Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter on the Boat

Tom was by to winterize his boats. Some settle for a single light being left on. This alone may be sufficient to stop freezing in the pipes. The boat is in ocean water but still the condensation is a problem. Electric de humidifiers that draw very little electric power are a common solution, the most popular and one I've used is the little silver flying saucer type that sits flush on the floor. Tom's a fan of the one light bulb whereas we've both used the space heater on lowest, one of the kind with the automatic off switch if knocked over.

Over in my boat where I've got the diesel Dickinson heater going along with the radiator space heater I offered Tom coffee. I'd just bought fudge at the great Lonsdale market so we pigged out on that and mandarin oranges. He told me he'd been out east helping his father, then with JD working on JD's plane and back himself in Chilliwack fixing the engine on his Jaguar. I lamented bilge pump and propane water heater tales and we chatted about the Anglican apostate debate for a bit before playing some tricks on the cat whose convinced a moving hand under a blanket just has to be a mouse.

Now it's cold. In the morning despite the frost everywhere I opted to take the motorcycle trusting the main streets to be clear. They were but the windchill was the worst yet. Despite having the thermal Harley winter gloves my hands were really chilled driving. My friend Ed rides about on his Honda sport bike in long shorts. He's a big hearted guy but this is extreme riding weather. I love the Harley leather jacket with liner and have my cowboy chaps over the jeans and Harley boots with helmut but still it's cold.

At night the boat despite electric heaters and diesel stove was drafty and took a long time to heat up once I got the diesel lit adding to the electric heat. I'm having to rethink winter sailing. Anchoring is going probably going to be cold so it's likely going to be a marina with electricity in Nanaimo, Salt Spring or Victoria. The weather has been bad down south and I really don't want to get into any heavy sailing though the Strait's protected waters are a bath tub compared to the open coast I've sailed in winters gone by. Maybe I'm getting older or just wiser but I don't find any joy in unnecessary risk. That said, winter sailing is exquisite in the gulf islands. There's very few boats, marinas and anchorages are quiet and the views of ;ristine snow capped mountains are simply extraordinary.

The 2010 tourists would add a whole lot to their visit here taking the time to get out on the water in any number of rental options available from Vancouver or Victoria. I know Whistler and Blackcomb are the draw but the sailing in English Bay any time of the year on a clear day is elegance personified. I love meeting the dolphins in the islands and have simply gloried in the whales around the San Juans. There and north I've had them passing under my boat or surfacing alongside to take a peek at me in the cockpit awestruck by their size and majesty. Seeing a grizzly catching salmon along the shore is one of my fondest memories while eagles are always around somewhere. There screeching cries almost infant like often being heard before they're spotted soaring above or landing in the evergreens along the water.

I sure am looking forward to getting out on the water. And fishing. Catching some cod or salmon and maybe even getting some crab would be fun . I'm rather lazy as a fisherman though and prefer to just troll a hook while I have coffee and try to keep an eye out for big ships which really can make themselves a nuisance insisting that you move out of their way.

It's cold here but when I think of cold I think of Winnipeg, the windy city where the temperature can routinely drop below 40 below but the windchill makes walking seem like one's doing 80k on a motorcycle. Then there was London England where the heaters were on meters and as poor tourists we had to make choices between lots of heat or sweaters and woolens so we could take in another play or dine out on fish and chips. Of course there's the fly in doctor days in the north. Mostly then I was well dressed for the cold like I am when I'm skiing at Whistler or up cross country skiing on Cypress. The cold I remember was doing a rescue run across the tundra and going through the ice with the ski doo. Walking miles with my native guide, the two of us frozen in wet clothes was a miserably cold affair though saving a life at the end of the journey was heart warming. Certainly hanging outside on ski lifts at the end of a day wet and tired with some windchill happening can be right up there with motorcycling cold. My friend Kirk and I still think our parents would collectively be investigated for child abuse for sending us off to school in Winnipeg winters. Back visiting my time in Mexico and Saipain and his time in California had softened both of us up so we couldn't walk across the school grounds without being horrified that we did this when we were six. We were bundled like mummies but nonetheless it's a moonscape on a cold day in bleak January there. We played hockey outside. No wonder the greatest hockey players came from Canada in those days before indoor rinks. If you survived into adulthood playing hockey outdoors you were tough. Kirk and I probably opted for gymnastics because it was indoors.

The cat has tunneled into my sock drawer. It's where she hid in bad weather out on the coast and crossing the ocean. It's her own warm and padded cell. She's rather pleased with herself now she has her own little nest back. I'm probably going to have to buy some socks for my own use, she wails if I take any of hers.

It's only cold boat and motorcycle weather. All the land 'normies' in cars and such think these are the best of days, sunny , without rain, and the walk from car to car or outside shop to shop is to them at best "brisk". Now there's a lot to be said for central heating and alright since the weather is supposed to be really cold tomorrow too, maybe I'll take the truck.

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