A boys day out to the big city

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Fri 24 Dec 2010 02:37
Thursday night, St George, Bermuda

We had a great night onboard Saxon Blue last night. Kali cooked a couple of superb curries and invited Bill and Mike over for dinner. Gary came over as well and we had a great meal followed by some wild conversation. Gary's life is like something from a movie but the best thing is that he tells these amazing stories in a really quiet, measured way so that you don't have any idea what he's going to say next.

He started out by telling us about how he'd been given a catering pack of pineapple chunks by a passing freighter and how he hated them so he still had loads left. Then, after we'd been discussing Farley Mowatt's books about the arctic, he says "My dad got up from his chair one night and went to the front door, opened it, closed it again, picked up his gun, opened the door again, fired the gun, closed the door again, put the gun back and went back to his chair. Then he says to me, I just shot a bear on the porch. He's not dead, though. You'd better go after him." So Gary, aged 15, chased the wounded bear for 4 miles before finding him dead in some trees. Later in his life, he'd had an allocated area of 25 square miles of arctic wilderness that he was licenced to trap so he was shooting the Fishers so that they wouldn't eat the baby Lynx that he wanted to sell for their pelts at 1400 dollars a piece. He also hunted Beaver, Moose and all sorts of deer. He clearly knew what he was talking about with guns and mentioned the bullet-drop that you needed to allow for.

He told us about a white wolf that would follow the snow machine tracks and eat the animals caught in the traps. The wolf was always just out of rifle shot. They tried to trap him by stopping the snow machine and, without getting off, setting a trap behind buried in the snow. They'd even draw back in the snow machine marks over the trap. They boiled all their clothes and traps in pine needles to remove the human smell but still the wolf would just walk around the trap. They never caught him. After our experiences in the arctic, it was great to hear his take on that world. A world that nobody will ever live in again, I think.

After listening to Gary for a while, I had a good chat to Bill about sailing multi-hulls in big seas offshore and how they are no more unsafe than any other vessel but that they do require a bit of extra attention on the part of the crew. It made me think that John and Caroline are not in quite such imminent danger sailing the Discovery 50 Catamaran into the Pacific.

It was pretty late by the time everyone went home so I ended up sleeping in this morning. Bill and I both got up around 10 am with Kali already gone off somewhere. When she returned, she wanted to spend some time with Other Bill doing weather stuff so I decided to go off to Hamilton with Our Bill and see if we could get some snorkelling gear so we could maybe do a bit of exploring over the holidays if the weather is good. We had a good bus experience on the way again, looking at the beautiful island all the way and out over the storm-tossed waters of the lagoon.

In Hamilton, we bought a load of potions and bits from the excellent chandlery and discussed spear fishing with the guys who work there. They hunt for 100 pound Rock Fish around the reefs, holding their breath the whole time as you're not allowed to hunt with SCUBA gear. Then we found a good dive shop and chose which fins, snorkel and mask we each wanted. Bill found the same fins that he used before and I got some really nice black jobs with all kinds of cool-looking moulded bits. We also found time to fit in a proper Man's lunch before heading back to Saxon Blue. We're both so excited with our new gear that I'm sure we'll be out in it, even if the conditions are pretty rough. I'm looking forward to actually doing some exercise and we've been watching freediving videos on YouTube to get into the mindset.

I managed a good Skype with Andrea and it was odd to see her in Rothwell in the dark while I was sitting here in the daylight. Hopefully, I'll be able to set up a similar link to my mum and dad so I can see them at Christmas. Then we went over to the Swan for dinner. The others had roast chicken again but I had a second helping of Bill's delicious meat loaf so that was perfect. Then more easy, companionable chat about boats and ports and life in general. All very easy and sociable and lovely. It's an odd set of circumstances that's thrown us all together in this port for a few days as we all had plans to be on our way South but that's the way it is and it's an unexpected pleasure. Once again, our voyage is proving much more sociable than we expected.


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