Saturday, July 5, 2014

SV GIRI in Deep Bay, Bowen Island

I had planned to get away early in the morning.  However, and however, is always the key word.  I had to clean up the boat.  That meant sorting and stowing. This is always a couple of hour task after workman have been on the boat.  Everything is topsy turvy. To add to that I’d not gone out since last summer so the boat was a basement apartment last year.
I had cleaned out a lot though in the fall, taken a whole bunch of extra stuff to storage. I'd  been thinking of selling the boat wanting to have all the important stuff off so I wouldn't worry about strangers viewing the boat.  The torn sail, engine leaking oil, electrical problems,  frozen water. poor heating and what seemed like $30,000 a year of boat repairs since I'd sailed back from Hawaii and broke the mast.   I’d had enough of boat work and camping on the boat.
Cleaning up was a trip down recent memory lane.  It was going over a whole lot of memories and remembering how done in I was last fall. I was cleaning up papers and receipts and bills. It reminded me how last winter my practice had been so overwhelming. The deaths of patients that didn't need to occur but the system didn't care. I did everything I could, even certified the patient and sent them to the hospital only to have them turfed without admission.  I've known too many dead people. Working in addiction I'm back in the suicide world.
In addition I  was being hounded in the courts.  Everything seemed dark. The rainy Vancouver weather never helps.  I was offered jobs in the prairies, Ontario and Nova Scotia.  Ontario and Nova Scotia looked lovely. I thought of doing locum work around the world too.  An American firm was really hung ho.
Training new staff seemed overwhelming. I'm expected to be perfect but I kept training staff and then they leave after a couple of years and I'm training more staff and then they leave.  Everytime there’s a staff change I lose thousands of dollars.  I’ve never recouped the loss of hiring a minister and her hiring a crack addict psychopath.  Having staff is supposed to make one money and that's what the good ones do but the bad ones and the changeovers are so difficult with the administration demanding every detail and increasing the workload without resources quantum levels.  What staff were needed for a decade back was like driving a model t ford. The privileged elite above just keep piling on shit upon shit and threatening and demanding and bullying. The whole health care system is a foci work place.
Everyday going to work becomes terrifying. Everyday I am expected to do more with less and less.  I talk to the family physicians who are referring to me and they're as overwhelmed.  Everyone making money is just doing 'one complaint one visit'.  All the 'full service' folk like me are the laughing stock of the moneyed 'smart' doctors.  Several of my favourite family physicians and specialists retired or died last year.  Heart attacks and nervous breakdowns.  No one admits to the strain.  
The hospital turned away my suicidal patients when I sent them there and the patients killed themselves.  I could no longer see the value of working with the ‘system’ which was as far from ‘health care’ as anything. Portland Hotel Society corruption got to me. The white elephant of the Safer Injection Site with all it's money for law suits and all it's bull shit.
Everyday I seemed to read another 'sexy' article about ‘euthanasia’ and ‘medical marijuana.’  I felt like I was in living rerun of Logan’s Run. It all had the feeling of sick sci fi.
When I went east and saw my family somehow that world wasn’t Portland Hotel Society with Jenny Quan and Liz Evans taking kick backs locally. There was the French mafia stealing the citizens blind in the Quebec city hall scandal and Ottawa had all the French Canadian patronage scandals.  
Of course the Wall Street scandal took corruption to the level of high art. I'd go east and somehow it seemed more sane out. It really was probably that I got to step back from the daily hourly war in the Downtown East Side where the blue collar and white collar criminals compete.
 I was living in the wild west, working as an addiction medicine specialist in a province where the gangs ruled and BC Bud was the leading industry.  I loved that the Premier was doing her best to diversify, and get some real work and real honest industry in the province but it seemed everywhere she turned she was confronted with a pothead.  I loved that Minister of Health of Canda and of British Columbia were doing their very best to address the corruption.
But cleaning up the boat, seeing the mementoes of last fall and winter, I thought again of that dismal time.  That was then. This is now. It’s night and day.  It's summer and I've come through the dark tunnel and out the other side.
Dr. Sam Sussman was inspirational. He has hope in face of tribulation. Dr. Phillip Ney continues to believe in the good. Dr. Willie Gutowski has faith. These older men all lifted me up. My friends George and John, i believe because of their love for their kids, soldier on. Their examples are always poignant.  My brother Ron is amazing too.  
Everything seemed to hinge on the boat. The SV GIRI and Vancouver are so intertwined for me. When I walked into Stem to Stern and made the decision with Ben to buy a new engine and keep the GIRI my life turned a corner.  Dr. Phillip Ney, an old sailor, doesn't let a bit of rough water daunt him.  More reason to pray to the Lord.  So of course I prayed more. It was a winter of prayer.
Now again I love working with the young doctors in the clinic.  My assistant Hannah made the transition to Aubrey work well enough.  The court cases were disappointing personally with the cost with the lawyers and patients winning as best as they could.  I always had that sense that all around me there’s a celebration of wealth while I just focus on doing right and healing without focusing on profit.
I get frustrated as I learn about the deals and the awards and the fixes like the Portland Hotel Society.  We’re short hundreds of beds and housing and the money for those beds went into a few million dollar homes of the Portland Hotel Society Royal Couple.  Maybe my patients would be alive today if they'd not had their beds stolen by the corrupt.     Meanwhile Ottawa’s left wing CBC news group go on and on about the Senate.
Normally I don’t care.  I don't even know everything that goes on, though in this scandal I knew as much as the media and was thankful when the Minister of Health cut out the gangrene in the system.  The putrefying stench of the place still lingers.
But I have a sick person in front of me.   I do what I can to heal.  I reduce illness.  More and more there’s aging. We're not 'curing'.  We're extending life and reducing suffering. I pass on the easier younger cases to the junior doctors or have those cases cherry picked by the greedy.  I’ve got end stage patients with serious mental and physical illness.  There's chronic illness, the aging and dying and cancer patients and I know all of us as doctors and patients are winning against all odds.  But it's a losing battle.   Somedays all I can do is pray.
I trained as a hypnotist.  I ‘m a cheerleader.  Trained in motivational therapy and insight and all those other therapies and constantly keeping up on medications. Meanwhile there are  dozen beaurocratic policemen per front line doctor watching over our shoulder hoping we’ll make a mistake so they can swoop in,  show everyone how smart they are.  Silly buggers.
Meanwhile everyone complaining and what am I doing. I have to look for the positive. I have to find the reason to go on. I have to convince the dying to live. I have to get the patient out of the clutches of the drug pushers. I ride my Harley to work these days with Steppenwolf's Goddam the Pusherman playing full blast.   I was tired, bone tired, last winter, old and sick.  The contrast with me and Gilbert riding to work on the Harley playing "Born to be Wild' is something.
The decision to stay on  lifted me up.  I remember a spanish psychiatrist sharing with me that he was enjoying watching those take early retirement who had killed and maimed and focussed solely on their profit. Hearing him reminded me of Lear at the end of the play, saying to his daughter, 'we'll talk of court things'.    The evil elite are  never  really ‘caught’. They’re above the law. They’re never touched by the ‘police’ in the field.  Everyone knows who they are. They’re never confronted by the ‘police’ so it’s hard to keep supporting the ’system’.  Yet I do.  All I have to do is look beyond these individuals and see all the good people doing good things.  Father Mathew from my church helps the lonely old men in my neighbourhood.  I loved seeing all the new churches in Moscow.  It's always perspective.
I’ve taken to saying, “It’s all above my pay grade.”  The elite walk among us.  A friend said, “One day I woke up and I was poor.”  Another friend said, “One day I woke up and I was in a totalitarian state’.  These days I'm glad to be awake.  In the DTES the drug addicts are the living dead. They're simply not there. Their eyes are empty. Walking wounded. There but for the grace of god go I.
I looked forward to going to my nephews wedding. It gave purpose to the spring. Also I was organizing the trip to Russia which kept encountering snags and concerns. Was there going to be war with Ukraine? Was I going to get a Visa. Were we going to be able to get flights?
The wedding of Andrew and Tanya was so uplifting.  I love my family. My brother and sister in law are incredible humans.  The whole wedding reminded me of the joys of my youth, family times in the country.  There was the lake and the canoes. The rolling hills and green forest.  Where I am on the coast is jagged mountains and treacherous seas. It’s a whole other level of  harshness. But they have the snow and I love our climate.  But there’s a gentleness and civilization in the east that we don’t have here in the wild west.   To hear of Winnipeg’s year though was to love the west coast though. Water mains broken, water trucks, snow into summer.  We never fully appreciate what we have. There’s always comparison and if you look the grass is greener where someone else is watering it.
I loved travelling to Moscow, St. Petersburg and Ulyanovk.  Barrett was young and fun in her hyper focussed way.  As I grow older I enjoy all the relationships I’ve made over the years.  Each person is a rare jewel.  It was such a joy to see Anne again too and witness the amazing creativity of her husband in his home .I’m blessed beyond my wildest dreams.
So here I am digging around in the memories. I'm in absolute wonder at the new Volvo motor in the GIRI.  It purrs and there's no fumes. The old engine was so dirty.  This one is so clean.  This old girl that seemed irreparable has a new heart.
I cleaned and stowed. Even made coffee. It took some doing to get the propane back on and the burners working after months of no use.  I’d found enough food in cans the night before to stay over on the boat. Reading. I read more on the boat, watch movies on shore.  I
I enjoyed pressure washing the deck myself. The little Coleman pressure washer I bought last year at Canadian Tire has really served me well.  The deck looks so much better with the green gone.  It can be cleaner but a year of dirt and fungi has been removed.  It’s great.
Hauling garbage and stuff I didn’t need on the boat up to the truck took several trips.  Gilbert has a new friend, a labadoodle. These two frolicked together each trip I made. Then we unloaded stuff at the storage locker and went on to the grocery store to get the essentials.
Mida is coming around this week to clean up the GIRI. She has great taste and knows just what has to be done to turn a dog house into a human home.  I’m going to have to reupholster and will get her advice on colours and patterns.  When it’s outrageous at sea I found I didn’t like a lot of pattern but earth colours with the oranges and yellows to offset the green would be good. She got me pillows that really brightened up the place.
Of course all this work means I have to work to pay for it.  But the boat is nearly ready for offshore.  All the big jobs are done.  It's not that I'm planning on going offshore but when it's ready for offshore it's just maintenance rather than so much work. I imagine trade wind sailing but think of getting around the island even.  When the boats happy it seems I'm ecstatic.
I finally did get away. I made a sandwich and had some coffee.  It was 5 pm. I’d planned to be gone at 9 am then looked at the tide tables and saw that the ebb was at 2 so figured on 2.  I got off the dock. Most boat owners never do. I worry about leaving because coming back is always a challenge single handed .There’s hardly any space where I’m docked.  I pretty well have to parallel park. Having a dependable motor now will reduce some of the anxiety.  
Motoring over here to Bowen Island has been a joy. The engine worked just great. With the bottom clean I’ve been doing 6.5 knots.  I’ve been adjusting rpm every half hour like the recommendations for the engine say.  It’s been raining off and on all day but because it’s so warm it’s like a tropical drizzle.  With the dodger I wasn’t cold. There was a chilly breeze when I went out on the front deck. Gilbert follows me every where.  In the cockpit he was warm in his life jacket. I’ve let him take it off now that we’re at anchor.
The ratchet on the anchor that Tom adjusted isn’t working properly so I’ve had to haul the anchor by hand, devastating for my back.  I’ll have to get that fixed. There’s a ground gone on the outlets so I don’t have any plugs working. At dock hooked up to shore power I had one but none of the inverter outlets are working now.  I’’ve the speedometer to be fixed too.  There’s no inspection plate for the forward fuel tank so I’m working off the back one only.  45 gallons.  Maybe 20 in there now. Alex said he’d fix the meter which will then tell me how much fuel I have.  I was concerned about a water ‘leak’ on the port side but I don’t see it any more. I had some books get water damage but I’m not sure if that was from a topside leak or bilge water coming up when I was healed in the wake of a freight.
It’s grand being at anchor. I could have fished on the way over but was lazy.  I cleaned and worked on the boat steady for about 6 hours then ran around in the truck doing errands. I got the propane working and the stove and water heater going. Had a shower too and then filled the water tank before leaving. Had screw drivers and wrenches and ratchets out, even used the WD40 a few times.  Went through all the lockers to make sure everything was copacetic and nothing was dead.   I worked steady till I drove over here across the harbour and under the First Narrows bridge, across English Bay and around the Light house into Howe Sound. The wind only came up in Howe Sound.  English Bay was idyllic. Now the suns going down.  Wow.
Thank you Jesus. Thank you God. Thank you Alex and Stem to Stern. Thank you all those who make life worth living. Thank you all you inspirational and awe inspiring folk. Thank you family and friends. Thank you GIRI.God bless all.
Now time to get down to snacking and reading.  I think I have more sandwich meat and maybe some soup. Gilbert will surely want some of the cheese and some more wet food.  Then a night of sleep at anchor. Nothing so fine as sleeping at anchor.  Like being attached to an umbilical chord in the ocean womb of Gaia.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

having a news engine is uplifting you have dependable power and electricity

remember too that seeing the accomplishment you have

ought to be encouraging too in helping people is a great sense of self esteem for you