Sunday, September 28, 2008


One thing we've discovered on this shakedown cruise, is how ill-prepared we are to feed ourselves. We bought a great little Crab King coil away flexible crab ring that we throw over the side of the boat. If there be crabs in the waters, this thing will get 'em. Unlike the more professional pots you drop for hours or overnight in which the crab get caught, this is immediate gratification. We only left it down for a few minutes at a time. Buy one here for just $40 and be ready for next year. We used cockles and pork for bait, but I've heard they like chicken too. Isn't that weird? Crab like chicken. Poor chickens! Seems everything likes chicken.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


(Click to enlarge)

That is our track! We've traveled for 66 days and 512 nautical miles, and reached our northernmost point of Telegraph Harbour, but the adventure continues. The seeds of the flotilla have been planted and left to gestate in a few individuals in our wake. Currently we are in Montague Harbour Provincial Marine Park on Galiano Island, waiting out some rainy weather and catching up on stuff.

After Reid Harbor, Stuart Island,
we had some business to take care of including securing unlimited data from Sprint while in Canada, (crucial to keeping our costs down and staying connected) and reducing our substantial liquor stores (silly us, stocking up on fruits and liquor on our way into Canada--Doh!) so we cruised back to San Juan Island for a full-service-yachtie-style stay in Roche Harbor. After a night on the hook, we indulged in a night at the marina, where there are cute young line handlers to catch your boat, 15, 30 or 50 amp power, delicious water, garbage bins at your slip, laundry, showers, ice cream, and even a post office on the dock! Once again we were just another midsized sailboat in big mess of fancy motor yachts... though in our hearts we're still Scotty's Great Dane!

The best part of Roche Harbor was the marvelous sculpture park just a short walk from the marina. Westcott Bay Sculpture Park boasts 115 pieces scattered over 19 acres of ponds, woods and meadows.

(Three Frogs and an Otter by Georgia Gerber. Photo by SKR)

The pieces range from conceptual to representational, from interactive to abstract, functional to found, and materials include marble, steel, bronze, granite, aluminum, glass, redwood, fabric... you name it, there is something for everyone. Many were truly breathtaking.

And best of all, like the Treasure Chest on Stuart where we purchased T-shirts and post cards, the Sculpture Park is on the honor system. You pay $5 at a self serve gate. They have a gate counter, and I suspect they've found that most people pay, and those who don't are welcome anyway. Art should be available to everyone whether
or not they have money and whether or not they value it enough to give up a few dollars. I love the honor system! I think if you give people the choice to do the right thing, they will if they are able. Or at least I like to believe people are honorable. Naive? Optimistic? A sucker? Maybe. I guess I'd rather be naive than cynical and pessimistic.

(That's me contemplating honor way off in the distance. Photo by SKR)

After Roche, we passed customs in Bedwell Harbour, but found Poet's Cove Marina a bit too chic (we'd had our fill at Roche) so we motored around to Port Browning for a night. Then it was on to the highly recommended town of Ganges on Salt Spring Island. We hit the famed Saturday Farmer's Market, watched a wonderful street performer from Ghana, and kayaked about. We started to land our kayaks on Goat Island to have a wee pee and a poke around, when a Park Ranger-type person pulled up in an official-looking inflatable and informed us that they weren't "encouraging people to land on the island." This has been our only brush with Canadian law enforcement. Much like the honor system, their approach offered us the opportunity for right action, which we promptly took.

We also met a delightful, creative couple in Ganges aboard the ferrocement ketch, English Rose. We all hit it off swimmingly and decided to buddy boat about a bit. We aimed our collective 54 tonnes out of Ganges Harbour and circled Portland Island without finding safe anchorage to accommodate both our vessels. Ultimately we ended up in Genoa Bay where we had a raft up, dinner, and fun on the spacious and comfortable English Rose.

From there we continued north to Telegraph Harbour which separates Thetis and Kuper Islands. The marina, which is supremely down-home and laid back was only slightly unprofessional. Larry and Nancy of Jacari Maru (whom we met in Cornet Bay a few weeks back) saved a slip for us. We spent the evening tale swapping and Irish Whiskey sipping.

We also met some young upstart technomads, Adam and Brittany on their 26' Coronado sailboat. Adam gave us a tip about shopping that's not in the guidebooks. He sent us to the tail end of the harbour near the boat ramp, up and across the street to a fruit and vegetable stand with fresh eggs, jams, honey, baked goods, and dairy products. The entire stand was on the honor system! Completely unattended. There were pictures and news clippings about the family that owns it and provides the goods. I loved this. We stocked up and saved ourselves a ferry ride to Chamainus where we had planned to get groceried up.

Later that evening we kayaked through what they call "The Cut" a narrow shoaling channel between the Thetis and Kuper that connect Telegraph Harbour to Clam Bay. The current dumped us out into the Bay where we paddled along Kuper's shore. It appeared mysteriously uninhabited, and though quite beautiful, somewhat dark. I felt an unsettled vibe.

Once back to our net connection, courtesy of the Thetis Marina, I did a touch of research and found that the island has a history of over a hundred years of cultural abuse to native children. Salish children from all over the region were taken from their families and deposited in the
Kuper Island Indian Residential School run by the Roman Catholic church. The claimed purpose of the "school" was to teach English and assimilate them into European culture. In essence they sought to destroy the language and culture of the people. This "school" evidently taught very little; as in other similar residential schools abuse and neglect were common. Like much of the European impact on the First Peoples, the history of Kuper Island was ugly and included the destruction of villages and the usual relocation of the people against their will.

about 300 of the Penelakut Tribe now live on Kuper. The island is serviced by a ferry to Chemainus. The Hul' qumi' Num Treaty Group, represents a collection of six nations from the region, and over 6,200 members. Their work aims, among other things, to improve conditions and increase cooperation in the planning and management of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Their struggle echoes the struggle of indigenous peoples everywhere. From their website:
We have a vision of regaining control over our own destinies, allowing for strong, healthy communities for generations to come. Achieving this vision of reconciliation and a just resolution of our aboriginal title and rights within our territory will benefit the Hul'qumi'num people and indeed all Canadians. We stand firmly united in our conviction to negotiate a fair and honourable treaty — one that will enable our Hul'qumi'num communities to restore our historical prosperity and to ensure that our distinctive culture will flourish into the future.
And while it delights me to see so many instances of the honor system at work in these islands, it angers me to think about how dishonorable our ancestors have been with natives they encountered here. I never cease to be amazed at the grace resilience, and goodwill of native peoples I encounter.

I, for one, relish the small opportunities to be honorable. In return I wish to offer others this opportunity. Perhaps honoring and being honorable are key steps in the revolution of the heart that will begin to heal generations of wounds and the residual guilt associated with these dishonorable actions. We all know what is honorable and what is not. Those of us from fear dominated and untrusting cultures must make the effort to relearn to trust, and when given the chance, to practice what the Buddhists call "right action."

Midnight Oil said it well in the song, Beds Are Burning.

The time has come
To say fair's fair

To pay the rent

To pay our share

The time has come
A fact's a fact
It belongs to them
Let's give it back!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Horizontal and Vertical Travels

Our pace on Nomadness is not one of rushing from place to place, but rather the pace of introspection. We spend a day sailing (Friday Harbor to Stuart Island was idyllic) or motoring, and then anchor for a few days, puttering about in kayaks or hiking. I bake things. Steve does projects. We play our flutes. We enjoy where we are.

So, although we haven't gone far horizontally, we go deep vertically. Years ago, Sam Smiley, a former professor and writing mentor, spoke of analyzing films based on the horizontal and vertical axes. The horizontal axis being what happens, the action and events of a film. The vertical axis being the depth of character, feeling, and/or impact on the viewer in a film. Great films move along a horizontal axis but have enough depth to make us care about the characters, perhaps identify with their dilemmas and maybe even impact our lives, or deepen our understanding. I grasped this concept and immediately began applying it to my life in general.

On Stuart Island we walked to the light house to watch boats pass as they struggled in the rips off Turn Point. This is the schooner Martha under full sail. Martha is a historic schooner offering youth training programs and more. What a sight she was! Later she anchored in Reid Harbor with us where we got a close look.

We listened in on the whale watch captains on the radio. They try to keep the frequency a secret, but with a hammy geek on board and several radios, we figured it out by receiving on one radio while transmitting tests on another until we hit it. The orcas were evidently near, though precisely where, was difficult to discern from the captains use of code words. So though we didn't catch a glimpse, it was exciting to eavesdrop on the chatter about J2, the lone unidentified male and the group of females feeding and frolicking in the nearby waters. Eventually, we are bound to see or hear them. Steve has a hydrophone on board. We are ready!

On the way back from Turn Point we bought touristy but quaint T-shirts from the honor system treasure chest the islanders set up to raise money for the school kids. You take what you want and mail in payment later. I only wish everyplace was as trusting and open as this. Here I am at the tiny little library.

So, Nomadness travels both the horizontal axis and the vertical axis making a track both across the map and deepening our character with experience. In fact, I've had to reassess my prejudice against powerboaters (formerly considered inconsiderate and wasteful) as we continue to meet interesting, conscientious folks on powerboats like Larry and Nancy on the trawler, Jacari Maru whom we hope to rendez-vous with in the Gulf Islands. They were a wealth of friendly knowledge and gave us lots of advice on the best spots to anchor in the Gulfs, where to get free wifi access, good grocery stores, farmers markets etc. It is always useful to see my own prejudices dissolve leaving greater tolerance in its track.

Speaking of tracks, if you'd like to follow our progress (on the horizotal plane) check out our APRS track. Well be heading into Canada soon, and once we do, postings will be limited since we will get "roaming" charges. (Shouldn't roaming be free and encouraged for all? )Heck we're already seeing roaming charges, and we're still in the USA! But with amateur radio nuts everywhere our little tracker signal should get bounced out into the net for you to see.

As for the vertical plane... well, there is no tracker that can follow us into those realms. We'll just have to see where this journey will lead.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Time (San Juan Islands)

this time
tick tock
my heart
like water on a rock
hush rush rush
into the unknown
my blood
flowing home
with the moon
water rises
I fall
to sleep
for another thousand years
turn to stone
grind in the wind
and wash away again
to the sea
another day
the sun rises
and all of us
(the stuff of stars)
recognize light
when we see it
tick tock tick tock
water on rock...

(My dear friend Polydora posted a lovely (un)poem about time on her blog. This bit came after a day of hiking and paddling Stuart Island, marveling at the geology and rock formations, taking impressions. Then, I read her poem while at anchor in Roche Harbor, and excreted this.)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

poem for a sailor

half moon over friday harbor

a love that's full and by
sweet peachcake kisses
beneath a milky sky
a close hauled heart
has no need of charts
to navigate home
come morning
we will sail again

wing and wing
or on a reach
or scudding
cross the border

land a foreign
inner beach

treasures await us
both to starboard
and to port
come crazy sailor
cast off your mooring lines
come come
hoist your heart on high
wrap yourself in rum
and foggy red red wine
strip yourself of worries
come if you dare
come if you care
come let's make lore

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I witnessed this young couple and recognized myself in their behavior. Sometimes I can see unfavorable qualities in others that I do not want to acknowledge in myself. I offer this short video for the enlightenment of your own nature.