disengage.ca a quest for the technomadic lifestyle




About a year ago I pledged, after following the blog of a certain amazing young lady, to release myself from the obligation of always posting long-winded diatribes and to allow myself to post smaller updates, more often.

On a somewhat unrelated topic, I've been spending a lot of my free time lately working on music; specifically guitar, mandolin and singing.  I'm pretty close to pulling the trigger on the purchase of a Native Instruments Audio Kontrol 1 audio interface for my laptop, which will allow me to plug my good microphones in again, and record on the boat.

In the interests of shorter, more frequent posts, here's a video of a song I wrote about two years ago, prior to any of these crazy boating adventures.

I think for a New Year's Resolution, I'm going to try to post something on this blog every day in 2010. Or maybe every two days is more realistic, or maybe every weekday, I guess we'll see. If that's the goal though, I guess I better start ramping up towards it.


Back from Burning Man

Well, I'm back to bobbing around in False Creek after a spectacular week in the Nevada Desert.  Actually I've been back for a week now, but I'm still trying to decompress - funny how the "default world" can seem so surreal.  I've held off on posting this so that I could edit it slowly as the memories came to me, and so that I could sort out some photos to go along with the anecdotes.


The Man: Just This Guy, You Know?

Rather than evangelize, let me just say this:  maybe you've planned go to Burning Man but something got in the way, or maybe you've seen images or TV shows about it and thought it sounded interesting.  Maybe you've just seen the deranged, happy looks in the eyes of folks who've recently returned from the desert, and noticed the lasting changes in the way they look at the world around them, and maybe that made you wonder just what the whole thing is all about.  Do yourself a favour and just get there.

It's not too difficult; the trick I've used to great success several times now is to get a ticket when they first go on sale in February, then stick it somewhere that you'll see it regularly, like on your fridge.  If you have the ticket and it turns out you can't go, you can easily bounce it on Craigslist pretty much right up until the day the event starts, for as much as you paid for it - so there's almost zero financial risk.  Drop the $250 when the tickets go on sale, and your life will mysteriously get out of the way and allow you to go to the desert.  However, if you tell yourself you're going but wait until August to buy your ticket, your life will conspire to prevent you from going, be it work-related problems, or financial or whatever.

Anyhow.  After a few frantic days of last-minute preparation (ok, I admit it, mostly costume shopping), Carrie and I loaded up her truck with a huge pile of camping equipment and headed down to Seattle to meet up with our three-RV convoy.  After being denied a border crossing back in February, I didn't want to take the chance of having our whole RV turned inside out - or worse yet, having the whole RV turned away - just because of a little black mark on my record.  We made it across with zero hassles, and spent the night in a Super-8 before reconnecting with the rest of the motley band at the Seattle REI.  Interesting fact(*): the Seattle REI is the second most visited tourist attraction in Seattle, after the Space Needle.

(*: by "fact" I mean that someone working the door at the REI told me this, so take it with a grain of salt.)


Carleigh and Bayrock in the Monday sunrise

We drove looooong through the night and arrived at the Black Rock Desert at approximately 2am, where we had to wait in a long, dusty lineup of RVs, trucks and cars for the next three hours.  When we finally arrived at the Greeters Station, all the first-timers ("virgins") were pulled out of the RV to roll in the dust, ring the welcome gong, and receive a certificate good for one spanking at the Greeters Camp.  I thought the certificate was pretty lame, personally - in previous years the spanking was administered promptly and with great enthusiasm shown by both spanker and spankee, but apparently there have been complaints.  *sigh*.

Setting up camp while the sun rose was gorgeous, and went smoothly - we were all far too excited to sleep, so we broke out the costumes and ran giddily around the playa all day, hitting up bars and checking out art.  Most of the big sound stages weren't yet setup, so Monday night was by far the quietest of the week, but that didn't stop us from tracking down bar after bar and partying as hard as possible.

Tuesday was much of the same.  The first 'real' day of Burning Man; wake up, struggle into consciousness, clean up with babywipes, apply sunscreen, don your most fabulous, anticipated costume and stumble out into the blinding white desert in search of adventure.  Of course there was no shortage of adventure, and the day was mostly spent riding from art installation to art installation, making new friends at the Man, gathering and subsequently losing a posse, and drinking fabulous martinis at Martini Village.  Sleeper hit of the day: Lollipop Shot Camp, where we were served shots of Ketel One vodka and Tootsie Roll Pops in custom take-home glow-in-the-dark shot glasses, on lanyards for easy access of course.  The procedure - dunk the lollipop in the shot glass, twirl it around for a minute, take the shot, repeat - was both fun and dangerous, and we all agreed we needed to take a break from drinking shortly thereafter.

Drew and new friend 'Ja', at Lollipop Shot Camp

Drew and a new friend at Lollipop Shot Camp

By Tuesday night the Opulent Temple was up and running, and the throbbing house music could be heard from one end of the playa to the other.  Shortly after we met up with them the crew decided to head for the other side of the playa to catch DJ Dan at another stage, and Carrie mentioned being tired and planning to head back to camp.  When she left, I decided I'd had enough of house music and headed off to find some dubstep, eventually meeting some folks who told me that DJ Mimosa was playing at the Space Cowboys stage, so I took off like a shot to get there.  Mimosa was hands-down my favourite act from the Emrg-N-See festival in Oregon earlier this summer.

As I arrived at the stage, I rolled up on my bike at a reasonable clip.  I wove in and out of the hundreds of bicycles lying on the street, aiming to drop mine as close to the stage as I could to make it a more undesirable target for a bike thief, should any be around, and managed to make it within about twenty feet.  As I approached what looked like a good spot, I swung my leg up over the bike and rode on a single pedal, unravelling my long skirt and adjusting my hat while riding with one hand, and then gingerly stepped off as the bike reached the drop spot, allowing the bike to fall gently to the ground.  A nearby group of three girls, unnoticed until that moment, began a round of polite applause.

"That was the best dismount I've seen this year!", said one.

I took my top hat in hand and bowed low in acknowledgement, and at the lowest point of the bow I was startled to see that I had dropped my bike directly next to Carrie's - nearly on top of her bike, in fact.  I guess great music is universal; I spent the next half-hour tracking her down in the massive crowd, letting her know that it was just one of those quirky Burning Man coincidences, and that I wasn't in fact stalking her.

My custom-built Rad Playa Cruiser™

My custom-built Rad Playa Cruiser™

Wednesday I parted ways with my crew to meet up with Miya, whom I hadn't seen in a few months, and we spent the day riding double on my Rad Playa Cruiser™ which I had equipped with stunt pegs for exactly such an opportunity.  In four years of Burning Man I have yet to see a single other bicycle with stunt pegs, which confuses me somewhat - mine cost me a grand total of $6, and have come in handy numerous times each year.  What better way to meet cute girls?

"You're looking for Root Society, hey?  Hop on, I'm heading that way now..!"

Just as an aside, my Rad Playa Cruiser™ has now seen three Burning Man expeditions, and currently resides with my friend Dan Ross as his primary bicycle.  She began life as a $25 junk store bicycle and underwent massive reworking to become the jewel that she is today - please click here for a photo of her in the "before" state.

Rocking 'Hair of the Dog' with an impromptu band

Rocking 'Hair of the Dog' with an impromptu band

Miya and I ended up bouncing from bar to bar, eventually finding ourselves drinking at 'Hair of the Dog', an open-mic bar a block or so from Center Camp.  Miya noticed a whiteboard behind the bar, listing things the bar could use as donations, such as orange juice, tequila, baby wipes and... "little people".  Apparently one of the bartenders had a thing for dwarves and/or midgets, but this entry spawned a furious row ending with Miya standing on a barstool and berating the bartenders mercilessly, arguing that her 5'4" frame certainly qualified her as "little".  She was quite convincing, and soon found herself working behind the bar helping random burners take the edge off the day.  I seized this opportunity to take the stage, and played and sang several songs with an impromptu band.  We were pretty bad, but considering none of us had ever met before, much less played together, we weren't terrible and the crowd was quite appreciative.

Thursday was much quieter during the day than the previous days, spending most of the time taking it easy and recovering from the past three days of lunacy.  Most of our camp napped intermittantly, and I had an excellent guitar and mandolin jam with Glyn and a few random folks that wandered under our shade structure throughout the afternoon.  Thursday night on the other hand, Carrie and I got into our most dressy costumes and headed out for a night of dancing.  We made our way to the enormous Root Society dome to see Bassnectar, which was apparently also the plan of about seven or eight thousand other burners.  The dome was packed wall-to-wall, and they'd configured soundsystems outside as well, with spillover crowds extending well out into the streets.  The bass could be felt from blocks away!  We danced well into the night, and I didn't get to bed until well after sunrise.

Miya attempting to make breakfast crêpes

Miya attempting to make breakfast crêpes

Friday I met up with Miya again, who had had a very rough morning dealing with a medical emergency involving a member of her camp.  We spent the afternoon and evening just talking and wandering around from art installations to bars, spending an hour or so watching a terrible italian caveman soft-porn flick in the Bad Ideas Theatre and eating popcorn.  We ended up crashing reasonably early, in preparation for the festivities of Saturday.

Saturday, the day of the burn, felt like it arrived far too quickly.  Our camp, 'Team Gong Show' (a subset of the 'First Republic of Slacking') had planned a three-hour party in the afternoon and I had been elected bar manager.  In preparation for this, we had stopped at the Rite-Aid pharmacy in Alturas, California to purchase alcohol - the ridiculous prices of booze in the states never cease to astound me.  We purchased a grand total of twelve gallons of vodka and rum for just over $120, and in three hours of serving heavily-sauced smoothies to a crowd of about a hundred or so we went through it all.  The theme of the party was, unsurprisingly, "The Gong Show" and after buttering up the crowd with drinks and house music for an hour or so, the gonging began.  I went up to play and sing A-Ha's 'Take On Me' with my mandolin, to much acclaim, though I was gonged when I returned to the stage an hour later to perform Britney Spears' 'Hit Me Baby One More Time' on the acoustic guitar.

in the Deep Playa, surveying the land

in the Deep Playa, surveying the land

The burning of the man was spectacular, with phenomenal fireworks and a huge fireball erupting from the base of the man to start the blaze.  The man himself was particularly well built this year, and it was a solid forty minutes or so before he finally fell.  I had plans to meet up with Miya at midnight, but I took a short nap after the burn which turned into a three-hour stretch, and I woke up at 1:45am, groggy and faded from the day's heavy partying.  Fortunately, I subscribe to the theory that every Burning Man meetup plan should have at least one backup plan, and so I had also made a plan to meet her at 2am at Center Camp should we miss out on the midnight meetup.  I raced over to Center Camp, losing my third set of goggles of the week on the way, and waited - but she never showed.  When I made my way back to her camp to see if she was there, I found her fast asleep in her tent - it turned out she had also partied way too hard during the day, and had slept right through the meetup times as well.  We ended up napping for another few hours, intending to wake up for sunrise, but we even missed that by about an hour.  The early morning was spent riding around in the deep playa, checking out the furthest-flung art installations, talking and enjoying the morning sunlight.

Overall?  Amazing.  Very much a different experience from the previous two years, but that's pretty much always how it is - you go in with expectations of how things are going to be, but you can never really predict what will happen or how it will affect you.  I was a lot more 'crew'-oriented this year, instead of heading out solo like the previous years, and I stayed a lot more sober.

I will most certainly go again.


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.


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:


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


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:


(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


(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


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.


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.



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...


Monday, Again

Ok, five days since the last post. Wheeeeere to start.

I survived the rains of last week without incident. Actually, the rains are a really good thing, as they help by pointing out any spots where the cabin still leaks. I *think* I've got them all now, and it's almost time to start painting! I have to admit, the boat is looking better and better and better - I mean it goddamned well better be, given the amount of hours and money I've been pouring into her. Still, I needed a good project and every hour that I work on her she becomes more "mine".

I spent the whole weekend working on her, again - third weekend in a row of two solid eight-to-fourteen-hour days fixing, upgrading, grinding, fiberglassing, sanding, sanding and sanding. I'm starting to run out of things to fix which is a really, really good sign.

Thursday was a bit odd though - I basically wore out my Mastercraft random-orbit sander. The bearings just "went"... I went back to Canadian Tire to see what they could do about it, and they said not much without a receipt or at least a transaction number. Of course, I can't remember when I actually bought the sander, I think it was around two months ago. Two lessons learned: keep your receipts, and don't buy the cheapest power tool just because it's on sale. A hundred dollars later, I have a new DeWalt sander.

When I returned from the store with the new sander, I arrived at my rowboat and looked out to see a large, shiny, expensive fishing boat tied to mine! Obviously I jumped right in my boat and rowed out as fast as I could to find out what was going on. Apparently the guy lost one of his two transmissions, and wasn't able to get his boat out of 'forward' to steer back into his marina properly, so he quickly dropped anchor and called his mechanic - but apparently where he dropped anchor wasn't the best place, so he drifted right over into my boat. He put out his fenders so there wasn't any damage, but he was still bumped right up against me. He explained the situation

"So," he said, "I thought I'd just tie off to you for a while until my mechanic got here..."

Which he had - his docklines were now tied to my boat, and my docklines had been untied and lay on my deck. Now, I'm a pretty friendly and gracious guy, so I didn't lay into him - still, I'm pretty sure that boarding someone else's vessel without permission is considered a hostile act under maritime law, so at the very least it was very poor manners. I glowered at him some and hurried him along until he realized that he was utterly unwelcome to stay tied to my boat for any longer than absolutely necessary. He made some noises early on about leaving his boat there overnight, but I think my derisive snort got my point across.

To top it off, my anchoring permit, with my cellphone number written on it in sharpie with a message saying "IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, PLEASE CALL:" wasright there, posted in the nearest window. If running into someone's boat and having to tie off to it isn't an emergency, I'm not sure what is.

Anyhow. Within an hour his mechanic got there, and they got the boat untied and moved along - I'm not sure if he was fixed or if the mechanic was just a better pilot, but whatever. Barely a thank you, and no hint of an apology. I don't know whether he was just a newbie boater, or didn't consider live-aboard squatters to have the same rights as people from an expensive marina, or if he was just utterly oblivious. Still, I have half a mind to borrow an RV from someone and go park on his lawn for a couple of hours with 'engine trouble'.

The weekend was mostly calm, with twenty-odd hours of hard work in the sun putting a new layer on my tan. I got a tonne of work done on the deck, spent way too much money at the marine store again, and finally installed my LED lighting system. I had gone to Ikea mid-week last week to find the fixtures, and managed to find the perfect fixtures - these ones to be precise, in white plastic. They have a fixture-mounted switch, they accept the LED bulbs perfectly, they have a long cable, and they're mostly plastic so they're ideal for the marine environment. I am incredibly pleased with these lights! I had purchased five, with the intention of putting two in the salon, one over the navigation table, one in the bathroom and one over my bed - but instead I installed all five in the salon and will have to purchase more. WOW though - I do not at all regret the purchase, nor the decision. In one step, the salon at night has changed from "camping" to "home". The light is warm and pleasant, and the difference in the general "feel" of the place is staggering. I will be purchasing another five of these lights, at least. The best part is that even with ten lights installed, I will still only be drawing a total of 30w of electricity to light the entire boat - just about half the draw of a *single* regular lightbulb!

Today, it's back to the grind. We've committed to having one of the gossip sites live and launched in the Amazon cloud by Wednesday. Just in time, the weather has turned sour, and later today and tonight it promises to rain. I've still got a few holes in the front of the boat, so I'll need to cover those with garbage bags or something for Tuesday, but then Wednesday and on through the weekend is supposed to be bright and sunny, so I should be able to get that job finished this coming weekend.

Just in time, too - coming up, I have a speaking gig on cloud computing at the Open Web Vancouver conference, an open offer of a live-pa set in Victoria, a possible second live-pa set at a music festival out on Texada Island (plus I can sail there!), and a third offer of an acoustic live set over on Vancouver Island. Furthermore I have a lovely young lady coming up from Michigan for a ten-day epic sailing adventure in June, a hacker conference in Washington the weekend after that, and I am putting together a live electronic music show on the only weekend in July without a three-day outdoor festival to go to. It never stops!

I have to pick and choose between the musical bookings, because I frankly don't know how much free time I'll have to practice up between then and now - but it's all very flattering nonetheless. 🙂 Public appearances come with a thrill of adventure, but also with a dark sense of foreboding which drives me to work much harder on my music and performance so that I don't suck. It's one thing to play badly in your living room, it's another thing entirely to play badly in front of hundreds of people!