Trailers, Boats, Trailers, Stuff
I miss my teardrop trailer. Actually, I think I miss having it. I loved the statement it made about minimalism and how it Iead me to meet a lot of great folks and kindred spirits who were drawn to it. I’m cool, I own a teardrop trailer. This begs the question: “Is it the idea of escape that helps sustain our dreary lives?” We know that the idea of wilderness keeps the urbanite happy in their world. I‘m returning from Vancouver and can’t imagine many of the folks there, with whom I shared air, surviving for long in the BC backwoods. But, they can look up to the mountains and still see the beginning of infinite forest. Is it that concept of potential escape that helps keep them contentedly locking bumpers with their fellows? The presence of getaway tools and toys helps make life more bearable. And what do people look out to in flatland cities for inspiration?
I have to mind my words. I admit that I am the guy who makes derogatory comments about “Stuff” and how it can own you. After seeing the monstrous boxes people like to wrestle along paved routes in pursuit of their personal bliss I can assure you I know what I don’t need. I did soon realize that it would be good to stand up inside a trailer, for several reasons. Changing clothes lying down is a challenge better left to the young. It would be good to have enough room to use a bucket inside in the middle of the night. Tip-toeing around large Mexican scorpions in the dark was a convincing argument in favour of up-sizing my parameters of minimal. If I don’t want to travel alone, I do need a little more room. But, that’s it! I want to keep it simple.
Spending fortunes to connect the dots between the Wal Mart parking lots of North America or visiting campgrounds to park a few feet from another RV is a passion which eludes me. I suppose travelling thousands of kilometres to compare notes on microwave ovens, electric canopies, satellite television, or sewage mascerators can hold a special mystique for some but it’s beyond my interest. And yes, the same is true of boats. Almost invariably, the bigger the boat, the less it is used. Those hulls are filled with electronics and luxurious comforts irrelevant to making safe passages and when a gin palace does leave the dock it merely moves to another marina. A massive industry exists to maintain all of this decadence. (As I was perusing my dictionary I discovered the word ‘Epizoon’: An animal that lives on another animal.)
Home again from my Mexican Teardrop Trailer Marathon, once that tiny trailer was sold, I began looking at small commercially built trailers. I considered a Boler, the famous seventies-era fibreglass bubble trailer. Over-priced, inadequate ground clearance, and poor use of interior space were reasons that turned me away. I went to a few RV dealers and looked at their fare. I was appalled at the cavalier workmanship and poor construction materials. The pricing was certainly first rate. The canned sales pitches chased me off. Trailers that were going to “Be gone any minute now if ya don’t grab it” are still on the lots in the same spot.
I love the idea of multifunction. I always try to install upgrades on my boat that do more than one thing. For example: dinghy davits over the stern which also hold solar panels. That concept also makes sense for trailers. Few commercially slapped-together travel trailers appear able to stand up to rough roads or packing heavy toolboxes. I’d like a minimal yet rugged mobile shelter where I can stand up inside, lay down comfortably, perform basic human functions including cooking in bad weather and also store necessary personal belongings and supplies. If that shelter could also be used as a mobile workshop for this old yacht tinker, so much the better. A workbench can double into a large bed which also houses tidy storage space. If not in use for either work or play, the trailer can warehouse belongings where I’ll need them when I return from a sailing trip. It seems like a winning idea to me. I intend to spend much of my future time in southern climates where one need only be inside to sleep securely. An outside awning provides the main living space and a sheltered work area when a trailer is earning it’s keep. See! A person can rationalize anything. I’ve now got the vehicle to handle a slightly larger trailer, which a month ago seemed an impossible step without any money, so onwards and sideways. There is magic in the process of setting goals and working toward them despite long odds. All it takes is attitude and determination, or in other words, brute force and ignorance. I wrestled with the notion of having both a boat and a trailer but it does make sense for me and the future I’m working toward.
So, that’s why I’m on the BC Ferry ‘Coastal Renaissance’ this morning heading to the mainland. It’s a grey day with thick clouds hanging low over the peaks of the north shore of Georgia Strait and Howe Sound. A fleet of seven sailboats races before the Sou’east wind. Their fluorescent white sails remind me of my organic green sails on ‘Seafire’. The verdigris after a long wet winter is amazing. I could have avoided it by using them occasionally through the winter and next year they’ll have to go to Mexico to avoid this travesty again.
Yeah, Mexico again. I know! That brings me back to this trailer stuff. I’ve decided that a 6×12 enclosed aluminium work trailer could encompass all my needs. I’ve found one that has been converted. It has side windows, insulation, a bed, lighting, cabinetry, a roll-out awning on one side, a side door with screen, and for much less money than buying one and taking the time to fit out. As usual, I don’t have any money. I manage to live hand to mouth and the tax man has not been kind to me this year despite, or because of, my minimal income. I’m also going to look at supplies for the next rebuild phase on the little Cheoy Lee that seems to have become my career. My brain says the trailer is the way to get those supplies home. I’ll report on my floundering progress at the end of he day.
Spring here marches inexorably onward. Friends from Mexico forward me photos that show spring there. In January and February there were plenty of blooms. Now there’s a profusion of brilliant colours everywhere. (Maybe it’s a celebration that most of those damned gringos are gone for the summer.) Especially brilliant are the Prima Vera flowers. Drifts of brilliant yellow crown the trees and litter the alleys of the town. The serious gringos stay on, most of their compadres have fled back to northern latitudes. I’m told that it is the humidity, not the temperature that increases drastically. One simply has to adjust to the local lifestyle. That involves getting up with the roosters, siesta time in the afternoon, and then out and about in the evenings. That is the traditional approach in warm climates everywhere and it certainly seems very civilized; especially in comparison to how we run our lives according to the clock. Ever notice what happens when someone is asked if they’d like to have a meal? I can almost guarantee that they will first check the time, which of course has nothing to do with being hungry… which is one reason many of us are so chubby.
This, yet again, brings me back to this trailer business. If Mexico in summer becomes too severe for a gringo to live on a boat, (Which can indeed become a miserable, airless sweatbox on hot, windless days)take the trailer up into the interior mountains and explore the heart of the country at cooler altitudes. Bear in mind that locals in Mexico have no options about vacations or escaping summer heat or hurricanes. Their finances barely let then survive where they are. The concept of a vacation must be entirely alien.
As I’ve previously mused, I’ve held considerations about selling old ‘Seafire’ but the yacht market is very soft. These days, regardless of the surveyed value, a boat seems to draw only about twenty-five percent of that dollar figure. Sadly, some boater owners refuse to accept reality. A lot of cheap boats are out there these days but they’ve had little invested recently in their care and maintenance. You do tend to get what you pay for.
The law of supply and demand, however, governs prices. That’s the way the pickle squirts. Besides, sad as it may be, this old boat is the sum total of what I have to show for thirty years of buying, fixing and selling boat after boat and, it’s my home. Do I really want to give it up? If I advise anyone on what sort of boat to buy, I suggest assessing your needs now and in the future. Even if it means waiting a bit, go for the future needs and do it right once. How I envy folks who have done that and own a boat for several decades. It is a comfortable union and amortizing the cost of ownership over a longer period is clearly most sensible. There is also nothing like having an intimate knowledge of a vessel and its quirks and capabilities. I should add, by the way, that smaller boats, easily stored and travelled on trailers, are beginning to hold a premium value because their operating costs are considerably less than boats which require a dock or mooring.
I’m told that in the RV world, people move from tents to tent trailers to a bigger trailer to ever larger motor homes and finally back to a small trailer or a camperized van. I am amazed, despite all the reports of a faltering economy, at the hundreds of thousands of RVs I’ve seen on the road and circulating through dealerships. On Vancouver Island alone, there are billions of dollars in RV inventory which appears enough to outfit the whole damned country. Once on the mainland, the acres of RVs for sale are massive. Surely, not all folks are abandoning their houses to live in a trailer or motor home. There is so much I just don’t understand.
Now I’m writing on the last ferry for the day out of Horseshoe Bay for Nanaimo. It’s been a long day. I have not been in the Vancouver Area for a long time. I could not live there. Vancouver and its surrounds once held an almost quaint charm, but I guess that was forty years ago. It is now just a soulless mess of concrete, glass and metal like any other contemporary city. I did my business and got out of town. Old Jack the dog rode shotgun for me today. I wonder what goes on in his brain as he placidly sits with nose pressed to window watching the world swirl around him. Just the smells and sounds of this alien place must be utterly befuddling but he takes it all in stride. His presence has a calming effect while I drive on streets where people seem aggressive and confrontational. I recall that once they seemed to be relaxed and courteous. Vancouver roads now remind me of the Toronto I left behind forty years ago. Is it time to move on again? Where south? I inched along in the homeward bound traffic snarls to Port Coquitlam to look at the trailer conversion. Damn! It is exactly what I need and is in incredible condition, like new. Negotiations are under way. I have to raise the mucho dineros for this one. If it is meant to be, it will all fall into place.
I bought some fibreglass products for a job. An old man, in a decrepit warehouse in the middle of a muddy yard, sells fibreglass supplies and offers excellent advise. Next door a monstrous glittering edifice of greed, the “River Rock Casino” towers over this little remnant of life as it used to be. There are no computers in sight, everything is calculated by hand and head. His prices were far less than elsewhere and he loaded me up with free catalyst, mixing pots, pens and other sundries. Happy at my interest in his obvious experience, he was also appreciative for my commerce. Relieved to learn that I had not waited for him earlier in the day he explained that his wife has Alzheimers and he spends the mornings tending to her needs. In turn I noted his integrity and tenacity in the face of the modern way. ‘Well”, he responded, “I’m here to help people, not bullshit them. Call anytime you need some advise.” Gotta love the ‘Old School’.
I’m writing in the ferry’s cafeteria. Three decks below, towering over my vehicle, sits a travel trailer such as I’ve never seen before. It is huge, seemingly the size of a boxcar! It has at least two entrances with folding steps, remote self-levelling jacks hang down in several places, there are several bits that “Pop out”. For all I know this thing could have a swimming pool. Someone wants to rough it in style. The whole thing disgusts me.
It would be nice to be able to afford it. Money isn’t everything but a change of problems would sure as hell be interesting. Remember, a capitalist can be defined as a socialist who’s found an opportunity. Epizoon!