disengage.ca a quest for the technomadic lifestyle

26Jan/10Off

Lockdown!

false creek sunset

a lovely farewell evening on the Creek

It is January the 26th 2010, one day past my due date to get the heck out of False Creek - but here I am, still about two hundred meters from the Cambie Bridge.  I've had visits from the VPD two days in a row, but since I haven't been able to start my engine there hasn't been much I can do.  Yesterday I managed to get my engine started again, and today I blew a large portion of the day working on day-job stuff and reprovisioning Tie Fighter for an extended stay where there isn't a grocery store a block away.  I'm still here, but I'll be leaving in the morning.  Tonight is my last evening in the Creek for a while, so I figured I'd relax and enjoy it.

I thought I'd update the blog with a few notes on what has changed in the neighborhood over the past month - besides the constant visits from the VPD, that is.  As I write this, there is a massive inflatable boom across False Creek, about ten meters west of the Cambie Bridge.  There is a gap of about thirty meters across, and that gap is currently being patrolled by no less than four RCMP boats.  Still, I'm getting ahead of myself, so let's start from the beginning.

bike path closure

denied access to my favourite bike path!

Southeastern False Creek is home to the newly-constructed Olympic Village.  The Village will be home to all the athletes during the games, so of course security is a big question - but the sheer amount of money being spent on this project is astounding.  The most recent roadblock to go up, a block or so from my boat, was being staffed by seven people at last check, including three uniformed police officers and four people in VANOC jackets!  As far as I can tell, there is a similar roadblock on every road adjoining the Village.  The entire area is surrounded by tall steel fences.

Still, this is all stuff you can read elsewhere.  This is my blog, and so I will tell (and show) you what I am seeing from the water. For instance, my favourite bike path - the one from Cambie Bridge down towards Science World, past the shiny new Olympic Village buildings, over the boardwalks and sculpted bridge, past the immaculately landscaped gardens and artificial peninsula built for the wildlife - has been blocked off.  To get downtown I have to skulk my way through five blocks of alleyways and several blocks of fenced-in sidewalk.  I hate riding on the sidewalk.

CFAV Glendyne placing the buoys - intimidating!

CFAV Glendyne placing the buoys - intimidating!

Anyhow, about a month ago, a large, scary-looking navy tugboat pulled into False Creek.  I did a bit of research and found the tug to be the Canadian Forces Auxiliary Vessel (CFAV) Glendyne, a Glen-class tugboat based out of CFB Esquimalt, near Victoria.  The Glendyne put a pair of large, orange buoys in place just short of the Cambie Bridge, complete with orange flashing lights on top.  I knew that this would be the beginning of the promised 'boom' under the Bridge, but I still hadn't seen any documentation about what the end result would look like, and so I watched with interest as they set the buoys in place.  I figured they'd be back in the next couple of days to finish the job, but once they were finished they motored slowly away and never returned.

Off-topic, one of my neighbors has mentioned that he expects to see at least one military gunboat in the Creek, paired up with the RCMP zodiacs and whaleboats currently patrolling the boomed-off area.  I am not convinced, but given the focus on security I wouldn't be shocked if there were some kind of small, fast Canadian Forces gunboat deployed here during the games.

holy crap, a hovercraft!

Anyhow - a few weeks went past without any change to the buoys, but one morning last week I awoke to the sounds of something very large cruising past me.  I popped my head up out of the hatch to see a Department of Fisheries and Oceans and/or Canadian Coast Guard (both were painted on the hull) hovercraft making its way slowly down the creek!  The hovercraft - which later research found to be the CCGH Siyay based in Richmond - was outfitted with a crane and a large cargo of cement blocks.  I figured they were planning to work on the boom somehow, but instead they spent the day lining both sides of False Creek with smaller, lighted channel buoys, indicating the shipping channel in the center of the Creek.  This of course was followed by several days of the VPD visiting any boat anchored too far out into the middle of the Creek, issuing warnings and referring everyone to the notice that anchoring within the commercial shipping lane is banned by Transport Canada.

Personally, I think the buoys are actually a nice touch, and I hope they stay past the Olympics.  It's nice to pull into a bay and have your way clearly marked - it makes everything feel a little bit safer, a bit more professional... dare I say "a bit better-managed"?

mmmm, sausages

Anyhow.  Sequential Circus 7 was this weekend - it was excellent, thank you for asking - and as such I didn't spend much time on the boat.  When I returned, I found that someone had been busy, and there were now several large black inflatable sausages stretched across the Creek!  They're about two and a half meters in diameter and appear to be made of a thick rubber, with webbing straps every three meters or so, tie-down grommets on those straps, and large metal rings at the end to fasten the sausages together, or to the shore.  In other words, the sausages are clearly designed and built to do one thing only: to operate as a boom or blockade over water.

One question we'd be bantering about on the Creek was what exactly they were planning to use for the boom.  One guy thought large logs, another thought a very thick rope - I had no ideas, but apparently the answer was easier than we thought.

While rowing back to Tie Fighter yesterday, I made a short detour out to the opening in the boom, where an RCMP whaler was sitting.  As I approached, he was quick to lean out the window and let me know that the area past the boom is now restricted waters - as an aside, I have gotten similar warnings from the people manning blockades as I approached them on my bicycle.  Seriously?  The huge black barrier, the orange flashing lights and the menacing police boat - or in the case of the roadblocks, the seven people in official-looking uniforms, the flashing lights, the pylons, the big orange-striped barrier sawhorses and the police car parked perpendicularly to the road - do other people really not understand these signs?  Or maybe it's just that the barricades are so universally unpopular that anyone approaching them must be some kind of threat.  I don't know.  Anyhow.

The officer, once he understood that I was just there to ask questions, was quite friendly and explained that the boom would be closed to all boats except official VANOC-approved vehicles.  The boom is apparently scheduled for removal at the end of March, but the officer did not know whether or not the shipping lane buoys would be removed.

Speaking of speaking with officers, I've spoken with two different sets of VPD in the past two days, both of whom were somewhat interested in the fact that my anchoring permit had expired.  Each time the R.G.McBeath shows up there are at least two officers onboard, and often more.  Yesterday there were four officers, none of whom I recognized, and when I explained to the officer doing the talking that I was planning to leave as soon as I could get my engine started, he answered "I'll believe that when I see it.".  He then pulled slowly away without saying another word to me.  In contrast, when they came by today, it was another batch of officers I'd never seen before, and when I showed them that I'd just gotten my engine running again, the officer in charge said "It's almost 5pm, why don't you wait until morning before pulling out, it'll be dark very soon.".  Nice!

Anyhow.  I've only blown my deadline by two days, but it's definitely time to go.  The only thing I know to expect is significantly rougher waters - False Creek is very protected, and I'm really not looking forward to just how bad the February weather can be out in the open.  Rest assured, I'll blog about it as I go.

21Jan/10Off

Countdowns All Around

It's Thursday, and I've got three major, looming deadlines staring me in the face.  I think I've got a handle on all of them, but it's definitely not a relaxing time in my life right now.

<Geek>

On the work front, I've migrated two very large web properties into the Amazon Elastic Computing Cloud over the past eight months or so.  I've been learning the ins and outs of the new technology as I go, and the playing field really has changed.  There have been a tonne of little headaches and bugs and glitches, and I've been pulled out of bed at 5am more often than I care to admit.  And now - just when we're finally stable - a directive has come down from the Evil Masters to port both sites to a common backend using the latest new Drupal code.  On one hand this will open a lot of doors for us, allowing us to scale a lot quicker and use some of the more modern tools, like storing all images on a Content Data Network (CDN) instead of on our current frontend webservers.  Still, the deadline for launch is February 12th and that's coming up faaaaaaaaast.  I've barely got the preliminary test servers in place!

</Geek>

On the boat front the engine work continues, though the work seems to multiply every time I put time into it.  I'm finding a great deal of satisfaction in it, actually - I mentioned to a friend yesterday that it is very much like 'The Legend of Zelda', in that the puzzles are difficult, but once solved there is immediate positive feedback (ie the engine works better) and you can move on to the next puzzle, often using knowledge or tools you gained from the previous level.

Yesterday's miniboss was changing the zincs in the engine.  Sacrificial zincs are bits of... well, zinc.  The theory is that if you bind several types of metals together in a marine environment, the weakest metal will corrode.  Because of some kind of galvanic voodoo, the other metals will not corrode until the weaker metal is completely corroded away.  Zinc is a very weak metal, easy to work with and cheap, and so quite a few different parts of the boat have sacrificial lumps of zinc attached to prevent the more important bits from corroding.

The zincs in the engine should be replaced about once a year, more or less depending on use.  My engine has three zincs - at $7.00 per zinc, it's a $21.00 job to replace them all, but compared with approximately $10,000 for a new engine, the price is negligible.  The zincs are attached to the end of thick bolts and screwed deep into the heart of the engine.

One of the three zincs is located right on the front of the engine, easily accessed.  The other two zincs are located far down the right side, between the engine block and the wall.  Once I stepped back and surveyed the engine, I found that I could just barely get a socket wrench in a gap, which allowed me to remove zinc #2 with little difficulty - but zinc #3 was a real hassle.  To get at the third zinc I had to remove the fuel lift pump (skills and items gained from previous level!) and the exhaust manifold - and even then the bolt holding the zinc into the engine was seized pretty solidly.  I ended up having to extend the socket handle and actually step on it to get the bolt free; never send a hand to do a boot's job.  I swear I heard victory music when that bolt finally gave way.

So far in the past month I have rerouted the fuel lines, replaced the fuel filter, installed and plumbed a second fuel filter, replaced the damaged exhaust water trap ($300, ouch), replaced the impeller in the raw water pump, and replaced the zincs.  Remaining, I have to have the alternator tested and serviced, pick up new oil, drain and change the current oil, drain and change the transmission oil, take the heat exchangers to the radiator shop to have them boiled out, pick up antifreeze, install the secondary cooling pump, drain the engine cooling system and replace with antifreeze, reroute the raw water intake through the heat exchangers, rewire the instrument panel, and then get the fuel tank polished.  Whew!  Someday soon, I will have an engine that runs reliably; ideally one that I do not have to climb into the engine compartment with a screwdriver to start.  There's almost no chance I'll have all this done by Monday, so I really have to pick and choose what tasks are actually important.

...and then I get to start on the electrical system!  For some reason, since returning from Vegas the house batteries aren't holding a charge anymore.  I have no idea why; I need to replace the batteries and purchase and install a modern charge manager.  I don't expect to get that one sorted out for under $1000.

Lastly, I have Sequential Circus coming up on Saturday.  This is a huge show, with six live-pa acts performing 45-minute sets at a local show venue slash warehouse space.  Everything is coming together smoothly, mostly because it's our sixth time running this show and we're all getting really good at it.  It's really starting to look like we're going to have a solid crowd too, which takes a lot of the financial stress off of my back - if everything works out well, I might just come out of it a hundred bucks richer!

I still haven't figured out where to go on Monday, and the False Creek / Olympic Village security lockdown continues... more on that soon.

14Aug/09Off

Gonzales Bay

Gonzales Bay, Victoria

Gonzales Bay, Victoria

It's day two in Gonzales Bay, just east of Victoria Harbour.

It's lovely here!  Nicer even than Fleming Beach, from which I was evicted on Tuesday - and even nicer now that it's not pouring rain anymore.  I arrived on Wednesday afternoon to grey skies, and it rained all Thursday, so the sun is welcome - I had the sails up this morning for an hour or so to let them dry out.  Mildew isn't something I'm really interested in dealing with.

One nice thing that happened: about an hour after I anchored, an older woman with long white hair rowed out to say hello, and to offer me a shower, a dinner and the use of a bicycle, should I need one.  What a far cry from the surly stares of the Esquimalt fishermen, or the studied disinterest of the older sailors at the naval base!  She offered her back yard as a place to tie my dinghy, instead of the public beach, and told me to feel free to come and go though her property.  I took her up on the latter, and rowed my bicycle to shore in the pouring rain last night to go have birthday drinks with Oakley and Amanda.  Making my way home much later on was a bit of a trial to say the least, especially in the pitch dark with a head full of Jack Daniels - when I finally found the place, the tide had gone waaaaay out, and my dinghy was stranded about twenty feet up on the steep, slippery rocks.  I managed to get the dinghy, my bicycle and myself down to the waterline without falling - at least, as far as I remember.  Good thing I remembered my flashlight!

The bay is shallow - only ten or fifteen feet or so where I'm anchored - and I can see the bottom.  It's really nice being able to see the bottom, especially after so much time in the murky brownish waters of False Creek.  There are large shoals in the bay, and tonnes of seabirds - the only downside is that there's not really any shelter from the open ocean.  I get to rock around on the wake of every whale-watching tourboat that goes past - but between the gentle, constant rocking, the sounds of the seabirds and the waves lapping at the rocky shores nearby, it feels very much like the east coast here.  I can't see any crabs down there, but I might try dropping the trap later on just to see if I can snag some dinner.

If the sun sticks around, perhaps this weekend I'll get out the flippers and snorkel and give Tie Fighter's bottom a good scrub - she's starting to look pretty scummy down there.

Tonight, a house party.  Tomorrow, shopping for Burning Man supplies.  Sunday, who knows?

12Aug/09Off

Victoria Adventures!

One more big post to get out of the way, and hopefully after that I can just update frequently instead of having to play massive catch-up games!

Monday night I arrived in Victoria and stayed in the harbour in front of the Empress, meeting Amanda and company for drinks.  The moorage was an awesome location, in super rockstar style.  I spent Tuesday morning working, but mostly cleaning the boat and enjoying the parking spot.  Tuesday afternoon I went sailing with the lovely Laurel, and scoped out Esquimalt Harbour for a place to anchor.  She had to be back at work, so we turned around and I dropped her off at the docks at Fleming Beach and headed back out to find an anchorage.  After a few false starts, I stopped at the Canadian Armed Forces Yacht Club to ask advice - nobody had anything constructive to say, with the only exception being the bartender.  She took me out to the parking lot, down a rugged, windy little path through burdocks and blackberry bushes to a tiny little beach, half covered by a large arbutus tree.

"You see the bar from here?" she asked.  I nodded.

"This beach is probably on the Songhee reserve, but most folks think it belongs to the base.  Most of the base thinks it's on the reserve.  The property line is around here somewhere, but nobody is certain where, so it's kind of a no-man's land.  If you pull up your dingy here and hide it under the tree, you should be ok..."

So that's what I did for the night.  Anchoring in Thetis Cove in the Esquimalt Harbour, then rowing a half-mile through harbour swells - not quite as large as the open ocean, but not what you'd consider "sheltered" either - only to sneak onto a disputed beach, hide and lock my dinghy, sneak onto and off of a naval base, and finally ride my bicycle 10km or so into town to go visit with friends.  Some days the mind just boggles.  After riding 10km "home" again at 2:30am, only to have to row another half-mile through the waves with a bicycle in the dinghy, I started to understand that this trip would be a pretty damned good series of workouts!

When I woke up in the morning, I realized that I had accidentally left my laptop power supply at Amanda's house - d'oh!  This meant I couldn't actually start work until I did the row-bike-bike-row sequence again.  I kicked myself thoroughly and was starting to make breakfast when I heard voices outside.  Out a window (one of the only two in the boat that is actually translucent enough to see through), I saw a small powerboat with two men in it idling nearby.  I poked my head out to see what they wanted, and they seemed startled to see me and quickly sped away.  Uh oh.

There was no way I'd leave the boat now, so I pulled anchor and headed back towards Fleming Beach.  I had noticed a lot of "NO MOORAGE" signs, but since I'd be anchoring those wouldn't apply, and since the only "allowed" moorage around was surrounded by reserves I was willing to push the rules a bit.  The "beach" in Fleming Beach is almost nonexistent - but the bay itself is very well sheltered by a large man-made breakwater.  The bay is surrounded by beautiful, million-dollar homes on one side, a large cliff infested with rock climbers on another, and a lovely park on the third.  I anchored, rode in, and got my power supply from Amanda's house, sneaking a shower in the process.  Now that I was clean, powered and mobile I headed to Habit for coffee.

As I walked into Habit, a beautiful blonde woman was walking out.  Our eyes met and stuck, until she reached the door, and left.  I shrugged and ordered coffee, then sat down and began my workday.  Not five minutes later, the woman appeared in front of me again.

"Excuse me," she said with a thick accent, "I think... we are... supposed to talk."

Her name was Hanne, and she was visiting Victoria from Denmark, enroute to Seattle, then Iceland and finally home.  We talked for several hours, and then she invited me to an open mic night at the Bent Mast.  I had to be at a Burning Man planning meeting first, so I went to that - meeting many of my soon-to-be campmates for the first time - and then headed down to join them.  After a few beers, I ended up playing guitar and singing a few songs and having an excellent jam with two locals.  Adam, a bassist with a huge stand-up bass complete with preamp duct-taped to the side, and Vincent, who played fiery leads on a classical guitar with a small amp with the distortion circuit turned up.  Hanne was due to leave for Seattle in the morning, so we talked long into then night, then parted ways.

the lovely Fleming Beach

the lovely Fleming Beach

I got a text the next morning from Hanne, saying she'd stayed in town another day.  We made plans to meet that night for drinks, and I went back to my day job for the day.  Later on we went to a wine bar, and then wandered around Victoria with a bottle of rum until late, having deep discussions on the nature of memory and consciousness - fascinating stuff.

Friday night was a house party at the home of one of the organizers of the Victoria contingent of our Burning Man camp this year - it was Marion's birthday, and so a large group of folks gathered for drinks, dancing and fire play.  I forgot to eat dinner, and wondered why the rum had such a negative effect on me, until I supplemented the rum with pizza and all became balanced again.

Saturday afternoon, I wandered into downtown Victoria with my mandolin and a busker's license borrowed from Laurel.  I set up on a side street full of vendors, and played and sang for about an hour, making a few bucks, until the vendors packed up and suddenly the street emptied.  I put my mandolin away and wandered down to Bastion Square, where a guy was playing guitar with a mic and a little guitar amp.  After hearing a few of his songs I figured I could follow his style, so I asked him if I could sit in and he said sure.

We played for about an hour together, with his income going up significantly now that he was a "band" instead of just a guy with a guitar, and eventually the next act showed up to take over - Bastion Square apparently is a very popular busking location, and requires acts to sign up weeks in advance.  The new guy listened for a while, while unloading a tonne of gear, and finally came up to speak with me.

"Listen," he said.  "My backup guitarist is out of town, and my bassist has run off with a cute French brunette, so I think it's just me today.  Do you want to sit in with me?"

I said sure, and he continued to set up his rig - a full PA system with monitors, mic stands, preamps, a mixer, etc.  Then, out of the blue, his bassist showed up - and to my surprise, it was Adam, the bass player from the Bent Mast a few nights previous!  We did a quick soundcheck, and then they launched into a rowdy set of energetic bluegrass and country, straight out of an east-coast kitchen party.  My roots were tickled!  We played and sang and danced for an hour and a half to a crowd of probably 60-80 people, making decent money along the way.  I did alright I think, especially considering that I'd never heard most of the songs before, and definitely had never played any of them before!  It was a lot of fun, and they asked me to come back to play again the next day - but their set would be early in the day, and I had no intention of being awake that early.

Saturday night I went to the nightclub 'Hush', where "Boy 8-Bit" was playing.  I wasn't impressed with his music, but the opening act "Neon Steve" had me dancing from start to finish.  I ended up drinking and carousing with a great crew of Victorians until well past dawn, before starting the bikeride back to Fleming Beach and Tie Fighter.  When I arrived, I found a little note written in sharpie and taped to one of my oars.

"REMOVE YOUR BOAT FROM THE BASIN IMMEDIATELY!  NO MOORAGE AT ANY TIME!  YOUR NUMBER HAS BEEN REPORTED TO HARBOUR AUTHORITY!", it said.

Now, those three sentences raised my hackles a little bit, for three reasons:

  1. "moorage" means tying to something, ie private property, which can be owned.  I'm anchored in a navigable channel, ie public property, which is protected by the Canadian Navigable Waters Act and has been for hundreds of years,
  2. "Harbour Authority", regardless of whether they meant Esquimalt Harbour or Victoria Harbour, has no jurisdiction here - I checked, the only folks that do are the police, the coast guard, Transport Canada and the military, and lastly,
  3. if you don't have the balls to sign your snippy little note, I can't muster the respect required to listen to you.

I looked around, hoping that the author was nearby so that I could discuss this with them, but they were nowhere to be found - probably a good thing, as I had been awake for twenty-odd hours and wasn't even close to sober.  I rowed out and went to bed.

I didn't leave the boat on Monday at all, staying in and working.  Tuesday was almost the same, though I met Bunny, Amanda, Lori, Mike and Will for beers and pizza, scammed a shower from Bunny, and hit the hay early again.

That brings me up to today.  Today, the police showed up, along with a nice man named Bob in a red sweatervest, who served me with a yellow slip of paper essentially telling me to GTFO, citing Municipal Zoning Bylaw 63(2)(c).

Zoning Citation (click for larger)

Zoning Citation (click for larger)

As it turns out that the Township of Esquimalt has actually put a zoning bylaw on the books somehow prohibiting anchoring in this "water lot".  I'm aaaaalmost certain I could challenge that law and win, as it goes against federal laws protecting my rights to anchor.  We actually discussed it briefly, with me mentioning the federal Act, and the municipal governer admitting that yes, in a storm, anyone could anchor in the bay, but that the bylaw prevents permanent anchorage.  According to other live-aboards in False Creek (I don't know exactly how reliable a source they are, but regardless), the Act doesn't specify how long "safe harbour" lasts, and nobody has ever managed to challenge that in court and win.

So being the gentleman that I am, I recognize when I am not welcome and agreed to leave, saying that perhaps it wouldn't be today, but at the latest I would get out of here by tomorrow morning.  The police took my identification and phone number, ran the usual background check (clean I assume), and left without hasle.

However, being the inquisitive soul that I am, of course I had a few more questions - for one, how exactly are they kicking me out?   The Township of Esquimalt fortunately puts all of their bylaws online, and so I downloaded the zoning laws and had a look.  I'll save you opening the .PDF:

63. MARINE SMALL DOCK [M-5]

The intent of this Zone is to accommodate small private docks on Water Lots adjacent to

residential properties.

(1) Permitted Uses

The following Uses and no others are permitted:

(a) Boat Moorage Facility for small pleasure boats.

(2) Prohibited Uses

(a) Commercial or industrial activity

(b) Floating Homes and Floating Boat Shelters

(c) Liveaboards

(d) The mooring of more than two small boats

(e) Accessory Buildings

(3) Siting Requirements

(a) All Boat Moorage must be located within the boundaries of the Water Lot.

(4) Maximum Size

(a) No section of a Boat Moorage ramp shall exceed a width of 1.5 metres.

(b) The combined length of a Boat Moorage Facility [wharf, ramp, landing and

dock], measured from the shoreline, shall not be more than 21 metres.

(c) The area of a dock or float shall not be greater than 18.5 square metres in

area.

Wow.  Damn.  They do have me there.

Still, I'm betting that if I had the time or interest to challenge this bylaw in court, I'd actually have a case - as I understand it, the feds frown on bylaws that go against federal laws.

My second question was, of course, the subject of fines - Bob let it slip that if I refused, they would fine me $100.  I noticed that aside from the yellow slip of paper in the photo above, he was also holding a ticket book, open to a new page, and I think he was a little disappointed that I was both polite and accommodating.  I wondered afterwards just what the frequency of fines would be.  Staying the night in Victoria Harbour cost me $58-something - if staying a week in this sheltered bay would only cost me $100, I count that as a deal!  So I checked, and:

8. PENALTY

(1) Every person who violates any of the provisions of this Bylaw or who suffers or

permits any act or thing to be done in contravention of this Bylaw, is punishable in

accordance with the “Offence Act”, and shall be liable to the penalties hereby

imposed.

(2) Any person who violates any of the provisions of this Bylaw shall upon summary

conviction thereof be liable to a penalty of not more than ten thousand dollars.

(3) Each day that violation of this Bylaw is caused to continue, constitutes a separate

offence.

Yep, looks like I pretty much have to move.

So anyway, back to work for me.  I will likely head back to the Bent Mast tonight for the open mic night again, which was fun last time, and likely will head over to Oak Bay or somewhere around there tomorrow morning.  Or maybe later today?  Who knows.  At least this brings me finally up to date, and now I can start updating the blog in a more timely fashion.

11Aug/09Off

Long Overdue Update!

Wow.  Three of the craziest, busiest, happiest months of my life.  How to compress them into one post?  WHY compress them into one post?  This seems silly, but I think the best way to re-jumpstart my blogging is to get this all out of the way in one post, and then go back to more regular updates.  *sigh*.

At my last major post, I was about to speak at the Open Web Vancouver conference at the Vancouver Conference Center.  My talk went pretty well, I guess - I mean, I definitely didn't win any awards, but nobody walked out either.  I met some great new folks and had a good experience overall.  I know now that speaking at tech conferences is almost exactly like doing live-pa techno in front of a big audience - the more prepared you are, the easier it is to let go and just be yourself.

Since then, there's been... God.  Seriously, where to start?!

I've had repeated, profound musical experiences on the boat, jamming with friends.  Picture if you will a mirror-smooth False Creek, with the boat anchored about fifty feet offshore.  Dan Ross playing guitar and singing, Chad Taylor playing muted trumpet and providing some percussive backup and myself on mandolin and backup vocals - folks walking past, double-taking and sitting down on the seawall to listen, applauding between songs.  Making music on the boat with friends has given me far more joy than I ever imagined it could.  Actually, making music on the boat at all - I've been spending on average about eight to ten hours per week sitting on my deck, playing my guitar and singing.  If there is a greater peace than playing music on the water, I haven't found it yet.

Yarrrr!

Yarrrr!

I've gone on three epic sailing adventures, the third of which is still ongoing - as of this writing I am anchored in this lovely little bay, surrounded by million-dollar waterfront houses and a beautiful cliff infested with rock climbers.  More on that in future posts - but suffice to say this ongoing solo-sailing adventure is not without its trials and tribulations.

The first of the three epic sailing adventures was with a beautiful woman named Miya who I met at Burning Man in 2008, and who had come to visit me several times over the past year.  Her confidence in my sailing ability was appreciated, though perhaps unwarranted, as we left Vancouver and immediately ran into eight-foot breaking swells just off Point Atkinson, enroute to the Sunshine Coast.  The sailing got a lot better after the first day, but we still had to spend a few days on Bowen Island with engine trouble - mostly waiting around for a mechanic, until we tackled the problem head-on with the manual and some elbow grease, finally solving it ourselves and getting the engine back up and running.  We then cruised up the coast to Secret Cove and Smuggler Cove, where we spent a night before returning to Vancouver.  It was an amazing trip; the ocean opened my eyes and put a good fear into me, and the company was exquisite.  The parting of ways at the end was wistful to say the least.

Drew and Laurel spinning fire on Tie Fighter

Drew and Laurel spinning fire on the boat at Diversity

The second sailing adventure was with yet another beautiful woman, Carrie, who joined me on a trip to the Diversity Festival on Texada Island.  Technically we were supposed to sail with a crew of six, but Vancouver being the city of flailers that it is, the crew slowly called in to cancel until it was just the two of us.  The winds were against us the whole way there and back, forcing us to motor around 90% of the tip, so it's debatable whether or not we actually saved any money travelling by "sailboat".  We did get the sails up once or twice, but not nearly as much as I would have liked.  The festival itself was excellent, with us arriving in full pirate regalia to great fanfare, spending a weekend surrounded by beautiful people and great music, and rolling out again on Monday with a grand exit.  Sunday was a bit crazy, as the wind suddenly went from 5kn up to 25-30kn, and Tie Fighter danced in four-foot swells for the night - I now have a lot more faith in my anchor than before.  Another boat nearby actually did slip their anchor, and came within a few feet of hitting us, but we held steady and Monday was much calmer.  Another thing learned: rowing a dinghy in calm waters is one thing, rowing through four-foot waves as they break on the beach is another thing entirely!  I made very good use of the drybags my sister gave me for my birthday.

The next weekend after Diversity was the Emrg-N-See Festival just outside of Salem, Oregon.  I went to this festival with Trent last year, and it was probably the best festival I'd been to to date - it was as though someone had sent a personal invitation to every single gorgeous, blonde, dreadlocked, dubstep-loving yoga instructor on the west coast.  I cannot express how many times I had to stop and shake my head at the sheer beauty surrounding me.  This year was similar, though somewhat diluted, as though every guy who went last year went home and explained the situation to every guy he knew.  I know I did, which is why I was surprised that the crew going down fron Vancouver was much smaller this year.  Regardless, I definitely got my fill of amazing dubstep and bassline music, on very excellent soundsystems.  I also got to take a tablespoon of dancefloor dirt out of my nose every morning, which I am choosing to look at as preparation for this year's Burning Man expedition.

The weekend after Emrg-N-See was Sequential Circus 5, an electronic music event that I guess I'm sort of in charge of.  I say that with some reservation, because the show couldn't happen without every one of the seriously talented and driven people involved - we've got the whole thing pretty much down to a science now, and even with six live acts on a small stage, we continue to be efficient and competent, and we still have a good time doing it.  This SeqCirc was probably the best music to date, though we were up against some very stiff competition.  The capacity of the venue is about 180 people, and we had about 100 people, so while it was never packed, it never felt empty, and nearly everyone who was there at midnight was still there at 3am when we turned the lights on, so I count that as a win.  The next Sequential Circus, SeqCircSix, will be in January.

After recovering from SeqCirc, having a few sailing missions out and around English Bay, and basically settling down and focusing on dayjob work for a while, I took off on my first big solo-sailing trip, headed for Victoria...