June 21, 2012
“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
I’m a writer and a speaker; if you cut me I bleed words. Starting a conversation is never a problem for me; stopping one? Well, yes that can be an issue. I had always put my “gift of the gab” down to being Irish, however there may be more to it than that. Part of my ease with words and story-telling comes from my ample use of conversation pieces, things in my home, or things I carry with me which serve to enkindle curiosity in those who might look upon them. Once the curiosity is sparked, conversation flows easily, and often toward subjects I am most fond of discussing. Choose the conversation piece well and you are half way there to enjoying an evening of inspiring communication. In a world of text messaging and e-mails, the art of conversation is prized now more than ever. If you are able to enjoy those fine words aboard your yacht in a place like Vancouver, well then the only thing left to do would be to count your blessings.
Given my propensity toward conversations and the pieces which inspire enjoyable ones, it is no wonder that a certain salt-cellar caught my eye while in for a visit with Jeanette Langmann at her gallery (Uno Langmann Limited). It may come as no surprise to you to learn that this “nef”, as it is more appropriately called, was in the shape of a ship. I love talking about boats and such a piece would no doubt direct one’s thoughts toward the finer points of that theme. Its beauty and intricacy coexist with its whimsy and utility. As with the best of yachts, the work that went into creating it is obvious the minute you see it.
Such works of craftsmanship often graced the tables of finer homes in France, Germany, Spain and Italy between the 13th and 16th centuries. This particular one originates from late 19th Germany, but would be perfectly placed as a centerpiece in present day Vancouver. It would be a welcomed addition to my home or to that of any yacht aficionado. In fact its size and shape would make it a well-chosen piece to have aboard your yacht. Yes, you could leave a salt shaker on the table, but such an act at best would inspire the question, “Would you please pass the salt?” Add a silver nef like this one to your table and don’t be surprised if the questions sound more like, “Goodness, is that the sun rising already? Why we haven’t even finished dessert! Could this evening have come to an end already?” If you think I exaggerate, check out the little silver nef and all of its details. See how many questions come to your mind in an instant; multiply that by the number of guests on board your yacht for an evening cruise and you will understand why they call it a conversation piece.
In choosing art for your yacht, considering the types of conversations you might want to enjoy can be a great selection criterion. If you want to talk about your family, portraits of loved ones will set the stage; business conversations can be sparked by objects which relate to your industry. If you would rather keep the focus on yachts, selecting ocean scenes or paintings of ships will certainly help you out, as would the silver nef mentioned above. In perusing Langmann’s vast collection, it strikes me that it contains conversation pieces for any need; the collection itself is worth talking about. Many locals already will be familiar with this well-established gallery, while visitors to Vancouver will surely want to add a trip to it on their shopping itinerary; located in the South Granville district it is easy to get to from any marina in the downtown core.
If you enjoy conversations about yachts and art perhaps we might consider gathering a few like-minded people together, either to discuss art aboard the yachts, or yachts amid the art; either setting would inspire exalted discourse. If you would be interested in being invited to such an event, drop me a quick e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or add a comment to this post; if enough people are interested I’ll set the idea in motion and see where it ends up. I am sure the little nef will quickly find its way onto the table of some yacht or fine Vancouver home if it has not done so already. If that happens before you get the chance to see it fear not, Jeanette’s collection is filled with an endless banquet of conversation pieces to feed the mind and bring forth pleasant words. You will find the Uno Langmann Gallery located at the south side of the Granville bridge, where it has been inspiring art patrons, antique collectors and good conversations for many years.
June 14, 2012
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, it is a habit”
I wrote a post a while back on the rising demand for quality products in Vancouver luxury industries, including the demand for better quality yachts. This was a trend I had predicted would take place and one which drove me to get involved in the industry in the first place. Another line of boats leading that trend arrived in our waters recently; it’s sure to be a favourite amongst the fishing crowd, as well as with owners of large yachts looking for a high-quality, versatile tender. Innovation and leadership are hallmarks of Scout Boats’ culture, needless to say such characteristics are endearing to me and no doubt will be to the readers of Boating Vancouver.
Scout Boats are 100% hand laid fiberglass, resulting in a strength to weight ratio that outshines any competitor. Precise engineering techniques lead to a consistent, a well-crafted product that undergoes many, many quality control checks prior to leaving the factory. Consumer satisfaction with these boats is predictably high.
Pride of craftsmanship is evident from the video the company posted on YouTube. In it, company founder Steve Potts, takes us on a factory tour showing many details of the manufacturing process and highlighting many of the elements of each boat system. The systemic perfection which Potts demands ultimately leads to a “near perfect” boat every time. It is a mark of confidence in their product, and their people, that the makers of Scout Boats take us on such a detailed tour of their facilities.
Besides the aesthetic appeal which make them look hot on the docks or out on the sea, Scout Boats are unsinkable. Their method of construction includes adding 20% more foam than is required by US Coast Guard Regulations; a reassuring characteristic for any boaters who find themselves in rough conditions. Accuracy, safety and precision are essential to the makers of this boat. Fuel and electrical systems are designed to high standards of quality control and are assembled using the finest quality components.
The thoughtfulness of the design is found in detail after detail right down to the choice of colour on deck surfaces. To prevent glare on sunny days, designers chose a shade of white which looks great, but also minimizes the amount of sun reflected back into the eyes of those on board. Upholstery and seating layout are intended to provide those on board with the highest level of comfort, going over and above any competitor in its class. In the final inspection of each boat, details of fit and finish are tested in a light tunnel to ensure that no factor is missed. Excellence is a habit for this manufacturer and their reputation well justified.
Three unique running surface designs are available from Scout. The “Air assist hull”, available on models 15′-19,’ is one of those designs which helped Scout Boats to make their mark in the coastal fishing niche. This design has been around for over 20 years and allows for stability, easy planing, and fuel efficiency. Scout has different hull designs for each category of boat it produces; each design is driven by the consumer needs and high performance expectations. They look at the purpose for which the boat is intended and design a vessel that will perform well in the conditions in which consumers will take it. Given that Scouts are so admired amongst world-class fishermen, they set their standard to surpass even the most demanding of consumers.
I viewed the 17′ that Grand Yachts had on their docks at Coal Harbour Marina recently and plan to sea trial another model shortly. Be sure to check back for a detailed review of that experience as well as accompanying photos. If you are in the market for a boat and just can’t wait for that review, be sure to contact Dave Worland (email@example.com) at Grand Yachts and he will gladly set up a test ride for you.
Lets face it, for a girl who loves yachts, writing, and Vancouver, maintaining a blog about Boating in Vancouver is about as much fun as can be had this side of heaven. I research boats and issues pertaining to them, spend time on beautiful yachts and enjoy great exchanges with people who actually read what I post. As a way to pay it forward for being able to enjoy this experience, I decided each week I would post details about arts and cultural events that readers may want to attend. Hopefully this provides a bit of useful info to readers and also gives some extra free exposure to local Canadian artists who do so much to add to the quality of life in Vancouver. If you know of groups or individuals who would benefit from this exposure, please have them send in the details of their performances or events, and (space permitting) I will do what I can to get the word out to readers who may be interested. Whenever possible I try to get out to the events I post about, so if you decide to go, be sure to introduce yourself so that we can connect in person.
Press releases can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This Friday (June 15th) The Track Arrows will release their CD “All Kinds of Time” at the Railway Club in Vancouver. I heard these guys play last December and they put on a great show. They will be joined by several other bands so it will be a jam-packed evening at a fun venue in the heart of Vancouver. The Railway Club has been around since 1931 and has hosted many a fine gig in its time; no doubt this will be a great one too.
If you are unable to get out to hear the Track Arrows in person, you may want to download their CD and support them that way.
And just a little further down the line you, might want to check out these performances by Michael Coury and friends including his local Jazz group Butter and Egg Band. I haven’t quite figured out when these guys sleep; their many upcoming shows include:
- June 21st @ ~7:30pm: Butter and Egg Band Kitsilano Showboat (weather permitting)
- June 24th @ ~8pm: Butter and Egg Band (Jazz Fest) @ Ouisi Bistro
- June 28th @ ~8:30pm: Butter and Egg Band (Jazz Fest) @ Ouisi Bistro
- June 30th @ ~8:30pm: Mike Coury Trio featuring Caitlin Toom (Jazz Fest) playing standards at @ Ouisi Bistro
- July 1st @ ~7pm: Kitsilano Showboat w/Bob Liley’s Sanctuary All-Stars
- July 3rd @ ~8pm: Jam session @ The Kozmik Zoo
- July 4th @ ~7pm: Bob Liley’s Sanctuary All-stars in Mission
- July 12th @ ~8pm: Butter and Egg Band @ Ouisi Bistro
- July 26th @ ~8pm: Butter and Egg Band @ Ouisi Bistro
- July 28th @ ~8pm: Butter and Egg Band Kitsilano Showboat
To grab some tunes to play on board and support them that way, you can download their 7 track album online
Grassroots Movements Work!
There is a prominent person I have the good fortune of knowing; his influence extends deeply into many circles in this province and well beyond. His influence on my own life has been profound. He is one of those people who exemplifies the best of what Canadians have to offer, never forgetting where he came from, nor his promise to share his success with others. One day last summer I went to him with what seemed to me to be a mighty big problem. He listened patiently as I explained the difficult situation in which I found myself. Occasionally he asked a few questions, but mostly he just listened. My reason for contacting him then was to thank him for being such a good example, and to ask for some advice on how he might handle the situation if he were in my shoes. After bolstering my resolve with a few kind words, he pointed out that a large part of his success was due to the fact that he had a strategic plan for his life; he also gave full credit to the fact that his wife worked that plan along with him. There is something powerful about people working together on a plan even if the group begins with only two. He commented that each year he and his wife reflected on how closely their lives mirrored the plan they had devised. It’s not that they didn’t ever encounter challenges along the way, it’s just that when those obstacles arose they had strategies to deal with them; tackling problems prudently and strategically can yield some amazing results. If you have a plan and the conviction to do it, don’t be surprised to find that you get what you asked for. It might not be easy, but it can be as simple as: “Plan it.” “Do it.” “Get it”. If you didn’t get what you wanted, it is most often because you didn’t have a plan, or if you did, you didn’t do what it required.
Wisely, that summer day when I met with him, he didn’t jump in and solve my problems for me, instead he suggested that I write a strategic plan for my own life and see what might become of it. I wrote a simple plan am very glad I did. I’m not going to tell you that all of my problems have been solved by the plan, but a good many of them were and with remarkable speed. Others were put into perspective; some disappeared all together. With a better perspective and some new goals to focus on, I accomplished a lot of things in a very brief period of time, some of them with a good deal of ease. As if these points were not enough, I had fun and met some magnificent folks along the way. The things I still have to accomplish are getting done more or less on time. So, as far as I can tell, this planning stuff works quite well. www.boatingvancouver.wordpress.com was just one of the fruits to blossom from that plan.
Every so often I check in with this fellow to let him know that another milestone has been met, or to throw a new idea his way just to get his take on it. He always replies with speed and precision, often offering the sort of nuance and insight that could only be gained from someone with his position, influence and experience. He is not short on encouragement; perhaps because he knows I’m willing to put in the time and effort necessary to see my plan to fruition. I contacted him to let him know I was supporting the effort to keep the Kitsilano Coast Guard and he encouraged me in his typical fashion. So I thought I’d pass that encouragement on to others who might now be in need of it; perhaps if we all followed his advice, things would work in our favour. On the matter of striving toward the goal to keep the station open and the efforts we had made so far he said, “Remember with your talent and a plan anything is possible.”
A lot of very talented people are backing the Kits Coast Guard, what we need now is a plan to harness that talent so that lives will be saved. I believe it is possible to keep the station open; if I didn’t I would not be so committed to the cause. Perhaps the threat of closure is really just a sort of “felix culpa” moment that brought us all together to remind each other of the good the Coast Guard does and to demonstrate to Ottawa the impact Vancouverites can have when we work together toward a common goal, especially when that common goal involves saving human lives. If the station closes, Vancouver will have a very big problem. Remember though, a problem is only a problem until it is solved. When you have the solution you gain an asset you never have to lose; you gain the knowledge that you are capable of changing and capable of inspiring others to do same. You gain the understanding that you can prevent some bad things from happening by striving toward a better goal. You earn a story you can tell your children to inspire them on days when they too have something to overcome. The problems one generation solves become the inspiration for the generations which follow. We need to solve a few more problems if not for ourselves then for the little ones of tomorrow. With these thoughts in mind, I suggest we find a way to keep the Kits Station open one way or another. I suggest we take our talents and apply them to a plan.
What follows is the plan I am working on to save the Coast Guard; I’m not saying my plan is a good one; I’m not saying anyone else needs to follow it. What I am saying is that to achieve change you need some plan; good intention alone will not get you where you need to go. I suspect there are a few better plans floating around out there and I would love to hear about them. I’d also be happy to hear your thoughts on where my own plan might be improved or how it might evolve over time. It isn’t profound, but it is achievable; hopefully throwing it out to readers will at least get something on the drawing board to get us to the next level.
Preamble to the Plan to save Kitsilano Coast Guard Station:
- Keep your eyes on the prize! It might be tempting to be overwhelmed by obstacles or to get lost in the details, however maintaining focus on the vision of the Coast Guard being saved will do much more to keep us motivated and working toward our goal than anything else. Imagine the lives that will be saved in the future by the Kits Coast Guard; for that to happen they need to be there. For the station to be there for us tomorrow; we need to be there for them today. We need to show up with the same courage and conviction we would hope they would employ if we were the ones at risk.
- Be polite! When frustrations run high this point can be difficult to remember, but it is crucial to keeping us on track. Being polite is especially important when speaking to people who are unaware of the importance of this issue. People are more likely to listen to you if you are polite; the more people who listen to the issues, the more people who will support the Coast Guard. Polite does not mean wimpy; you can be tough as nails, stand your ground and still be polite. Saying “please” and “thank you” will find you currency you didn’t know you had. You will gain more influence with elected officials if you treat them with respect; regardless of their political stripes they are people too. Raise the bar on what you expect from them and you may be surprised to see them live up to your vision of what is possible. Besides, manners are a tradition which have served mariners well for centuries; let’s not forget what works. “If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, he shows he is a citizen of the world.” (Sir Francis Bacon)
- Put your plan in writing! Plans do not have to be complicated to be effective, in fact sometimes it’s the simplest plans well executed that make the difference in times like these. Whatever your plan, WRITE IT DOWN!
So here is the plan:
- Reach out to the citizens of Vancouver via social media to ask what plans are already in place to save the Coast Guard ( Deadline: complete this task by June 15);
- Where appropriate support existing plans and share them with others who might get involved; use www.boatingvancouver.wordpress.com to keep this issue in front of readers; employ other social media including facebook, twitter, and linked in to ensure that the issue is also kept in front of people beyond the boating community (Deadline: Ongoing until Coast Guard is saved);
- Join forces with at least two other people to organize a letter writing campaign to send letters to every MP in Canada. (Deadline: June 17th);
- Write a letter to the editor and send it to at least 5 newspapers (Deadline June 18th);
- Envision the finest dock party this city has ever seen, bringing citizens together to celebrate the success of this plan and others which contribute to saving the Coast Guard. (Deadline: Ongoing until Coast Guard is Saved);
- Make an effort to thank people who have gone out of their way to save the Coast Guard (Ongoing);
- Review plan daily and provide regular updates to readers on significant milestones as they are completed (Deadline: Ongoing until Coast Guard is Saved).
That’s my plan in a nutshell. Now is the time to DO IT! (Delta-Oscar India-Tango)
June 8, 2012
Last Saturday (June 2nd) Vancouver witnessed the revival of an ancient tradition that is carried out in many ports throughout the world; its resurgence in these waters seems aptly timed to coincide with much-needed support for our local Coast Guard. The “Blessing of the Fleet” by local seaport chaplain Fr. John Eason was a decidedly simple event which nevertheless was marked by several moments of significance; the sort of moments that make one think, “Wow, what a wonderful city we live in; what an amazing place to call home, this town cradled by the sea, the mountains and the people who love it dearly.” It was a day which reminded Vancouverites just how great the sea’s influence is on our culture, our economy and our way of life. What was interesting to me was that this event was not initiated by the chaplain, but rather was requested by the local fishermen themselves.
The event at Fishermen’s Wharf in False Creek was attended by reporters from several media groups along with an intimate but dedicated group of commercial and recreational boaters who came out to lend their support to this event, to the Coast Guard and to each other. Anyone would have been struck by how diverse the folks in attendence were. There were people from all political backgrounds, people of varying ages; people who work and play on the water; people who had faith in the impact of the blessing and those who thought, if nothing else, it wouldn’t hurt; after all it involved splashing a bit of holy water on boats that were already wet.
The conviction of this group reminded me of Margaret Mead’s admonition to “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” It also reminded me of what a unifying force the sea can be; its great power prompts us to recall our own limitations and our dependence on each other in the face of its strength. If a vessel is in danger and sends out a distress signal, mariners are conditioned to respond. In hearing an SOS, Mayday or Pan Pan, nobody stops to ask for the political affiliation, age, rank or creed of the persons in distress; at that moment it matters not which yacht club burgee the vessel is flying; that the people on board are in distress is sufficient reason for boaters to spring into action and lend their aid. I think it is this unifying force of maritime culture that makes boating such a wonderful use of recreational time and one of the things that inspires generations of Canadians to earn their livelihood from the sea. I think this point is also the reason why our bid to save the Coast Guard has united this town like never before. Any one of us could be the person in distress, right now it’s the Coast Guard in need of help and all of us are enthusiastically behind this cause.
One of the poignant moments on Saturday came when Jim Sinclair read a poem commemorating lives lost at sea. He encouraged all in attendance to contact Ottawa and demand that the Kits Coast Guard base remain open so as to prevent such tragedies from occurring again.
BC Conservative Party Leader John Cummins reminded us that at times “…only the hand of God stands between the fisherman and death”. Cummins himself had been a commercial fisherman for over 20 years so it would seem his understanding of the situation is well-founded.
Vancouver City Councilor Geoff Meggs assured everyone that the City of Vancouver is wholeheartedly supporting the growing calls from across the city, province and country to keep this station open. Locals and visitors to our waters need this resource and the services they provide.
After the prayers were said, the troops reinforced and vessels blessed, there was a moment of hesitation as Eason slowly walked to his vehicle at his characteristic pace and quietly climbed in the driver’s seat. For a moment several people on the wharf looked perplexedly at each other; it seemed an odd ending to a solemn affair. After a few moments of silence the reason for Eason’s departure to his car became apparent. He had brought with him a submarine horn. He blasted the horn to the delight of the bystanders and within seconds the captains of every boat in attendance began honking horns to send off the fleet. The smiles all around indicated people knew something significant was started that day. Something we haven’t seen the end of yet. People are looking forward to seeing the successful fruits of that day’s benediction; the safe return of the fleet and preservation of our Coast Guard.
When I was studying at UBC I asked a professor, ”What does it take to be successful in life?” To which he replied with Augustine’s words saying, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” His advice has served me well in life. After hearing those horns blast on Saturday I would add to that advice, that sometimes being successful means making a lot of noise along the way. I have been overwhelmed by support from readers of this blog on the issue of saving the Coast Guard. Normally I keep my political activities quite separate from the rest of my life, however seeing the urgency of this situation and the wide-spread support for it from all corners of the city, I decided this issue would be the exception to the rule. I received a call from an MP on Thursday telling me that he had read significant parts of my “Open letter to Canadians” in the House of Commons on Wednesday. He urged us to keep up the pressure on Ottawa. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people read that letter and shared it via social media. I have had many e-mails, blog comments and phone calls showing support.
To date I have had NOT ONE SINGLE comment via any means opposing what was said.
I ask all of you again, and will continue doing so until we succeed, make some noise to save the Coast Guard. They are in distress and as we would do for any other boater in a similar situation we need to show up and do our part.
If by chance you are not a boater and did not realize the camaraderie that exists amongst this motley crew of misfits and adventurers, now you do and are welcome to join our ranks at any time. I will endeavor to write posts which demonstrate ways to get started in boating as well as other articles for the seasoned boaters who are regular readers. If there are any topics you would like to see covered, such as events, ideas or bits of info you think local and visiting boaters would like to know about, by all means drop me a line and I’ll do what I can to make some noise about that too!
My family has lived in the Lower Mainland since 1874, and in other parts of Canada since before that. There is a park, at least one street, numerous plaques and a host of archival material which document the contributions certain family members made to the city of Vancouver and to other municipalities, to industry and to politics. There is a certain plaque I pass quite frequently and when I do I always run my finger across one particular name to remind myself of where I have come from and of where I am going. It reminds me I have a duty to live my life honourably and to take the punches gracefully when they come; it is a reminder that my Irish temper on occasion has had difficulty obeying. It is a reminder that power when given comes not for our own gain but always instead must be used for the good of others who depend on those to whom the power has been conferred. No matter how many times I touch that plaque its impact on me is the same. It reminds me that we are not alone in this world and that humanity is connected to each other from one generation to the next, and that my time on this earth had better be spent in a way that leaves a positive impact for those who may depend on me now and in the future. This life is a gift which we need to respect and use wisely. At some times, and in certain arenas, it is a difficult lesson to practice. The instinct of self-preservation can be stronger than the call to put others first. Yet, to do so, and to behave honourably is something I think we as Canadians are always called to do. Our decisions impact others. None of these sentiments are written on that plaque; it’s just the name of my family member written there which brings all these thoughts to mind.
That plaque reminds me too that at times the life of a politician is a difficult one; there are sacrifices to privacy and family commitments, compromises to be made, rules to follow, nuances to consider and agendas to be weighed with every decision. I think if Canadians actually understood the tightrope which honourable politicians must walk, they would do more to become involved in politics and do more to support those who are trying to do a good job in service to our country; yes, there are such men and women in public office. I have worked on political campaigns at every level of government and proudly so from coast to coast; despite its flaws I still have some faith in democracy and the parliamentary system. Because of my family heritage and those representatives I know personally in Victoria and in Ottawa, I tend to cut politicians a fair bit of slack when I hear stories of them in the media; often what is not reported in the media is the piece of the story that was most crucial to the decisions they make. Frequently decisions have political, ethical, cultural, economic and environmental points which must be considered simultaneously; on occasion these points conflict with each other creating shades of grey that do not show up in the black and white ink of media.
Besides my career as a writer and my involvement in the yachting industry, I occasionally get called upon to teach Business Ethics at the college level. Weighing shades of grey and ethical dilemmas which cut across political, moral and industrial divides is a hobby I take great pleasure in pursuing. These sorts of dilemmas in Canada are many and complex; our ability and willingness to navigate these concerns and stay united despite our differences somehow defines us as Canadians. However, I assure you wholeheartedly, my fellow Canadians, that the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station is not a decision that falls into this category. There is no political, economic, social, moral, or nautical justification which would warrant the closing of this base; not one. Any politician suggesting there is has misunderstood grossly some or all of the reasons which compel this location to remain open. If this station is closed lives will be lost, full stop. Any politician suggesting otherwise is in grave error and in gross neglect of their duty as a public servant. At no point were they elected to put human lives at risk; at no point will the sea bow down and say, “I will quell my force in obedience to Ottawa”. At no point will one human life lost at sea be forgotten conveniently in order to make this issue go away.
So to my friends in Ottawa, Victoria and Vancouver, to my friends in the Canadian Armed Forces, in academia and in industry; to my friends who live, work and play on the waters of this coast and the other; to every Canadian who understands the power of the sea and the requirement to respect its force; to every Canadian who values human life more than political convenience, now is our time to step up and support the Canadian Coast Guard to ensure that the Kitsilano Base remains open. Now is our time, for any life, in any vessel is worthy of preservation. The men and women of the Canadian Coast Guard valiantly put themselves in situations which threaten their own lives in order to preserve another; these people deserve our support; human lives depend on it.
Katrina Boguski M.A.
Proud Supporter of the Canadian Coast Guard