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Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Covid Dosey Doe

Thursday  March 27th

My day usually begins by shouting at the old guy in the bathroom mirror to back off.  Then the day proceeds with some writing, editing, then if the weather is nice a careful walk outside n the 'germosphere.'  I mentioned the “Covid shuffle” in an earlier post.  That’s where people struggle to keep the distance between the person in front of them and behind them in a line-up.  There’s now a dance for walking outdoors:  the Covid dosey doe.  That’s where people sort of dosey doe when they encounter another person on the side walk.  Both parties retreat to the opposite sides of the sidewalk and carefully rotate around each other. That’s where he retreats to the other side of the street before performing the dosey doe.   Always facing the other person in case they suddenly lunge at them.  Once safely past each other, they return to their original path – the Covid dosey doe. My friend Larry has a variation: the wide dosey doe. 

Generally my day revolves around the TV press conferences.  In the old days, before the virus, my viewing was set around watching my favourite shows, like Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, House of Cards, Ozark  now it’s press conferences.

Looks like six more weeks of Covid

 First there’s the morning address by the Prime Minister who is still quarantined in his residence.  He emerges promptly at 8:15  and squints into the camera.  If he sees his shadow we have six more weeks of plague.  There’s the noon press conference with The Provincial Health Officer.  They are becoming media stars in a media starved for stars now that there are no sports or celebrity stars anymore.  Just to name just three:

Listen to my voice... you are getting drowsy

1.       We’ve got Dr.  Bonnie in BC.  Dr. Bonnie is a petite blonde lady who has a very calming voice.  If anyone could make the frightening daily statistics sound mundane it’s her.  She reminds me of my grade four teacher.  I slept through that year.

"Quick!  What's the atomic number of cesium?"
In Alberta they’ve got Dr. Deen Hinshaw, she of the bangs are cut in the style of Moe Howard (of the three stooges).  She has over 30,000 twitter followers.  She not only serves as a dispenser of information, but is also a fashion trend setter.  She recently wore an out of fashion dress she wore featuring the periodic table had the phone ringing off the hook at the manufacturer in Victoria.  The company had to put the dress back in production.
"You wouldn't believe her!  Care for a bisquit?"

3.       Then there’s Dr. Horacio Arruda in Quebec.  Here he is describing his high school prom date.  Besides dispensing daily updates he provides recipes for Portuguese pastries (really!!).   

"I'll trade you two Hinshaws for an Arruda"

So there’s a competition among the provinces: our Health Official is better than yours!  But how to tell: I’ve come up with an idea:  trading cards. I’ve mocked up one here.  Picture on the front and stats on the back. Stats broken down by day: cases, hospitalized, ventilators, recovered.  We could work out a percentage of cases/recovered, so we'd have a measure to compare them.

 If you think this is a whacky idea, they actually are selling t-shirts with their faces on them.

Then there are the American press conferences:  the state governors, various members of congress, Senators, and the  piece de resistance,  President Trump’s daily appearance.  The three o’clock press conference (pacific time) begins promptly at three thirty, four, or four thirty:  it depends on when President Trump decides to wander out on stage.  It’s at this time my wife wanders into my office and removes sharp objects from my reach. 

Earlier this week Mr. Trump announced he was sending the military to the southern and northern borders.  When asked why this was responsible, he responded saying he wanted to stop illegal aliens crossing the border into the United States.  When it was pointed out this was not an issue on the northern border – in fact the Canadians had closed their borders to keep them out, the president thought a moment then stated (and I’m not making this up) “It’s to keep them from smuggling steel into the United States. “

We have a popular reality show here that focuses on crazy things that happens at the border.  I can see a future episode.
It's for personal use.


Where you folks heading?

Down to Seattle.

Purpose of the trip?

To get gas.

What’s about all that weed in the back?

Personal use.

You sure you’re not carrying any steel back there?

(nervous)  Steel?  No, absolutely not.  No steel.  Just weed….

The reason America doesn't have an Anvil industry

What’s this then?  A steel Anvil.  No wonder we have no Anvil manufacturers left here in America.  You Canadians smuggling them in.  Out of the truck….

You get the picture….        

Friday, March 27

On Friday I got the much anticipated call from the Urologist.  He’s doing appointments by phone.  Luckily no rubber glove or Vaseline was involved.    I had been seeing him because I have the old man’s complaint.  I pee too much.  He had me keep a  ‘voiding diary,’  (If this is too much information – you can to the next entry).  When I visited him a month ago he gave me a graduated cylinder and a form to fill out.  It had columns for time, amount, etc.  I had to fill it out for three days.   Right away I ran into trouble.  I called my wife.
“I need your help,” I shouted from the bathroom.
“Too pee?” she said from outside?  “I didn’t know it was a two person job.”
“It’s the diary thing I have to do.  I need to pee into  this jug, and then time it with the stop watch.  I don’t have enough hands.”
“What do you want me to do,” she replies warily.
“Nothing physical,” I assure her.  “I need you to take the stopwatch, and when I begin to pee you time it.   When I stop, you stop the watch.”
I hand her out the stop watch.
“Okay,” she says from outside the door, “I’m ready.”
A few moments go by.
“I don’t hear anything,” she says.
“Don’t rush me,” I shout back.  “I’ve got a shy bladder.  I can’t go if people are putting pressure on me.”
A few moments go by.
“Did you read the instructions on this form?” she asks.
“No,” I reply, “I don’t need instructions on how to pee.”
“It says here to mark down the time of day.  Not how long it takes to pee.”
“Oh,” I say. “I guess I don’t need you after all.”

The doctor calls around the appointed time.
“Jeff, I’ve been going over your diary.  The problem is your tank is too small.”
“What’s my toilet tank got to do with anything?” I ask.
“Not your toilet tank,”  the tank inside you.
“You mean my bladder?”
“Yeah, bladder.”
This is the guy who referred to my prostate as Mt Baker.  He doesn’t seem to be big in using medical terms for things.
“Yeah, the average guy’s tank is 300ml.  You seem to be hovering around   150ml.
“Maybe I’m a just  sort of a tank half full kind of guy.”  I offer. “Maybe my prostate, I mean Mt Baker, is taking up too much room.”
“You need to train it,” he says. “You can make it a game.”
“A game??” I reply incredulously.
“Yeah, see how long you can hold it before you have to go.”
“Do you think I could make it a spectator sport?  There’s no sports on TV.  I could stream it live.  Maybe wear trainers?
“What?” he asks.
My attempt at humour seems to go over his head.
“I’m going to mail you an article about it,” he says.
“Why don’t you just email it to me,” I ask.
“I’m not good at that internet stuff,” he states.
“What’s there to be good at?” I ask. “You just press the button that says ‘attach file.’  For God’s sake, you’re not even 50 and you can’t figure out email?”   I can do it and I’m 75! and I let you do guided tours of my insides?”
“Yeah,” he retorts, “but  I don’t have any trouble peeing!  Maybe my receptionist can figure it out.  If not we’ll drop it in the mail.  I gotta go.”
“Me too,” I reply hanging up the phone and heading for the bathroom.

Later that night watching TV my wife looks strangely at me.
“Are you mad at me?” she asks.
“No,” I reply. “Why?”
“You seem to be walking around with clenched teeth.”
“It’s a game.” I reply.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Friday March 20, 2020

I’m tired of spending hours foraging for toilet paper.  I’ve decided to grow my own.  (A shout out to John Oliver who passed this idea on to me). 

Most of today was worrying about my son and his family.  They had gone to Australia three weeks ago for spring break and to begin to look for housing (My son commutes for work, but the commute from Vancouver is getting wearing).   When things exploded with the virus  a weeks ago they decided to come home. They’ve been trying to come home since.  They finally got a Qantus flight to Los Angeles that leaves at midnight.  My son says things are getting crazy in Australia and they’re seeing the same sort of panic we’re seeing here.
“People’s nerves are totally shot,” he texted.  “First the fires, then floods, now the virus.”
“Well the good news is there’s only seven more plagues before it’s over,” I texted back.

I went for a walk this morning.  I found the best way to make other walkers, joggers, runners, dog walkers and  bikers away. I find by talking loudly to myself and growling when people get too close generally works.  Not so much with the dog walkers. 
One lady was not deterred.  She blocked my path
“You’re acting very strangely.  Do you have the virus?”
“No,” I replied. “Rabies.”
“Oh, thank God, I was worried it was something serious.”

I got a call from my doctor in the afternoon.  I had an appointment scheduled for next Thursday.
The receptionist informed me the doctor would be doing the appointment over the phone.  I don’t have a problem with that – except it’s my urologist.   I’m not big into self-examinations.
“Okay, Jeff, this won’t take too long.  Do you happen to have a rubber glove and a jar of Vaseline handy?
I’m not looking forward to that call. This is the same doctor who once described my prostate as “the Mount Baker of Prostates.”  Based on my personal experience you don’t want a urologist who likes to act as a tour guide when he’s navigating your interior plumbing. 

At least I didn’t have to leave him a tip.

Friday, March 20, 2020

"Idiot Zero"

Thursday March  19th

I’m up early to watch competing Press conferences.  I don’t understand something.  President Trump and his advisers are advising  keeping social distancing, yet there they are day after day lined up as close as ten pins.   The Canadians, on the other hand, are standing so far apart that it takes ten seconds for one of them to hike over to the podium.

Today, with the basics out of the way, I’m going to look for some of the non-essentials to make my hunkering down more comfortable: beer and candies.

I show up at the Liquor store just as they are opening.  The store looks like the supermarket – empty.  I take four cases over to the cashier.
“Good thing you’re stocking up,” she says. “They’re tell us we might be closing in a couple of days.
I take the four cases out to the car, then decide to go back for two more – just to be safe.  Then I walk over to the drugstore to see if they have any facial tissues.  They have no tissues, but the manager is handing out two bags of toilet paper per family.   I take my allotment, thanking him profusely.  As I stand in the lineup I get into a conversation with a guy in front of me.  I mention I hear they’re closing the liquor stores soon.  He throws the toilet paper to his wife and bolts out the door and runs over to the liquor store.  While I’m waiting in line I text a few of my friends  warning them they should stock up on booze soon because it might not be available.

I then head over to the dollar store to pick up my guilty pleasure: Jolly Ranchers (or, as my grandkids call them: Jolly Rogers).  I pick up twenty packs.    There’s a long line up.  They’re not many people, but they’re spread out keeping a six-foot distance between each of them.  I notice there’s a new ‘line dance.’ It’s called the ‘Covid Shuffle.’ If somebody moves forward, everyone moves forward.  If someone moves back, everyone moves back.  I’m waiting to see some genius putting it to music.   I like having a lot of space around me.  I’m not a ‘hugger.’  I come from a long line of non-huggers.  That’s why the Grobermans have survived the Black Death, the Plague, Polio, Cholera and Pogroms.  We keep our distance.

There’s an elderly lady behind me who isn’t paying attention.  I see her browsing the candies at the side of the line, and slowly getting close to me.  I inch a bit forward forcing everyone in the line to do the same.  She inches closer.  I repeat this, but she’s not paying attention, so I think I should gently bring it to her attention.
“Back off, bitch!!  Or I’ll wrap that walker around your neck.”
She gets the message.  I now seem to have a LOT of distance between me and other people.
While I’m waiting in line I begin to wonder if I shouldn’t walk back to the liquor store and pick up a few more cases of beer… just in case.

When I get there, the place is packed!  There are literally people lined up out of the door.  I go inside and there’s nothing left.  I see the clerk trying to restock.
“What happened, I ask.”
About twenty minutes after you left the place literally exploded with people.  Some idiot started a rumour that all the liquor stores are closing.”
“Isn’t that what you said?” I ask.
“No.  Just this store might close for a few days.  We’re renovating.

That night on the news they announce there’s been a run on the liquor stores.  They go to great length reassuring people they aren’t closing the stores.  There’s no shortage.  They’re perplexed how the rumour got started.  My wife turns to me and says “They’re going to find out it was you.  You started it. you texted all your friends, and they texted all their friends and so on.”
“How are they are ever going to pin it on me?” I ask.
It’s like the coronavirus.  They’ll trace it all back to the person who started it.  In this case it won’t be ‘patient zero,’ it’ll be ‘idiot zero.’

I plan to hunker down at home and build a beeramid in the garage.

More in a few days.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Loonie Tunes: First installment in 'A Journal of the Covid Year'

Monday, March 16th

I’m beginning to fee nervous.  For the past week I’ve been feeling superior, laughing at news videos of people with shopping carts packed high with bags of toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels, and bags of avocados.  I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around of why someone might need a 150 rolls of toilet paper – this disease doesn’t seem to have a ‘trot’ component like the Norwalk virus.  What are these people going to do with it all?  Build a fort?  And the bags of avocados?  Obviously these people are certified idiots.

Tuesday March 17th

I went to the local supermarket today to pick up my usual order of buns, and deli.  As I pass by the paper goods aisle I notice it’s empty – and when I say empty, I mean totally empty – the whole aisle!  As I look down other aisles I see great gaps: no pasta, no tuna fish, no cans of soup, and the meat counter is looking pretty sparse too.  I’m beginning to have an uneasy feeling.  My intellect tells me there is no problem.  There is no supply problem, this is only temporary.  But then the primal ‘hunter & gatherer’ part of my brain whispers, these people know something that you don’t.  If you don’t act now and soon – they’ll be nothing left.  You and your family will starve My wife thinks I’m being paranoid.

I go home make a corned beef sandwich and watch CNN interrupt “Breaking New” with “More Important Breaking News,” and “Still Even More Important Breaking News.”

Wednesday March 18th

Last night my wife tried to put her phone in grocery order in.  She was on the computer for hours.  The site was either down, or part way through entering her order it would crash.  She decides we should go directly to the store and shop in person.  I accompany her to make sure we get enough of everything.   

When we arrive almost all the shopping carts are gone.  My wife finds one left in the hut.  She takes a looney out of her purse and puts it into a slot on the cart to unlock it.
“This is a special looney.   I disinfected it.  After we come back we get it back.  That way it touches nobody else.”  She takes a paper towel out of her purse and a small bottle of disinfectant and wipes down the grocery cart. 
“Keep your hands in your pocket and don’t touch anything,” she lectures me like a small child.  “You don’t know who’s touched what.” She takes a folded paper towel out of her purse and hands it to me.   “If you must pick up something use this paper towel.”

Once we enter the store it’s evident something is going on.  People have determined looks on their faces as they rapidly push their carts down empty aisles – swiveling their heads back and forth, desperately looking for things.  Like the store I visited yesterday, the paper goods aisle is totally bare.  There are no eggs, no milk, no chicken.  I feel a sinking feeling in my stomach.  I’m feeling like the lazy ‘grasshopper’ watching the determined streams of ants are emptying the shelves.

My wife manages to get about half the items on her list.  After she unloads the cart into the car she asks me to return the cart to the shed.
“Don’t forget to get our looney back,” she lectures me.
As I arrive at the empty shed a woman is waiting for a cart. She drops  a looney into my hand and takes the cart.
“Trade you,” she says.
I shove the looney in my pocket and head back to the car.  As I approach, I see a look of horror on my wife’s face.”
“What have you done!” she shrieks.  “You gave away my special disinfected looney and now you’ve handled one that god knows where it’s been.”
“I’ll throw it away,” I offer.
“It’s too late for that.  Don’t touch it for at least 6 hours, then bring it to me with tweezers and I’ll disinfect it.  From now on I’ll deal with the cart.”

I drop my wife off at home and head out on my own hunting and gathering expedition. I decide to try and redeem myself in her eyes by searching for the missing items on her list. My wife tells me not to worry we have lots of toilet paper.   I’m not so sure.  I have visions of wiping my bum with sheets of newspaper flyers.

There are four supermarkets and about a half dozen drugstores near us.  It takes me four drugstores before a clerk takes pity on me as she watches me silently crying like a little boy in front of an empty shelf.  I tell her I’d wipe my nose, but I don’t have any tissues.  She tells me there’s no tissues, but there is one bag of toilet paper in the back.  She was saving it for someone needy.
“I tell her I’m needy,” between sniffs.
She heads off into the back to fetch it.  I stand guard outside the door, lest some soul pretending to be more needy than me cuts in front.
In the line up to the cashier I see ‘toilet paper’ deprived people glaring at me.
“How did you score that?” a guy asks me.
I clutch it tighter to my breast.
“I had to trade a winning lottery ticket for it.”

At another drugstore I manage to use the same routine to score a single box of Kleenex.  Over two hours I manage to find 2l of milk, and a dozen eggs.  I arrive at a grocery store just as a guy is unloading chicken from a large cardboard box and placing them into the meat rack.  As soon as he puts it down somebody grabs it.  It isn’t too long until folks are grabbing them out of his hand.
“I thought chickens couldn’t fly,” I tell him.
“Huh?” he responds as two women are engaging in a tug-of-war over a fryer.
“These chickens seem to be flying off the shelf.”
While he’s watching the two women fighting over the chicken I manage to liberate two birds out of his box.  I’m learning. 
I spend the rest of the day watching CNN interrupting “Breaking News” bulletins with “More Breaking News” bulletins.

Tomorrow's plans: more hunting and gathering

Sunday, October 13, 2019

A quick update: I got my star!

Just not quite in the way I envisioned.   After my son, Elan, went home after the induction, he told his six-year-old daughter, Violet, that Zeyde (me) was sad because he didn’t get a star.  Violet suggested they could make me one.  So on Saturday, along with her father, they spent the day to create a star just like the ones on the sidewalk.   When I walked into their house for Thanksgiving dinner, there it was taped to the floor!

I thought my grandchildren wouldn’t appreciate who I was unless I had a star on the sidewalk to show I was important.  I was wrong.  They always knew I was important – not as a writer or a producer - but as their zeyde.   It wasn’t the star I thought I wanted, but it was the star I needed.  It made for a very special thanksgiving.   I have a lot to be thankful for.
If you haven’t read the whole story it’s at:


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Why I have that sinking feeling - going down with the ship

It was a landmark day last week – with the emphasis on “land.”  I sold the family boat.  It had been in the family 40 years – almost as long as my children.  It had seen two children, three grandchildren,  in-laws, friend and five cats in its lifetime. It had seen us through good times and bad and for the most part always proved dependable.  Not that it didn’t come with a price.  For what we invested in, moorage, maintenance, and fuel I could have put three kids through university.  But in the last year it was beginning to show its age.

my first boat - with my sister in back
I’ve pretty well always been around boats all my life; which is a bit strange because I don’t come from a nautical family.  My dad couldn’t swim and  was terrified of boats.  But once a year he would take me out for a one hour fishing trip at the boat rental next to the ferry terminal in Horseshoe Bay.  My old man was more afraid of the ferry than any other thing – if he was confronted by a hungry lion and a ferry,  the lion would win out easily. 

The yearly fishing trip lasted well into my teens – by that time I was very experienced with boats – having been the waterfront director at a summer camp for several years.  I should point out in all the years we went through this father-son ritual we’d never caught a fish – not even a bite.   My father referred to it as “dragging a herring around the ocean.” He once commented that if he were a herring, the safest place to be would be at the end of my line.  After the one hour fishing trip we’d retire to the local eatery for a bowl of clam chowder and fish and chips.

On our last trip my dad insisted on “driving” even though  he had virtually no experience with a boat.  We were fishing at a leisurely pace when my father spotted a speck on the horizon.
“They ferry’s coming,” he shouted.
“It’s at least twenty minutes away,” I replied letting a little more line out.  

My dad hanging on
A few minutes later the ferry was a slightly larger speck.
“We should head back into the bay,” my father pronounced.
“Dad, we have the entire Pacific Ocean.  The ferry will miss us.  Don’t worry.”
During this conversation the ferry had made its way closer to us on its way to the slip in the bay.  It was still about a mile and a half away when my dad shouted, “We gotta get outta here,”  and twisted the throttle on the outboard motor handle all the way over to full speed.
My father was a gentle guy, not really that strong, but his fear was so great that when he twisted the handle to full, he did it with such force that he snapped the cotter pin inside the handle.  The throttle was now useless, and we were stuck on full - racing into the bay.
“Do something,” he shouted at me.

the BC Ferry Queen of Slugs
My father was now terrified and swinging the boat back and forth in panic.  As I mentioned, I had a fair amount of experience with boats. 
“Just calm down and aim at the boat rental place,” I said to him in as calming voice as I could muster.  When we get close I’ll disconnect the gas line and we’ll drift in.  It will be fine.”
“Do, it now,” he demanded. 
“No, we’re too far out.  At this speed we’ll run out fuel in 2 seconds.”
“No, we should do it now.  I don’t want to ram the dock.”
And with that he reached down and yanked the fuel line from the engine.  Sure enough, 2 seconds later the engine died leaving us stranded right in front of the ferry slip with the ferry bearing down on us.
“Turn it back on!  Turn it back on!”  he shouted. “The ferry…   the ferry… “  He was so terrified that he couldn’t even finish he sentence. 

“I can’t.  The engine won’t start with the throttle jammed in the full position.”
At this point the ferry has noticed we’re right in its path and begins to blow its horn five times – telling us to get out of the way.
I’m seriously worried my old man is going to have a heart attack, when I notice a boat load of sea cadets heading towards us.  I wave them down and they pull us to the dock. 
End of another father-son yearly adventure.

Admiral Groberman
My experience with boat building began when I was 15 at summer camp.  There was a derelict old rowboat that had washed up on the shore.   I convinced some of my fellow campers we could fix it up and sail it to the other side of the lake in search of junk food and pop.  We’d return with our booty and be the kings of the camp.  Sort of like King Rat – but with cheezies and coke instead of rat. 

We knew nothing about boat maintenance - but decided on the brute force method of construction.  We managed to cut a new bottom out of a piece of old plywood, then lacking any sort of glue, decide to hammer as many nails as we could find to secure the bottom to the boat.  After a quick coat of paint, among much fanfare from our fellow campers, we head out to  sea – or in this case, the far side of the lake – about a mile or so.

We aren’t more than a hundred yards off shore when the boat begins to leak like a sieve.  (foreshadowing many boats I would own in the future).  We didn’t have any life jackets or other safety equipment.   We did have our hats and two of us pulled on the oars while the third guy bailed with all his might.  We had picked him, because he couldn’t swim a and he put his heart and soul into bailing.

The camp counsellors who thought we were nuts, and only going to go  paddle a few feet off shore before turning back set out in the other camp rowboat to rescue us.  Unfortunately the camp only had one set of oars  - which we were using.

We managed to get to the far shore only to find the store was closed.  It took another four hours to get back where were threatened with being sent home in disgrace if we ever tried a stunt like that again.

It only whetted my desire to own more boats. 

The first sailboat
In my early twenties I took a sailing course and that started a life long  infatuation with sail boats.   In my  I talked my best friend  in to going partners in a small sailboat.  We bought a 14 foot wooden Blue Jay dinghy.  It had sat idle in some guys backyard for more than a decade and he was anxious to get rid of it – we’d soon find out why.

After cleaning it up and giving it a fresh coat of paint we took it to the local marina for a maiden voyage.  The marina had a lift where you put two straps around the boat, lifted it up, swung it out over the water, and lowered it into the water. Then you’d  climb in, disconnect the straps and sail off.  Our problem was that when we lowered the boat into the water it kept going lower and lower, the more we lowered it the deeper it went – and the more water accumulated inside the boat.  It leaked like a sieve. 

Gizzy - the rowboat
We eventually rescued it, and after about ten tubes of cocking got it more or less watertight. That was the first of many boats.  

the African Queen Kayak
There was the small skiff I bought for the children that got crushed between a neighbour’s cabin cruiser and the dock.  Then there was the kayak that my niece forgot to tie up that ended up floating away and getting directly in the path of an oncoming BC Ferry  sitting there half sunk like the “African Queen,”  waiting for the Rosa.  The outcome was different  as the ferry sliced through the wooden kayak like a knife through butter.

Elan, My mother and Mother-in-Law 
A few years later, with my son in his early teens, I bought “a carpenter’s delight.”  I bought a12 foot fiber glass speed boat - sight unseen - with the proviso the seller deliver it to my house.   Later that day I got a call from a neighbour.
“Hey, Jeff, was there a tsunami that I didn’t hear about?”
“What are you talking about, Lorne?”
“It looks like something washed up on your driveway>”

When I got home there were bits and pieces of what might have been a boat strewn across the driveway and lawn.

With my son’s help and copious amounts of fiberglass we managed to slowly piece the boat together again.  With a fresh coat of red paint, with white trim, it did look pretty good.  A day before I was to take it to the cabin there was knock on my front door. I was confronted by a stranger.
“Is that your boat out there?” he asked pointing at the boat on the trailer on the street.
“Yes, why?”
“I was driving by and saw it.  It brought tears to my eyes.  I had the exact same boat when I was a kid.  It was best time of my life.  Do you want to sell it?”
I declined, which in hindsight might have been a mistake.

The boat didn’t come with an engine, so I bought a used one – a very used one.  It was over forty years old and had a horrible habit of occasionally catching fire – the less said about that the better.

The ski boat
That was replaced with a slightly larger 16 foot boat with a slightly newer 35hp engine.  That was plenty of power to take the kids water skiing.  The problem was the adults also wanted to go skiing and the little boat didn’t have enough oomph to drag them out of the water.  If they could do a dock start it would manage to pull them.  If they tried to cross the wake to either side it would swing the transom and skew the boat wildly from side to side.  Sometime it looked like the skiers were pulling the boat.

The man eating O'day
Then there was the 40 year old Oday sailboat that kept losing its mast at the worst possible moment.  I spent nearly four winters working on it, and four summers watching it bob at the mooring while I waited for parts.  That  boat absolutely hated me.  I had scrapes, cuts and bruises where the boat would go out of its way to bite me.

But through it all the cottage’s main boat, the Gambier  Eagle,” watched quietly and was always there when we needed her.  She carried not only people, but groceries, building supplies, whatever was required of her for nearly 40 years, until last year.


We’d pretty well decided last year that we were going to sell the boat.  The time had come – the sinkage incident just confirmed it.   The boat was old – and becoming undependable.  Something you didn’t want in a boat when your transporting kids and grandkids.   If you have an old car and it breaks down, you just pull over to the side of the road and call for a tow truck – it’s not life and death.   In the case of a boat if it breaks down – it will probably be at the worst possible moment and there’s nowhere to pull over.   By the time help arrives the boat will be on the rocks or worse.  

The Gambier Eagle above the sea
I also began to worry about the boat when it was on the mooring at the cottage.  With climate change we’ve been noticing bigger and bigger storms and I was worried about the boat being washed off the mooring in the middle of a storm – and what could I do?

Every morning I’d get up and the first order of business was to go look out the window and see if the boat was still there.  I was also getting more and more timid about taking the boat out in rough weather.  At my age I didn’t have the strength I had when I was 40. 

 The alternatives were to buy a newer  more dependable boat or just rely on water-taxis.  If the children and grandchildren might be using the boat I might have been tempted to buy a newer boat – but they weren’t.  My daughter lives in Alberta and my son, who’s wife’s family already has two cabins, was planning on moving to Australia, so that just left us.

That left the water taxi alternative.  During the summer there were many scheduled water taxi runs or we could charter it if there were no convenient runs.  It would still be cheaper than owning and maintaining the boat.  With the decision made the only problem was getting rid of  the old boat.

There are very few options for getting rid of a used boat:
1.       Leave it in somebody’s driveway and run away – I didn’t have a trailer so that wasn’t possible
2.       Accidental burn it to the ground – The insurance company would frown on that.
3.       Give the boat away to a charity – The charity offered me their boats!
4.      Try and see if a boat broker would take it – the boat was valued to low for them to be interested
5.       Craig’s List.

So given the alternatives, I was left with sticking a few posters up at the marina and Craig’s List.  Craig’s list was at the bottom of my list. If you’ve dealt with Craig’s list you’ll understand my dread of having to use it.  It’s the home of the brain dead and time wasters.

I prepared the ad below:

It didn’t take long.  The following are transcripts of actual phone calls.  They are not the exception – they are the rule:

Hello, I’m calling about your boat.  Is it still for sale?”
“Yes, what can I tell about it?”
“What does it look like?”
“Well, sir, if you’re looking at the ad you can see it.  There are three pictures on there.”
“Yeah, but what does it REALLY look like?”
“It looks like the Queen Mary,  Good-bye”
“Hello, Does it have a trailer?
“Sir, it says in the ad in capital letters “THERE IS NO TRAILER!!”
“Okay, if it does have a trailer would my car pull it?”
“Good bye”
(Vietnamese guy)
“Hello?  If I buy boat will you teach me to drive it?”
“Good bye”
"Hello, Does it have a trailer?”
“Hello?  I have a boat will you trade yours for mine?”
“I’m going away for a month, will you hold the boat until I can see it?”
“Can I have a sea trial?
“Sir, I’m selling a used boat, not an aircraft carrier.”
“What kind of trailer does it have?”

Occasionally I got an email with questions.  One in particular was scary.  The  guy didn’t realize there was actually a place in the email to put the message.  He tried to put all his questions into the SUBJECT: category, so I go something like:

SUBJECT:   Boat for Sale  Hi I’m intersested in yur bot, can you call me at 555-555-5555. I’d like to no if it

…and that was it.  I called him:

“Hello?”“Hi, you sent me an email about my boat.”“Yeah?”“Well you tried to put your message in the subject line.”“So?”“Well you’re supposed to put it in the body.  The subject line only holds a few words.”“I’m not good at the email thing.”“How old are you?”“29.”“Okay, so what do you want to know?”“Does it come with a trailer?”“No, it says that in the ad.”“Do you know where I could get a trailer?”“Try Craig’s list.”“How fast does it go?”“That depends on how many people and stuff you have on board.”“Can it go fast?”   I’d like to see it but I can’t go today ‘cause I have to take my mom for a brain scan”“See If they’ll give you one as well.   Goodbye.”

It got to the point where I dreaded answering the phone.   But the calls weren’t the worst part.  Occasionally I’d get  a call from someone who claimed they were legitimately  interested and wanted to actually see the boat run before  finalizing the deal.

The marina is  an hour and a half from our house – through some of Vancouver’s worst traffic.  Having assurances the caller is definitely going to buy the boat subject to seeing it run.   Half the time they don’t show up at all, or after hearing it run (and it run’s well), would inform me he doesn’t have the money to buy it,  or needs to get his wife/girl friends  permission. 

Finally after lowering the price  I get a party who seems reasonably sane.  He agrees to put down a deposit subject to hearing the boat run.   I send my son out again, with a bill of sale and a receipt book.  Upon his return I ask my son if he gave him the deposit.  My son said  the guy told him he’s buying it for someone else and has to talk to them - which he didn't mention on the phone.

That’s the last straw.  I email the guy and tell him that wasn’t the deal.  If he doesn’t transfer the full amount by five o’clock I’m selling it to someone else. 

That actually does it.  He actually transfers the money and the next morning we go out to  give him the keys. 
As the boat slowly leaves the marina I pray silently:
“Don’t sink.  Don’t sink.  Don’t  sink”
The boat slowly leaves the marina and heads out into the ocean. I watch it until it’s a small dot.”
An hour later I get an email from the guy:
“Made Gibsons in only 40 minutes – nice ride.”
I smile as I change my email address.
So, I’m now boatless for the first time in my life.  You’d think I’d feel a lot of relief.  Last night I dreamt I won a boat…  and it was broken.  So now I can feel the same angst I had when I owned a boat without actually owning one.  Ain’t  life wonderful.