Day Thirteen: Finnish Radical Day

I woke up around 7, crawled out of bed around 7:30, made heat and hot water and then settled in to tucker down on my much anticipated sweet cinnamon buns. Mmmmm.

L crawled from her berth and I made tea while she delicately nibbled on a cinnamon bun, then vacuumed up an entire bowl of strawberries. I swear, getting between her and fresh fruit is taking your life into your hands.

After reading for a bit, I decided to walk up for a shower. The office was locked; I called and stood in the cold wind until someone came down. Then she couldn’t find any keys. I blame the scalawags and reprobates that make up the rest of our flotilla. They probably have them hidden away in a feeble attempt to deny me hot water and soap.

But I emerged victorious by wandering up to the harbour master’s office and collecting a key of my own. Mine! All Mine until I choose to return it. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Then I had a shower.

Back at the boat I collected L for our trip to Sointula on the 10:35 ferry. Sointula is probably the whole reason we boat at all. Years ago L came across this tidbit about a socialist experiment from the early 1900s that a bunch of Finnish settlers participated in on Malcolm Island. She suggested we could go sailing there. Eventually we settled for chartering the Naughty Doc out of Vanvouver and our boating holidays began.

A few years later, on our Vancouver Island road trip, we stopped in Port McNeill so she could gaze longingly across the water at Malcolm Island, but we drove on and again she lost out.

As of early yesterday, our extra night in the Octopus Islands had made it look like that, for a third time, she would literally sail right by this elusive shangri-la. Then, suddenly, high winds and boat breakdowns were the route to L’s dreams. We were staying over an extra day.

We ran into the entire crew of the Corus (minus Laurence and Anne) at the ferry dock. They had the same idea as us. I chatted with Howard and Judy on the trip over. And then we were at last setting foot upon the fabled socialist paradise.

Apparently Sointula was founded in 1901 by Finnish coal miners from Nanaimo looking to build a place based on egalitarian socialist principles. They invited a visionary named Matti Kurikka to travel from Finland and lead them in their little experiment. Predictably (to cynics like me) the experiment failed several years later, and Matti and about half the colony left to try again in the US. The remnants reorganized and the colony survived with its basic principles still guiding its future.

Residents of Sointula helped found the BC fishermen’s union and in 1909 built one of the first co-op stores in BC (still open and going strong). The community still has a strong focus on arts and culture, and all the public and civic planning remain intact.

Interestingly, as the woman at the info booth mentioned, it’s a very tight community and very much an island of women. Everyone is cheerfully friendly–reminds me very much of Newfoundland. We walked and admired the beautiful but simple homes and chatted with the horse in someone’s front yard.

We popped in to a local artists shop and talked sea glass and screen printing. L picked up a few souvenirs and we headed for the local museum. Typical of its breed, it was chock full of old, old photos, older equipment and idiosyncratic signage. Wonderful.

On the way back we noticed the equal-sized lots and well-organized civil design. There’s a lot to be said for egalitarianism even if you’re not a dirty rotten traditional Marxist like Herr Doktor. All in all a very lovely community in every sense of the word.
With some delicious cookies from the bakery we sat under the eaves of the co-op on a bench, greeted locals and watched the ‘busy’ life of islanders wash by.

We met back up with the Corus crew at the ferry. They were staying on after Port McNeill and heading to Alert Bay and the awesome native museum there. Round trip won’t bring them back until 6:40 so we decided to decline that portion of the trip. Maybe next time.

The expected rains held off until just before we boarded so our day was pretty pleasant. I turned in my super-special shower key on the way back to the Shearwater. L sat down to devour BC cherries and I toodled around the docks gawking at boats. Finally when I convinced myself that knocking on everyone’s hatches and asking for a tour was trĂ©s gauche, I gave up and headed home. I think boaters should be forced to post a brag/spec sheet on the sides of the boats so I can learn what I’m looking at. So many pretties…

Back at the boat I ate the last cinnamon bun, boiled water for coffee and then decided that Spanish red was a better choice. Herr Doktor is headed for nap time after the socialist overload of Sointula, and I’m going to watch the rain for a couple of hours.

I drew a few bunnies for old time’ sake. Only one turned out, though. I watched people come and go and even one fellow washing his boat in the rain. Seemed natural, though, so I won’t judge. Eventually Leslie emerged and it was 4:40: time to make some appies for the communal happy hour.

I grabbed some sausages and sliced ’em up while L found the toothpicks. Ten minutes of frying and then we skewered the sausage bites to the styrofoam container the cinnamon buns had come in (I cleaned it first so as not to confuse the tastebuds of our unsuspecting fellow attendees). We were good to go. We mulled over our shoe choices (Leslie opted for flip flops and I went with boat shoes), filled our glasses to the brim with red and headed out to be the other kind of socialists.

It was a nice gathering. I chatted with Margaret of R Shack Island and then got L going on her research. Margaret’s eyes didn’t glaze over so I didn’t feel too bad; she might even have enjoyed it. But since I frankly believe in L’s conclusions I don’t actually feel too bad about bending people’s ears. It beats the hell out of talking about the weather.

We had another brief skippers meeting and concluded we would be off tomorrow at 8 and sail across the Queen Charlotte Strait as a group. Sounds grand.

I headed out to pay my marina fees before the office closed and met L coming back to the boat. Some quick hotdogs for supper, another glass of wine and cleanup.

I topped up the water tanks and then thought I would mosey over to R Shack Island and see if they had a laptop. I had let the spare ereader sit for a week and by the time Leslie went to use it it was half drained. The next morning I plugged it into the inverter and that drained the battery. The thing charges fine off my computer at home but has had lots of issues with charging from wall plugs or 12 volts.

If I don’t get it charged, it’s not the end of the world, but the only book Leslie has left is Shogunand she’s starting to grunt like a samurai and whirl sharp things around her head. Better for everyone if I get her access to the ereader. I suppose I could give her mine and read off the iPad, but I hate it when technology tries to get the better of me. Better if I just persevere and crush.

Anyway Dave did not have a laptop, but he did have an external battery for charging. I plugged it into the reader and the light lit, so maybe I will get better results; I guess I’ll find out in a couple of hours.

While there I got a mini-tour of their boat. Beautiful and well laid out. A Tartan 3400: something to do some more research on.

Back at the Shearwater, we folded and checked charts, checked tides and currents, and went over tomorrow’s route. All is ready. So now we sit and listen to the winds howl and the f*cking halyard bang. In a few moments L will voluntarily offer up her throat to my masterful card play and the day will be complete.

We will likely be out of cell range for a few days so stand by for more updates.