What with our jobs and our kids, Cottage Life time has been tough in recent years. But we still believe in the place and the project enough to put money into repairing our dock and replacing our boat. Which raises issues of work-life balance and money laundering. And as always, these pieces are vehicles for pretty pictures of Keats Island and Howe Sound.

Looking north from Keats Island

This is actually from an earlier visit in April. Behind the elegant hydrangea-blossom corpses, Howe Sound and Gambier Island.

Logistics · What happened was, last winter’s windstorms got nasty, and one of them cost us the aluminum ramp connecting our dock and our float. We need a dock because Keats Island doesn’t have much by way of roads. We need to tie the boat to a float because there are more than five meters of tide in Howe Sound. We need a ramp (with hinges at the top and wheels on the bottom) connecting the two. The old ramp, a flimsy piece of indoor construction scaffolding with rails welded on, was no great loss; and we hadn’t put a penny into the system in years.

Separately, our old boat (see here and here), now 31 years in age, had reached the end of its useful life, with ballooning maintenance costs and failing subsystems. So, as of late May, we’re the owners of a Jeanneau 795, called a Merry Fisher in Europe and an NC 795 in the New World. Boats have been built under the Jeanneau name (that link’s to French Wikipedia) since 1957 and are now manufactured in Poland. Here’s ours:

Jeanneau NC 795 under Vancouver’s Burrard Bridge

That’s Vancouver’s Burrard Bridge and part of the city center behind it. We’re at the Burrard Civic Marina, which despite the great location, is Vancouver’s cheapest boat parking. It’s a city operation and definitely not a Yacht Club, as in no lounges nor daiquiris nor gala socials, nor really much in the way of amenities. But it’s competently run and location makes up for a lot.

It turns out that boat design has made advances in the last thirty years, and apparently the French are good at it. Which is to say, the new one has a lot going for it. It’s just slightly larger than the old boat end-to-end and immensely more spacious inside. It’s comfy, quiet (the old one was loud), has a lot of light inside, and given that the 795’s a popular choice in the North Sea and the famously-blustery Western Mediterranean, probably safe for our inshore-boating needs.

Funny money? · So, my boat broker called up and said “The Jeanneau dealer in Richmond has a boat you ought to look at. A 2017 and the price is good.” I liked the look and haggled a bit, the survey came up good and the test-drive (we say “sea trial”) was fine and eventually we did the deal.

Then I noticed: The boat had only 42 hours on the motor. All the cushions were encased in the original plastic. It had been kept in a boathouse, which usually signals serious money. The buyer (whom I never met) had a Chinese name.

At this point, local news connoisseurs are rolling their eyes and going “Oh yeah?” Over the last few years, it’s been revealed that Vancouver, my beloved hometown, has been one of the world headquarters for the laundering of, uh, “funds of questionable origin”. In quite a few cases, those questionable origins have been located in China, and by elaborate mechanics that I don’t fully understand, processing them through Vancouver real-estate transactions and casino gambling and luxury car sales have made them clean. You want details, go follow Sam Cooper.

I bet no regulations whatsoever get in the way of buying a nice brand-new yacht with a duffel bag full of $100 bills and, well, there’s a significant chance that I personally helped launder some money. Live and learn.

But hey, possibly the guy snapped up the boat and then got busy at work or his wife hated it or his kids were seasick or business took a bad turn and he needed the cash, could all be perfectly legit. These are times that cultivate suspicion.

WFB · That stands for “Working From Boat” and involves a lifestyle problem. Which is, I’ve been getting tired of going to work every day, and toying with thoughts of retirement. I really enjoy my job and like the people there, but there are days when the office palls. Working from home, in moderation, is perfectly OK at Amazon but isn’t really an option for me, because our house only has one office, occupied by the world headquarters of Textuality and its CEO Lauren Wood.

I’ve only had the new boat a few weeks and, well let me tell ya, the prospect of an afternoon or two a week WFB pushes the retirement option somewhat off the front burner. In fact, a majority of my job is talking with people. But there’s still time during which I’m reviewing docs or code, writing docs, or even (*gasp*) writing code. I think the boat is going to be just the ticket. The marina WiFi is only OK so I’m looking at alternatives.

On top of which, basic civic-marina moorage is cheaper than office rent.

What about “Cottage Life”? · Oh, right, the point of having a boat was access to our island retreat. A few days back, we got word that Hanson Land & Sea had our dock and ramp and float all reconnected and, since they’d probably like to be paid, it was pretty urgent that we take a look. Potential problem: My 89-year-old Mom was visiting. But the new boat (which had never been to the island at this point) is quiet and comfy, right? So we loaded up all three generations and took off.

Lunch with Mom overlooking the Pacific, and a slow walk in the forest. Ahhhh…

Forest on Keats Island
· · ·
Forest on Keats Island

Listen to the trees.

(By the way, the new ramp, and the work hooking everything up, seem hunky-dory, so I can recommend Hanson if you need work done in Howe Sound.)

And then, look what Lauren found on our deck. Sad, of course, but what a wondrous piece of work. [Update: Someone on social media argues that by this time of year, the nest’s work is done and since the birds will shed no tears at its fall, neither should we.]

Fallen birds-nest

If you’re in Vancouver, ping me and drop by sometime for a cup of tea at my (occasional) waterfront office.


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June 30, 2019
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I am an employee of Amazon.com, but the opinions expressed here are my own, and no other party necessarily agrees with them.

A full disclosure of my professional interests is on the author page.