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.

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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.

Bowers Away In Ballet Bay

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Meow at anchor in scenic Ballet Bay.

Ballet Bay at Nelson Island was our last anchorage of the cruise before we headed homeward. The shores are inhabited by human housing and our 5 vessel fleet was hard-pressed to find a good spot to raft-up that didn’t have an underwater (submarine) cable running through it. Last thing you want to have happen is the anchor getting caught on it. If you can’t free your anchor, then you might have to cut it loose. A bower is another name for an anchor carried on the bow of a boat.

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Anchor snagged on an underwater cable.

Actually 3 vessels in our fleet including Minstrel snagged an underwater cable while trying to retrieve our anchors. Even with beach signage or chart symbols displaying the international symbol of wavy line colored magenta or black trying to advise the location of cables, they can get out of position for many reasons. Luckily it was a thin television type of cable and fairly easy to bring to the surface to get un-snagged. However, boaters must be extremely careful  to not to break or cut cables, avoiding serious or even fatal injury if it whips free. Cables that carry very high voltage can prove lethal if they are cut. The tension weight of some cables can also affects the stability of smaller vessels with the risk  of sinking when attempting to raise them from the seabed. Damage to cables can cause serious disruption to communications affecting trade, international affairs, and safety at sea, or to some human’s favourite TV show.

IMG_3274Approximately 2.5kms north across Blind Channel on Musket Island was another geocache. Human mom didn’t have anymore pinback buttons to trade so she decided to use a youth sized t-shirt she had designed for a squadron initiative that said “I Got Caught Wearing My Lifejacket”. The geocache description said that the container had swag that was meant for boaters, and this seemed very fitting.  Both humans hopped into Jester the dinghy because this time human dad wanted to help find it. The location was breathtaking. At the top of a broad rock face was the marine park sign and the cache was easily found near it. Mom traded the t-shirt for a brand new fishing hook, but didn’t have a pen to sign the log book. Meowee, that makes 3 geocaches my trackable fish tag has visited on this cruise.

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Contents of “Musket Island Marine Cache” geocache.

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Kayaking Kitty, Almost

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Helping with the prawns

Today was a good day. First, human dad took Jester our dinghy to pull up his prawn traps he had set out yesterday and we had success. Around 100 was the count, meowee! I helped as much as I could by sorting out the ones the humans would find too small for them…yum.

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Islet with hidden geocache in Laura Cove, Prideaux Haven Marine Park, BC

Then human mom went off kayaking to find a geocache in the next cove over called Laura Cove. The geocache was called “Tarzan Loves Peanut Butter” probably because it was a peanut butter container and you could get a good view of the rope swing from the little islet it was located on.

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Contents of Tarzen Loves Peanut Butter geocache

This one actually had a trackable travel bug in it, with a travel goal which was to get to the Oregon coast in the USA. That’s about a couple of weeks or more of travel days from here for us and since there are so many Americans visiting up here, mom thought if any of them found this cache, they would be better suited to move it on it’s journey. Mom didn’t find anything she thought I would like, but being a good Port Moody Power & Sail Squadron member, contributed one of her pinback buttons with the squadron logo and web site address on it.

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Peaches

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Ben

On her paddles, mom also met some of my boating furiends. Ben the black lab cross, and Peaches. Peaches was a rescue dog and has worked very hard over the past couple of years to improve her behaviour when she’s around other humans and furiends. When I found out they were here, I wanted to go visit them too so I jumped into the nearest kayak. To my disappointment, mom couldn’t find my lifejacket and it was getting too late in the day to go out again.

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Can someone please pass meow the paddle!

Tomorrow we are leaving the raft-up to head over to Squirrel Cove for a couple of days. Dad hasn’t had much luck fishing here yet so we will try over there. It’s about a 2 hour cruise with a stop at Refuge Cove to get a few supplies and fresh water, and fuel for Minstrel and Jester. =^,,^=

It’s Meow 2nd Birthday

IMG_5067Meowee furiends, it’s been a long time since I last posted. Today is a very special day for me because it’s my birthday and I’m turning 2! Unfortunately the humans are too busy planning their trip to Mexico to plan a birthday party for me, but I’m told I get to go to cat camp in a few days….cat camp?

Yes it’s called the Phat Cat Inn and I’ll be staying there for 10 days…yikes. They showed me a video of the place and it looks just lovely. Each room has a TV window so I can watch the birds or squirrels, and there’s a lounge where I can meet the other guests and maybe make some new furiends. I’ve never been away from my humans for more than a day, so I am a little nervous. I’ll give a full report of the place upon my return.

Mom sang the Happy Birthday song to me this morning, and I thought I’d sing along too  (I think I’m a better singer than her.) Can’t wait for dinner tonight which I hope there will be prawns and crab for me….my favourites!IMG_5069

Boating season is just around the corner for us now. The new cruising schedules are coming out and I can’t wait for our first official cruise on the Easter long weekend in April. So glad we don’t live on the east coast…brrrr. We spent last weekend on the boat and took the new boating students out for their “On The Water Practical” lesson and rafted up in our favourite bay for the afternoon…it was a Spring-like day.

More to come…Paw Paw for now =^,,^=

Green Boating

Photography 101 Day 11, Colors can stir emotions within us, tell stories, and transform our images. Today, use one color to add life or drama to your shot.


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Pop of Green Floor Sign, Vancouver Boat Show

 

For over fifty years, the Vancouver International Boat Show has been, and still is, one of the best ways to find the latest & most innovative boating products on the market. For a modest entrance fee, boaters have access to free seminars put on by boating experts including hands-on skills training, and free 30-minute power or sailboat rides to get a taste of the boating life. The Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons is there too teaching boaters about being safe on the water. 

What about keeping the water safe? In our boating play ground called the Strait of Georgia (or Salish Sea) on the Pacific West Coast, which provides us with some of the most pawsome cruising waters in the world, there are over 350,000 boats! Meowee, that’s a lot! And we need to make sure we minimize our impact on it especially in high use areas such as marinas, anchorages and marine parks. Boat shows are a great venue to learn more about sensitive areas, birds, fish and other critters that depend on our waters. The Strait of Georgia Alliance puts out a Guide to Green Boating. As a green boater, you pledge to:

  • Manage your sewage responsibly.
  • Take care when fueling.
  • Use bilge filters or bilge pads.
  • Maintain your boat.
  • Use environmentally friendly cleaning products & bottom paint.
  • Dispose of all wastes properly.
  • Keep learning.

The next Vancouver International Boat Show will be held January 21-25, 2015 at BC Place Stadium and Granville Island. Our squadron has added the boat show as a cruise destination to our cruise schedule.  The marina we dock at is nestled on the waterfront of the vibrant Yaletown neighborhood and is a daytime hub of activity in the southeastern part of downtown Vancouver. It’s surrounded by parks, patio restaurants, urban apartments and modern condos of residential towers with spectacular views. The Vancouver sea wall passes right along by the marina and is one of the docking places for both the Aquabus and False Creek Ferry routes to Granville Island. All the amenities of gracious urban living can be found nearby, from the gourmet markets, yoga establishments and public transit, to the busy nightlife and boutiques. Our members have a lot of fun there and I really look forward to going, and you can look forward to my report on anything to do with boats and furiends.

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Seamarks – Aids to Navigation

Photography 101 Day 7, Landmarks are everywhere: iconic places, meeting points, markers on a map. Today, consider a unique point of view as you photograph a landmark. These landmarks on a map can be famous and instantly recognizable, or sometimes they’re simple markers to help us navigate.

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Sutil Point Starboard Light and Bell Buoy, Cortes Island, BC

A variant of a landmark is a seamark, a structure usually built intentionally to aid boaters navigating featureless coasts. These aids to navigation are very important for keeping furiends safe on the water. They are used to indicate channels, dangerous rocks or shoals, mooring positions, areas of speed limits, traffic separation schemes, submerged shipwrecks, and for a variety of other navigational purposes. Some are made to be visible in daylight only (daymarks), and others have some combination of lights, reflectors, bells, horns, whistles and radar reflectors to make them useful at night and in conditions of reduced visibility. Marks are shown on nautical charts, using symbols that indicate their colour, shape and light characteristic, and usually have a name or number identification.

Lateral buoys like the one pictured here are used to mark the edge of a channel or hazards. Until 1980 there had been 30 different buoyage systems. Meowee, how confusing that would have been.  Now, for historical reasons the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) combined them all into two different schemes used worldwide, differing primarily in their use of the colours red and green for two regions (A and B). Region B is the Americas (where I am), the Philippines, South Korea and Japan, and Region A is everywhere else (where Bailey Boat Cat is.)

In nautical terms,  humans call the left side of the boat “port”, and the right side “starboard”. The colours red and green also represent the sides of the boat. Red is starboard and green is port. When heading upstream (against the current) in Region B, green buoys must be passed on the left side of a boat and red buoys must be kept on the right side of a boat. In Region A, it is the opposite.

The Sutil Point light and bell buoy pictured here is almost a mile off shore near the extremity of the rocks and shoals that extend off the southwest end of Cortes Island. Getting up close to some of these buoys can prove interesting because many birds and other sea life like to rest or perch themselves on it.

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The Raft-up Connection

Photography 101, Day 6: In today’s world, we’re more connected than ever. How will you capture our theme, connect, through your lens? There are many ways to interpret this theme: from a gadget to a handshake, from a bridge to a gathering among friends. What’s yours?


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Prideaux Haven Raft-up, Desolation Sound, BC

These are typical of our squadron’s raft-ups, where the boats are connected to each other, and our members connect with each other, and nature. Other boaters have (jokingly) commented that we look like a small city, and all things considered, I guess perhaps we do especially at night with our underwater lights, music, BBQ smells, toys, and laughter.  We are the most fun group on-the-water. But make no mistake, we are very serious about safe boating. (Mom wants you to know that even though there are no sail boats in these pictures, we do have members with sail boats,… just not in these photos.) You can see our boat Minstrel, fifth boat from the left.

My humans had a disagreement about these two photos. Although they agree both represents the theme, the dad human hates the sun rays effect in the 2nd photo and mom thinks it’s really cool. It’s not an applied effect, it’s natural. Mom noticed that when using those online photo editors, some of them have a “ray” effect that can be applied so others must like it too… or maybe it “depends” when it works. What do you think?

The mom human played around with the exposure (brightness, contrast, shadows, and highlights) to try to make the photos “pop” a little more…at least that’s what she said she tried to do.

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Commander’s Sail Past Raft-up, Bedwell Bay, BC

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The Derelict Vessel Mrs. Pauley

Writing 101 Day 18: Craft a story from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all. For your twist, focus on specific character qualities, drawing from elements we’ve worked on in this course, like voice and dialogue.

Prompt: She had seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley had been grounded there since before anyone can remember. She’d fallen in disrepair and no one knew who her captain was. The Harbour Authority, accompanied by C-Tow, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the coast she’s served on for forty years.


They’d come for her. She’d been called a derelict, an environmental and safety hazard, and she had to go. The grownups were tired of her, “an eye soar unbecoming to a budding resort marina”, they said. With so much talk about her over the years, I felt like I knew her, yet I knew nothing about her except that I felt sorry for her. She had an unusual name for a boat. It was a couple of years before I realized she was a boat and not some neighbour my parents were bad-mouthing. Then all the comments suddenly made a lot more sense. I had always thought that Mrs. Pauley was some poor old lady who had been abandoned by her husband after fourty years, and having no where to live  she camped on the beach without power, or water taps, and had to wash up on the shore. Continue reading