Friday, October 31, 2008

Tides of Change

Thursday October 30th, 2008

Summer has slipped by, as slick as a seal sliding down a kelpy rock.

The dock and boats are out of the surf, and I have just a few kayaks left out of storage.

Today being a flat calm day, and with a Honey-do list a fathom long and a potential cause in conflicting priorities, I found myself once again slipping into the sea.

While exploring the northern Reach, I couldn’t help noticing how high the tides were and how everything that had drifted over the summer months seemed to have congregated in the eastern end of the harbor.

I always have difficulty with plastics, bottles and bags that tend to hang around and litter our beautiful shoreline. I want to say “Wait a minute, you’re in the wrong place, and don’t you know you’re not welcome here?” It gives me the feeling that I’m in the wrong place.

They remind me of a not so pleasant experience I once had in the Bronks .

After a game of hurling, I had over-indulged and overstayed my welcome in a popular pub, and while meandering through the streets trying to find the underground, I found myself in the wrong side of town. I was approached by a few thugs who questioned me as to my reason for being in this part of town and in particular on their side of the street. They didn’t cause me any harm, but said “Bro! You’re on the wrong side of town!” and promptly escorted me to the nearest subway station.

I felt those same sensations this morning when I came upon a cove full of human trash. Knowing that either it or I was in the wrong place and displacing negative energy.

Was I to try and pick up every blubber-laden piece o’trash or was I going to go on my way and accept that I am powerless over certain things? The latter prevailed and I was off around the next point where it was clean and the energy positive.

On my journey back up the Reach there was a gentleman at the end of his pier cleaning his shovel.

“Some day we’re having” said he. “Yes indeed” I said “it is that indeed”

I shared that we are fortunate to live in such a beautiful place and that just last weekend I had toured Connoire Bay, Hope Brook, Otters Point, Upper Barasway and all points in between.

We chatted a little and I was soon to find out that his dad grew up on Otter Point just an hour west of Burgeo.

Only in Burgeo and in a kayak could such fellowship unfold.

As the Man, on perched knee, and leaning over the head of the wharf spoke, the man in the kayak was able to put all things from the eastern cove to one side and take in the story!

He goes on:” You see as a boy I frequently visited that area with Dad. And once upon a time there was a school, church, and even a store at the point”.
He continued by saying that one summer in particular, he spent a whole month at Connoire while his dad lobster-fished.

As he shifted weight from one knee to the other he also put a new twist to the story.

“Lobsters! You’ve never seen such as that summer, we could go down to the cove at low tide, lift the kelp and pick your choice. Father always told us that if we want lobsters next summer, we’d best not keep the spawny ones.”

Them were the days he said, and there was enough fish and lots to do.

I said that we have lost a lot of communities in the last 50 years and that most have no resemblance of even being inhabited. Yet to a degree they were self -sufficient.

We chatted about what it was like back then, what brought us to where we’re at, and how it is now.

We even tried to project as to how it will be in the next 50 years.

We agreed that there was nothing to keep the next generation here, and that the world had a stronger magnetic pull today than it did when we were boys.
The father and son operations in small skiffs went to the way of the trawlers and fish plants.

The fish plant that used to employ hundreds of people, now only employs a handful of men on a part-time basis processing fish meal, and instead of being an asset to the community it pollutes the air and water and impedes any form of ecotourism from happening.

Folks are reluctant to complain or give the plant owners a hard time as there is still that underlying hope that somewhere, somehow, things might become the way they were, and we would be a booming town once again.

So, as with the blubber-infested plastic bags and bottles, few bother to even take a stand or rock the boat so to speak.

And like the naive Newfoundlander, who while in the Bronx found himself on the wrong side of the street, the only self-preserving solution is to find the next subway, plane, or just take a few strokes east or west and fly with the eagles. Go out to sea, go down the coast or just move on.

Just another day on Dorim’s wharf.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kayaks Need a Home Too!

It's been a busy summer, not as much in kayaking but in the building of a boathouse

Four years ago I acquired 8 windows from our local church. Being the Heritage & Culture buff that I am, I thought that they would look nice in a boathouse.

So, late June I started the project; it's now in the second week of August and the windows are holding the structure together.

There have been many comments from " all you need now is a bell!" to "when is your first service?"

Yesterday I finished shingling the roof and tomorrow I shall start the cedar shakes.

All in all it looks like a little church on the sea. It wasn't my intent, but that's how it turned out.

The building is only 20 by 12 feet, and a little 8 by 8 loft looking out over the eastern sea.

It sure has changed the dock area, and already it houses the PFD's, skirts and paddles.

While working on the roof, we have had many shutter-bugs stop at the cove to get me to wave for a photo shoot. I don't know what the fuss is all about, it's just a boathouse.

It's as if it's a new thing, it's just a boathouse with 85 year old church windows, but somehow it is unfolding into something real special.

While rebuilding one of the window sashes I noticed the original hand-written shipping orders that said "Reverend Bursey Burgeo". No bar code, just a dark green pencil that has lasted over 8 generations of baptisms, weddings, funerals and all that came in between.

With wood-framed glass of such vintage, one can't help but pick up the spirit of something more powerful than self.

So, do kayaks need a home to come home too?

You bet!

Nothing but the best
For the boathouse with a twist
And a foundation with a lest
@ Dorim's wharf.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Reality check

May-20th 08

It’s only May 20th and already things are looking up for tourists. We have two couples staying with us and again they are from California.

So as usual, rather than getting in Martine’s way in the morning I take a trip out on the water. It is so nice not to have to slide over ice and snow to get into the kayak.

There are times in life, when it seems one takes a step forward and two steps back, and today that was the case.

I had passed one of my favorite little islands, and noticed that it was different. It was different all right, but only superficially. The top portion of the island had been cut down as if a tornado had passed through and snatched up the whole thing, just leaving a few straggly branches sticking up from its crown, much like that of an old man's balding head, that had just had its cap blown off..

One would say that it’s all relative, and it is I suppose, but why so bold or bald I ask?

What is it about people that causes them to be so selfish that they would cut every stick down on a little island, when the coast is littered with fair sized trees, not to mention that it only costs $10 to get a permit to cut enough wood for the winter in over the road!

Now I have to give an explanation to my kayaking guest as to why the islands have been stripped of their trees.

I will have to fabricate some story about how folks are hurting around these parts, and how the cost of oil has sky-rocketed, and that in order to survive we have to resort to cutting every bough and stick that is within 10 minutes steam.

One of the first things that had inspired me upon my return to Newfoundland, was how the trees were coming back on the islands, and how nice and refreshing it was to see the hillsides covered with evergreens again. It brought pride to my heart and caused me to be reminded of the words in the Ode to Newfoundland, "Our pine-clad hills".

One would assume, that over the years, with oil and electricity being inexpensive or reasonably priced, you could heat your home, and you didn’t have to go hungry; now it’s a choice, oil, wood or food.

Now it is coming back around again. Just when I thought tourism would be a viable means of sustenance, along comes the desperate and inconsiderate once again to decimate the landscape.

It’s not as if we don’t have electricity or that wood isn’t readily available, it is just thoughtless harvesting of our islands' trees, and lack of consideration for nature and the beauty around us. It could be harvested with style and a little more discretion if you ask me, but who’s asking?

So needless to say I didn’t stay on the surf long this morning, so as promised, I would come back and take our guests to the museum.

My mistake, or was it?

Great folks, and lots of compliments about our collections, and how things were displayed. A lot of questions were fired my way, and most of the time I was able to land on my feet with a good answer, or one that fitted.

But the question as to why we were selling T-shirts with I "Club baby seals" on them left me in a tail spin.

I had to explain that they were purchased, for re-sale, in order to promote the harvesting of seals as being Green or part of our conservation mythology here in Newfoundland.

In order for the cod fishery to return, we had to kill seals as they are eating all the cod.

You know everything today has a political agenda, and what used to be a normal and healthy means of living, and in harmony with the sea and the land has been exploited by big business, and yes those on both sides of the seal-harvesting issue.

Personally I am of two minds and like the song “I looked at life from both sides now” I too can see and even try and understand both perspectives on the issues.

After a lengthly discussion on the ins and outs of the seal hunt and the upcoming American elections, the guests are on the ferry and the key to the museum is hanging at the Inn.

As for the trees and the seals, well that’s a story for another day.

All things will come out in the wash!

Another day at Dorim’s Wharf!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Just shagging around

It's Sunday, flat calm and the sun is about to peek its nose over the east horizon.
Yesterday I managed to launch the floating dock and install the ramp.

Today is ripe for kayaking and anything else that the creator prompts me to do.
So off I go. I've got just 3 hours before church, so why not go for it... I stoked the fire and added a few chunks of birch and with a spring in my feet down to the dock I go.

It's high tide and all the elements are in my favour.

Getting into the kayak via the floating dock is like slipping into a pair of Crocs, it just feels right.

As I glide down through the Reach, a smell of smouldering birch permeates the air, most folks are still cuddled up to the misses or the feater pillow.

Thinking today would be a good day to go south, and spend a bit of time out around the islands, so south it was.

Within a few minutes, the town was far behind and the only company was that of a few shags drying their wings.

The Shag is the smaller of the two cormorants found round the coast. From a distance this is simply a black cormorant but seen close the bird is fantastic. The black is a really oily and glossy shade with green and purple overtones. There is a little yellow on the base of the bill and the eyes are bright green.

It does not lay its eggs in a tidy cliff nest, but in untidy nests low on a sea ledge. Most are found in coastal waters and they feed by diving from the surface to catch fish.

The difference between a kayak and a motor boat is that you can really be still and be a part of the colony.

As I ventured farther south between the islands, the chop prompted me to keep closer to the shore. It is also lobster season now, and the costal waters have little colorful floaters with numbers on them. Everything from a plastic javex jar to a piece of painted pine is used as markers for the pots.

It isn't a bad thing really, as it is a sustainable fishery and seems to be well managed. Each fisherman knows his own.

I can truly understand why the fishermen love what they do. To be out on the waters in an open boat is unexpainable, it's much like being in harmony with the universe, as your soul oozes with acceptance.

As I paddle by the western point of Hunts island, I always get this eery feeling.

You see, the graveyard hangs over the edge of the bluff, with only a few feet away from the cliff, much like a great old aunt Beatrice, with cheeks in the palms of her hands keeping an eye on things. The mind is a wonderful thing and each new experience can be just that, or it can prompt memories from the past.

Today's experience too me back to a time in my youth when Captain Sandy Payne of Ramea's sea cadet corp used to say to us," Lads be careful what you do and what you say, 'cause there are eyes and ears everywhere. Always be on your best behaviour, 'cause if the living don't see what you're doing the dead surely will."

At that point I realized that I hadn't brought a watch and knew that it would take an hour to get back home, church was yet to be had for the morning, and that would be a different spiritual experience than the one I now have.

So sprinting around the point, passing the ferry wharf, and under the Smalls island bridge in record time, I was home before first bell.

So later on today when my son Michael called from Manitoba, and asked what I had been up to today, I said "Not much, just shagging around", and he said "Oh I see."

Just another day @ Dorim' wharf!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's gotta be spring, cause it's a two for one sail.

I finally worked on the old truck today.

I had no choice, as she didn't want to stop, and to avoid the embarrassment of having to get it removed from the land-o-wash, I deemed it necessary to have a boo at it.

I loosened up the front brakes, with a sledge and some used transmission fluid.

After a long struggle with the back brakes, I finally admitted it would be a job for the professionals.

Too much to do and too little time, and of course, with the wind pushing from the north east, and with the sun screeching through the westbound clouds, gave me two great resons to be on the water.

Just gotta go.

I went in the house, cleaned up and prepared for yet another venture.

While retrieving my cell phone from the charger, Martine informed me that tomorrow we would be getting guests from the States 'via Corner Brook', and that
they were interested in renting a double kayak, weather permitting. Just what I wanted to hear, yippee, a reason to get another boat out of storage.

So I hiked down to the Harbour to my friend Stefan's place, where I store the kayaks for the winter.

I thought I would kill two birds with one stone.

So I put two boats in the water, and towed the old yellow double with the single.

Good workout for the shoulders, as once you're on the water, you've made the commitment, and it's your responsibility and yours alone to get to home-base.

You know, evan as a child I always liked the idea of towing something, perhaps it has to do with always having one of my younger siblings on a sled or a stroller or being towed by my grandfather in the flat.

Not sure, but it's a nice feeling that triggers warm fuzzies in my inner man.

I arrived at the Inn, only in time to go back out on the water with Christopher, one of our guests from Switzerland.

As we headed down the coast, we stuck close to the shore as the wind was gusting to 20 knots at times.

You know, I find that I treat people as if they were one of my siblings or a tourist, as I point out the simplest things as if they had any significance in the real world.

It's just something I do, I draw from the rocks and the cliffs, stories that have to be told, or not!

But I do anyway. The way I see it, we hear stories from around the world daily, that have no bearing on us, so why not share with someone that Richard's Head, is the highest point in Burgeo, and that on occasion I've been known to take the odd enthusiast up to its summit.

Or why not tell them that above the rock face of Boar island's west point, one might find a pair of nesting Bald Eagles.

But that's all small talk and it don't matter, or does it?

So tonight the singles are on the dock and the old yellow double awaits tomorrow's guests.

It's all great fun really, water, sky, and the great outdoors.

Just a little dab of liniment for my shoulders and I shall call it a day.

And as the winds lift the wings of the eagle, so too has my spirit been lifted today.

Another day @ Dorim's Wharf:

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pushing spring.

While cleaning out the yard in preparation for yet another exciting season of kayaking, I couldn't help but put my 17 foot Cape-Horn out on the edge of the wharf.

It is as if by doing so, one could hurry spring along.

In order to put the kayak on the dock, I had to walk over 100 feet of winter-packed snow that was still 6 feet deep in places.

I gently tied the bow unto an anchor that had wintered the pier, and wrapped the stern and rudder section with 5/8 inch poly mooring. The other end was clinging to a 350 big block Chev that was some 200 feet out into the harbour.

Was the kayak going to blow away? Not on my shift.

You see I had decided to permanently keep the kayak on the wharf because over the winter, and while launching, I had nearly slipped in to the wet,and on occasions, with not much to cling to but an ice-coated grump, much like an exaggerated corn dog with a head.

So here you have it, she is waiting for me out on the wharf, like an old obedient bird-dog waiting for its master's nod, just to slip into the sea for its next fetch.

The only difference is that the dog has to be fed and the Kayak don't.

So the question is: Have you walked your kayak today?

Life has its seasons and in perfect order.

Another day @ Dorim's wharf.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dorim's Kayaking Blog

The winter is long and the days are short, yet to get out on the water in one of my kayaks breaks up the season.

I was kayaking along the Reach early one crisp winter morning, and just as I paddled from the calm of an inlet into the greater North Atlantic, a 14 foot aluminum boat came out of a well-hidden tickle.

It was crewed by a couple of pumpkin-skinned lads hurdled up like two snails on a piece of driftwood.

With the 9.9 Evinrude roaring full out, and a couple of 12 gauge shotguns hugging the rowlocks, it was like something you would see in the swamps of the great Mississippi.

After realizing their "near-miss" they came about face and motored back my way. I was not overly shocked, as I had heard the engine a few seconds prior to the wake of their out-spray.

As the motorman throttled back his engine with one hand, grabbed his 12 gauge with the other, the boat slowly came alongside my kayak.

I had just maneuvered the roll of their wake, and now they decided to turn around. "What now?" I thought, "Are they going to ram me, or use me for target practice?" It's funny how the mind goes! Too much TV, not enough kayaking.

Funny enough though, as we chatted about the ice moving in to the harbour, and how the ducks were on the move today, the man in the bow of the boat wondered why I would be out and about in a little kayak. He questioned its safety and what would one do if it flipped.

I just chuckled and said "I'd be more concerned about your cigarette igniting the gas, or your shotgun going off than my flipping the kayak."

"Not much chance for that happening" said the motorman, "I smoke all the time back here and ain't had a problem with the gas exploding yet."

On that note we went our own merry way, and as they sped past my starboard quarter, I was left in a cloud of smoke from the engine exhaust mixed with cheap roll your-own tobacco.

I smiled and carried on my journey down the ice-packed coast, only to be greeted by yet another seal resting on an ice-capped sunker.