Before the Ship Docks

It's almost midnight and I'm on a tugboat in the Prince Rupert harbour. We're attached to a ship, waiting for a berth to open up at a dock so we can bring it alongside. 

It's a 353 tonne tugboat- 30 meters in length - with 2 Wartsilla engines totalling 3660 kW's - about 4900 horse power. 

It's taken me longer than a moment to get signed off on these larger tugboats. The process is coming along and I'm almost through the list. Instead of learning one boat over a whole season, there's been an entire fleet to learn. As with all things marine related, it's been a humbling and empowering journey. 

After a year of work over Covid's 2020, I left Prince Rupert and headed south to Vancouver Island for 3 months this last winter. I was able to complete the last of the required courses for a 150 tonne masters ticket, as well the finishing touches on the children's book Ocean's Captain. 

Lily, the dog, came with me for the first portion. She kept me moving through Meteorology and General Ship Knowledge. We came back to Prince Rupert for work over the holidays. I was all set with a pet friendly air bnb for the last course in January, but the ferry kept delaying due to storms so I had to fly south while Lily stayed behind. 

It was for the best as the ship construction and stability course was one of the hardest I'd experienced. I needed to stay after class and come in on weekends. Like the entire year before, I had to put my head down and focus to make it through to the other side. The work load and pandemic restrictions didn't allow for many island adventures like previous years had. 

I came down to the island November 4th, arriving for a birthday celebration with my friend Jan and family. I returned home for good February 4th. 

Despite these last three courses being completed, life didn't quiet down much. My arrival home coincided with the first shipment of the storybook Ocean's Captain to my moms doorstep. The book had been a work in progress for well over a year with the support of friends, family, professionals and communities. Finally it arrived to a state that honoured the amazing artwork of Oceana Wills and I pressed print. My friend Chris Fraser had worked tirelessly on the graphic design components and I'd been given many pointers on publishing and story development from Muskeg Press's Chris Armstrong. 

There were 500 copies of this book to distribute and tugboats to be trained on while I moved to a new home base. I could mention too that I traded in my Toyota Matrix for a Honda Element, which helped with moving and deliveries.

As of today my books have sold out, I've settled into a new suite overlooking the water, and have gained a more comfortable footing on these tractor tugs. 

There's still lots to do. A second shipment of books is set to arrive mid April. I'm running to Vancouver to renew a Marine Advanced First Aid certificate at the end of this month. There's paperwork with Transport Canada to organize and the big oral exam to study for. I should also work on gathering and organizing my belongings as they're spread out between a few locations from different seasons and chapters. 

Projects that I've worked on for years have come to fruition within a few weeks of each other. It's been busy and there hasn't been a lot of time to enjoy the view or share experiences with others. 

When life gets quiet in brief moments I realize how much I miss friends and family. My goals for this upcoming year are to be more community minded- and loving - and cook more- for myself and others. 

It has taken several villages to help me get here - in the wheelhouse of this tugboat, on the day that my book sold out. 

We never need to journey alone.

I'm so looking forward to spring.


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