Well I spent the last four days over on Vancouver Island visiting my grandkids with whom I cherish every minute.
A friend flew me over in his six banger Cessna 172 on a nice , smooth , sunny day. Skies through which I had aviated in King Airs and Navajo's in all sorts of sh*tty weather , under stress and usually behind schedule. I loved it though.
I found myself coaching my friend but it is always well recieved.
The secondary purpose of my mission was to do the bottom of my forty foot cutter named Baka.
I accomplished this by sailing her onto the tide grid at high tide which , wouldn't you know it , was at 0100 hours. I secured her to the pilings and waited for the tide to go out. Next morning we pressure washed her clean and off to the paint shop I go.
I was driving along thinking "HHMMmm. Those egg-heads at the cancer clinic said I was supposed to croak this summer sometime..what will I do? Man! I have some decisions to make...Thoughts raced through my mind. Decisions...I had to put some order into these thoughts.
I wheeled into the parking lot and went to the counter to ask for some anti-fouling bottom paint. I told her the brand name.
"Do you want one year or two year paint , the latter being more expensive?." she purred at me.
I'd already made my decision.
"I'll take the two year , my sweet." I proudly postulated.
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I think you'd qualify as what some would call a curmudgeon Mr. Duke... Good on ya!
By the by.... it's about flippin' time you piped up in here! Some of us might have been wondering you know!... I know you must think we're all unconcerned unattached never-knew-you types... but some of us could've been your best friends, given the chance... and you've done such a damned good job of letting us know who you are, we do give a s#it!...
so keep in touch will ya? y'ol' curmudgeon you.
Yer would-be pal,
Well my atti-' ferkin- tude is a lot better now that I know how to plan for a pleasant summer.... regardless of what fate has in store for me.
And friends Griffon , I regard you all that read my tales as MORE than friends.
I have pinned to the wall in front of me , a memorial card.
A beautiful picture of Mt Cheam take from Cultus Lake graces the cover.
It is titled:
He loved the Earth and Skies
Inside is a picture of young Peter Deck , looking rather dashing in his RCAF uniform proudly flying his wings above the left pocket on his tunic.
And another picture of the aged frame of the old teacher.
January 7th , 1914-Dec 29th 2002
The third picture takes my breath away.
Taken from the cemetary here is a picture of five airplanes flying a perfect V formation . Except that one is missing. A gap .... middle one on the starboard side of the V.
The Missing Man
This tradition has been carried out by pilots from the Chilliwack area who are invited to participate. I felt honoured to participate in Peter's flyover.
More to follow....
The" Hyperlas " will have already undergone sea trials so we plan on casting off on Thursday after a day for food provisioning.
It looks like we will have e-mail capability on the yacht so I plan on reporting our Lat/Long to my family every day.
Maybe a post or two to Avcanada can be made.
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We five crew are all offshore veterans but the weather at this time of year is unpredictable and we are bucking the Pacific Current that will rob us of over one knot. We must also stand two hundred miles offshore to avoid the Columbia River outflow and coastal weather.
We met a couple of days ago and our chef , Johnny O , compiled a menu fit for a Royal cruise. I , however , am on a natural uncooked food regimen as part of my cancer battle so I planned for a big bag of trail mix , dates and nuts with some fresh fruit and veggies occasionally. I suggested that they buy trail mix for five because things can easilly go for ratsh*t if we get pounded by a storm or two and the "cock o vin with sauteed mushrooms" gets splattered on the polished teak and origional artworks on this $1.2 million dollar palace.
I am taking two Patrick O Brien novels , "Master and Commander" and "Port Captain" so the nautical flavour and inspiration should be everpresent..
The last sea voyage I completed was San Diego to Hawaii on a mere 32 foot cutter. On that voyage I read The Right Stuff and soon thereafter was to meet Chuck Yeager personally in Australia.
Also , I am the only non gazillionaire on board.
I hope once again to immerse myself in the universe , alone , in the cockpit , on watch as the star scene pinwheels around the North Star Polaris.
But I am ready for battle against the cruel angry sea that has shown me her fangs before.
I look forward to sharing a few sea yarns with my aviator bretheren upon my return.
SOMETIMES IT'S TOUGH BEING A DUKE.
Skipper Dave had parted with $1.4 million Canadian in order to procure her. She was now his slave.
Skipper Dave , Johnny O , Harry , Larry and the Duke. It doesn't get much better than this.
We cheerfully provisioned her in San Francisco and readied her for the Northward slog up one of the most treacherous coasts on earth... from California to Canada via Oregon and Washington state. We feared for the early summer Northerlies into which we must sail. The other door to hell were the South Westerlies that whipped hard againts the Columbia River outflow. These , hopefully had retreated for the year only to awaken next fall to stare down the south bound mariners.
We cast off on a sunny day and purred along at eight knots out from Oakland into San Francisco Bay , navigating by the GPS moving map with all bouys clearly marked. A few points off the port bow towered the Golden Gate bridge under which we must steam. And steam we did right into a hornet's nest ... fifty racing sailboats hard tacking to weather with no mind for a transitting ocean bound yacht. With deft manipulation of the helm I stroked her through this nest only to be pounded by steep , short white cappers through which she plunged with her fine bow as she carried most of her beam aft in a saucy fashion.
She trembled with excitement as I plunged her.
I crouched over the radar on this fine sunny day but it was devoid of dangerous targets that I would have to demonstrate superior skills in order to avoid them.
I glanced at my shoes , a sporty pair of Polo Sports by Ralph Lauren. The first lady of the Hyperlas had shopped for these , after all , the rest of the crew had them. I had caged my trusty old brothel creepers below.
Skipper Dave efficiently deployed the mainsail in order to steady this galloping maiden.... she moaned and rolled over to a comfortable heel and she plunged on ..............
Morale was high , excitement peaked.
I stared , glassy eyed , into this lumpy green hell.
I growled and retched in despair and I cursed this black hearted , heaving , pox ridden harlot that tried to buck me off with her corkscrewing writhing gyrations.
I was a frothing , bug eyed fool.
Fifty feet away , up in the bow was the chain locker. If I could make my way there , I would wrap myself in chain and step over the side. How do I lift two hundred feet of chain ? Maybe if I unshackle Skipper Dave's six hundred dollar anchor ...
"Them that dies will be the lucky ones" ... that Blackbeard the Pirate phrase meant something to me now.
I looked towards the cockpit where three gallant sailors chatted merrilly. Oh how I despise them.
Then Skipper Dave says , "Hey Duke! The good news about all that vomitting and spewing is that it sure saves wear and tear on yer ars*hole." They laughed heartily ... and I attempted a grin.
Fair winds for you Duke.
I can think of few things more miserable than being seasick on a delivery. Oh well, this time last week i was jibing a spinnaker in 15 knot winds and while i am not as fast as i used to be, at least a year in the prairies has not turned me into some nancy who barfs his cookies at the first wave .
At least you are on the water.
All the best Duke.
I want to link to a particular picture.
http://www.avcanada.ca/albums/displayim ... t=&pos=-22
We rounded Cape Flattery into Juan de Fuca Straits over calm seas and blue skies. A classy dinner , served upon the teak table in the cockpit , was enjoyed by all. Five days , it took.
A memorable experience , I must say.
Was it just a coincidence?
The following picture should explain to you true aviators why I stayed on the A26 for twenty years.
I am honoured to have flown this beautiful aircraft in the twilight years of it's service. It is indeed , an end of an era.
Please also note the nose art that was painted on Tanker 26 by Eric Ebert , a very close friend with whom I spent four summers in Alberta and the Yukon. I also had the pleasure of hiring him and training him to captain the Super DC3 (C117). Eric was a very talented person and an exceptional pilot. He was cerebral and had passed second year medical school with hounours , only to chuck it in and return to do what he had a passion for.
We welcomed him back.
Over many jugs of frothy intelligence we finally agreed as to the content of the artwork. Eric spent weeks making stencils and doing it right.
And the art that arose from those inspired frothy encounters was a saucy lass sitting on a fire hose (which is not quite finished) and with a come hither look that would stir anybody's loins.
I was between wives at the time and found his artwork so alluring.
Eric was tragically lost in the crash of an Electra L188 fire bomber last summer. He was the First Officer , soon to be made Captain.
Eric Ebert had never met Kathy when he did the art.
Kat came to Alberta for a visit and Eric was in the Yukon so we posed Kat in a motel room in Fort Mac and we intended to send him a picture of my new missus.
He had even got the shoes right !!!
So somehow , I think we're all connected.
What a nice way to remember a friend , eh?
I miss ya buddy.