Category Archives: Boating Tales

What Does Community Mean to You?

It takes me two buses to get to work every day; a long commute which I use to write or surf social media sites. However, last Monday I had something else on my mind. When I left the boat, the wind was already exceeding the forecasted 35 knots. One of my neighbours had decided to stay home to monitor her boat in the building winds because the month before, her dock broke up in a storm and she was feeling a little nervous.

I sent her a text to make sure that she was okay and this is what she texted back, “Your float is not good.” Quickly followed by, “The float is coming out from under the dock.”

Crap. Our dock was breaking up and I was one hour away from the marina. I quickly called my husband, “Can you get to the marina? Our finger is breaking up.” We agreed that there was very little that I could do, so I continued on my way to work while curious bus passengers looked my way.

Ten minutes later as I turned the key in my office door, my phone started ringing. “Come home now,” was all he said. I knew from the terse message and the tone of my husband’s voice that all was not well at the marina. A co-worker offered to give me a ride to the marina and as I stepped out of his car, I was met with intense wind.

Making my way down the dock to the end where our boat is moored, I had to stop a couple of times to brace myself against gusts of wind which pushed me backwards. Several fellow boaters from our marina were present lending a hand tying the float to the dock because it had separated. The only thing keeping the float in place was our boat and without the flotation, the dock that our boats were attached to would sink.  For added safety, the two boats were tied to a piling should the dock give away completely. And then all we could do is stand and watch our boat being bashed by the broken, half-submerged dock and bouncing wildly in the storm. In these conditions with gusts up to 57 knots, moving the boat away from the sinking dock was not an option.

Once the storm abated, we moved to another slip in our marina so that the finger could be repaired. Now safely back in our slip, I reflect on that day.  The outpouring of support from our neighbours was heart warming. Many helping hands, hugs to ward off fears and offers for shelter because it was unsafe to board our boat were much appreciated.

The “community” that exists amongst liveaboard boaters is one of the things that enriches this lifestyle. I know that community exists in other places: neighbourhoods, places of worship, amongst co-workers and even between strangers on social media sites.

Our need to be connected to each other is rooted deeply in our genes – or perhaps, it is an expression of our spirit which understands that we are all connected.


Diamonds in the Head

Marine toilets use sea water to flush. There is a hole in the side of the boat below the waterline with a seacock imbedded in the hole to control the flow of water. The seacock is a vital component on a boat and the only thing stopping water from coming into the boat and sinking it.

So, the first time, I saw sparks in the head, I didn’t know what was going on. I am sure that you will agree, that this is not what you expect to see in a toilet bowl. “Hey, come see this!” I said to my husband. He peered over my shoulder as I pumped the head and laughed. “Phosphorescence”, he said.

Later that same week, we heard a hose running. It was well past dark and the marina had been quiet for several hours. When we went out to investigate, we were surprised to see one of our neighbours spraying water from a garden hose into the harbour. Phosphorescence everywhere. Sparkling, droplets in a Northern-Lights, blue-green hue.

Ocean phosphorescence, commonly seen at night when the water is disturbed, is largely due to the dinoflagellates; they occur ubiquitously in the oceans as planktonic forms, responding to mechanical stimulation when the water is disturbed by emitting brief bright light.”  (via

A large sea lion came into the harbour and as he swam through the water, it was as if he had a sparkling green cape on. Fantasia of the sea: his movement disturbing the tiny, living organisms emitting light. It is an experience that I will never forget.

Alas, we have no photos or video of this experience. It was one of those wondrous moments when you just live it. When I searched online for images or video, there were very few that captured the magic of phosphorescence. If you have good quality photos, please upload them to Google Images, so others can see what phosphorescence looks like.

My wish for you is that you get to experience this in your lifetime. No special effects; just beautiful, magical Mother Nature.



Phonetic Alphabet


 A = Alpha Alpha fetched the ball with enthusiasm typical of a six-months old Labrador Retriever. Bravo! Bravo! Charlie and I shouted from our spot on the grassy hill in Delta Park. Echo, the Border Collie soon joined in the fun; the two dogs running around in circles which reminded me of our failed attempt at Foxtrot lessons.
The sun was beginning to set, so we opened up the back door to our rented Golf and headed back to our Hotel, the India Inn. The hotel was decorated like a Bollywood movie set with Bollywood music playing incessantly in the background. My sister-in-law, Juliett booked our accommodations and I was not going to argue with a 100-Kilo woman.

She had just returned from a trip to Lima, Peru with her longtime boyfriend, Mike. They were visiting us in November before continuing their travels to see Oscar, Mikes Papa for the Christmas holidays. Driving to Quebec in December would be challenging, so ever the Romeo, Mike surprised Juliett with an early Christmas gift of a red, Sierra pickup truck.

After dinner in the hotel’s pub, Juliett and Mike gave us a demonstration of the Tango. A waiter, dressed in his Bollywood Uniform, approached our table and we could see from his nametag that his name was Victor. On his tray he carried four shots of Whiskey. That was the finest dancing I have ever seen in this pub. These shots are on the house!

At this moment, a woman entered the pub and we did not need X-ray vision to notice that she was not wearing a bra. A young man wearing a Yankee baseball cap with the brim worn backwards jumped to his feet to greet her. Tatooed across his bicep was the word “Zulu” with a red heart around it.

We turned our attention back to our drinks. “Cheers”, we said in unison lifting our glasses to the phonetic alphabet, while quietly thinking to ourselves that “Zulu” was a strange name indeed.


The phonetic alphabet is used to spell out words on the radio to ensure that the receiver can understand the message. Every boater should be able to use the phonetic alphabet; it could save your life.

 B = Bravo
 C = Charlie
 D = Delta
 E = Echo
 F = Foxtrot
 G = Golf
 H = Hotel
 I = India
 J = Juliett
 K = Kilo
 L = Lima
 M = Mike
 N = November
 O = Oscar
 P = Papa
 Q = Quebec
 R = Romeo
 S = Sierra
 T = Tango
 U = Uniform
 V = Victor
 W = Whiskey
 X = X-ray
 Y = Yankee
 Z = Zulu