Motion Monday: Swan, Dog, Duck, Goose!

This year Easter was early, and with it was my human mom’s birthday and our first cruise of the year. (Since she forgot my birthday we don’t really need to know about hers.) Destination Union Steamship Marina on Bowen Island is about a 2 hour journey for Minstrel from our marina in Port Moody. About halfway there we’d left the more sheltered and calmer waters of Burrard Inlet and became exposed to the Strait of Georgia when I suddenly didn’t feel so good.  My human was watching me for “the signs” and as soon as she saw them, in true mom style she whisked me up in a blanket and sat outside in the fresh air with me. After about an hour I felt so much better.

IMG_5016IMG_5030We were there for four weather perfect days. Although my human dad didn’t win the Crabmeister contest, he didn’t disappoint either with a decent catch of both crabs and prawns. He’s my Easter bunny hero. The boats on either side of us had dogs. Peaches was on our port side and Tank was on our starboard. Except for when the dogs left for walks, I mostly behaved and stayed on our boat and greeted all who walked by. My furiend Krypto the yellow (but white) lab was there and came over to say hi, and I also met a new furiend, a white husky whose name I can’t remember but was very interested in meeting me since apparently she’d never seen a cat before. She seemed nice and was a big hit with all the humans.

IMG_5049IMG_5019I spent much of my time on the anchor board, my favourite place at the bow of Minstrel, watching the shore or whatever flew or swam by in front of me. I saw several ducks swimming by who didn’t pay any attention to me,  but what did notice me was a big bird I had never seen before. My human call it a swan and his name is Oscar. He lives at the marina and is not shy around humans, probably because of all the treats they give him especially after they hear the sad story about his mate dying. He seems friendly enough but he does make me feel a little nervous.

Last but not least are those annoying geese. I was trying to take a nice little cat nap when a big ruckus started up outside. The honking of one goose I can handle, but when there’s four of them, I had to go out and let them know I wasn’t impressed. Geese can be very noisy especially during mating season. The worst part was the strange long drawn out ohms between honks. My human thought it was rather funny and took this video.

Our next cruise will be the long weekend in May and close to home. I hear there’s going to be a Gilligan’s Island costume theme with a 3 hour dinghy cruise scavenger hunt. In the meantime, I’m still hoping to get some more votes during the BC SPCA 2017 Calendar Contest, and there’s one more week left. A big thank you to those that donated and voted to support a very good cause including my friend and cat mom Ellen Pilch.

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I’m So Gull-ible

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The weather, forecasted to be gray and rainy, unexpectedly turned out to be sunny and dry. After our Remembrance Day Service at Belcarra Regional Park yesterday, we returned to our Marina for a bit of an afternoon dock party. The humans set out their deck chairs, furnished a few deck tables with appetizers, and enjoyed the glorious afternoon together.

I was almost allowed to roam at will, but the humans were a little further away from our boat Minstrel than I was comfortable with and instead I started trespassing on a few boats in between. That ended with me getting closed up inside Minstrel for the rest of the day, which was okay because it was my nap time anyways.

But what really caught my attention just before then was the dock leading the other way, along the marina’s breakwater, that was standing room only for a flock of seagulls. My oh my, if I could only join that party! I did try. I lowered my body as low as it would go and almost floated across the dock as I skulked towards them. Unfortunately they have really keen eyesight, and as if on cue a large section of them closest to me just flew up in the air, only to land a little further down the dock. They weren’t ever going to let me get too close. Mom didn’t like the look of the big mess of fresh runny poop they left behind and shushed meow back to boat before meow, or her, could step in any of it. But what a rush though.

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Here on the west coast of North America we have the western gull (Larus occidentalis). Did you know that an older name for gulls is mew? In German it’s Möwe, Danish måge, Dutch meeuw, and French mouette. These gulls typically live for 15-25 years. One of a gulls favourite food are mussels which are readily available to them at this time of year along the docks at the waterline. They carry the shelled morsels up into the air and drop them onto hard surfaces, a method used to crack them open. We are constantly finding empty black shells, and sometimes crab shells, all over Minstrel’s decks. Clever, but messy birds.

My human said she had read a rather humorous news article about a lady in Paignton, Devon (a small town in England) who reported having about 50 golf balls dropped on her house one summer by seagulls. They probably saw the balls as potential food, but then gulls see most things as potential food. Clever yes, but not so smart.

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Writing 101 Day 10: So far, we’ve found inspiration from our own experiences, images, words, and more. Today, let’s quietly observe the world around us and write about what we see. Find a spot where you can sit and observe for at least 20 minutes: a bench at a park, shopping mall, or museum; from inside your car in a parking lot; or even a place close to home, like your front porch. Ideally, it’s a location where you can watch action and interaction in a setting (between people, wildlife, weather, etc.) Don’t be afraid to take risks! Your response can be purely nonfiction and be an exact report of what you see, or a piece of creative nonfiction that uses storytelling elements (like point of view, pacing, and dialogue) to shape a more dramatic narrative.

Wordless Wednesday: Remembrance

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Photo of meow and my humans, taken by my furiend Tank’s human, Sharee Bourke.


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Port Moody Power & Sail Squadron Remembrance Day 2014 – Belcarra Park Dock, Belcarra, BC


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This is a blog hop. Click the badges below to see more and join the fun!

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Messing About In A Boat

There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

— Kenneth Grahame, Writer – The Wind In The Willows

IMG_2438And that’s exactly what I do. I mess about in a boat along with my humans and their boat friends. We call our group gatherings a “raftup” but another term “messabout” was used for an event in 1990 for the beginning of the Southern California Small Boat Messabout Society, SCSBMS. In the UK, “banter” is used especially in the canals. It doesn’t really matter what it’s called, it’s all the same… the emphasis will be more on talk and camaraderie than actually doing anything constructive.

These are a couple of photos from our Memorial Day long weekend cruise back in May of this year. Seventeen boats rafted together. We called it the Backyard Bash Cruise because this time the location was not far from our marina in local waters. Normally the group cruises across the Georgia Strait to Gabriola Island in the Gulf Islands but human dad felt that was too far to go for just a weekend, even if it was a long one. So we never went.

IMG_2430Our cruise master organized a pirate dinghy poker run and the silly humans frivolously dressed themselves and their dinghies in pirate fashion.  Not me though. Human mom forgot to bring my pirate hats. She had bought 2 of them last year from a Halloween clearance bin because she couldn’t decide which one she liked better. Guess what I’ll be this Halloween. To play, the humans were given some clues to find the location of 5 “stations” on the water where they would get a random playing card to create a poker hand. The winners won a share of the booty (ante). My humans didn’t win, but seemed to have a lot of fun in the process.

Our official cruise schedule for the year is over now. Minstrel is still waiting for one of her sick cats (engines) to recover before we can go boating again anyways. In a couple of weeks we will be taking the students from the boating course out on a day cruise. The students get to put theory into practice and actually plot the course, with paper and pen using paper charts, and take us from the marina to a nearby bay. If all goes well we will arrive in time for lunch and an afternoon to just mess about nothing.

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Writing 101 Day 7: Today, use a quote or passage from something you’ve read to introduce your post. You’ll see a similar technique at the beginning of a book or chapter in the form of an epigraph.

A Tweet For Volunteers

I was having a such a peaceful little cat nap when I was rudely woken by a little birdie tweeting loudly in my ear. Seems my human left the laptop open and I fell asleep on the keyboard after a little internet surfing that ended on Twitter. Glancing sideways at the screen unamused, my ears perked to attention when I recognized the above quote was tweeted by the Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons (CPS).

My humans are members of CPS; volunteers themselves for the past eight years now. They know full well the countless unpaid hours that they and the other dedicated volunteers have put into increasing awareness and knowledge of safe boating. Untold time and energy is invested into educating and training members and the general public, fostering fellowship among members, and establishing partnerships and alliances with organizations and agencies harbouring boating interests.

I rarely volunteer any of my tricks without receiving some kind of treat for doing them, but for humans, if not for the money, why do they do it? Apparently humans have deeper needs so they volunteer for an endless variety of reasons such as to:

  • gain experience,
  • acquire new skills,
  • meet new humans,
  • expand their network of contacts as a way to get a new job or start a career,
  • give back to their community,
  • help a friend,
  • promote a worthwhile activity,
  • feel good.

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Last week our squadron hosted a local shoreline cleanup event registered with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup which is one of the largest environmental activities in Canada, and third largest in the world. Leading by example, my humans along with many other CPS members making up the over 50,000 Canadian volunteers, removed in a combined effort approximately 140,000 kgs of shoreline litter before it could get into the water. Meowee, aquatic life everywhere thanks you!

Whether discarded accidentally or deliberately, all shoreline litter is the result of human activities. Have you ever visited a beach the day after a public event such as a fireworks show? It’s disgusting! The amount of garbage left behind is staggering, and some of it ends up in the water by wind or wave before any cleanup efforts can get underway. Shoreline litter can significantly alter the sensitive balance of ecosystems and is particularly dangerous for marine life by way of entanglement and ingestion, which can lead to restricted movement, injuries, and even death by drowning, suffocation or starvation. Marine debris is a problem for all of us. It affects everything from the environment to the economy; from fishing and navigation to human health and safety; from microscopic plankton to giant blue whales.

It’s seems quite strange to me that garbage is made up of items humans consider worthless. However, according to a survey from a litter study in 2009, it costs over 11 billion dollars in cleanup and abatements…every year! That’s just in the United States of America alone, and Canada can’t really be all that different, never mind all the other countries in the world wherever humans live. I’ve also learned that the oceans have toilet bowls the size of Texas containing confetti size plastic bits and other debris that just won’t flush. Yes plural because there are apparently about five or six of them around the globe. I really don’t think there’s enough money in the world to pay for it’s clean up let alone the cost of repairs the damage it’s presence is causing. Now more than ever, all humans need to voluntarily clean up their act, and that my furiends would truly be priceless.

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Writing 101 Day 5: One of the goals of Writing 101 is to tap into new and unexpected places for post ideas. Today, let’s look to Twitter for inspiration. Today, write a response to a tweet. Shape your post in any way you choose — agree or disagree with the tweet, or use it as a starting point for a story, personal essay, poem, or something else. Visit Twitter.com and enter #quotes in the search field, which will display tweets with this hashtag. Find a tweet that intrigues you.

Geocaching – A Study in Electronic Navigation

381I often pawndered how my humans ever managed to find their way around out on the water without getting lost. I mean there are no roads or street signs to follow at sea. I eventually learned that they have special electronic devices that can display charts of the ocean and where the boat is on them. How very useful. They have several of these visual devices, of varying sizes and capabilities, which are either fixed to the helm of the boat or carried around with them. Even though human mom took a basic boating course which included learning basic navigation, she didn’t really put much more thought into applying those skills after that. To her, it was the captain’s job to figure out exactly where they were, and how to get where they were going, and she was the admiral. That was until we started geocaching.

Geocaching is about finding little containers of treasures carefully hidden all over the planet, in publicly accessible places like parks and hiking trails…and beaches! Well the term treasure is used loosely since one human’s junk is another human’s treasure, but you never know what you might unearth. Like a house has an address, a geocache has a set of GPS coordinates. You plug the coordinates into the electronic device and it shows you where it is compared to where you are on some kind of map, or chart in nautical terms.

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Setting up a geocaching activity for members to play on a cruise.

Since you’re given the exact coordinates of the geocache’s location, it may seem deceptively easy to find, but unlike a road map, you are not given the exact route to it, just a couple of icons showing your location and its, with possibly a straight line connecting the two. The essence of navigation is to get from your current position to a pre-planned destination, and then to return safely. However, there could be forests, hills, mountains, lakes, streams, buildings, or in nautical terms, `hazards`that you have to navigate around first in order to get there. Because of all that navigational uncertainty, the key to a successful find whether it be a geocache or some other point of interest, is education and preparation.

Do you understand what GPS is and how it works? Do you know the different types of maps? Do you know how to load maps and GPS coordinates into a GPS device? Do you know what a waymark is? Do you know how to create a route of waymarks? Can you export a list of GPS coordinates to share with others? Conveniently the Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons  & United States Power Squadrons offer in-depth courses that specifically teach electronic charting, electronic navigation, and navigation by GPS, and you don’t need a boat or be a member to take them. But unlike riding a bike, if don’t use those skills often enough, you lose them. Cue geocaching. The rewards of geocaching go far beyond the material treasures you might find. Lessons in geography, map reading, navigation, nature, ecology, history, physical exercise, fellowship, and the Golden Rule come to life and are far more retentive because of this any-day real world game. Of that I am certain.

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Writing 101, Day 3: Prompts come in many different forms. Sometimes, a single word is all you need to get your mind’s wheels turning. Here are six words: TREASURE, REGRET, HOME, LOVE, UNCERTAINTY, SECRET.  Select one word in this list that speaks to you in some way. Have you always wanted to write about that wrong decision you made? Are you a long-term traveler looking for the right city to settle? Do you want to write a poem about your relationship?vThe beauty of the one-word prompt is that it’s open to interpretation. What do you think of when you hear this word? What do you see? This word is simply the seed for your post: feel free to shape your idea as you see fit.

Throw Back Thursday – Cruises to Bowen Island

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Mediterranean Tie at Union Steam Ship Marina in Snug Cove on Bowen Island, BC. Minstrel is center with the blue canvas on the upper helm.

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Meow relaxing on the anchor board of Minstrel

Every Easter and Labour Day long weekends are spent with our boating group, the Port Moody Power & Sail Squadron at the Union SteamShip Marina in Snug Cove on Bowen Island. It’s about a 2 1/2 hour cruise for Minstrel from our home port, and then we stay tied to the dock for three to four days of fun, fun, fun. With up to 30 or more vessels attending, we do what is called a Mediterranean Moor- docking a boat stern-in as opposed to along-side, and anchoring the bow – to fit in as many boats as possible.  The marina is very accommodating to us, but we need to reserve a year in advance. We also reserve one of the restored historical cabins where the humans hold their potluck dinners and other social activities.

This is the time when all the boat dogs really get to know and socialize with each other. They are very well behaved around me but do I get a little overwhelmed being one of the few boat cats. There are four of us now, but the one called Bela, who I’ve met, doesn’t always come with her humans, and then when she does, she mostly stays inside the boat. Polo, and Lucy who I peeked in on this summer, are the other two but they never come out either.

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Yes Blaze the boxer, I know you are there.

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Blaze the Boxer curious about meow.

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Meow curious about Shylo the Border Collie

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Chairs provide good cover.

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Chilling out under the dock chairs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was so looking forward to going on this Labour Day cruise last weekend but unfortunately I didn’t get to go. The humans almost didn’t either because one of Minstrels cats was broken. At the last minute the humans decided they could rent a cabin at the marina but because of some stupid human rule, cats weren’t allowed. So with guilt in their eyes, and Jester the dinghy on a trailer in tow, the humans headed off to catch the Ferry without me.

I know it wasn’t entirely their fault but I was not happy being left home with the she-devil and her human. On the day the humans were to come home, the human son opened the door and I was ready. Out I went. He and some other humans tried to find me but I hid really well. However, much to my worried human’s relief, and mine, I recognized the sound of the their vehicle when they finally got home and I came out of hiding to greet them. And to make it all better, human dad brought me back a crab. Meowee!

Until our next cruise, here are a few photos of me at this marina from some of our past cruises. Paw paw for now.

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Trying to be part of the dock party.

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Finally A Furiend in Garden Bay

IMG_3327After considerable scrutiny upon our arrival I was satisfied that the dock master had given us a suitable spot. A welcoming committee was waiting to help secure Minstrel to her starboard side dock assignment. The fleet had all returned and regrouped once again at Garden Bay Marina in Pender Harbour for the last two days of the cruise before heading home.

After we were plugged and settled in, human dad left to set out the crab traps. Meowee, crab! Now wouldn’t that be a special treat to end the cruise with.

IMG_3338IMG_3339Remember on day two when I was looking for a furiend in Garden Bay? Well guess who’s here? Tucker! Tucker likes kitties, and I like him, so I immediately jumped off the boat onto the dock to say hi to my old furiend. The teddy-bear faced bichon frise is getting along in years but is still very photogenic and has been featured in the squadron’s past three annual Pets and Wildlife calendars that human mom has printed. I’m in this years too, of course. I can show you the 2013 photos that have been uploaded to Flickr where you can meet some of my other squadron furiends. I’ve got to get the 2014 photos uploaded soon, which has been on my “to do” list since January. Does that list ever get done!

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Boat Graveyard in Gerrans Bay

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Coming into Gerrans Bay, Pender Harbour, BC

As we cruised into Gerrans Bay in Pender Harbour to visit the human’s cabin and their relatives, a disturbing sight caught my attention. For the last few years or so, there were two derelict boats anchored there. Now there are five more of these floating nightmares. What is going on here! The quiet little bay, that has managed to stay somewhat off the radar than the more popular anchorages in Pender Harbour, is turning into a marine graveyard.

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More derelict eyesores.

Of the 2 pre-existing derelicts, one has now sunk, and the other washed up on shore. When vessels sink or are abandoned in bays, harbours and shorelines, they can be an eyesore and a hazard to navigation.  At the same time, they can physically destroy sensitive marine and coastal habitats, sink or move during coastal storms, disperse oil and toxic chemicals still on board, become a source of marine debris and spread decrepit nets, fishing gear, and plastics that entangle and endanger marine life. To complicate matters further,  reviews and permits may be required to remove boats that have sat on the bottom for years, even decades, that may attract the growth of corals and other endangered species on them, or have been abandoned for more than 50 years with respect to historical preservation.

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Derelict vessel ashore.

Human mom tried her best to explain to me the complexities of having these vessels decommissioned and removed until I went cross-eyed. However, I was relieved to find out the humans are finally developing solutions to address the recent increase in numbers. The “do whatever it takes” attitude while understandable, doesn’t always pay especially if the vessel has lost any salvage value. Unlike automobiles, it can cost a lot of money to properly remove and dispose of a boat. Some owners, if they can be found at all, can’t or won’t pay for it although it is ultimately their responsibility. Slowly but shorely, the humans are sharing and implementing what they call “best practices” around the world to deal with these hazards, and to discourage any more from becoming one.

I’m pleased to announce that next month in September, my humans and other members of the Port Moody Power & Sail Squadron will be participating in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup within the harbour of Port Moody. The squadron also has a public facebook page dedicated to the awareness and discussion of environmental marine issues including derelict vessels.

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The tiny yellow family cabin.

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