*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Cruising dreams

Do you think my Japanese wife will like my solution to our Toronto housing? Buy-in for about $100K for a luxurious 42' sailboat used in good condition,  $600/month dockage fees, and it travels. Sweet! More comfortable and larger than a Japanese home, or a Toronto condo. Where's the down side? 

Never going to happen...

I rather doubt my plans will go so smoothly for sailing a 27' boat, but I'd like to introduce my kids to isolated scenery in Canada before I'm too old, and they get busy as teens.  I'm fortunate to be a teacher having the two best months of the year off to sail.  The boomer teachers bought cottages, but they're all priced out now, and why would I want to spend my vacations fixing a second building (as opposed to a boat...).

2019, 49 years old, take a proper sailing course.

Buy a shared 27' boat.
2020, 50, children 10 and 7: Georgian Bay and North Channel
2021, 51, children 11 and 8: Georgian Bay and Lake Huron
2022, 52, children 12 and 9: Superior

Buy (or buy out) own boat, or get my co-owner to join the longer trip, possibly upgrading to a 32' boat, as much for room as for safety.
2023, 53, children 13 and 10: Huron, Eerie, Ontario, St. Lawrence River, to Saguenay
2024, 54, children 14 and 11: Gulf of St. Lawrence
2025, 55, children 15 and 12: Gulf of St. Lawrence
2026, 56, children 16 and 13: Newfoundland and Labrador

Much bigger plans would have to wait for retirement, which could have been sixty if I'd planned better, or had one fewer children to educate: more likely sixty-five; however, I can work a reduced year from sixty, so a four month summer is possible.

I'd love to take a boat further up the Atlantic to Baffin and Greenland, but even in summer that's an undertaking, even if I'd have the experience above.  Getting my Japanese wife to join and miss all of a summer's weather?  Be more likely to keep the marriage with a Vancouver to Juneau, Whittier or Anchorage passage.  Probably have to stow the boat and return the next year the same way.  I wonder about sailing Alaska to Hawaii...

Saturday, 19 July 2014

'First World problems': false consciousness

I lost patience with someone the other day.  She was moaning about the Muslim kids' attitudes in her school.  She's sensitive because her husband's in the Canadian military, and he's been 'helping' in Afghanistan.  Students asked:
Why does America hate Muslims?
Why is it ok for Americans  to invade other countries but it's not ok for anyone to fight Americans?
Canada is racist. Why didn't it bring in any Syrian refugees?
Instead of considering these kids might have family who have been killed because of America fucking the place up, and its bitch, Canada, joining in, she's concerned about her own feelings. 
In all my years of teaching and working with students from a variety of backgrounds, I have NEVER heard or witnessed such disgust for the West. It made me horrified, really. And I still don't know what the best response is to any of those questions.
Fuck your cossetted feelings.  Try empathy.  White, born in Canada, unilingual Anglophone...  I had to school her:
I happen to think we should all be disgusted with 'the West': we are hypocrites.  I don't need to be Muslim to see that Arab deaths are counted very cheaply in Washington, and that 'Western' governments not only don't protest, but enable.  You are younger than me so do not know that the Liberal Party of Canada sent no troops to Vietnam, or anywhere in SE Asia, and accepted American draft refugees.  Incidentally, Joe Clark's Conservatives accepted tens of thousands of civilian refugees from Vietnam.  Quite a different legacy than ours in the Middle East.  There were other choices to make.  The questions show students who are intellectually engaged with current events, even if their ideas are raw and unnuanced.  If I were a hot-blooded youth and anyone I knew had been harmed?  I can't imagine feeling less angry than I am now.  I would acknowledge their anger, and try to direct it to something effective, legal and non-violent.  The anger needs a positive outlet: better that than another option, for their own good.
The most shocking thing was that she entertained my ideas.  I didn't bother to tell her that her husband has blood on his hand, even if not at first hand.  Don't think she'll ever be that open minded.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Buying a tramp yacht... someday.

Toronto sucks, but Georgian Bay doesn't, and it's just hours away.  The main body of it is 200km long, and 80km wide, there are no tides of course, you can not only swim in it but drink it, you are never far from shelter, and most of it is little spoilt.  Oh, you can get to all the other Great Lakes too, if you have the cruising time or haul out your boat.  So I am writing up my plan for getting a boat onto it in a few years, and sailing all of it, and maybe Superior too.  Huron also, but Georgian Bay is the prettier part of that lake.

So, I'm trying to rope in a friend to share the costs.  You see, the season's only four months long in Ontario, so it's a bit much to pay full freight for such a short period. He and I are both teachers, so have the time to enjoy it, and we met rock-climbing, so are relatively rugged.  We both also prefer the Bruce Penninsula side of the bay to the Parry Sound side, mainly because it is less overrun with tourons and nouveaux riches.  My father shared a boat and stayed friends with his boat partner, and my father was an asshole.  My friend and I have trad-climbed together, so have already trusted each other with our lives.  My kids are young yet, and my wife'll kill me if I do this before we get a house, but in a few years it'll be my plaything in July while she's with the kids in Japan.  I am not a cottage person, and none on a decent lake are under a million near to Toronto anymore, and those lakes are full of stinkpots (motor boats).  Sailing, with the time off a teacher has, I am on one of the best sailing lakes in the world.

Sailing's not cheap, but not as expensive as people think, if you're smart.  First, you never buy new, because more than a few years used is a fraction the price of new, and boats don't fall apart like cars do.  Second, you buy as small as is safe on the lake and you find livable, because price doubles every 5' on the waterline. You can rent a boat, if you have the local sailing licence, but I've estimated each half of annual cost is $2500 (all CAD): just a little more than the weekly cost of chartering a boat on Georgian Bay the same size, $2200.  Even in the first year, if each of us sails it three weeks, the thing is paid for.  Sure, the boat's not as new, but that's not worth thousands.

Makes me wonder why I didn't live in a boat before marriage: $10000 investment and $500/month costs: and I get to sail my home.  Then I remember that I lived in Toronto and Montréal where the season's short, the winter's cold, and the sailing's mundane.  If I'd lived in Vancouver...

This is based on a 25' or 27' boat, like a C&C 27.  I'd want a few additions:
- one or two folding bikes in stowage
- bug and rain cover for the hatch and companionway
- bimini with bug mesh for sleeping/living outside
- 120v outlet for using electronics when hooked to shore power

If this is interesting, the details I sent to my friend follow the pictures.

I suggest we buy one on a round-numbered birthday year: your sixtieth and my fiftieth should be the same summer, and my kids will be old enough to take on a boat in life-jackets.  Summer previous to that or earlier, we take the Humber Sailing School course for something over $1000, and maybe even join the club for similar to get some experience on Ontario.  We'd have an agreement on the boat year to year and simply sell off the boat and reconcile the balances if one party wants out, or make an agreement on buying the other party out.

I'm thinking a used 25' or 27' sloop out of Owen Sound.  My father had a Tanzer 22 in Port Credit, but a boat a touch larger is going to be roomier and much safer feeling on Georgian Bay.  Ideally with a flushing head; showers and such are an unneeded luxury, but if wife insists I'll pay to have one in (she can shower at the Marina).  Owen Sound has a bus connection, which saves renting a car for us or for guests.  Further up the Bruce doesn't really work.  Fuck the Parry Sound side: busy, full of stinkpots (motor) and the traffic always sucks.

We'd split all unavoidable costs down the middle, but any personal upgrades we'd negotiate on a per item basis: if one doesn't feel it's needed, the other pays for all of it or chooses to forgo it.  That'd likely be me for spare sails, or a shower.  We'd write up an agreement and sign off on it.

Been looking online and costs come to about:
- boat and minor customization/repairs in first year, $8000-12000

Annually: $5000
- dockage, $2200
- on sight winter storage, $800
- repairs, $1500
- gasoline, $500, but we'd keep a log of engine use to share that most fairly
- insurance and sundries: $1000
Excess balance we can roll over year to year for major upgrades, upgrading the boat, or sharing back if we end the agreement or at the end of season.

So, that's a $7500/each hit in the first year, and $2500 each year after that.

- we aim to put in equal labour, especially in May before launch
- in case of accident the party in charge of the boat at the time eats any insurance deductible
- if accident is at the dock it is split
- a basic log is kept of miles sailed, and miles under power, so that costs can be fairly split (i.e. gasoline)
- water and fuel tanks are always kept 2/3 full or better
- waste tank not left more than 2/3 full (and try to use the marina)
- cabin, head, sails, etc. are left in 'ship-shape'
- when 'ship-shape' is not possible (a rush to catch a bus), a bottle of wine or similar is given in informal compensation
- other parties may take the helm under an owner's supervision and responsibility only
- Ontario boating rules will be followed

- we'll have a document for tracking this
- when sailing together it is shared scheduling
- if one party books longer periods of over a week, the other party gets priority on number of times, or similar balancing
- keep each other informed of last minute openings or taking unclaimed availability

I'd want it maybe three weeks in July, when my family is in Japan, but you'd not only be welcome but wanted to share the sailing.  I'd also like another week in August for my family to join.  I doubt I could convince wife to go for more anyway.  That leaves you the other half of July/August.  June and September we'd split weekends.  If you are retired you'd have full access to June and September weekdays.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

"Altogether elsewhere, vast herds of reindeer..."

The Fall of Rome

W. H. Auden, 1907 - 1973
(for Cyril Connolly)
The piers are pummelled by the waves;
In a lonely field the rain
Lashes an abandoned train;
Outlaws fill the mountain caves.

Fantastic grow the evening gowns;
Agents of the Fisc pursue
Absconding tax-defaulters through
The sewers of provincial towns.

Private rites of magic send
The temple prostitutes to sleep;
All the literati keep
An imaginary friend.

Cerebrotonic Cato may
Extol the Ancient Disciplines,
But the muscle-bound Marines
Mutiny for food and pay.

Caesar’s double-bed is warm
As an unimportant clerk
On a pink official form.

Unendowed with wealth or pity,
Little birds with scarlet legs,
Sitting on their speckled eggs,
Eye each flu-infected city.

Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of reindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Grey on grey on grey... recursive landscape of Japan.

Is it just a Shitamachi thing, or do all Japanese not put on their headlights in the rain?  Come to think of it, they don't even on the toll freeways, and certainly not in the shitty little neighbourhood streets.  Even at night many turn them off at intersections to 'not bother' the people on the other side, which would be great if everyone remembered to turn them back on.

Sure, Japanese drivers pay more attention, not so much because they care more, or worry about the legal penalties, but there's nowhere you can drive a dozen meters in this land without hitting something, if you aren't paying attention.  However, nobody thinks for themselves.

Sure, they have those convex mirrors at all their fucking blind corners with houses up to the property line, but a few weeks of road soot or a few minutes of rain and they aren't much help.  Of course, if drivers or cyclists had their fucking lights on in rain I'd get fewer scares, wouldn't I?

Or, if all of the cars weren't in bland colours, against bland concrete background, against a leaden sky (the few times you get a glimpse of one in a Japanese warren) my paleolithic brain could pick up the predator; however, 'this is Japan'.