July 1, 2008 Canada Day in Bella Coola

Today we “schwacked” around town for a very Canadian experience of Canada Day.  Most people had celebrated their weekend at the rodeo, so nobody was really treating today like a holiday.  “Oh, you know, it’s not really that big of a deal.  We don’t do all those fireworks and stuff like you do in the states.”  Instead, we did what most of the folks seemed to do every day: sit around on the boats and watch the world go by.  We spent the morning on MaryLou and Del’s boat, on old wooden fishing boat from 1920s Seattle.  Del spotted an elephant testicle floating in the estuary through his binoculars.  He got very excited, grabbed his gas can, and sped away in his skiff to retrieve it.    Everyone in the harbor came by to chat and have a cup of coffee.  Immediately after the coffee the beers came out, sometime right before 10am.  I took that moment to do a few chores before the whole day passed by.  Most importantly, I went up the mast with the bosun’s chair and a borrowed mirror, and tightened down the masthead light, which has been hanging loose.  By holding the mirror above, I was able to see where the screws were.  It was a fancy maneuver at the top of a swinging 40′ pole!  Our friend Wayne is a native from Alberta.  He used to ranch out there, and the whole maritime scene is new to him.  Wayne is working on Ken’s boat, an old fishing tender, and now they charter out to transport tourists.  He was very interested in Silent Partner, and made for her one of the nicest gifts.  He’s a terrific artist and wanted to make something for us to bring good luck to the voyage.  In the afternoon he walked down to the estuary and found a piece of driftwood, and painted an amazing picture of an Orca whale at sunset.   Wayne is a quiet thoughtful man, and it’s not often that you come by someone like him.  Silent Partner has some of the greatest friends.  We received many other thoughtful gifts from our friendly neighbors to the north today too.  Del gave us a “Canada chiller pack” that holds a 24 pack of Molson and wears like a backpack.  “You’re honorary Canadians now” he said.  Apparently it is cheaper to buy the loaded chiller pack than the normal case.  In the afternoon we walked into town to escape the heat.  I took the chiller pack with me, and the disguise really did work.  We went back to the harbor at about 5pm, and from there it took 9 hours for us to make it back to Silent Partner.  Ken and Wayne had us over on their packer boat with several other fishermen, and everyone stayed up drinking until 2am on various boats.  Prawn season just ended today, and the fishermen were complaining about fishing, telling lies, and drinking their sorrows away.  It is not a good time to be making a living with the BC fishery.  “Just a bunch of goddamn rocks and trees up here, and we’ve got to pay a fortune just to stuff a bunch of bugs (prawns) in a box!”  Ken had an interesting solution for a bathroom on the boat– he strapped a port-a-potty to the back deck.  It was quite nice, actually.  Ken said that everyone in the harbor uses it while he’s not there.  All in all, it was a very memorable Canada day.  Eh?

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