Saturday, July 26, 2014

Coal Harbour to Nanaimo

Well, I almost decided it was too much  work to go all the way to Nanaimo with only the weekend. It’s 30 miles from Vancouver and 5 to 6 hours crossing time. I woke this morning at  6 am after a great sleep in the boat.  Gilbert thought it was time to lick my face. Having been to the spa he’s lost his hair so cuddled the night beside in the warmth of the bed. When he’s got his long hair he starts the night beside me but quickly goes to lie on the floor.  I love the smell of coffee and sea air.
Sitting in the cockpit I watched one of my neighbours readying to go out. He was an inspiration. I thought A&W egg sausage would be a good thing with Gilbert having a chance for a walk before we left, if we left.  Damn there was my friend heading out on his boat.  Now that’s a whole lot of inspiration.
Gilbert did his business. We had breakfast at A&W, another coffee, orange juice, egg and sausage and hash browns. They make the tastiest sausages which Gilbert loves though he prefers the burger at MacDonald’s.  It was a good leisurely breakfast and a nice leisurely walk.
A truly beautiful day.  Blue sky, billowing white clouds way off to the side.  Sunshine, glorious sunshine.  I filled the water tank having used up some with the morning shower.  Then it was disconnecting the electricity. I checked the oil level on the engine. It was good.  I started the Volvo Penta, a marvellous growl then that blessed purr.  The exhaust water was spitting out with the right volume at the back.  I got Gilbert into his life jacket then go on the dock to un tie the dock lines.  Back on the boat I steered into the channel.
It was an ebb tide. With 4 knots behind me and the motor running at 2500 rpm I was across the 5 miles of Coal Harbour in a little over a half hour.  Once I was under Lions Gate Bridge I was free. Lots of boats out on the water.  Fishing boats. Sailboat.  Not many sails up because the winds was only 6 knots.  Tom had fixed the wind speed indicator for me when we installed the new radio. Only a matter of a mis wiring but now I’ve got a windspeed indicator again.  Right now it’s 8 knots but some of that is from my forward speed.

We’re half way across Georgia Striat. I’ve not put up the sails because the wind was on my nose most of the way. Now it’s moved around to where I could actually sail on a close haul and stay pretty much on track.  The Volvo sounds so nice right now and I really do want to get the 50 hours in so I can have Stem to Stern check it out after it’s been broken in.  Right now I’ve got 27 hours on it.   Nanaimo is somewhere up there.  I think I’ll have to adjust the autopilot and maybe plot my position.  I’m pretty sure the dip in  the hills I’m looking at is Nanaimo but it just might be Porlier.  I’m kind of navigating by the seat of my pants.  Averaging about 6.2 know a lll the way so far with the adjustments of speed to help break the engine in.
Gilbert is sleeping on a blanket and cushion under the chair. He follows me wherever I go.  If I go into the cabin he’s right behind me. If I go to the bow I turn around and little guy is there to make sure I’m not leaving him behind.  He’s a funny little guy.  Great companion.
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Friday Afternoon Sailing

Paul, John, Jeffrey and Karen were the all for escaping Vancouver and enjoying English Bay.  In the end Karen and Gilbert made it out on the bay for the few hours.  Winds were even lighter than the Friday before and without the Jeffrey, Tom and Carter to manage the sales I just motored to the glorious sound of my new Volvo Penta iron jenny. We anchored off Kits beach. Karen wanted  a photo to send to her maritime family.  Being maritimers they get concerned  when the mermaids are too long on shore.  “I grew up down the street from the yacht club. Everyone owns a boat where I come from.  We were always out on the water.”
She arrived wearing white, not realizing my ‘yacht’ is more of a working boat and a perpetual beloved scow in process.  After busting the mass on the way back from Hawaii, I’ve had  welding, the cabin torn out and put back in, new autopilot and major electrical improvements and just recently the new motor.
“When my wife I were first on this boat I had visions of blue blazers and white trousers.  I think she fancied a white pleated skirt and maybe a little white parasol to keep the sun off her face.   The closest we came to that was one day we accidently joined a line of yachts leaving the harbour, only to find ourselves in a sail by being  saluted by the Commodore and Wife of the Royal Yacht Club. My wife  had a streak of oil on her face and hair, oil stained t shirt and torn shorts.   I came up filthy with soot from damaged exhaust.. There were this immaculate elderly  couple on a pristine yacht saluting at us.  I just waved back with my wrench.  It’s always been more Captain Ron than James Bond on this boat. ”
“The last boat I was on, ‘  Karen said, “the Captain hovered about ready to wipe up anything anyone might spill on  his teak."
“Gilbert and I aren’t that particular”, I responded.
“I can see, I should have worn the shorts I paint in.”  Karen is a painter and jazz singer.  I found clean cushions though she didn’t really care.   She was all for helping me  with lines and any other task on the boat.  A real mariner.   She had wild tales of  all manner of friends boats off the eastern coast.
When we returned to dock my neighbour, another maritimer, was enchanted to talk to her. I couldn’t understand a word they said.  “My accent comes out when I”m close to the water, “ she said later. I could almost hear Stan Rogers  singing from the grave aand fiddles coming down from the heavenly spheres. Canadians wouldn’t need to get Navajo to speak in war, we just have to get a  couple of maritimers to talk over the radio and no one would know what they were saying.
It was another great Friday afternoon on the water.  Fun to be out of the city. The clouds had looked ominous in the morning but the afternoon was sunshine and blue sky. Great to partake of the spirituality of nature.
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

How Much Methadone is Enough?

Methadone is used for 'pain control' and as a substitute therapy for opiate dependence. I'm only speaking to the latter today.
When a person starts a methadone maintenance program they may be using a wide range of compounds and dosages of pills, snorted heroin or injected heroin.  If one is 'new' to their opiate dependence there are detox programs and Narcotics Anonymous as alternatives which can be done alone or in combination with 1-3 month "treatment centres" followed by group living 'recovery homes' where drugs and alcohol are banned.
"New" usually means the person has been using regularly but not necessarily daily for less than a year or two.  When they are at the point of daily use and experiencing 'withdrawal' symptons without opiates they are 'dependent', and not just abusing drugs.  They're 'hooked'.
People who are early in their addiction where the amounts they use and the frequency of use is low may still benefit from methadone maintenance therapy but may also be good candidates for the alternative "substitution" therapy, Suboxone - a pill form combination of buprenorphine and naloxone.  Buprenorphine is the active opiate replacement medication while naloxone is the antagonist that makes the drug 'ineffective' if it is injected.
When a person comes into the Methadone Maintenance Program the normal dosage of medication that is used to 'start' regardless of the 'amount' of drug the person was using on the street is roughly 25 to 40 mg.  The concern of the methadone doctor is 'overdose'.  No doctor wants to 'kill' a patient to 'help' them. There is no way to know 'what' a person has been using on the street, since there is fluctuating purity of compounds and commonly dilutions.  It is understood that the 'starting' dosage is often not enough to stop the cravings and even other withdrawal symptons such as sweating, wide pupils etc. If a person has been injecting a whole lot of heroin this dosage of methadone may only take the 'edge' off.  People often take heroin in their early stage of starting methadone because they can't tolerate or wait for the right amount of methadone to be reached. The dosage of methadone is then increased every 5 to 10 days by the maximum amount of 10 mg to the dosage which is 'enough' for the individual patient.
The 'right' amount of methadone is that dosage which stops 'withdrawal symptons' and addresses specifically the 'physical' craving symptons.  The physical craving symptons are different from the 'psychological' craving. With psychologically craving all manner of expectations are associated with the 'getting high' or 'escape' the drug gives. A person knows they have reached the state of not having 'physical craving' when indeed the person is using methadone and if they try heroin say, "It doesn't work for me...it doesn't get me high anymore...it's wasting my money'.  The methadone at that point is blocking the opiate receptors.
Psychological craving is associated with the psychological aspects of peoples continued use of drugs past what they bodily "need."  Asked why they kept using some admittedly say "I had nothing else to do.... I was bored...... I thought I'd get higher..... I was lonely....The drugs were there.....  I just wanted to pass out. "  The psychological craving is part of the 'crazy' of drug doing. It's why overdose and death are common among heroin users.  Addiction is a deadly disease.
The World Health Organizations studies showed that people who were on at least 60 to 80 mg of methadone a day did better in the long run, staying in the programs, getting into Recovery, not relapsing to street heroin, than those using only 20 or 30 mg of heroin.  These are looking at large numbers. I have a couple of patients using less than 40 mg but their street use was low and infrequent. Further the lower dosage seems more likely a successful solution for those who snort rather than those who use IV heroin.  Suboxone may indeed be a better alternative overall for this group.  Others on low dose are slowly being tapered off,as they have done well on higher dosages, are off other drugs, have stable lives, may be back at work or school and generally are succeeding in the community.  This is when a patient may be on a slow taper but get to a very low dosage where it takes some time to come off 'the last little bit'.
Therefore anything under 100 mg of methadone can be consider standard or moderate dosage.  I have other patients on 220 mg and know of others on more. 200 mg is more in the 'high dosage' range. Patients who are on methadone for years, with 'clean urines', jobs and families, may over time need to increase or may decrease their methadone dosage. The dosage is a matter between the doctor and patient. It should never be 'judged' out of context.  Many of my patients who became 'hooked' on opiates following trauma who still have chronic pain but lost control of their prescription drug use for whatever reason, get back to normal lives on methadone maintenance but continue on the methadone for 'pain control' and just simply stay in the methadone maintenance programs. I have seen patients whose 'addiction' behaviourally was addressed years ago and they have been drug free and are living wholly normal lives in the community but continue to see the methadone maintenance doctors esssentially as they might see a 'pain specialist prescribing methadone'.
There are individuals who are 'rapid methadone metabolizers' and they need a higher dosage and may even need to have their methadone split to being administered twice a day.  To know if a person is a rapid metabolizer, the symptomatic picture is that the patient feels well immediately after but by evening or early morning is experiencing withdrawal. The doctor and the lab then do a series of blood level measurements after the methadone is taken to establish the peak and trough of the drug level and see when this is occuring. In rapid metabolizers the peak is the same as others but the trough occurs much more rapidly and remains low causing the patient the discomfort.  This may occasion a higher dosage than normal or splitting the methadone into two doses morning and evening.
Also crystal methamphetamine and cocaine will influence the subjective need for methadone as both are stimulants result in the patient physiologically or psychologically (or both) 'needing and wanting' more methadone to do the job. Commonly when patients stop their cocaine or crystal meth abuse their 'need' for methadone reduces drastically.
That said, some patients have other medications on board and if any are metabolized by the same system that metabolizes methadone or are associated with respiratory depression these have to be seriously considered. Benzodiazepines , (diazepam, clonazepam, lorazepam, etc) are all contraindicated in combination with methadone as the combination was the cause of death in sleep and overdose with methadone methadone maintenance programs. Indeed the prevailing wisdom to date as a result of  scientific evidence is that opiates and benzodiazpines are contraindicated together in general.
With all these considerations I asked Dr. G. Horvath, a leading authority on the clinical use of methadone, on how he would assess if a patient was on enough or too much methadone. Dr. Horvath is an addiction medicine specialist with a very extensive clinical experience in the Downtown Eastside Vancouver  where he has the Doc-Side Medical clinic in which a half dozen methadone doctors practice as well. As one doctor said, "he's seen it all'.  No one has but he's closer than most.
He wasn't terribly concerned about the 'dosage' even into the 200 range.
"If you are ever concerned about the dosage being too high, arrange with the pharmacist to know the actual time the medication was witnessed, then see the patient between 4 and 6 hours later. If they are not drowsy at that time then the dosage isn't too high. If you want to be even more scientific get a peak and trough level for the drug from the lab to ensure you're assessing their level of consciousness at the peak level of the drug. You can check the pupil size too."
This was extremely beneficial information to learn not just for the measurement of the 'dosage' in clinical practice,  but for me to answer questions from treatment centers,   therapists and others who have patients in mixed meetings where some of the people attending are on methadone and others are not.  Complaints sometimes arise that persons on methadone negatively affect meetings by being 'on the nod' and not able to 'participate'.  In the majority of cases I was asked about the individuals depressed state of consciousness was the consequence of benzodiazepines or other medications which the treating methadone doctor did not know about.
There are countless patients with legitimate pain legitimately on opiate medication attending advanced education and training without being obtunded and passing out in the classes.  When this is happening it should be seen as a red flag. Dosage of medication needs to be assessed with the prescribing doctor and  pharmacist and urine testing needs to be done to confirm that only methadone is being used.  The stat random urine test is best if a person appears too drowsy to participate and a person thinks their methadone level may be the cause. As I have said the most common cause is other drug abuse or use of other medications that the methadone doctor may not be aware of.  Most commonly the drowsiness in the cases I investigated was the excessive marijuana usage or benzodiazepine abuse or abuse of other opiates in addition to the methadone.
Here in Vancouver we have the benefit of an enlightened Minister of Health and pharmanet program which allows us to review easily what has been prescribed to an individual patient. Urine drug testing is a standard part of methadone maintenance programs and if there is a concern a "STAT" urine drug test can be ordered any time.
  However, in many other cases the methadone patient in the classroom who was nodding off was doing so because of poor sleep, sleep apnea, homelessness or even because the lecturer was utterly boring.  Many other explanations need to be considered.  Too often it is assumed that methadone or the 'dosage' of methadone is the issue.  Of course , sometimes it may be, but more often than not, that's not the case.
Commonly, the problem with a patient dropping out of methadone maintenance and returning to street heroin use is that the methadone dose isn't enough. There is a 'right' dosage which is specific to the individual.  That's when the Methadone Dosage is "enough".

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Israel and Arab Conflict

As a Christian I want to weigh in on this conflict.  When I visitted Jerusualem, the Israelis were in charge of the city but they made it possible for the Christians and Moslems to live and function in the city. They respected the property of other faiths and 'shared' the city.  This was readily apparent to me as a visitor. 
Right now Moslems (albeit extremists, apparently) are beheading Christians. They are burning churches. Every religion has a history of doing this sort of thing in the past. The Moslems are doing it NOW.
Moslems have been accepted all over the world in nations of Christian heritage. 
My friends in Israel have tolerated rockets being randomly fired at them. I assure everyone if the City of Vancouver was to be routinely shelled by Surrey it would be yesterday that Vancouver would be invading Surrey and stopping the people who were bombing them. 
My Canadian patients who are soldiers tell me that it is common practice for jihadists to hide behind women and children.  The Communist Viet Cong used this tactic in Vietnam. The reason the media gets so excited about this is Canadians, Americans and Israelis don't conceal their weapons in hospitals and don't use their children as 'suicide bombers'.  There is no history of Canadians using 'women as shields'.  This is not because feminists would object but because it's 'unChristian' and very 'un Canadian' and un American. Jews don't 'use their women and children' for weapons. 
It goes to the very nature of the 'personhood' of men and women and children in Christian, Jewish and even western secularized societies that began in the enlightenment.
Enlightenment has not happened in large parts of the world. Women are mutilated and killed and children are not protected.
If as a Christian I am being shot at or my family is being shot at, I can 'defend' myself.  If you are hiding behind your wife or children to shoot at me, I will 'unintentionally' potentially shot your wife and children because I will protect my family.  The media pictures are silly because they don't give this context. 
I defend Israel's right to exist. I defend Israelis right to stop having bombs daily thrown at them.  I defend Israel's right to exist.  I don't think anything the Israeli's have done to date 'justifies' the continued' terrorism' , 'yes, terrorism' and 'criminal' behaviour of 'aggressors'.  As a Canadian I would in their place do exactly as they are doing. As a Christian I would too. 
Right now we can see in Iraq and Syria what Moslems are doing to Christian, Jews, and each other. I don't want this barbarism.  Of course there are great Moslem individuals. The Koran is full of butchery and tribalism. The old testament Bible is full of butchery and tribalism.
The Christian bible is the New Testament and thankfully the teachings of Jesus are far more civilized than the teachings of Abraham, Moses or Mohammed.  I think everyone, even Christians, would do well to consider carefully the teachings of love that is the foundation of Christianity. 
Right now, there's a propaganda war going on. 
In the Bhagadvagita when Arjuna says to Krishna the war is raging and his family is fighting on either side, Krishna responds the real question is not which side but rather whether you participate or not.
I know Aetheists are full of shit but I kind of prefer them to wishy washy agnostics who want a mommy or daddy to wash their ass.  I'm a theist.
I'm on the side of Israel.  Of course I wish the Arabs would stop attacking them and I wish the Moslems would do more for their brethren moslem Palestinians.  I fear for the Palestinian Christians. I fear for all Christians right now in Moslem countries. I didn't fear for Christians in Israel. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Morning

I am up. 6 am.  I woke first to a dream of driving in mud and sleet unable to see the road through the windscreen. I stopped the car.  Then lying semi awake old resentments poured in. I saw an axe going through the skull of history.  I began praying for the past.  Praying for enemies. Praying for God. Praying for peace. Praying for love.  Resentments are taking poison and hoping the other guy will die.  Abortions are abortions. The gifts the girls give.  We truly are a death culture.  I think I like Christianity partly because it’s real.  Hanging death about our necks we hope for eternal life but know that hear and now they’re burning our churches.
Gilbert jumped up on the bed as I was leaving.  Little fur ball.  Monkey dog lying on his back. I rubbed his tummy. Chucked his ears.  
Toilet.  The Emmett Fox book on the counter.  Usually Emmett is uplifting.  I can’t say what he said this morning. In the eyes, out the ears.
I moved onto meditation. Sitting cross legged in the living room.  A half hour of prayer and quiet time. Hard to unbend.  Stand, turn the lights on.
Make coffee.  Open fridge, eat yoghurt.  Fragments of ginger cookies. Share with dog.  Coffee, evaporated milk and honey.  Ah.
Internet slow.
The alarm goes off. I shudder. I thought it was the phone. Patients calling me at dawn, midnight, 3 am. Nurses calling me every half hour. Screams in the background.  Blood curdling screams.  Squeaky toys that suddenly stop.  Human sized moments.  The dog is looking at me.  It’s just the alarm.  The illusion of control.  Sometimes the prayers work better.  Today I’m still sleepy.  Almost go back to bed.
The mail isn’t so bad. Not like some days.  No emails from patients. No cries for help. No threats of suicide. No angry threatening litanies.  Just irrelevance.  All irritating with the slow internet.
Then Facebook.  It’s Monday Morning.  The friends aren’t doing much better.  Still in the trenches. Gathering to go over the wall.
How many times like this have I thought I could phone in sick?  How long will I remain self employed before I lose my business? How many mental health days can a psychiatrist take? Meanwhile people are killing people elsewhere and getting medals for it.  Others are burning churches and destroying 2000 year old art and patting each other on the back. Meanwhile millions in refugee camps are wondering what they’re going to do today to get on with life.
When I lived in an apartment and the water wasn’t rationed by the amount in the tank or the size of the water heater, I’d stand forever under the hot nozzle and pray for the power to dress and get out of the house.
Now I’ve a sports car or a motor cycle.  I must only think as far as which to ride.  I barely survive any ride on my motorcycle in Vancouver.  The decision to ride my motorcycle is a death wish.  No one in Vancouver uses their turning signals. The drivers are looking through a maize of marijuana smoke at the roads under constant construction.  We’re due for another episode of Falling Down with Kirk Douglas.  It could be filmed in the Downtown East Side where the zombies on drugs stagger about the streets marked 30 km/hr.  Riding my harley they veer off from staggering and come at me to  touch the bike and stroke my leathers.  Gilbert rides in a box in back.  I’ve thought of getting him a toy shotgun to set the mood for rides in the city.  Better to take the sports car.  Fuel efficient.  Top comes down.
Dare I look ahead to the weekend.  Dare I think of joining friends in the United States to talk about life in the fast lane, to get away from the people who negate your daily yearly decade after decade getting up to go to work working early working late working weekends and think it’s all unfair.  I should be sitting smoking a big cigar rather than working in the car wash.  The anger is palpable.  It’s there in the office.  “If you don’t give me drugs, I”ll get you. I’ll get you. I’ll get you.”  Thinking now about the guys with guns wanting benzodiazepines.  I must go visit my friend whose face was slammed when they came and took his jewelry.
Some of us work.  Others take.  Some of us give. Others take.  Most days I’m thankful my mother potty trained me. These boys and girls didn’t have mothers like mine.  They destroy and hate while men and women create.
This is all just self pity.  This is all avoiding getting up and going out the door.  I remember thousands of days I was afraid to go out the door.  Nightmares.  Omens.  Fear.  It’s just a matter of getting into the shower.  The structure and routine will take over. I ‘ll soon be in the chute that takes me to the workplace and another cup of coffee. Somehow that second cup of coffee at work does it. Then I’m just reacting. The problems comes through the door by the dozens, hundreds and hundreds of complaints a day. I’ve only answering the question about the eye tick when I’m being shown the rash.  Always the papers are pushed in my face. Always I’m being bullied to sign my name to something I don’t know if I agree with. I’d like more time to think about something but theres the phone calls and the faxes and the constant threats from above.
I think of Bob Dylan, “You’ve got to serve someone, may be the devil, or it may be God, but you’ve got to serve someone.”  I believed in the Prime Minister until his anti male prostitution laws. I remember the day the Liberals brought out their anti male gun laws, their anti rural, anti western, anti woman little girl gun laws.  Now here are the Conservatives playing the same kazoo.  I’m supposed to support and trust those above me.  I’m supposed to support sanity but if I look closer I think the bars on the asylum are to keep the crazies out.  I understand all too well why people stop getting out of bed.  I understand all too well why people drop their pens and clipboards, computers and iPhones and walk away from the War.  I understand why Lenin’s promise of getting out of the war was so attractive to the men back then.  Of course he didn’t say they’d just have to do Stalingrad and Leningrad because the paperwork always piles up over weekends and holidays. Nothing ever goes away. That’s Karma. Retribution.
The shower is waiting. Gratitude lists work. They really work.
Thank you God for Gilbert. Thank you for life. Thank you for work. Thank you for love. Thank you for showers. Thank you for coffee. Thank you for locomotion. Thank you for my fingers and toes. Thank you for the love I’ve known. Thank you for yoghurt. Thank you for this day. May I serve God and do good. May I become the best man I can be. May I serve my patients with the respect they deserve and may I be a channel for your healing.  Thank you for the memories. Thank you for sleep. Thank you for prayer. Thank you.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on Me, the sinner.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Vancouver summer -sailing, boat work and church

Sailing really is a part of Vancouver Summer. If not sailing then the glorious beaches.  It’s a port city and English Bay is one of the greatest protected harbours in the world.  The great freighters anchor there all the time.  Coal Harbour and False Creek are even more protected but many is the night I’ve anchored out in English Bay.
This Friday I was sailing there with a group of guys.  With all the boat repairs these last few years I’ve rarely felt comfortable with more than one or two all the boat.  Those who’d come out with me were no strangers to boat world and the finicky issues of scows and breakdowns.  But now that the hull and rudder, masts and rigging are restored, I’ve a new engine and a new genoa, I feel the boat is no longer one surprise after another.  The damage the boat took in ocean crossing and heavy wear is all repaired.
With the old engine on a couple of occasions the exhaust system failed and filled the cabin with smoke.  Not a pleasant experience for guests at all.  My sailboat is once again reliable. For me it’s always been safe and seaworthy but as a solo captain I could be fully engaged in such issues as roller furling jams or starter motor failures or bilge pump issues. Now I can actually trust the boat to not need me.  It was a delight to enjoy the ride and the company.   Fun to show people facts of nautical life and associate these with daily life. What’s true north and magnetic north?   Why two people winch better tailing than one alone.  The boat is a marvellous thing for seamanship but also extraordinarily experientially.  The sea and sky and mountains are all so inspiring and calming.
The Volvo Engine remains a joy.  Silent and clean running.  I love my Volvo D2 -40.  The Ray Marine autopilot got practically no use at all.  Jeffrey and John were more than capable helmsmen.  Then sailing, Carter and Tom with their small boat racing experiences got the maximum knots possible with the lightest of winds.  With my knot meter being replaced, Jeffrey found an Android app that gave the speed and heading off gps.  Next we were ‘racing’ in my old cruising vessel. The SV GIRI, old lady she is, was quite surprised with all the attention her tell tales were receiving, after my rather lazy sailing: point, set up the sails, put on the autopilot, drink coffee and correct course hours or days later.  Not these guys.  4.6 knots and finally 5 knots with only 12 knots of wind from the SE.  My boat doesn’t fly in light winds. It’s 13 tons with a full keel. But the new North Sail Genoa and the bottom freshly painted and all the attention to detail, well,  the GIRI  really  outperformed herself.
I’d got this magnificent lemon tart from East Vancouver Bakery on Hastings on the way to the boat.  It was devoured along with the ginger cookies and raspberry cookies.  I should have brought sandwiches but I was late and glad the bakery had the pie.  So soft drinks and carbs were all the crew were fed.  Together we suffered on tart, feared scurvy but somehow managed to survive.  There were no pirates and we lacked cannon subdue West Vancouver.  We did fish but only caught kelp.  I’d forgotten the fishing line but John heard the spool zinging out so we didn’t loose the tackle and did see we’d caught kelp.   No one was left behind. No one needed to walk the plank.  The cat of nine tails didn’t come out.  Gilbert utilized every crew member at some point to toss the tennis ball.  The sun was hot.   Vancouver is awesome for sailing.
We motored back under Lion’s Gate Bridge and across Coal harbour, stopping at Lonsdale to let folk off  before finally docking.
Tom stayed the night. Pizza is a terrific food requiring little preparation except making the request. Gilbert went back and forth between our beds not wanting to short change either of us on his doggie company.
Next day we worked together on the fine tuning boat electricals.  Rather Tom worked on  fixing the wind speed indicator and later the electrical outlet and radio.  I read Patrick O Brien.  Gilbert got Tom or I to toss the tennis ball. When a tool or extra hand was needed I shone.  The glyph was solved.   Tom had sorted through my offshore spare box and claimed all the new Yanmar parts for the old engine,  starters, alternators, water pumps, injectors, impellers and a mess of other parts I had as necessary back up. With the new Volvo and no plan to go offshore this year I certainly don’t need spare engine parts for another engine.  What was lacking through this process was music.  That did occasion my shaving and going out. The radio was dead.  Ralf’s Radio had a newer Clarion model which could be fit into the existing harness.
Armed with that, back at the boat, Tom installed the new radio.  I got the Chinese Food. Eating dinner we listened to Handel’s water music.  The boat hasn’t had tunes for over a year.  I don’t even know what I did to short out the old radio but the new one is spectacular.  It works. I have a wealth of songs on my I phone so we checked out the stereo with symphony, opera, Third Day, Steven Bell, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mack, the Animals, Garth Brooks, Cohen, Lightfoot, Phish, Old Blind Dog,  Pink Floyd, just about anything that seemed like it would be a ‘test’ of the sound system.  The radio passed with flying colours.  I’d met our neighbours while I was putting together the Canadian Tire Deck Box and installing it by the boat.  When midnight came and we were still playing music loud on the new radio, I don’t know they were thinking as fondly of meeting me.
Meanwhile Joan Baez was singing at the Vancouver Folk Festival.  A friends wedding was going on in Surrey.  I’d wanted to go but Tom was able to work on the boat with me now. It’s not always possible to have a day where we can work together and with all the Yanmar parts , he was glad to solve electrical problems for me. I haven’t a clue when it comes to ‘instruments’  and electrical.  Too many moving parts!  Tom’s quite happy to go through the system with the voltmeter checking resistance and voltage. I quickly get confused and only do this in a pinch. It’s not something I feel comfortable with either, knowing I can blow an instrument worth hundreds of a dollars or a thousand or more not knowing what I’m doing.  Out in the ocean with no one but myself and a ham radio or phone I’ll do the work with an expert on the other end but at dock I’m really glad when someone like Tom knows his way around electrical systems.  Getting the main components of the  electrical systems working last week myself was  a real joy. I’d found a short and a breaker disconnected but I’d also been lucky.  Tom’s approach is more systematic and knowledgeable.
I’d actually planned to be sailing to Nanaimo for the weekend but with the rain and Tom’s offer to help first with getting rid of the Yanmar parts and with doing the electrical work in exchange, well, it was a done deal. I was tired too in the morning too. I’d not been winching sails or living on the lean for sometime and all the use of the unused muscle groups had me happy to do little but assist.  I couldn’t believe Tom when monkey like he ran up the mast. I really don’t like climbing up my mast, but pilot that he is, he thought nothing of it.  Fixing the antennae off the Oregon Coast after a hurricane  solo sailing has somehow put me off to being at the top of the mast. I’ll do it. I’ve done it, more times than I remember, but it’s not something I would have done that day. But Tom had to check out the wind indicator and I downloaded the specs off the Raymarine website and that’s how he found that a wire had been misplaced.  Voila! The wind speed indicator suddenly sprang to life.
Today we made it to church. I say I’m pretty much a winter and spring Christian because in the summer I’m sailing any weekend I can and in the fall I’m away hunting any weekend I can.  Father Mark Greenaway Robbins was happy to see me.  Knowing I’d been out sailing, he says, he’s sure I know what I’m doing but “I pray for Gilbert.’     Gilbert is much loved at the church and everyone was glad to see him. I missed the church family and was glad to see everyone. AJ and Kevin and the kids look so great.   There’s now at least a a dozen or more folk  I feel close to just coming to church, going for coffee and visiting.
There’s a church picnic next week.  If I wasn’t planning on sailing I’d love to go to that.  It’s at the Sea Farer Mission and I love the work they do.  Father Mathew works with the men in the Down Town Eastside around St. James. The Sea Farer Mission works with all the Christians, mostly men,  that usually come to Vancouver on the working boats.  A lot of men away from home for long periods. I was given a prayer poster  with a picture of a young man at helm when I attended the Sea Farer Mission years ago. It accompanied my ocean crossings and was dear to me. In the back ground there’s a picture of rough seas and Jesus.  I just had it framed as it was getting so torn and worn. Tom put it up on the wall in the boat this weekend. Nothing is coincidence.
I did reports last weekend and answered emergency calls all weekend. This weekend I decided against doing reports and only had a few emergency calls.  With Mabel in the office, the anxiety of changing staff is mostly over.  Summer usually is a less demanding time of work though it’s never easy.  Early spring is the roughest time and compared to that this is light duty. The sun makes all the difference. Everyone is outside and exercising more and there’s just less gloom.
I’ve come from a swim and hot tub.  Mida fixed up the boat and my home. She put out pillows with sparkling bling on them. They brightened up the cabin and were a great choice. All the guys and me were thankful for the ‘woman’s touch’ but this was a particularly ‘eastern’ touch.  It really gave the boat a touch of the exotic.  A poll concluded that none of the guys would have thought to buy pillows with sparkling bling on them but all of us enjoyed the effect.
They’re fighting in the Ukraine and Middle East.  Gilbert thinks someone should introduce them to yellow tennis balls.  I think that life is just too full and precious with surviving and maintenance and getting along that I certainly wouldn’t want to have to deal with missiles falling in the backyard or planes being knocked out of the sky.  Two Malaysian airplanes down and whose to say it was the Ukrainians and Russians and not some group that has it out for the Malaysian airline.  Having just been flying around the world back from Russia I’m glad to be alive.  I was in Kuala Lampur last year and it’s not some ‘third world place’.  It’s as modern as New York. A great modern city so what’s happened to the air craft could happen here to Air Canada. There but for the Grace of God go I.
A weekend to be thankful for.  I’m truly blessed,  I just have to hold that thought. I’m looking forward to getting the guys out sailing again.  I’m planning on taking others out who want to go sailing too.  I’ll balance it with solo sailing since given my work and life it’s sometimes just necessary to be alone. Solo sailing is then at times like medicine.  This though was about camaraderie and sharing the joy of sailing together in the glorious English Bay on a sunny summer day.
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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Gibsons Landing, British Columbia

My goodness but it’s been a long time since I came ashore in Gibson’s .  The whole harbour has had a face lift. The town is warm and inviting. It’s a real little tourist haven like the San Juan Islands towns always have been. When I was last here a decade or more ago Gibson’s wasn’t at all welcoming. It seemed it was a quiet place for the locals and they really didn’t care too much for tourists. Now they’ve thrown out the welcome mat.
I’ve always sailed to Plumper Cove  but because Gibsons was  drab when last  I was there I never made the effort to leave Keat’s Island and go across to the Sunshine Coast.  When I’d taken the motorcycle up the SunShine Coast I’d simply got of the ferry and bypassed Gibson without appreciating what a little jewel the town is.  Now I really must go back again and again.
The artisans have stores in town with a wide range of local products and crafts.  The fare reminded me of the Farmer’s Market at Salt Spring Island.  I loved the little marina store.  I got the floating rope I needed for the dinghy and the bung I needed for the buggered cockpit through hull.  The women there were delightful.  All the marinas in the island seem to now have these really friendly inviting folk working in the marina offices.  The old curmudgeons have gone somewhere, probably died off.  Their suspiciousness and superiority was enough to give anyone gas.  This marina reminded me of the well run Bowen Island marina I so enjoy.  I really must make a point of coming in to dock with my sailboat.  It’s busy in the summer but a great destination for winter cruising.  I prefer docking in winter months and anchoring in summer.  The electricity heating and running water in winter months make cruising so much more enjoyable if ones stays at a marina.  I sail year round. The weather's unbeatable right now but cruising in the islands is always great.
Gilbert and I walked up to a trail that took us up a hill to a magnificent view of the harbour.  It seems everywhere one goes theres a trail man has made to a viewpoint.  We might well have some eagle genes in the species.  On the top of the hill here there was even a park bench for sitting.  The view was truly magnificent.  I could see my sailboat at anchor as a speck beyond the furthest sailboat with all sails up.  I love Gibsons.
After we walked down and Gilbert lay in the cool stream drinking mountain water ,I stopped at Fish and Chips.  Great ladies. Funny and welcoming.  Gave Gilbert more water and a cookie. Best Ling Cod ever.  I told them I’d planned to go fishing this morning but I was happy fishing in their restaurant.
We cast off from the dinghy dock and scooted back to the boat.
It’s 6 pm. Theres a concert in the town at the modular stage by the marina at 7pm.  I wonder if I’ll skip back and listen from my boat.  Hard to move once I’m in the comfort of the corner of this couch.  Gilbert’s snoozing. I’m drinking perrier water.
So far it’s been a really full day, though I can’t say where its gone.  I did appreciate the Hallelujah choir and orchestra playing for me with the medals and such for getting off my ass  and going to town earlier. I just think a nap would be nice now.  It’s till pretty hot,   I do have a book to read.
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