Saturday, 30 November 2013

Dream On

It is more than likely that it is the season that has turned my thoughts to the dreams that we have all had in our lives, those things that we have wanted to pursue. These stand in opposition to the now dreams we have like the kids of sugar plums dancing in their heads, the ones that fuel this past Fridays frenzy. I am thinking of the dreams that lead us to make the life choices we all have to make, the ones that lead us down the life path we have followed those which have caused us to arrive at place we now inhabit. Many of us start out with the common dreams of childhood of being a fireman or similar, as time passes these initial dreams morph into new pursuits or simple refinements of the original as we discover more of the world and of that which interests and motivates us.

For me my life has been spent around and on the water from trips with my parents as a child to a toddler tossing toys off the break wall in the backyard into the river to see what would float. My first real dream of time on the water was as a pre-teen my parents, mainly Dad set about to plan a trip south under sail, that was the first dream that I really remembering embracing. It was also the time of my first love and she was a beauty at least that is how I recall her now, 52 feet on deck, ketch rigged, powerful and able I kept a picture of her as a marker in my text books at school and dreamt. She still lives in my dreams, more I imagine as she was intended to be than as she really was but she still sails there and she is a thing of beauty powering forward under full press of sail. For reasons I have never known that dream died though I still remember her and how close it came to reality with the boxes of books for our schooling stacked in the garage set and ready to go.

That was followed a few years later by my first boat purchase at the end of my teen years and sailing at every opportunity that could be had, it was also accompanied by the need to pay for time on the water and so came that ‘safe’ job. This was followed by the other choices life is filled with I met the ‘one’ and not a boat this time a real live woman, then that decision that shapes the rest of your life. In one hand a quote for the building of a new boat, on the other a wife, the search for a house, the new boat lost, and so eventually did bigger boats a decision I don’t regret for it led to a life with a great woman and two awesome kids now out pursuing their dreams.

 This leads to now , the ‘safe’ completely unfulfilling job wasn't safe and is long gone replaced by the pursuit of old dreams, tempered by life’s other demands. There is now a diploma in yacht design, a few years experience building boats, time working in both commercial and pleasure boat design offices and here I am. Designing boats for people who still dream, whether dream is an old one revived or one just born, who want to spend time afloat, and can with some guidance build their own boats.

Dream on, and we will see you on the water.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Price Points and Memories

Not that long ago I read in a magazine where the writer had commented on how he (I think the writer was male) was no longer paddling  as it had been cut back to pay for all those things that come with getting older and settled. This has lead to me thinking about how we have gone from the point where all we needed to get on the water was a boat shaped object to the point where even sports with few equipment requirements have become too expensive to participate in?  Have we bought so fully into the idea that to fully enjoy the outdoors we must have the latest gear, have we fallen into the same mentality that has people lining up for half the night at electronic outlets to buy the latest piece of marginally changed gear to replace the one which we have just begun to figure out how to use all the features of.

It is easy to make a sport too expensive to participate in but in this case it is just as easy to make it affordable, you may have to paddle a boat that is a few pounds heavier and your gear may look like it has few miles on it, but you will be outside and not in the office trying to make an extra dime so you can afford the gear you want. I know that what gets me outside and what lead me out there in the first place, it had and has nothing to do with the equipment being used; it is place where I’m using it. One of my memories from when I was younger was sailing with my uncle and a friend of his the boat was an old plywood boat, and my purpose on board was to bail as it was a leaky old tub, the memories of that day have nothing to do with the quality of the equipment. When it comes to canoeing the memories are of paddling the flood waters behind our house in a beat up boat with a couple of friends. When you think through your memories of outdoor adventures what are they made up of, my guess is that they are not fond recollections of equipment but of people, places and experiences both good and bad.

I think that carbon paddles and super light Kevlar canoes are cool, have you seen the ad with the guy holding the boat in one hand over his head?  That’s nice but I don’t usually use my boats like that I prefer them in the water, and portaging with the boat in one hand seems impractical. When the gear that we use becomes as important as or even more important than the experience of the outdoors have we not already lost much of what we chasing in the first place.

Let's get outside.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Give Thanks And Lead On

As the summer/fall seasons winds down and as the skiers start to anticipate the beginning of their season my thoughts have turned to how I have come to enjoy the outdoors and what has led me to where I am at today. How did you end up outside? What is it that first led you to spend time outdoors?

 My guess is that it was not some video game that had an ultra realistic depiction of the sport or sports that you now partake in or some awesome background rendering in that game of a forest.  For most of us it will be the result of interaction with others, whether it is family or friends more likely than not someone enticed us outside with stories of the joys they have found through their experiences, or as a child was dragged along by parents. Whether those experiences involved backpacking, boating, camping, biking or any other activity, or for that matter inactivity as you may just like to sit in your favourite camp chair and watch the sun rise or set. No matter the activity that you like to participate in someone led you outside and showed you the joys to be found there.

You may like me have been doing this pretty much all your life, my parents had me outside well before I have any memory of being there,  born in the late fall by the next summer only a few months old I was in Algonquin Park, a couple of years later a tour on the St. Lawrence River. That has been followed over the years by countless camping trips, many thousands of miles boating under sail and power, and more recently using paddle power. Visiting my grandparents in the summer often involved a drive to one of their favourite parks as that is where they spent as much of their summers as possible. As you can see I started early and am still heading out, my children’s stories will be similar though their days outdoors started in sailboats then camping with us and now on their own.

These thoughts lead me to the following questions, have you ever thanked the people who led you to enjoy these great pastimes?  Secondly are you passing the love on, leading others whether family or friend to an appreciation of the natural world with which we are surrounded?  Caring for and preserving it for future generations will depend on this. Many live surrounded by urban sprawl, both upward and outward and have never seen the beauty of a sunset or sunrise over anything but a towering apartment complex, never having seen a night sky that has not been diffused by light pollution.  Having no connection to or feeling for the places outside the cities they will have no reason or compulsion to help preserve it.

Give thanks and lead on.