Thursday, August 25, 2011


This is an international group picture of web-savvy folks with David (CAN) on the left, Oggy (USA), Julien (FRA) and Dennison (ENG). I said that Los Angeles evicts spirits like ours. We won't play by the rules. No. Not us. The pharaohs will have to whip some other back to build their pyramids. We'll try our hands in the unforgiving desert.

David and Julien were the crew who managed the 36' sailboat named Evensong while I puked over the side. David was tied up to the ST. Anthony Wharf awaiting transmission parts/work. He's a writer who travels the world living a life like the adventure stories he writes. And he speaks with a refined English accent and his eyes could not be more brown and his hair is perfectly gray and his manner is bonvivant and illuminating. He's a captivating storyteller, as you would expect of a writer, and all his anecdotes end like, " the New Yorker ended up paying me more for the story than I lost in poker to the Prince of Monaco !"
He's the person you can't believe exists in real life.

Today is a day I'm fortunate the internet is the domain of the written word because yesterday I burned my vocal cords with acidic juice vomited up on a sailing voyage from Quirpon to St. Anthony. The tale, as always, begins with my quest to find the arctic wolf.

The time line is like this:

5pm Meet David and Julien at the library where we are all on the internet. I overhear David say, "The northwest passage..." and my heart leaps at the possibility that I am going to find my arctic wolf passage.

5:30pm Give D&J a ride to the wharf where their remanufactured injector pump awaits.

5:31pm Receive first refusal to go to Ellesmere Island, but am invited to crew on the EVENSONG around Newfoundland. Negotiations begin ("Can we make a quick stop on Ellesmere Island?" "No.")

6 PM Drive to store to shop for dinner per the invitation of D&J. Ponder asking the cute cashier at the Viking Village Mart to come to dinner with me but decide I am only imagining the flirt in her eyes. Instead, I call my insurance company in NH to pay for my next 6 months of insurance on the van. This call costs $5 a minute and I'm on hold for the price of a nice hot meal or two. Finally, I get through and the bumbling agent costs me more in phone charges than the whole insurance costs!

7PM Drive from St. Anthony to Quirpon harbour where EVENSONG is docked with a broken injector pump and useless motor.

8PM eat dinner ("If it's hot, we'll eat it," says David and I wonder why women can not be this flexible as I recall the dinners I've had scorned and fed to dogs or tossed into the sand and mocked like the women were the queens of the midnight ball and male suitors were lined up to feed them gourmet meals. Well, this was one pasta meal they missed out on.) and entertain each other with stories of our travels,

"This one time I was docked in Greece when I met this..."

"After I walked down the Ganges and published the book I...

"So my heart was broken in La Paz, Mexico and then I..."

"I hitchhiked across Canada and David forced me to crew his boat so we..."

10PM desert wine was finished, pasta meal was done. Good night.

8Am David invites me to sail down to St. Anthony. I thought he was going to repair the motor in Quirpon but he doesn't play by the rules and has sailed this far (around from north of the Gros Morne area on the northern peninsula) so he'll keep going with no motor.
Any sailor will tell you that the difference between sailing with a motor and sailing with no motor is quite distinct. I am ignorant of this so agree to steer. David kindly uses "Left and Right" instead of "Port and Starboard"
9Am We leave Quirpon undersail.
9:30 Oggy feels pretty good. Maybe he will sail around Newfoundland. He may need to sail to Ellesmere island so this would be a good...
9:31 Oggy gets sick for first time.
10-2PM Oggy hangs over the railings to the point that David holds his belt so he won't fall over. Why Oggy cares about not vomiting on the deck is a mystery. But he is genteel like that.
2:30pm They make good time (7 knots/hr)among the minke whales and icebergs until the wind changes and they make 1 knot/hr and basically bob in the water like a milk jug.
3-4PM many tacks back and forth to make the St. Anthony Harbour. Oggy's throat is so raw from puking and dry heaving into the Labrador Sea that he can't speak. He can drink and vomit that is all as he watches through watery eyes as we enter the harbour weaving back and forth.
4-5PM Oggy is better as the waves diminish and his help is needed as we must make 3 or 4 tacks back and forth in front of the wharf packed with fishing boats. No motor we gather an audience and finally Julien heroically leaps across the deck with a line and manages to secure us to some kind of huge iron trough hanging off a fishing boat before we crash into an anchor. Safe we relax.
6PM Oggy leaves to hitchhike back to Quirpon. The sun is falling. He buys an aluminum rail for heating duct that he will use to custom fabricate a screen window for his emergency exit hatch.
7PM Oggy gets worried. He gave hitchhiking up for this very reason that NO ONE STOPS ANYMORE. He walks through dust and dogs chasing his ankles alone, vagrant spirit.
8:30 PM Oggy is picked up in the middle of nowhere by the owner of the Napa store where he went to buy his vacuum modulator and was told none were available in Canada. The kind man drops Oggy at his van and after hearing Oggy's tale he says "So YOU were the ones tacking back and forth into the harbour. I'd never seen anyone tack into St. Anthony's Harbour in my entire life."
Oggy knows why. Oggy rests and then sleeps though mosquitoes feast on his face.

Next morning I return to St. Anthony and find David and Julien have not started the repair job but are entertaining Dennison Berwick, a writer and the stories begin anew.

Will Oggy go to Ellesmere in his own boat as many have recommended? This remains to be seen.

P.S. The dog's name is Lady and for a second I thought I'd found an Arctic Wolf. David is her owner and when I told him my tale he said he'd read about me in the Northern Pen, the local paper that picked up the story from the Aurora. Small world. He was a good sport when I went into Oggy mode with my bell bottom pants and said I was from the future.

"Sure there are Arctic wolves in 50 years. But there won't be any people" he said.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.