings. Everything is still and quiet and while my constitution balks at rising before lunch, the dog’s gotta go, so we pile up and putt towards shore.

That time of the day the Bay is like a mirror, like clouded glass, and there’s birdsong and the shoreline burning all red an yellow leaves in the sunlight just coming over the treetops. Wisps of fog winding around Willis Point. It’s breathtaking.

And there’s the great feeling of leaving it all behind when you cast off from the dock and motor out to your home floating on the water, away from all the troubles and angry crazy people on shore. Out on the bay folks can’t reach you, and even the cops pretty much leave you alone.

Living on a mooring is freedom and it’s solitude, but it can also be lonely. Any kind of physical separation like that also lets you know you’re alone. I guess you can’t have the grace of solitude without it’s bitter partner popping up some days. Like you can’t have love without jealousy. Or herpes.

But despite all the bitchin’ from shore about us having it too easy out there, those folks don’t know how good they got it, and the sacrifices we gotta make living on the water. It feels so glorious to just be able to turn on something without worryin’ about power. I used to hate the old woman ferritin’ around in the fridge lookin’ for her string cheese, the damn door hanging open so long it were like she were prayin’ to it, down on her knees joints all cracking and popping. I’d give her hell, but she never listens to me, she don’t care, cause she ain’t the one gotta replace those watts she’s letting spill out all over the galley floor.

Worst was the gawd-damned microwave. Every time she fired it up, I gritted my teeth, imagining that 80 amp draw sucking the ship’s blood like a vampire, or liver fluke. But I don’t dare say anything, cause she already puts up a lot to be out here, including me, and she loves her damned microwave.

With us plugged in, she can fall asleep with her head in the lettuce crisper for all I care, and genetically-modify our meals to her heart’s content. I can leave the baseboard heaters runnin’ day and night and don’t have to get up to a room that feels like witch’s breath in the morning.

And so much easy water! When I pee in the sink I can let the tap run as much as I please, since an unlimited supply of water is just a hose bib away on the dock beside us. With so much water at hand I’d love to rip out one of our showers and install a little tub, so I could soak as long as I wanted, with all them wonderful scented bubbles, instead of always having to go up to the marina’s hot tub for my weekly bath. Just last week I caught hell from this old biddy cause she didn’t like me filing off my foot callouses in the water, a chore I’m only taking on cause the old lady complained my feet were so like sharkskin I’d half rip the skin off her legs while we were sleepin.

But being a gentleman I offered to share, pointing out the substantial horn on her own gnarly feet, and after a moment’s thought she agreed, and I passed the file over. I think I underestimated the old girl’s need though, because after a long while of vigorous, frothy scrubbing, the water got a bit cloudy and even seemed to thicken, bringing to mind porridge. That was a bit much even for me, and I vamoosed.

People on shore is strange folks for sure, but they got it easy.

Thief in our midst

Although as a group, those of us out here on the bay might be a little more independent and ornery than your average soft landlubber, with their long moist fingers and duvets, but aside from that we’re just like folks everywhere else: mostly good, a few less so, some rich, some poor, some sensitive, some assholes.

Unfortunately, that also means we have to deal with problem individuals, just like any neighbourhood. There ain’t many out here, but it only takes a few to have the whole shore assuming we’re all the same breed of rabble, ‘cause people do crap thinking like that.

I’ve had a couple of things jacked from the dock where we moor our dinghy, little things like a new folding cart and an old extension cord. Annoying, but hardly worth raising the militia over. I had my suspicions as to who was the arsehole responsible, and recently my theory was confirmed when I saw the cart in his dinghy, moored at the public dock.

That bugger is a mess, and if he didn’t have some kind of scow to live on I’d bet my right nut he’d be homeless. He looks homeless, and clearly has has a few blown poppets in his noggin . But other than a shabby appearance and strange behaviour – he talks to himself a lot –  I know nothing about him, don’t know his story. But gawd, he’s fallen as low as a man can fall. Even his so-called dinghy looks like shit smells. It might have been a boat once, now it looks like a patched, scabby shell, impossible to tell exactly what type it was many, many hard years ago.

I saw it tied up at the public dock. Bags of bottles and cans lying there atop my cart. Oh well, the guy need the cart more than I did and with winter coming on, maybe he needed my crappy old cord for a heater or something. Live and let live.

But that dinghy. What bothered me was a newish 9.9 outboard hanging off it, and you have to ask, how does a next-to-homeless guy who collects tossed beer cans afford a $2000 motor?

And what to do about it?

It would be easy enough to find out: call the cops, they check the serial number and find out if it’s stolen, which it likely is. They arrest him and somebody gets their outboard back.

I know what that feels like – I had a near new inflatable dinghy and outboard stolen from that same dock, and it felt like a kick to the balls.

But here’s the rub for me. This guy lives on the bottom because the world doesn’t give a shit. Not because we don’t have the resources, not because the wealth isn’t out there, but because we are loathe to help people, and the worse off they are, the more we hate ’em. I saw a meme recently that said something along the lines of poverty exists not because we can’t help the poor, but that we can’t satisfy the demands of the rich. That’s about right

And someone in this guy’s place simply can’t live on what the government gives him, so he steals. It’s very different from the professional thief who steals for a living – this bro steals to get by. One look at him and his junk and you know he’s just scraping along.

But he broke the law, and like all of those of his ilk, he’s an easy target for justice to fall on him like a ton of bricks. An overpoliced population, far, far more of these guys see the inside of a cell compared to those with money – witness the shitshow happening in Vancouver, where the wealthy have been moving massive sums of illegal cash around for years, through casinos and real estate. They destroyed the lower mainland as a living option for tens of thousands of folks, all within plain view of the government. Those rich bastards go free while we scrape the streets of homeless for petty crimes.

The problem is that since we don’t provide enough to live a decent life, guys like my thief often make up the difference by jacking the assets of a few, who are understandably pissed that they as individuals pay the price for an entire province not giving a damn.

But hell, I would do the same. We all would. If I’m too messed up to provide for myself, and I’m not provided with enough resources to stay alive by others, I will do what I have to do, and to hell with your morality as you sit in judgment from your warm, cosy middle class home.

There’s honestly no right answer here. Average people have a right to not have their crap jacked. People who’s lives are the shit on society’s boots have a right to live. Maybe if someone gave the guy a lousy old 1975 Mercury he wouldn’t have stolen this motor (if he actually did, again we don’t know this yet). His dinghy has no remaining gunnel and has no oarlocks nor place for oarlocks, so rowing ain’t an option. Though he would likely have to steal the oars.

This problem of inequality was further shoved into my face during a recent trip to Vancouver: I was minding my business over coffee, and this homeless dude hits me up for food and hostel fees. No spare change request, he looked me in the eye and let me know he needed something more, like food and shelter. How the hell do you say no to that? I bought him a BBQ chicken from the grocery (his choice) and handed him a 20.

I felt like shit.

Maybe others would have felt good about helping this dude, but I just felt ashamed. I felt ashamed that we live in a world of homeless people living in the shadow of 10 million dollar condos. I felt ashamed of how easy my life is while this guy had to beg for food. I felt ashamed that I had no plans to distribute 30 bucks to the homeless that day but that it took some guy shoving himself in my face before I felt the need to respond. I felt ashamed that despite my giving, I had accomplished not a damn thing except maybe gave a little lift to the guy’s shitty day.

He was a pretty ugly mirror, showing me what I, and people like me, had done with the world. On one hand it wasn’t my fault, but on the other hand it sure as hell was. It’s all of our fault and yeah, we should feel ashamed.

So I’m at a standstill about what to do with the thief in our midst. I know most would just like to toss him in the can, but maybe all that shows is a lack of compassion or a higher faith in the law than I have.  A quick glance at social media shows that with the homeless, most people would like to run them off with pitchforks and torches than deal with the issues they shove into our faces, which are so much bigger.

In Praise of Idiocy

After a lot of thought, I’ve decided to go StooPid. That’s right, dumb as a bag of hammers, as a flattened beer can on the side of the road. And yes, I’m aware of the irony. You see, all of my life I’ve appreciated being kinda smart. Even in high school while the big strong kids were kicking the crap out of me, I found solace that I had read The Autobiography of Malcom X by the time I was ten. They could pop my head between their thighs like a zit but I knew that actually removing my skull was an impossibility, due to the lack of fulcrum between their crotches and my neck. There was power in that.

After I escaped high school, I found intelligence and advanced education helped propel me far beyond the meathead crowd, my wit and keen analyses keeping me one step ahead in most social intercourse. To tell the truth I was pretty damn proud of it.

But as life piles up over the years, seeming more and more like the 401 during a whiteout, it has come to me that it’s all a hella lot of BS. Like I told someone recently: I thought I had it figgered out but now I know I’m fulla shit.

That’s the thing: all we know seems so damn contingent. Even with a billion Libraries of Alexander available to us online, we still don’t know shit, at least not in any meaningful sense. Years back I planned to write a self help book because I had discovered some pretty big life secrets I desired to share with the world, secrets to help others live the life of riley I had discovered. A decade later and I realize:

1) The world couldn’t care less about what’s in my mind, especially if they have to pay for it. I could have written down the secret to world peace, but if it cost $15, folks would rather buy a knockoff Fleshlight from AliExpress.

2) What seemed so obvious from that juncture, the derivative of that point on my life’s arc, seems now like so much horseshit. So anything I say now, any grand conclusions I might make about life and the meaning of the universe, will no doubt seem equally ridiculous ten years hence. We all look stupid in the rear view mirror, so why prove it by writing it down and making it public?

So much for wisdom and age. The other reason I plan on embracing my inner Neanderthal is that by and large, smarts hasn’t really served me that well, not beyond making a little money. Although being smart might give you more social status over the stupid, it isn’t worth the cost. I’ve had a fair number of smart friends (a lot more with thick skulls but can you blame a guy for wanting to be the brightest spark in the group?) and by and large they were a melancholy, even miserable lot.

You see, by and large the world is run by idiots. Many of them are clever idiots, but where it really counts their intelligence is swamped with blinders bigger than Trump’s ego. Stephen Harper had a master’s degree and yet the guy couldn’t see past his anger and hate. Slap a smart child around and you get a monster.

Anyway, unlike so many of the great unwashed, those who’s greatest life goals are being able to afford buying a new RAM pickup while climate change burns the planet to the ground, smart folks see all the bullshit around them, and yet feel powerless to stop the much more numerous morons or spiritually dead smart assholes driving towards various cliffs with a brick on the gas pedal while everyone around them cheers.

Actually understanding things while so many have their heads up their asses is no fun.

It doesn’t help that the Dunning-Kruger effect means that those with the greatest echoes in their brainpans are convinced of their intellectual superiority, never mind that the last thing they read was something in Farmville 3 years ago. At the least I can point to 10 years university and being an insatiable consumer of the written word to justify my opinions. Not that it helps much.

And on a more personal note, when it comes to even deeper, interior issues, understanding is once again not a lot of help. Socrates supposedly uttered the maxim that, the unexamined life is not worth living, but Socrates was fulla shit. He might have enjoyed his analyses, was fascinated by what he saw and thought he understood about life, the universe and everything, but I suspect if you got him drunk enough he’d admit it was all hooey and in the end all that learning didn’t make a rat’s ass difference, other than get him killed.

The problem is our biggest concerns are rarely those of information, rationality and knowledge, but those of character and personality and unconscious biases. Even free will is under suspicion as we now know that we make decisions before we are even aware of it, using programmed unconscious processes rather than our much ballyhooed prefrontal cortex, the latter kicking in to simply justify a conclusion that has more to do with how harshly we were toilet trained than anything else.

Knowing I’m a misanthrope doesn’t change the fact of being a misanthrope. Knowing the history of misanthropy, the ontology of it, other famous misanthropes, the prognosis and even possible treatments for misanthropy still leaves you a misanthrope. All that information, all that thinking, and you still pray for the asteroid to wipe out the planet.

Ultimately since you can’t beat the good ol’ boy who’s life’s apogee is shoving a record 3 Coors cans up his ass, you might as well join him in his happy delusions. You can bet he doesn’t worry about climate change, the rise of the far right, extremist governments, drug resistant TB, or rape culture. The simple fact is idiots are happier. Ignorance is bliss as the old saw goes. I’ve witnessed people decline with age, going from grumpy angry judgemental old buggers to smiling pleasant objects, once they forgot why they were so pissed. In that context, losing one’s mind really doesn’t look so bad.

I think this is ultimately behind the Buddhist ideas of stillness and monkey mind. Want to be happy? Shut it down. Shut down the analyses, shut down the judgements, shut down the fear. Choose equanimity (a feel-good word for voluntary self lobotomy).

I still have my opinions and beliefs, but I’m working on eliminating those as well. And if there’s anything I’ve truly learned over all these years is that 90% of what passes for modern life is merely a distraction from being screwed by our betters, which is in itself a distraction from the ultimate pointlessness of existence. I know that sounds a bit harsh, but one of the consequences of deep thinking is that when you parse what usually gets our titties in a tangle –both the good and the bad – you can’t help but come to the conclusion that it really is a whole lot of insignificant horseshit.

It’s all so ridiculous, but we’re here and it’s a whole lot easier to get through life pretending, rather than hunched over staring at the void in its bloodshot, shifty eye. And pretending is a lot easier when you stop thinking.

Go Trump.

The Bay in a Snit

There is probably no more acrimonious topic than liveaboards on public waters among the landlubber set, and as a long-term liveaboard, I’ve watched it heat up again: the teeth gnashing, finger pointing, and by god outrage clogging social media and the courts, without a lot of facts to back up polarized positions.

But there’s no getting around it – the landed gentry occupying valuable shoreline property have long held a very jaundiced view of people living on boats; nothing sets mutton-chop whiskers atremble as much as an off-key rendering of Barrett’s Privateers echoing from a half-sunk Tollycraft moored with old clothesline to a floating bleach jug, especially when accompanied by the sounds of another beer being cracked and a head flushing.

Consequently, with increasing frequency, these landlubber pearl clutchers seek to restrict waterway access to mariners (live ammunition being banned as spent .303 Lee-Enfield rounds are bad for the ducks).

I feel that these incursions onto federal jurisdiction should raise concerns to all mariners whether you liveaboard or not. They represent a gentrification of the sea where the wants of landed aristocracy override the timeless tradition and need for noble mariners to go where they damned well need to go when they damn well need to go there.

How this is happening is a complex intersection of local politics and competing federal and provincial jurisdictions. A byzantine arrangement only a tad less functional than the US Congress.

Along the BC coast, the Feds long ago divested itself of authority over the seabed to the province (paid for by a case of rotgut whiskey, old John A MacDonald not being too particular), while retaining it over the water column. So, for example, if you were to drop a mooring buoy, the buoy itself must adhere to all federal laws, but the anchor block is resting on provincial mud.

Technically you’re trespassing, but unless oil or Spanish loot is discovered under your block, officials prefer to look the other way, not least due to the mariner’s reputation for pig-headedness, irascibility, and not infrequent violent intoxication. Who really has final jurisdiction over that mooring is part of an ongoing debate that the two levels of government would prefer to ignore.

And that’s where local governments are beginning to venture, pursued over a legal cliff by legions of angry rich people, with their servants bearing pitchforks. Efforts are being made up and down the coast to acquire authority over numerous harbours from the province. This is done with a License Of Occupation (otherwise known as a LOO, to where, in my opinion, all such applications should be deposited).

In a LOO, a community submits a detailed plan to the Ministry of Burning Forest Lands and Last Gasp Natural Resource Operations outlining the details of the area they wish for control over and why, and what they plan to do for those already enjoying the resource.

Under the previous provincial government, who’s preferred engagement with the great unwashed was limited to hanging trussed citizens over crocodile pits, these applications were routinely awarded.

Once local authority is granted, a municipality can pass bylaws restricting anchoring, mooring, liveaboards, and the use of live ammo (to hell with the ducks).

Some cities such as Nanaimo have opted for a gentle touch, only wishing to deal with derelicts and abandoned boats, and let the marine community continue to support the local grow-ops and brewing industry. Others such as Port Moody and Victoria have opted to sweep all and sundry away, clearing their waterfronts with more alacrity than the British at Dunkirk.

Because of inaction by the Feds, derelict and abandoned boats are a real plague to some waterfront communities, not least because not a few eventually end up on shore or down in Davey Jones’ locker. It’s hard on the oxygen tank crowd to wake up after a storm thinking the Huns have at last made the long-feared retaliatory landing below their waterfront balconies. But there is a nasty side to it as well.

There remains a deep antipathy towards mariners perceived to be getting something for free. Nothing raises the hackles of the petit-bourgeois than sharing the view with someone paying nada for the same privilege. A few pretty sailboats on a sunny day might be bucolic; a flotilla of moored vessels is an excuse to start bribing local councillors.

But class prejudice does not make sympathetic headlines, and so often faux environmental concerns are used as a proxy, because, of course, everybody except Victoria hates poop on their beaches.

These concerns aren’t based on measured evidence but prejudicial complaints of shoreline residents. A case in point was the City of Victoria’s recent sweep of the Gorge Waterway, where perhaps a dozen boats were moored, some of which were liveaboards. Complaints swamped city hall, to the extent that the city fathers purportedly considered a shelling by the town’s noonday howitzer to restore peace to the area (whether the target would be the boats or the complaining properties is unknown). Their lawyers convinced them to opt for a LOO instead.

Subsequent to the burning and razing of the offending boats (Victoria’s second maritime battle, the first being a Hudson’s Bay cannonball fired after a canoe of Songhee warriors that had stolen a set of copper pots in 1857), it was discovered that several waterfront homes were happily oozing excrement into the gorge at such a level that a planned public swim was cancelled (a swim that was planned, ironically, to celebrate the clean up of the Gorge).

The current battleground between shoreline aristocracy and mariners is unfolding in Brentwood Bay. Brentwood Bay is a mariner’s haven: sheltered on three sides by hills and mountains and with waters warming to swimming temperatures in the summer, the bay is a draw to cruisers, liveaboards, and other such terrorists.

The monocled and pith-helmeted crowd on shore, never having quite recovered from the loss of India in ’47, decided they would retreat no further and engaged the city to wrest control of the bay from the province.

To be fair, there is a notorious history of unscrupulous individuals abandoning derelicts in the bay. Until recently, the federal government refused to deal with these, and so local individuals were forced to fundraise to pay to have this junk hauled away themselves.

That there remain certain vessels that, from shore at least, appear to be on the verge of same, understandably raises collective blood pressure. In the fall of 2017, one boat sank and another came close to sinking, but unlike in previous years, the Coast Guard quickly removed both.

But that does little to assuage the loquacious and iron-sphinctered who loathe the very idea of free anchoring or moorage, and wish the bay for their exclusive use (a few pretty sailboats would be okay, ditto for the legions of bikini-clad paddleboarders who blossom like bindweed flowers every sunny summer morning on the bay).

As in other jurisdictions, poop is the primary ammunition, especially given the presence of a dozen or so liveaboards who call the bay their home.

But that argument seems specious when water testing done by the Capital Regional District shows that the stormwater outflow into the bay is little more than a town’s anus, with E. coli at times off the scale, something the city and the neighbourhood prefer to quietly ignore. While liveaboards crapping in the bay justifies a major naval action, each major rainfall is like a giant toilet flushing, apparently with everyone’s blessing. It would seem that landlubber poop is of much higher quality.

How successful these LOO applications are to removing boats and mariners depends a lot on the ability of those affected to organise. In Nanaimo Harbour the marine community fought back until both sides came to an uneasy armistice, not unlike the jealously-guarded border between the two Koreas.

In areas like Bowen Island and Port Moody, this organisation was absent, and their maritime communities disappeared faster than an affordable apartment in Vancouver.

It remains to be seen how things pan out in Brentwood Bay. There are a couple dozen more or less sober liveaboards vigorously fighting the city. To the city’s endless consternation, these brave souls organized a legal union, the Brentwood Bay Marine Community Society, which then applied to the province for their own, competing LOO, right under the city’s nose. One can imagine the toupees spinning off at city hall when news of that got out.

But it’s a mess all right. And it should be remembered that the greatest blame for all this rancour rightly falls on the Feds, who have long ignored their responsibility, preferring to focus on extirpating that pesky Pacific salmon playing havoc with fish farm expansion. This has resulted in a patchwork of local responses that more often than not simply take away mariner’s long-cherished rights. The new action by the Coast Guard in removing old wrecks is welcome, but the question everyone is asking is: how long will it last?

But the province is not without blame, as they could easy establish a fair regime for the entire coast that deals with the worst offenders and preserves mariner’s rights. But like the worm being fought over by a pair of hungry chickens, the solution crawls away unobserved, leaving them behind to fight it out.

Love, Eddy.



Getting cold out here

Things have really quietened down on the bay the last few weeks; most of the boaters that visit our marinas are moored to their home docks until next year, paddle boarders and kayaks have become infrequent. Many have abandoned their moorings for docks, or those who have other homes have moved ashore for the season. A few diehards like my wife and myself have stuck it out despite a rather appalling cold beginning to autumn.

Compared to the frantic hustle just a month ago, it’s rare to hear the burr of an outboard these days, or the splash of a paddle.

It’s not surprising given how cold it has been that most have fled, although I know of one poor soul who doesn’t have adequate heat aboard but also doesn’t have the money to pay for moorage for their vessel. They work, but a sudden demand for money for vehicle repairs has left them short. Wondering how we can help.

As I write this, the clouds are so thick and low you’d swear they’d snag in the mast of a sailboat. The bay covered in a wet diaper. It has rained all day, the constant hopeless kind of cold drizzle we more associate with January than the first week of October. The sea is nacreous and absurdly flat, with hardly a ripple aside from the shattering rain.

Our genset is getting a good workout. We try to moor from March to November, but beyond that the math just doesn’t work. We can deal with the adventure/discomfort of working to and from shore in the tempest, but with the decline of sunlight that comes with the equinox and foul weather, our solar panels are insufficient to provide enough power, especially for our (power smart!) fridge. As we increasingly rely on expensive gasoline to keep things running, combined with the cost to moor our dinghy, after awhile it makes more sense to just flee to a dock. As an aside, its seems crazy that 90% of our energy budget is used up by this silly fridge, which is fairly small for a full size, and is supposedly as energy efficient as it gets. When it runs it sucks 16 amps out of the batteries (200 watts), while a typical sailboat Norcold unit pulls 4 (50 watts).

Statistically, November is the stormiest month, and that also compels my dear wife request we find more secure moorings. We are pretty sheltered in the Bay, but it can still blow above 30 knots, which makes for a noisy, uncomfortable night, as it seems such storms usually arrive in the wee hours. And my little dog hates any drama. Just the sound of today’s rain is making her shake like she’s pooping broken glass. Seriously.

On a good sunny day, however, it’s still possible this time of year to harvest over 220AH of power, despite the lowering sun. Those are the spectacular, postcard days when the cockpit reaches over 20C, the sun sparkles off the NW chop and the maple reds and fir greens glow luminous on shore.

I’ve just started this blog, and not sure how it will go. My last blog lasted almost ten years and I was getting well over 1000 hits/day on it, but I got tired of it. As a writer there’s something self-defeating in producing free content, but not producing also limits expression, which is what my kind of writing is all about. Living on the water means there’s never a dull day, and no shortage of things to contemplate on. Just today we were visited by a family of 3 otters, that climbed up on our swim transom. They were wary, but the creator never gifted them with eyes on top of their heads, and they were oblivious to us delighted observers peering down as they anxiously watched a passing dinghy.

Unbeknownst to most on shore there’s a surfeit of galley rumours and outright shenanigans going on out here, although the place has definitely quieted down the last while.

Hardly a body shows up on shore anymore.