Saturday, July 12, 2014

Keats Island anchorage, Boat Engines, Christianity, Personhood and Recovery

A picture is worth a thousand words. The pictures of sailing are always so much more explicit.  I wish the scent of sea air and the cry of gulls was captured too. When I eventually get a new pro Mac computer I’ll probably uplift more video.  Right now the MacAir takes too long to render. Also there’s the difficulty uploading video on slow internet connections.  You simply don’t get high speed cable at sea. What’s missing from pictures is the corkscrewing galloping camel ride experience of a boat in water.  Newbies find it contributes to sea sickness but the older a salt one becomes the more one misses that experience ashore.  Right now a ferry has passed and set me rocking as if I were in a cradle.  When I sleep in the boat at anchor I feel like I'm back in the womb with the anchor the umbilical ford.
I stopped by Stem to Stern Marine on the way to the boat.  I’ve paid all but the last $6000 for the installation of the new Volvo Penta.  The engine alone cost $12000. I won’t even discuss the rest of the installation costs simply because no one could appreciate all the work that Alex and Ben did that warrants what my friends and I know is truly fair and reasonable price for work well done.
(I feel self pity that as a Canadian doctor I’ve been paid a third the real value of my services.  The ‘doctor cost controls’ like rent controls mean I have no competitive income and feel sorely paying the real value of others professional services when mine are so mocked. Yet Canadians happy to pay millions for hockey players never have put much faith in brains.  We’re an ignorant land.  Meanwhile I can’t truly complain because I continue to work in the lowest paid front lines of the public sector when I really could be a fat cat doctor in administration or simply step aside and work for the upper classes in corporate medicine.  Canadians are smug in their universal health care, the charity of doctors whose hourly income for their years of training, call and no overtime and no pensions doesn’t match the much maligned ‘minimum labour’ so sacrosanct to labour.  Such feelings come to mind when I am faced with reasonable bills of the best of the best, such as those at Stem to Stern Marine.  But then also I’ve the Scottish gene that is pained by any penny that passes my hand so at least those of Scottish descendance  could appreciate  my pained expression parting with hard earned money.  I was sorely tempted, when faced with the bill,  to use the brilliant East Indian  Russell Peter’s father’s line, “Yes, but what is my price?"
I’m a very thankful for my life as it is.  My life and Gilbert’s depends on my sailboat, often home and sometimes expeditionary module. Since sailing back from Hawaii  in 2008  with Tom, when we broke the mast, I’ve put approximately $25,000 a year into restoring my sailboat to offshore specs.  That means I've worked longer hours and had less time off than I might well have done if I lived in a rented West End apartment like smart people do.  With the new engine from Stem to Stern, the new new genoa from North Sails, the rigging help from Pro Tech and the advice and help from Eric at Pocomarine, Dr. Phillip Ney's inspiration, Tom's appreciation,  the major heavy lifting work of restoration is complete.
Naturally, as all sailors know we could have bought a new boat with the cost of repairs. However, as sailors, we know that there’s too good a chance if we sold our boats we’d never return to the sea, seeking instead to become fat and arrogant in a condo or apartment which clearly doesn’t try to kill you on a routine basis.  Sailboats are hazards and finicky and commonly named for women. I did indeed comment that my sailboat didn’t cost as much as my divorce and when you compare the proverbial cost of a boat with the cost of girlfriends, the boat is cheap in comparison. This explains why women rarely can bring themselves to own boats never appreciating their relatively low cost despite the high maintenance . (ha! ha! )
I do like taking people out sailing and have enjoyed infecting several people with  boat insanity. Not one individual has been so smitten by the disease that they’ve thanked me for changing their lives for ever. They're young. They folly of the young!
There’s a lovely breeze right now in this bay.  It’s gentle and smells of pine trees and sea air.  Gilbert is panting with the heat. I think he may need to be shorn to enjoy summer more.  These 30 degree temperatures with clear skies are incredible. I just feel a little guilty I don’t make it to church.  I confessed to Farther Mark at St. James Anglican Church that I was a “winter Christian’.  The truth be told I’m a ‘rainy day Christian’.  God is speaking to me now out on the water.  The other smell here is Hawaian coconut oil sunscreen lotion and coffee.
I’ve towed my AB Profile 12 A hard bottom dinghy with centre console and 20 hp honda.  Since I’m breaking in the Volvo Penta D2 -40 Ben at Stem to Stern, as well as Alex before him, said I couldn’t ’troll ‘ with the engine. For the first 50 hours you need to run it with a load, as well as fluctuating the rpms.  So I’ve been running it between 2000 and the 3000 FOT position.
That said I’m like a girl with breast augmentation wanting to wear a push up bra.  I’d love to be fishing. I love trolling for salmon in the sailboat at a thousand rpm running alongside  islands in the 100 to 200 foot depth mark, having the boat on autopilot, watching the rods in the Scotty down rigger holders, reading a book and drinking coffee.  That’s my idea of fishing. I’ve caught a lot of salmon doing just that but this morning I didn’t get up as planned.   I was supposed to be up before dawn fishing with the dinghy.
Towing the boat I lost a half to a knot of speed but still the bigger engine kept me cruising at 6 knots.  With the old Yanmar 26 hp towing the boat dropped my cursing speed from 5.5 or 5 to 4 to 4.5.  I like the added power of the new engine. It worked well last night.  But today I slept in.  I finally anchored at midnight and didn't get into bed till after 1 in the morning. The light came in at 7 pm when I normally get up for work.  I was in the V Berth and turned my face to the wall. Gilbert jumped up into the bed and began licking my ears at 8 am.  But I only got up at 9 when the cabin was beginning to get warm and close. Coffee was calling. I didn’t meditate as long as I ‘should’.  I pray but then I’m always praying to God. I feel like a toddler pulling on my mother skirts in a shopping mall kind of "prayer warrior". Not particularly Goliath.
I like that my Telus Huaweii USB wifi hot spot allows me to get mail here. I have cell phone coverage so don’t have to be concerned I forgot my Satellite phone. I'm always on call and commonly answering emergencies in the oddest places.  This week it was in my car. Another time I was called up north and had to discuss an emergency from a tree stand.  Commonly I'm interrupted at sea.  So far so good. Just "urgent" emails.  Everything is urgent these days with no resources and the aging population, all the older 'full service' gps and specialists retiring and none of the young doctors being stupid enough to die young.  So many of my favourite colleagues , the best of the best, have had stress related illness, heart attacks, cancer, addictions, suicides, divorces.  I'm so very fortunate to be alive and living the life still.
Just as I was going to cast off last night, Tom came by.  He sailed with me back from Hawaii and the last few years restored the boat's hull and mast integrity either himself or supervising others.  I think he's afraid I'll ask him one day to join me on another ocean expedition and wants the boat to be safe enough he'll survive.  He was in picking up the old Yanmar to fix up and sell with his diesel mechanic buddy. In exchange I’m hoping he’ll do some of the electrical ‘glych’ work that still needs doing on the boat. I had the new radio installed but it wasn’t connected to the GPS. Once this is done I’ll be able to see any other big boats location. That’s a new requirement from Homeland Security. It’s not ‘necessary’ but it’s sexy and I’d like to have it completed some day soon.  I’ve a windspeed indicator too that’s been disconnected.  I worked on the electrical myself yesterday afternoon and found the short that had disconnected the inverter outlets. I found this by getting shocked.  (Do not wash your hands before doing electrical work).  I topped up all my batteries and did further maintenance checking all the other grounds.
Tom arrived with the spare parts and oil for the Volvo.  Naturally that was a great excuse to sit around below decks jawing rather than getting going.  He’d been in Toronto with his family and now was back in Chilliwack.
He wanted to see the new engine, my Volvo Penta D2 -40 . So I got to show off the new baby and listen to the appreciative oohs and ahs.  “He (Alex) really did a good job on the engine mounts.”  “They’ve put all new hoses in here.”  “I guess they don’t want anything to go wrong during the time of warranty.” I had to think that a warranty was a very good thing to motivate Stem to Stern to be as thorough and caring as they are.  As I’ve got older I’ve found that I like having the manufacturers recommended teams do installations because the work is done right from the start if only to avoid warranty costs.  Tom was impressed as I was impressed.
Tom’s an engineer and he’s rarely complimentary.  I ignore his negatives a lot therefore, but appreciate his positives especially when they coincide with my own praise.  Tom had met Ben when he picked up the old engine and liked the work that Stem to Stern did. I pointed out my new sail but confessed I was not sure when I’d get the sail up because this Volvo “iron jenny’ was just giving me too much joy.
We drank bottles of Perrier Sparkling water from my freezer while we talked.  Girls always think guys are drinking beer and they're so out of date with the real world of the working man.
It was 7 pm when I said I finally had to go. Tom helped push the Giri’s bow out. Gilbert, dressed in his Outward Hound form fitting life jacket was sad to see his favourite buddy staying on the dock.
In Coal Harbour ,  I stopped at the fuel barge where the great guys there helped me fill my rear tank with 85 litters more of diesel.  It’s nearly a couple of dollars a litre which made me think I really ought to use my sails more. I filled 10 gals of jerry cans for the 20 hp Honda.  Gilbert ran all over the fuel dock.  I bought some frozen herring strips and ice cream bars.  The herring strips are for the fish and the ice cream bars are for me.
8 pm and we were finally going through First Narrows under Lions Gate Bridge.  The sun sets late in summer so it was out till 9 when a full moon took over. I got some pictures passing Point Atkinson. All the pictures were with my iPhone 5.  I’ve got the Navionics app on the iPhone and use that as my charting gps navigation aid.  When night came on and I was just coming around the Finnestere south east point of Bowen Island  I turned on the radar.  I had my steaming lights, navigational lights, iPhone Navionics gps charter, and my hand held gps, the depth indicator and hand held vhf radio,and Raymarine autopilot.  All these little stars in the boat darkness inside coupled  with a beautiful full moon lighting the calm seas outside.
I slowed down coming into Plumper Cove.  I know Plumper Cove so chose it as a destination over other anchorages. Even then I nearly missed it in the dark.  Thankfully some sailboats had masthead lights on and I was able to be certain with the binoculars showing the boats at the dock that this was Plumper Cove. The anchorage was packed. I tried setting my anchor. It was midnight.  I was in a little hole but there simply wasn’t room and I had to pull up the anchor.
I love the Italian Lofranz electric windlass.  I had to try setting the anchor three times in the dark before it took hold. I’d gone out of the Plumper Cove anchorage and around the corner to the east. A Ketch was anchored there so I chose to get in beside him. First the anchor didn’t catch and then the next time it dragged. Another boat put on it’s light and shined a flashlight at me fearing I wasn’t aware of it.  Poor boater. Midnight and this great hulk bearing down on him with engines revving and outgoing anchor chains clanging like a ghost. I’d seen it but I ‘d not expected my anchor to drag.  So I went further out and dropped the anchor in 70 feet with lots of sea room and ran out a whole lot of chain.  I wasn’t so much protected from the wind but I was hooked.  I sat anchor watch for an hour remembering the Mexican anchoring places which were far less protected.
This morning I didn’t get out fishing. I read the mail from Bernice and felt guilty for not going to the Bowen Island writers day.  What a great event that would be.  Another year I think. There are so many great things happening in the summer and all I want to do is be out in my sailboat.  Alkali Lake Round Up is on this weekend. On Wednesday when I was at Whytecliff with Archie  Jamie was heading out to this.  I remembered riding up on the motorcycle one year.  Sweatlodges and dancing in the rodeo grounds.  Great time.  I heard from Archie that George is visiting family in Scotland and Jane may be joining him.  We can expect some poetry competition for Robbie Bruce then.
Of course I’m supposed to be fishing now. Instead I made coffee and also some of the delicious instant Quaker Oats.  Gilberts panting.  I’ve kept his water dish full. I’ve been reading Alexander Kent’s A Tradition of Victory, Read Admeral Bolitho fighting “Bony’s” naval forces of the north of France.
On Thursday I was out for dinner with Dr. John Christensen, Dr. James Houston and Helen.  Helen had been in the Sudan doing missionary work. She had returned and is organizing a fresh water project for the province. She’s been talking to environmental engineers, raising money and spearheading a project  in this huge area where there’s been so much war.  She’d told of her work in the fall when she’d gone there just before the nearby fighting had broken out again.  Christians being killed by machetes and guns.  We’d worried about her and we were all glad when she came home safe.  Now in a few months she’s begun this amazing project to get fresh clean water to the area where she’d taught the children the weeks she’d been there in the fall.
I am so amazed by her industry. God works in amazing ways.  She's a wonderful channel for the Holy Spirit. She's spearheaded this project here in coordination with the Christian leader she’d met in the Sudan. The missionary group she’d gone with was just a little local group who were keen to physically and spiritually help. Now Helen has become a regular locomotive with a cause.  Dr. Houston knew a leading environmental engineer who’d led other successful water projects near there so he gave her this quiet Christian man's name whose already ensured tens of thousands have clean water in Africa.  I love how Christians are moved to do God’s work.  That's the way with the Evangelical Medical Associations work too. There's a need. Then there's prayers. Then there's someone who volunteers to do all this work. And finally there's this amazing success and all these humble people say how it was God's work. t
Asked about the Downtown East Side I caught people up on the corruption of Portland Hotel Society Scandal and how  millions of dollars were diverted to pockets, parties and limousines.   There’s a continued housing crisis because the money didn't go to the poor but rather the rich favourites of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.  It’s so sad because half the money that was spent by Portland Hotel Society on housing for the poor was good .  So much money was squandered on the Safer Injection Site. Dr. John didn’t know about the millions lost.  People are just aghast when I tell them about this. It's like something out of a bizarro comic book. Hundreds of thousands spent on giving alcohol to alcoholics.  Portland Hotel Society staff teaching alcoholics to make their own alcohol and no 'adult over site' for all this costly corruption.  I continued to speak of the harm reduction to abstinence projects with Methadone and how I’d initiated a patient that day on Suboxone, the ethical concerns balancing the palliative care approach of harm reduction with the knowledge that the obvious "cure' for addiction is 'abstinence.
My friends wanted to hear of our Recovery talks and I told them about the Addiction Dialogues with David Berner, Recovery Day with Anna McCullough, and my being on the board of the Canadian Society for Drug Prevention.  Dr. Christiensen was pleased to hear we were supporting the 12 step programs as they worked so well. I told them about the great Christian work, the real heavy lifting  work of Union Gospel, the Salvation Army with Harbour Light Detox, the Catholic and Anglican Churches housing societies, First United Advocacy and Father Mathew from my church, St. James Anglican, working with the isolated men in the DTES.  I celebrated the hope I saw once the Corruption at the core of Portland Hotel Society and Vancouver Coastal Health had been addressed by the Provincial Minister of Health’s call  for accountability.
I told about reading Jackie Pullinger’s work with Heroin addicts in Hong Kong. Dr. Houston knew her and told us of the old Kowloon and the Norwegian missionary society that had started it’s work with heroin addicts there in the slums. Helen had met Jackie Pullinger when she came to speak at Mission Fest.  Helen said she said “she didn’t want people with hard hearts and soft feet who would just walk a little way on the journey but those with soft hearts and hard feet who would go the distance.'
Dr. Christiensen was sad that prime minister wannabe Troudeau had condemned the Catholics of Canada saying  no one who was pro life would be accepted as a Liberal.  I said I was sorry that as a marijuana smoker he was so keen on everyone else smoking marijuana.  It haven't smoked marijuana in 16 years and certainly prefer the natural 'high' and 'spiritual' high to the low of "smoke'. I saw the ravages of the consequences of addiction and simply, the more available a drug is, the more societal problems there are.
The success of addiction medicine work is evident in the turn around seen with stopping tobacco smoking. Once everyone did it and it was glamorous, now only the tragic and ill do it and the huge costs are being tabulated while the psychopaths and sociopaths in the Tobacco companies market it to women and children and third world countries. The same folk are now behind the marijuana industry and the get rich quick goes on.
I struggle with the ethics of it all because clearly there is some medicinal benefit but in BC some 99% of so called "medicinal marijuana" was abused and diverted to recreational purposes.  All the while the medicinal benefits of marijuana compound can be met with a new pharmaceutical Sativex spray but my patients find it easier to get funding for the less medicinal ‘medical marijuana’.  I’m struggling with prescribing as are all doctors because the pressure is political and commercial.
It was very apropos then that Dr. Houston talked of business and virtue. His son is a businessman, my age , and he’s begun a project of making work serve people rather than people serve work.  Dr. Houston, long a champion of the human ‘person’ ,is himself now embarking on a grand project of a new book tracing the development of the soul through history asking friends and even former detractors to contribute essays to this project of looking at the what it means to be  human in the highest sense.  He feels society and business especially has seen the failure of using a solely 'social science' model to assess success.  He cited so many great businessmen of Canada and great corporations who didn't want their life's work trivialized as merely for profit. They'd been moved themselves to create theses great organizations by higher values and yet saw these being lost.  They were challenging the simplistic CEO's to make their work 'meaningful and worthy'.  Some of the people Dr. Houston and their son knew were the greatest families in the world and truly didn't want their 'legacy' to be a 'dirty business'.
Dr. Houston has been delighted by how people have responded positively and agreed to contribute in his book in their areas of greatest expertise.  It’s going to be an incredible work and I so look forward to reading it one day. Dr. Houston’s works on spirituality and Christiianity are classics but I’ll always love most his book on prayer.  He speaks so positively of Regent College these days having been the Chancellor and sees it now fulfilling it’s goal to serve Christians. He’d never wanted another education institution for training professionals but rather an ‘institute’. I really must check out the distinction because he said legally there is a vast difference in the meaning of ‘institute’ as it serves the people and ‘institution’ which the people serve. Regent’s College was an ‘institute’ and had run the risk he said of becoming merely another  institution.
All of us there had  found Regent so inspiring when we attended and being again with Dr. Houston was  again be in the presence of genius and humility. We missed his wife Rita who was unable to come.  He brought me a book of Herbert Spencer for me,  feeling that reading this ‘poet’ would enrich my own Christian development and my own writing of poetry.
It was a remarkable night as these always are.  A great meal in John’s house and truly inspiring company. It was hard to leave.
I of course talked about the engine the sailing I’m enjoying. I told how having exhaust no longer leaking into the cabin had stopped the occasional headache I'd noticed in the past while motoring.  Also I told John that I’d got a draw for a moose cow or calf in the area where his son and I had previously hunted so hoped Luke might get off time from work to hunt with us in the late fall.  My new assistant, Mabel, seeing the my success in the lottery, and being from Argentina had asked about moose. I told her to imagine the finest barbecue in the world and consider that for a city person like myself this takes years to obtain and at the end of the day costs as much as caviar an ounce.  A true Canadian delicacy little understood by anyone without royal blood.
Now here I am sitting in the glory of the BC wonderland.  Gilbert has gone off to sleep in the shade. There’s a cool breeze that’s just fine for me here ,in a bathing suit, in the sun. Now that I’ve reflected in this journal on the high points of my life I think I’ll make a cup of coffee and go back to reading  of wooden ships and cannon.  I "should" take the dinghy and  make a visit to the town of  Gibsons if only to give Gilbert some more to sniff. He pees and poops on the front deck so I don’t have to get him ashore for toilet but it’s another thing to do.  There's just so much to do and such heavy pressure upon me do something.  Maybe I'll just lie in the sun on deck till such thoughts pass.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you sure do a lot and to see the pictures is great too

Like your boat a lot

stay connected to what counts

God, family, and friends