July 10, 2012
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!
June 3, 2012
Amongst the laments I hear from yachting clients, one is more frequent than others, namely that some people simply don’t have enough time to enjoy boating the way that they would like to. They work all week and on the weekend would love to go boating but are faced with a list of house and garden chores that cannot be neglected, lest they bear the wrath of the one who wrote the list. Once the work around home is done, they are either out of time or too exhausted to drive out to their marina. By the time they travel to their marina, pack and ready the boat the day is half over. At the end of the trip they still have to unload the boat, travel back and then unload the car; so much for a relaxing weekend! In cases like this it seems the dream of owning a boat is more bother than it’s worth, or is it. Owning a boat can be one of the most rewarding uses of recreation time you have ever experienced, so before you write off the possibility due to lack of time, apply a little critical thinking to assess the obstacles being faced. I’ve always believed that a problem well-defined is half solved and in the common situation described above, the problem is not the boat. The problem can actually be broken down into several smaller issues each of which is solvable:
- Problem One: Owning a house with a yard means you will inevitably spend part of your weekend tending to the maintenance issues that are part and parcel of home ownership;
- Problem Two: Locating your boat at a marina away from your home means you will be faced with a drive every time you want to visit your boat; that commute creates a psychological and temporal obstacle;
- Problem Three: Packing and unpacking your boat each week makes for a lot of redundancy.
The combined problems of too much home maintenance, too much distance to travel to the marina and too much packing and unpacking can be solved with a bit of strategic planning. One of my clients came up with a brilliant strategy to overcome these hurdles; he put his boat in his backyard so that it is there whenever he wants it. For clarity his boat is a 42′ Grand Banks and his backyard is the marina at 1000 Beach Ave in Vancouver. No lawn to mow, to traffic to fight, no need to unpack the boat in this very secure marina. Just 365 days of access to boating with the trip starting the minute he walks out his back door. In addition to solving the problems that otherwise might have prevented him from enjoying his boat, he chose a location that allowed him to tap into some of Vancouver’s premium lifestyle features. Want to jog the seawall? No problem lace up the sneakers and you are steps away from the starting line. Want cook a fine gourmet meal with culinary treats from Granville Island? Pick up your groceries by hopping the Aquabus which docks about ½ a block away. Want to view the fireworks in comfort? Look out the window for one of the best views in the city. Taking in a play in the theatre district? Walk a few blocks and you’re there. Access to transit, restaurants and every conceivable amenity are within walking distance. Less travel, less hassle means more boating, more relaxing.
His apartment faces False Creek and English Bay; allowing him to keep a close eye on his 42′ Grand Banks moored in his back yard marina. In reflecting on some of the additional perks associated with keeping his boat in his backyard marina my client added “The boat has always been an extension of my home. This utilization makes the apartment seem a lot more sizeable as there is always the option to have a change of venue when friends or relatives come over for dinner or even just for a drink. Everyone always loves to go down to the boat even if we have no intention of leaving the dock. It is unique because you get to be a liveaboard without actually living aboard if you know what mean. I have spent literally thousands of hours on the boat barbecuing and generally entertaining…right at the home dock.” In considering the amount of additional time he got to spend on his boat because it was just outside his back door he said, ”These were hours of boat usage that I likely would not have spent had the boat not been right there. When such an evening came to an end all I had to do was lock the boat and take a few steps back to the apartment for some sleep and return the next morning to clean up the mess. This is an aspect of the life style that few can imagine until they actually get into it. But it is one of the best things about the set up. It just totally enhances the whole downtown living experience by making you feel you are on an estate as opposed to just another apartment. It is a life that is difficult to give up.”
His meticulous attention to detail is probably part of his nature, and perhaps reinforced by his professional training, but then again anyone living in such a surrounding is likely to take just a bit of extra pride in this type of home; it seems to be an extension of the seashore and being that close to mother nature one just naturally tends to keep and appreciate things with a little more care and attention than one does amid suburban sprawl. The view compels one to appreciate natural beauty and the salt sea air wafting through the window brings with it the inclination to be grateful for the treasures this city by the sea has within it. His unit has all of the creature comforts one would expect in a Yaletown apartment and has been well-appointed by a professional designer. Coming home to a place like this, with his boat a few feet away, is strategic planning at its best. Having lived here and enjoyed the convenience, beauty and luxurious surroundings of this home for 25 years, he is now moving on to a new phase in life which includes a move away from the city. This apartment, which is perfect for the boater who needs more time to get out on the water, is finally available. If you act in time to take advantage of another serendipitously timed opportunity, you could also secure access to a slip at 1000 Beach; there is currently one place available. This marina is well maintained with cement docks, easy access to False Creek, and the starting point to any other destination on the Pacific Coast; this marina has what must be the best security system of any marina going…many of the boat owners live in the surrounding apartments and all of them form the best neighbourhood watch team you could imagine. 1000 Beach is one of the nicest backyards going, and no lawn maintenance; sure there are some weeds, but they’re seaweeds after all and they get washed away with the outgoing tide so no need for backbreaking work. For details on the slip or apartment feel free to drop me an e-mail and I can introduce you to the listing agents or check out the listing on-line.
The next time you and your spouse are about to have the argument that goes “I’d love to do more boating Honey but we don’t have the time to travel to our marina, pack the boat and unpack with all of the home and yard maintenance.” Let her know you solved the problem by putting an offer in on this place. Unless of course you actually would rather spend your weekends with an endless “honey-do” list instead of boating in your backyard.
Readers are always interested to know innovative ways that boaters have learned to maximize their time on the water. If you’ve come up with a solution to a problem which allowed you to enjoy more boating in Vancouver, drop me a note and I’d be happy to share your idea with other boaters so that they too can maximize their enjoyment of the boating lifestyle.