Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Commuting, Island Style

Just in case you think it's all beautiful beachfront views around here, punctuated by relaxing getaways in surprisingly restful urban settings with their own gorgeous outlooks, I thought you might like to see what our daily commute looks like. Especially once the fall rains begin along with the wind warnings and the colder temperatures, island life becomes much less idyllic. Here`s the view through a rain-spattered windshield, heading home on a cold day in an unheated boat . . .

As this passage from Rosecrans Baldwin's You Lost Me There suggests, islands that seem positively delightful from April through September become less so in the darker, shorter months of the year:

Sara and I had expected to miss Manhattan when we left, but we both caught movers' amnesia. We fell in love with Maine and also with each other again, our older, more demure selves. We shared a feeling of being evacuated. It was a team effort. We didn't swap our leather jackets for parks, but we invested in proper boots. "I like the winters," I told Sara one night in bed, the two of us staring at the ceiling, "how everyone waves on the road." "When you've got a couple hundred people trapped on an island, you get to know the faces." "Sure, and even if they don't recognize you, they still wave." "Who else but a neighbour would be on the island in January?" (133)

Sara and Victor "invested in proper boots," and we have those along with fairly efficient raingear. But while we have a reliable (privately owned, foot passenger only) ferry service to the island, we also invested in a solid welded aluminium boat, a little workhorse that can take us safely across even in rather heavy winds.

Even with our own boat to make life a bit easier, though, island living requires considerable schlepping. I often long for the days when I used to unthinkingly drive my car into the carport, complaining that I had to carry the groceries up the four steps and into the kitchen. Coming back from last week's getaway, we hauled our weekender bags from the parking lot down the ramp to the boat, along with the groceries AND my bike which we'd had repaired and tuned up.
And although there's already a sense of Home Sweet Home when we arrive at our community dock with its rather motley collection of nautical craft, we still have to haul everything out of the boat, load it onto the bikes (or into a wheelbarrow) and cart it the last kilometre home. Those wire panniers on the back of my bike have a CostPerUse that`s infinitesimally small, so indispensable are they.
One of the homes on the island was, for a few years, named ToteHaul by the charming (and well read) young family who lived there, and it`s always seemed a most brilliantly apt appellation. Tote-Haul: we live it every day!

Not quite so envious now, are you, if you ever were, of island life!


  1. I too have a loving/not-so-loving relationship with our wee island. Particularly challenging for me are evenings trips home on the ferry after being away for a weekend of playing (usually involving copious amounts of sports gear).

    Miss my boat already....

  2. I guess you call the Island I live on (Vancouver Island) the other mainland. I have lived on two islands - PEI and VI, but not sure I would love a small island in winter! I can see that it would allow lots of time for knitting. Peg

  3. Oh yes, I see your point. Your island life reminds me of the few months I spent living on a boat out on a mooring in the middle of Morro Bay. Had to row a leaky dingy in and out from the dock to mooring to and from work, hauling dirty laundry ashore to the laundromat, bringing bottled water and re-charged batteries back to the boat (no running water or electricity out on a mooring!). Yes there were idyllic moments, but oh when those storms rolled in it was NO fun. ToteHaul indeed.

  4. Yes, it does always seem romantic visiting your island life through your blog, but I am not surprised it's actually a lot of work!

  5. Sorry, still envious :) But I can totally understand the logistics would get wearisome. My mother lived on a yacht for 10 years, and having to get everything (including water) to the boat by dinghy did become a chore, exactly as Pseu describes ...

  6. I can appreciate the beauty from afar and not have to deal with the issues you have to deal with on a daily basis. It is always more fun to dream of the romance!

  7. OK, thanks for this! It does kind of suck :-) Of course, even as it's miserable, rainy and cold, it's still so picturesque...

  8. Hmmm....did not realize you had to import groceries and such from the mainland (BIG island). And yet, your island
    life still appears idyllic .....

  9. Janet: I can only imagine lugging all that snowboarding gear or surfing or mountain biking . . . you'll be happier when your boat windshield's repaired and that baby's back in the water.
    Peg: Welcome! Once I retire, I think I might enjoy island life more because I'll simply stay put (hmmm, wonder what the likelihood of that is) and yes, get much knitting done. btw, we usually call Vancouver Island, if jokingly, "the big Island." Usually, when we head across to Nanaimo, we talk about going in to town. . .
    Sue: It still amazes me that you did this. No scarves or Fluevogs or LV Speedy bags in that lifestyle! That's hardcore stuff, not for the weak of heart.
    Susan: So far there's more good than bad, and we find the effort worthwhile, but I won't pretend it's not a challenge. . .
    Tiffany: I don't think I could do that kind of boat living for so long, but I suppose you adapt, developing efficiencies.
    Debbie: Exactly!
    Kristin: um, can misery be picturesque? And does that make it any less miserable? For an observer, I guess, rather than for the misery-sufferer. So, works for you. . .
    Pavlova: Yes, there are no shops at all over here. We have a floating pub/restaurant, but it's closed this winter, and quite honestly, pub food has very limited appeal for us. So everything gets hauled over. If you forget to pick up milk or eggs, you either do without OR borrow from the neighbours. But we have very good neighbours, all over the island.

  10. I live on an island too; many people don't realize that about Montreal (sure you do)!

    We have a friends who own a small island in Georgina Bay (Ontario). he will not let visitors bring *anything* (no matter if it is a gift) on the island that they have not cleared with them. People do not realize the pressure that things carried onto an island put on a delicate environment.

  11. Duchesse: I did know that about Montreal, but I'm sure many visitors would be surprised. We used to live in Prince Rupert, on north coast of BC, and people were similarly surprised to learn it's on an island.
    I can relate to your friends and sometimes wish we were stricter about what people carry to our place -- all recycling/garbage gets carried back to town, by us, by hand. We think twice about every glass jar . . .


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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