DERELICT BOATS- Hauled away!- from Worzel and Godfrey

Worzel here, I grew up in a tiny, landlocked prairie town. Our stepmother, Mrs Gibberflat never threw anything away, our dad, only interested in tractors and T.V. sports. Mrs Gibberflat brought with her an old, Finnish built fishing trawler she had traded for, we celebrated it in song as “The Bumtrinket”. The boat sat in our back field, and my siblings Inkerman, Fillipendula ,Cudberth , and I played unfettered aboard. 

No worry over rusty nails, Mrs Gibberflat soaked us in “Dettol”, fear of little Cudberth being locked in a hold?, her axe hacked him free whenever it happened. Our open sewer created a tall, lush green meadow we considered the prairie sea. Godfrey loved my story of “The Bumtrinket”. He loved old boats- “Honest companions, a boat will always tell you how things are going”.  

My late friend, the Vagabond Godfrey , considered morning time vital, and was always out early gathering bakery treats and newspapers. He would have muttered and “fehed” over a recent front page photo in our local rag- DERELICT BOATS HAULED AWAY- 

Life is change, storm, adventure, patience and joy. As we all must return to the round, so to do old boats.That odd ripple cross the water on a calm day?, gentle breeze that springs up, unexplained?, weather beaten plank sticking out of the mud flat?, the waiting heron understands that these mark the tracks of the Doubty Venture, the pretty Jaqueline T, and many others heading out a seeking. “Feh”, Godfrey would say, behind his paper and pile of tea-buns. 

Godfrey wrote- There was grumbling mongst the well off in the Bay neighborhood, “Blots on the landscape, disgrace to the place where our children paddle and play”. Two old, rotten boats by storm washed ashore, we demand them promptly be hauled away and gone”. “They are rubbish, to no one they belong”.

There was a spark of life left in both the dory, “Venture”, and once fine sloop, “Jaqueline T”. Side by each, cast upon the sand, Venture told her story. I was built by hand, for a family. Part of a childhood memory, with a good inboard motor and breezes kind, the following seas they tickled my behind, I laughed at danger,  fish lines heaving, and brought them safe home with salmon many a summers evening.

Twas the middle girl, always caught a fat Grilse to roast over the fire. Strings sewn to her sweatshirt lest she pitch overboard could be grabbed, and patient I bobbed adrift while my folks fished the shallow bits and crabbed.  Too soon sped the years, my girl left life by the sea for big city, but I know that deep in this old heart of oak, she will never forget me…

The Jaqueline T spoke to, but softer and more genteel. “Twas strength in mind when the builders laid my keel, perfection in every rib and strake, my bottom copper, sails and rigging brand new,  excitement for  round the globe voyage we would take.”

South to “The Happy Isles”, bold crossings of Bass and of Cook Strait!, no yacht more gallant than me, happy years until my sailor fell for one she loved beyond storm and sea. Anchored down Pelorus Sound, eager for quiet, Sunday cruise, proud of baggy-wrinkle visiting ocean wanderers shared stories and vagabonding news.

I was sold, then swapped, sold and sold again, sailed back to cold, northern climes, my name was changed, in shame to “LURCH”, when my last owner fell upon hard times. Posh boats called out as they sailed past me, can that be you?, the once noble Jaqueline T?.

Now known only as “LURCH”, stripped of my finery, children are  bellowed at if they wish to climb upon me  play, Pirates or Popeye, any time now, dear Venture, we shall be hauled away..

Cried Venture- I to, my people outgrew, never sold or renamed, I sat on blocks in the yard when my fishing days were through. Now a “Blot On The Landscape”, but I did have second chance to roam, taken from the driveway, decked over, I plied familiar waters, of Georgia Strait as a beachcombers home. From Deep Bay to Bowser, only an October gale could stop The Bold Venture.

Was a rogue wave swamped me…high aground that autumn, over a week, I sheltered a poet in my battered lee, by firelight, this young chap sat back against me to write.

Yes, I suppose sighed Jaqueline T, we are traded for sheep farm up many a valley, photos fade, hearts mend, travels pass into memory”.

Early afternoon the tractors came. “They laughed one last time at the name” LURCH” in faded paint, as I was torn from the comfort of sand, hauled off to a dump inland. Venture, ever stubborn resisted, tougher by far than me, when force of louts broke her apart, tide snatched a stout timber- with a rumble of victory, part of Venture headed back, forever back to sea.



Worzel here- Down home on Wharf Street, always random, season of the year rarely an issue, we enjoy the brief and spectacular “Irish Sunset'”, a term that Godfrey coined. For perhaps five minutes at eve the wending street of heritage brick buildings is washed in a brilliant orange glow.

The worn out grass and trees of the tent camp below our window are lit the most vivid green. Campers pause, look skyward and west cross the harbor.The cops and by-law officers relax. The young woman serving tables in the corner patio bar rests her tray, shares delight in the beauty until the boss barks her back to work…

Folks eating in the cool, dark sushi-bar miss out. Even the silvery fittings on the carriage horses’ harness glint in the light as she waits at the cross walk. City workers cease banging trash cans. Leaning from my window, I cannot hear “10 Men”, a lost soul who paces the waterfront most days shouting- “I am 10 men, I am the federal Government!”….IO Men is there, relaxing on the park steps, ever present plastic cup in hand, basking in the peace of “Irish Sunset”…

Time waits for us, despite all we remain awe inspired.

Wrote Godfrey on the subject- From the age I could waddle, nappy dragging behind, Grandma swung me to the sky, I was cherished and held, I loved how the baking in her warm cottage smelled, her songs as she worked, stepping out in her old frock to dance, never cranky or tired. Ma complained, “She is a drunken old sot” But she spoke in rhyme, taught me to stay awe inspired…

I keep a worn photo of the long past elders, deep in my suitcase where it stays flat and dry, they said Grandpa had scars inside, deep where no one can see. A limp in one leg, mild disrespect for authority. He was a fisher- job in itself awe inspiring, he took us out when I was big enough to float, set nets and bait lines. “Go when wind and tide tells you”, Godfrey, never turn your back on the swell, always respect the sea”. Grandpa said little else, yet never took a day on the water for granted, wisdom that awe inspired me.

Stocky legs deep in wet grass he stands, dappled back steaming dry after summer shower, he is wary. Eight years old, carrot in hand I am walking out to my new pony. He need not worry, for the hand that holds the treat, wiped clean on my shirt, will never hurt him.

The glossy coat I keep brushed free of dust and burr, will give way to winter guard hairs and fuzzy whisker.The adventures we share as I warm cold hands neath thick mane, bed the pony down in clean deep straw…awakens the poet growing in me, carries us places that inspire and awe.

I grew up believing in staying awe inspired- “Given to woolgathering, Godfrey,  I regret will amount to nothing”. Twas written in a letter sent from school to my old Ma. I strolled home most days,seeking treasure along the hedge row, from a distance could hear Ma shouting, and the music when my sister Alice played the piano.

I left home for vagabonding, was once left on my own with a heavy iron anvil, and two angry cats in the same box. Was on a remote track, with nebulous shade from one of those odd trees rooted in rock. We had lightened the load of the traveler’s horse drawn wagon, to spare him a uphill pull, feeling his oats Paddy took off at a trot, leaving me with the cats and anvil for to walk.

In my hitching career, was once picked up, the same day by three separate chaps named Verne in same make of car, a brown sedan. Never so welcome was the distant speck of gold, came Heidi, who drove a yellow Bongo Van.

Without question or qualm Heidi stopped, drove myself, the cats and anvil, following tracks and signs of horse to where they finally ended at our camp riverside. Inspired, and in awe of gypsy life, she stayed a month with us, befriended a horse who disliked everybody, down the Rakaia River they would ride.

For she grew up dreaming of being a hippie, defying, horrifying the parents who named her Heidi…Good on ya Heidi, long may you seek the wild mushroom, glean the wisdom from stream side plants, long may you live in joy and awe inspired, and on the bluffs of East Sooke may you dance.

Some thoughts from Godfrey..


It is good to see the rubble of home- “Tara”, our building is being restored to her original state, I escaped for 9 days break from drills and banging, to a posh house in the hills. 9 days on the worlds worst couch, which I was expected to share with the dog. This afternoon, I woke up agrog from my nap, certain I could hear Godfrey whistling his favorite song- “Oh Sir Jasper Do Not Touch Me”, a dreadful, bawdy thing taught to him by his sister Alice…alas, it was only my friends bickering in the hall. I did not write much…just these vignettes I will share…

Old Friends On The water- With Godfrey was no need to gauge the tides or heed alarm , or warnings of storm. My head bowed in thought, he remains ever present, the two of us walk arm in arm. I with the questions, Godfrey the observer, we talked with the ease of old friends on the water.

“I was only little, said Godfrey, Grandad took us out fishing”.” With Alice unhappily along for the ride, Ma kept grip on the hood of my horse- sweater, lest I pitch over the side.””The dour old man, that Grandad was , I recall spoke rarely on land, but crossing Barafundle Bay he knew every fisher, they were all old friends out on the water”

“Said I, out in Sakatchewan, same went for my old man, parked before the T.V., he conversed with us rarely”. “Yet in town, seems he knew all, waved to every passing tractor, mid the prairie sea, just as friends do on the water”.

Solivigant-    This morning I set out, city at low hum, very early. Sunrise had cleared the roof of The Salvation Army, the distant Sooke Hills at peace. Low cloud magic reflected, sherbet on pewter the calm harbor. And clear as is his memory, came an echo of old friends calling cross the water.

“Solivigant”, I read her name, painted bold on sailboats stern. Like a hobo at high tea, shabby, slurping alongside fine yachts polished and fancy. Baggy- Wrinkle, weathered lines, the smell of baking bread and fresh coffee wafted from her”. “Trust in me, Solivigant called!, we shall journey to adventure, two old friends upon the water”.

Sternlights-   Godfrey contemplated sternlights , evening dreaming out my window, looking down to the busy inner harbor below. “He reckoned, the sternlights mean farewell, but also could be saying- “Follow me, pull alongside where  we go”. Ever the vagabond, the observer,  wait patient for me, old friend across the water.

No nasty couch was harmed in my time away, home to turquoise chair and luggage shop. We thank the iconic,late and much missed Stan Rogers for the title. Alice has sent a packet of her literary debris…time to open it…


In the green, repugnant lobby of the old building “Tara”, where our lives hold much laughter, a long defunct light fixture is hung.

Ancient Vern Mulch on the 4th floor grew up in the place- said it has been there since he was young.   Created, I supposed as an answer to an elegant chandelier, when the “Tara” block was bright, clean and new. It hangs askew on a frayed brown cord, high out of reach of our cranky landlord.

A cupola in petal shaped glass full of bugs, layer upon layer who have blundered in, and expired over the years.   When Godfrey visited, he would stand below the bug filled chandelier and laugh himself to tears.

Our young friend Hawken, (indeed, he loved to fish) observed, “I reckon I’d find bugs up there from 1928, good to tie as a dry fly for bait”.   As Hawken looked up at the fixture, along came from 102, Miss Pettigrew, she smelled of alcohol and cat, and whispered, “Hippie, I’d no stand under that alone if I were you”.

Recalled Godfrey years before…Once a laden, sticky bug paper fell from the kitchen ceiling and stuck fast as it fell to my boss’s behind.  “I had just informed him that I disliked beets”.   What he said with the flies stuck firmly to his ass, was pompous and most unkind”.

“Bugs, said Godfrey, I swell like a bloater when stung by midges and wasps, quite severely, yet delight in dragon flies hovering about with water near me, the racket of Cicadas on a hot day outside, moths I fear and truly cannot abide.

Twas a summer morning, at a Westland camp ground, heard shrill screams of women, I ran to the sound. “Several towel clad ladies bolted from a shower stall, one chap and a large, hairy winged insect with pincers fled to, an innocent Cave Weta, climbing up the bathhouse wall.

Godfrey put it succinctly, “I have a long, odd relationship with things that creep and crawl”    It is normal on our street to hear people scream and shout- often it is me yelling “Not to be alarmist, dear, something nasty is alive in here”

We put out spiders large and small, we do not put sliverfish or earwigs out at all.   And yes, we laugh as year rolls over year, we come and go neath the grotty chandelier, it hangs here still on greasy brown cord, old Vern Mulch is gone, true we could afford to move , but keep our memories and luggage shop near, long love “Tara” and the bug filled chandelier…


Although Godfrey loved the mountains, loved old growth forest mysterious in dark of night, loved the moody, open prairie, the friends he made in the city. His lifelong inspiration, his favorite thing was just to be- in, on or beside the roily sea.

He said, the smell of wet kelp, creak of dock on piling, sun burnt faces smiling catching Shiner Perch, even the thought of eels bagged in the hostel fridge.. . In Knockfollie’s Bridge.White rubber boots, coveralls on, Laura and Jackie sort fish on a shift dark to  dawn.

Rockfish and Crab mostly, Herring time we sing as we squeeze out roe. Proper fish wives, sharp as our knives, it’s the only work we know, in Knockfollie’s Bridge we sort fish.

Lunch break at an outside table, sandwiches and coffee, Laura and Jackie had a chat with Godfrey. “Here is a challenge chewed Jackie, if you are a random poet, not a mere vagabond, write about Knockfollie’s Bridge, and us types who sort the fish”.

So Godfrey wrote- “I have found a higher wisdom on the docks where fish are sorted, processed and transported, off to destinations far away. By the people of the sea, the hard work they do to gut, sort and filet. Laura and Jackie enjoy drinking beer, boots and hairnet tossed aside end of day.

And when all’s a bit more quiet, in cool of the fall, it is time out to dance down the Knockfollie’s Bridge hall. Laura and Jackie dance into sunrise, a reminder of  the fish lady’s daughter enshrined in my memory, we dance with each other, Hazel and Mae dance with me, dance all night down in Knockfollie’s Bridge, where Laura and Jackie can be found sorting fish.