Thursday, February 25, 2010

A different view of Holguin, Cuba...


I was scanning the various news sites this morning, when I came upon the following from the CBC. Considering that I have only just returned from a sojourn in Holguin, Cuba, it certainly gives me some pause for reflexion.

Cuban dissident's death condemned by Canada
'Release all political prisoners,' Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon says
Last Updated: Thursday, February 25, 2010 9:29 AM ET

CBC News

The Canadian government has joined the United States and European nations in condemning the death of a jailed Cuban dissident after a lengthy hunger strike.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo's death has prompted international outcry and an unprecedented statement of regret from Cuban President Raul Castro.

In a statement Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Canada is "profoundly saddened" by the death of the Cuban "prisoner of conscience."

"Canada regrets this tragedy and calls on the Cuban government to release all political prisoners and to show greater tolerance for Cubans who express opposing views," Cannon said.

Zapata Tamayo was one of the 75 people arrested and jailed in 2003 as part of a government crackdown on opposition groups. The 42-year-old dissident persisted in an 85-day hunger strike and finally died Tuesday afternoon, becoming the first imprisoned opposition figure to die after a hunger strike in nearly four decades.

The hunger strike was in protest of what he said were poor prison conditions on the island.
In a statement released Wednesday by the Cuban Foreign Ministry, the Cuban president said Zapata Tamayo's death "is a result of the relationship with the United States," but did not elaborate.

According to Cuban human rights leader Elizardo Sanchez, Zapata Tamayo was arrested in 2003 and held for months without charge before being sentenced to three years in prison in his native Holguin province for disrespecting police authority.

Zapata Tamayo was subsequently sentenced to 25 years behind bars, Sanchez said, and was deemed by Amnesty International to be "a prisoner of conscience."

********************

Yes... there were a couple of comments either drawing parallels between Cuban jails and ours, or fairly pointing out how this individual basically committed suicide. Then there was the following, more than likely from a Canadian 'armchair-communist' who knows nothing of Cuba, but who is still enamoured with the lofty ideals of an egalitarian society:

"Although I support the Cuban Socialist Revoltion I have to join Canada and the EU in the condemnation of this death. jailing your opponents is not fighting fair. Cuba has nothing to be proud of today ."

He could have continued to say: "... in fact, Cuba has had nothing to be proud of since 26 julio 1956". Cubans have been forced to live in a world of make-believe ever since.

Well I for one do not support Cuba's "socialist revolution". All it amounts to is the enslavement of the people by a different set of totalitarian masters. I would not have been a big fan of how the Batista regime did business back in the day, either. I do support the Cuban people and wish a better future for them, but no one has prospered or enjoyed even the simplest of human freedoms under any so-called 'socialist' regime. Cuba clearly is no different. I knew that before I went there and I certainly know it even moreso, now that I have been.
But please... do not take my word for it. With the advent of the internet these days, nobody can silence the voices of Cubans who want the rest of the world to know of their reality. I found one of perhaps hundreds/thousands of blogs out there, which will give you a glimpse inside the real Cuba:

I find it somewhat unsettling to think that unbeknownst to me, while I was having a second helping of huevos revueltas, Orlando Zapata was starving to death nearby.
The shame of it all...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Not always Right... (as in the Customer Is...)


Humour is not only essential in life, it can often define or dictate the quality of our very existence here. Show me a person with a decent sense of humour and I will show you a person who has many good friends and acquaintances. I will show you a person that others gravitate to and enjoy being around. It just makes for a more enjoyable life on Earth.

Having said that, when I find a good source of humour (or at least one that tickles my funny bone...), I am all too ready to share it with other like-minded souls. What the Hell is the good of humour, if it is not spread around?

A website has come to my attention recently. I had visited it in the past at some point, but had since totally forgot about it. It contains classic examples of human hilarity, very much like the situations that we deal with on a daily business. Below you will find the URL, which I heartily recommend for some fun, lighthearted reading! :)

On 'leadership' in the civilian world...


There have been circulating of late, opportunities for the position of "supervisor", within my place of work. This involves the chance of being saddled with a lot more work, for a little more pay. I have been approached on many instances by my own supervisors, as to my interest in such a position.

Having had the opportunity to act in an actual supervisory capacity, as well as a section head, in the military, I can see several reasons why this offer would not be one I would entertain. For one, leading civilians can best be compared to herding cats. This situation would exist regardless of the style of leadership employed (authoritative, participative or free reign). They have a tendency of taking any authoritative form of leadership, very poorly. For as much as many will talk a tough image, authoritative leadership (particularily that which involves any use of colourful and/or creative profanity) will have them bursting into tears. It's all very messy and emotional.

Most employment and labour standards these days have the employees wrapped in so many layers of protective gauze, that you actually have to invite them to do what they have been hired (and are being paid...) to do. Any attempt at mid-course guidance/correction of the 'immediate' variety (I.E.: giving them a direct command vice suggesting or pleading), will normally be met with weepy eyes, hurt feelings and the threat of a union reprimand or lawsuit. I would imagine that bellowing out the order to: "Get back to your fucking station, you horrible little man!!!", would likely prompt either seizures or spontaneous human combustion in most of them.

In the Ops world, orders are given and pre-planned responses are carried out immediately, accurately, unthinkingly. It is how one remains alive. Questioning a directive is not something that readily comes to mind in emergency or dangerous situations. To do so is to invite disaster and death. Yet many civilians would think nothing of doing so. They are as inquisitive as a five year old child might be. "Why?" is a question that all too readily springs to their lips. Everything must have a reason, a personal motivating factor for them to take on an assigned task and do what is requested of them.

I can still remember "the beginning of the end" of our own beloved military, when political correctness first began rearing it's hideous head. The specific incident involved a crusty but wonderfully effective drill sergeant, who got into trouble for orders he issued to a platoon of female recruits he was taking through their paces. He was teaching them how to come to attention, from the 'at ease' position.

The entire process of bringing your right foot to a position where the thigh forms a 90 degree angle with the ground, then driving it down forcefully, all takes place on the count of: "One...!" It requires the considerable use of your leg muscles, if it is to be performed well and in proper military fashion.

His young female charges were listless and dozy. Lacksadaisical in how they were executing the movement. They had been at it for almost an hour now.

Clearly frustrated with them being incapable of performing this simple, basic drill movement, he reared back and let loose at the top of his lungs. The following could be heard echoing through the drill shed:

"LISTEN UP, LADIES!!! WHEN I SAY "ATTENTION!!!"... I WANT TO HEAR THIRTY C***S SUCK AIR!!! DO... YOU... HEAR... ME???"

Now...??? I don't think you can even say: "Crap!" anymore.

Yeah... a leader of men in the civilian sector...??? Um-mmmm... I'm thinking not.



"Anyone can hold the helm, when the sea is calm". - Publilius Syrus.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A re-post on cruising foreign waters...


I initially posted this entry on 27 January 2009. It seemed like an appropriate time of year for it to make it's re-appearance, considering the e-mails we've been receiving of late...

I received one of those rare calls this morning, which make this job worthwhile. It was a gentleman from Alberta who had just purchased a 42-foot boat in Florida. He was looking for information and guidance with regards to what he should do next and intimated that he was thinking about cruising Bahamian waters.

Finally, someone who actually wanted some information, rather than trying to impress me by how much he didn't know. We first covered vessel registration, as licensing would be a no-go for this one. I then asked him about the electronics fit on the boat. What it had as far as navigation gear, radios, etc. He informed me that the boat had a complete navigational suite, as well as a marine VHF radio.

I then informed him that for as much as many States didn't require boaters to have a license to operate a marine VHF radio, we here in Canada required a Restricted Operator's Certificate (Maritime). In American waters, they actually require Canadian boaters to have a Radio Station License, which conversely are NOT required here in Canada. I also strongly suggested that he verify with the countries in whose waters he intended to cruise, as to what their regulations and requirements were.

We then discussed whether his marine VHF radio had DSC capability or not. I explained how the system worked (simply keying a button on the receiver transmits your position to the chain of COSPAS-SARSAT satellites which orbit the earth geosynchronously...) and what a lifesaver it could be under certain dire circumstances. I told him that I didn't know what his competency level was with regards to navigating or chart reading went.

I proceded to describe the Canadian Hydrographic Service, as well as the products they offered: charts, list of lights, buoys and signals, the sailing directions to accompany various charts and other associated publications. I briefly touched on the fact that there had been people in that area who had sailed for the Bahamas, only to find themselves being accosted by a Cuban gunboat... (our Toronto brainchild from a previous post...). I further suggested communicating directly with the US and Bahamian authorities, for detailed information on cruising in their waters. They will be able to provide him with specific information on their coast guard, harbour authorities, communications procedures, radio channelization, customs clearance, etc...

There are many cruising websites, government and private, which also offer excellent and complete information on these very procedures. I started thinking about what if I were sailing the open ocean, cruising through the territorial waters of the Southern Seas. What would I have aboard?

Knowing what I know now about how the world works, what would I haul along to keep myself safe and informed? What kind of kit would I have on my boat, to see me through a multi-month voyage around the Caribbean? I made up a short list of absolutely must-have equipment.

The boat itself.

Lesson one: The sea is not a place to be caught unprepared. The ocean floor is littered with the countless wrecks of those foolish enough to believe that they could challenge it's might. Just when you think you can run from one island chain to the next and keep ahead of that leaden line of clouds, nature has a way of proving you wrong in the worst of ways. Your vessel is the very first consideration when it comes to the preservation of your safety at sea. I would say that a 42-foot vessel would be a minimum size for such ventures, whether you prefer a sloop, a ketch, or a power cruiser.

If a sailboat, one would have to ensure that it also had a secondary means of propulsion, such as a reliable marine diesel engine. This would provide not only motive power should you be becalmed, but also a source for powering your 12-24VDC battery bank, on which all your electronics and electrical appliances work.


Hard-mounted.

On the vessel itself, I would make sure I had one of the following critical instruments. The make, model and associated cost are merely examples:

ICOM M304 Marine VHF-DSC Radio: Range: 60nm/111km. ($164.95 CDN) http://www.icomamerica.com/en/products/marine/mountedvhf/m304/default.aspx

The reason for DSC-capable marine VHF radios:


ICOM IC-M710 MF/HF Marine Transceiver: Range: Thousands of nautical miles. ($1,529.00 USD)


COM MXA-5000 AIS Receiver: ($480.00 USD)

ICOM IC-MR-1000TII 'India'-Band navigational radar (48nm): ($3,595.00 USD)

FURUNO GP-7000/NT GPS navigation system: ($1,380.00)

KANNAD 406Mhz Digital Auto-EPIRB - Distress Beacon: ($924.00 USD)

NOTE: The older analog 121.5Mhz EPIRBS are now phased out. They are no longer operational (as of 01 February 2009).

Hard-mounted 6-man, auto-deploying Canister type Liferaft, w/hydrostatic release. ($1,859.99 USD).

I would of course also ensure that I had a copy of the paper charts and accompanying sailing directions for the waters I intended to transit. Having one's electronic navigational equipment die, without being able to navigate 'handraulically' (old school), is the same as having no navigation gear at all. You are lost. And being lost at sea is not something you ever want to be.

So you would also need a sextant (and know how to use it...), a set of chartworking tools (compasses, parallel rulers, dividers, etc...).

Self-protection.

Because life is not all lollipops and sunshine away from our home shores, I would make sure I also had one of each of the following onboard and readly accessible:

Wilson M4-T tactical carbine: ($1,995.00 USD) Ammo: 5.56x45mm FMJ NATO ball ammo. 3x30-round box magazine.


Light, compact, large magazine capacity and ease of manoeuvrability in tight quarters, make this a very versatile weapon for both stand-off and close-in engagements. More effective on soft targets.

Or perhaps as a more preferable alternative:

Fulton Armory/Garand M-14 rifle: ($2,499.95 USD) Ammo: 7.62x51mm (.308 Win.) NATO FMJ round. 3x20-round box magazine.


This weapon gives a very good long range, stand-off capability. It is highly accurate and possesses a round which will inflict heavy damage not only on soft targets (bad guys), but also on their boats/vehicles. When dealing with 'bad guys', the further away you can engage them, the better off you are...

Beretta 92_FS Brigadier INOX: ($799.99 USD) Ammo: 9mm 124gr. HPJ (+P) Remington Golden Saber Box. 6x15-round magazine.

This weapon is for very close-in defensive or offensive work, hence the choice of the 124gr. jacketed hollow-point ammo, to avoid the round blowing through soft targets and more to the point, to ensure that the bullet delivers all of it's kinetic energy inside the target.

Mossberg M500 Mariner (J.I.C.), stainless steel: ($547.00 USD) Ammo: 12ga. 00 buckshot, #4 Birdshot and SSG.


The perfect boarding (or anti-boarding...) weapon. Capable of inflicting exceedingly heavy damage on both soft targets and boats, notably when employing the SSG rounds.

This weapon would be used in conjunction with a SS15L Eagle Shotgun Shell Sling.

************************************************

It goes without saying that it is imperative that you communicate with the local authorities to discover:

a) whether they allow weapons in their territorial waters (prior to sailing there, preferably...),

b) to advise them that you do in fact have weapons onboard. In these days of rampant piracy, they would probably be surprised if you didn't have any means of self-protection. NEVER be deceitful when it comes to communicating with foreign officials. It's the absolute fastest way to a jail cell...

c) In Cuba, you will be required to turn over your weapons on arrival and they will be returned to you upon your departure. In the Bahamas and in the US territorial waters off Florida, you are permitted to have a firearm onboard. You must provide the weapon's manufacturer, the serial number and an exact count of ammunition to the Customs officials. In the Bahamas, you may not bring the weapon off the boat unless you have arranged a permit from the Bahamian Police well ahead of time.

Do ensure your weapons are stored under lock and key. The local authorities are very serious (anal) when it comes to enforcing these regulations. Don't mess with them... When at sea or at anchorage, I would ensure that they were within reach at all times, locked and loaded.

This list is not exhaustive, as I would also ensure that I had a multi-person liferaft hard-mounted to the upper deck (auto-release model), SOLAS grade lifejackets, flares (which can also be used as a defensive weapon to deter would-be boarders), boat hooks and fire extinguishers. Besides the sea itself, a fire at sea is your deadliest enemy. In my humble opinion, NO PERSON should put to sea without first having been trained in firefighting techniques.

The storage of provisions onboard any type of vessel is a chore that demands a variety of skills. Much of this depends on the type of onboard appliances and space you are either blessed or cursed with. On land, you have such luxuries as fridges and freezers. They are plugged into a wall socket and forgotten. Taken for granted, if you will.

At sea, everything functions in the world of 12-24VDC. If you are fortunate, your vessel will have a galley with some storage features to it. Do not rely on these to hold what you will actually require for sustaining yourself at sea, unless you are only making day runs in coastal waters. Your eating habits will change radically while asea, I guarantee it...

To give an idea of some of the considerations involved with provisioning a boat which is about to get underway, check out these links below:






If I've provided a number of links on this particular subject, it's because it is in fact that important. For anyone who has seen the WW2 submarine movie "Das Boot" (The Boat), you no doubt recall them merrily provisioning the boat before sailing out from the submarine pens in Lorient, France. They had produce lining and cramming every conceivable nook and cranny onboard that sub. I can personally vouch for the authenticity of this scenario! It is an exercise in creativity...

And so equipped, I would be pretty much set to deal with any situation which might arise. Of course I'd probably want to have more than just myself onboard. The solitude of life under sail might be the perfect tonic for a select few, but for anyone else it would surely lead to madness. Besides, you're going to need someone else to stand watches with you while underway. You don't simply put the boat on auto-pilot and go for a good night's sleep...

As a popular Navy saying would have it: "A collision at sea can ruin your whole day!"

Collisions are always a real threat, whether you're on the high seas, sailing in coastal waters, in reduced visibility, or entering/leaving port. Risk of collisions include other vessels, sea life and running aground. Someone has to be on watch at all times, even when at anchor. ('Especially' at anchor in foreign waters...). Your safety and your very life may well depend on it. Sailing is a wonderful way to see the world and many of the wonders in it. Like anything else which involves a certain amount of risk, you just have to do your homework and understand explicitly what you're getting into."


Friday, February 19, 2010

A smart person, finally...


This afternoon, we received this e-mail in our Inbox. It is a very interesting one, in that we have a person who is an absolute neophyte to the world of boating, yet who knows that he does not know enough, for what he wants to do...

He has had the presence of mind to actually write us and ask what he should know/learn/do in order to buy this boat and sail it across the ocean blue.

"Good morning Sir or Madam or Miss!

I planned to buy a 34' yawl in Ontario to sail across the ocean via Israel etc. Its registered under the name ********* in Pennatanguisheen at the Dutch Man Cove, its owner is *** * ******* if that helps in anyway.

I dont know zip about those things which is why I rely on your experience.Someone told me you cant do that, you need to have a captain license or something, is this true and where do i have to go to get one and other info on that aspect.

Do I have to take a course and where and how long and hum how much?

Maybe you got pointers you can direct me along.

Silly me I thought you could just buy a boat and sail on, so please advise me on that before I go and buy it over the week end.

Thanks for you help! Have a great day or laugh about my inexperience."

*****************************

Now, far be it from me to laugh about a person's lack of experience. I will enjoy hours of laughs from a person's willfull stupidity or arrogance, yes. But I won't laugh at a person simply because he doesn't know something. That's when the teacher in me comes out. If someone is actually looking to learn, I will be the first one to volunteer to help, assuming that I might know a little more than the person I'm teaching. I can't teach what I myself don't know...

So, giving it an honest effort, I replied with the following:

"Thank you for your email dated 18 February 2010, requesting information on considerations for a trans-Atlantic crossing in a 34' pleasure craft.

Such an undertaking would demand that you have considerable skill and experience in boat handling, as well as navigation skills, both electronic and manual, selection and storage of food stuffs, water supplies, etc.... Training for such necessary skills is available through dozens of private training institutions across Canada, many of which you will find listed in the pages of your local phone book or online.

Your first order of business will be to have the vessel's registration transferred into your name.

Transport Canada's Vessel Registration program carries out the following activities:

- issues registration and completes transfers of ownership for pleasure craft, for small commercial vessels of 15 gross tons or less, such as passenger, cargo and fishing vessels, and for larger commercial ships

- maintains the Canadian Register of Ships and the Small Vessel Register, which include vessel names, ownership information and records of all registered vessels for each port of registry in Canada

- appoints tonnage measurers responsible for issuing Certificates of Survey and provides contact information for them

- registers marine mortgages

- registers vessels under construction

Please contact the Vessel Registration program for additional information.

Vessel Registration
Place de Ville, Tower C, 10th Floor
330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0N8

Tel.: 1-877-242-8770 Hours vary Officers available 24/7 Telemessage
Fax: 613-998-0637 (Ottawa)


Information on the Vessel Registration program is available at the following URL:
www.tc.gc.ca/marinesafety/oep/vesselreg/menu.htm

Transport Canada's Office of Boating Safety provides information on the rules and regulations pertaining to the conduct of pleasure craft in Canadian waters. They would also provide information on the Minimum Safety Equipment Requirements for a vessel of this length:

The Office of Boating Safety provides information on the minimum safety equipment required aboard pleasure craft over 8 metres (26 feet 3 inches) in length but not over 12 metres (39 feet 4 inches) in length.

These pleasure craft, both motorized and non-motorized, must carry the following equipment:

PERSONAL PROTECTION EQUIPMENT

- one Canadian-approved personal flotation device or lifejacket of appropriate size for each person on board

- one buoyant heaving line of no less than 15 m in length

- one approved lifebuoy with an outside diameter of 610 mm or 762 mm that is attached to a buoyant line of no less than 15 m in length

- a reboarding device if the freeboard of the vessel is greater than 0.5 mBOAT

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

- an anchor attached to a cable, rope or chain or any combination of these of no less than 30 m

- one bailer

- one manual water pump fitted with or accompanied by a hose long enough to pump water over the side of the vessel

- one Class 10BC fire extinguisher, if the pleasure craft is a power-driven vessel, plus another class 10BC fire extinguisher if the pleasure craft is equipped with a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance

DISTRESS EQUIPMENT

- a watertight flashlight

- twelve Canadian-approved flares of type A, B, C or D (no more than six of which are of type D)

Exception: The flares are not mandatory if the craft is operating in a river, canal or lake in which it can at no time be more than one nautical mile (1.852 km) from shore, or if the craft is taking part in an official competition or in the final preparation for an official competition and has no sleeping arrangements.

NAVIGATION EQUIPMENT

- a sound signalling device or appliance

- navigation lights that meet the standards set out in the Collision Regulations
Power-driven pleasure craft measuring more than 8 metres (26 feet 3 inches) in length are required to be equipped with a properly adjusted compass. If the craft is operating more than 20 nautical miles (37 km) from shore, a compass bearing device is required.
Remember that these are the bare minimum safety equipment requirements. For an undertaking such as yours, where you may routinely expect to encounter seas and swells the size of a 5-storey building, you may very well want to bring extra equipment.

Please contact Transport Canada's Office of Boating Safety for additional information.

Office of Boating Safety
100 Front Street S
Sarnia, ON N7T 2M4

Tel.: 1-800-267-6687 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Eastern Time Boating Safety Information Service
Fax: 519-383-1989 (Sarnia)

E-mail: obs-bsn@tc.gc.ca

Information on the Office of Boating Safety is available at the following URL:
www.tc.gc.ca/marinesafety/debs/obs/menu.htm

A vessel of this size should normally have, if not a complete navigational suite, then at the very least a marine VHF radio.

Those who operate a pleasure craft with a fixed or portable VHF marine radio or other marine radio are required by law to have a Restricted Operator's Certificate (Maritime).The Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons (CPS) is a private non-profit organization that has been mandated to administrate the Restricted Operator's Certificate (Maritime) program and issue the Certificate on behalf of Industry Canada.

The Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons' Restricted Operator's Certificate (Maritime) program provides VHF marine radio operation training to individuals, administers the related certification examination and issues the Restricted Operator's Certificate (Maritime) to those who pass the examination.
The training includes maritime radio course manuals, interactive CD-ROMs and seminars designed to help individuals prepare for the examination. It also covers all aspects of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, as well as the operation of and requirements for digital selective calling systems.

Please contact the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons for additional information.

Restricted Operator's Certificate (Maritime)
26 Golden Gate Court
Toronto, ON M1P 3A5

Tel.: 1-888-277-2628 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Fax: 416-293-2445 (Toronto)

E-mail: hqg@cps-ecp.ca

Information on the Restricted Operator's Certificate (Maritime) is available at the following URL:
http://www.cps-ecp.ca/

Given the distance you intend to cover, you may well want to consider the purchase of an HF or MF radio as well, given the rather limited range of a VHF marine radio.

You may also want to think about installing an EPIRB on your vessel. An EPIRB is an emergency position-indicating radio beacon. It is a maritime distress-alerting transmitter used aboard ships.

The Department of National Defence's Canadian Beacon Registry program registers the following types of distress-alerting transmitters in a centralized database:

- personal locator beacons (PLBs)

- emergency locator transmitters (ELTs)

- emergency position-indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs)
The Registry provides information on persons, ships and aircraft that are connected to a registered beacon to the Canadian Mission Control Centre and Rescue Coordination Centres during search and rescue operations.Beacon registration is mandatory.

Please contact the Canadian Beacon Registry for additional information.

Canadian Beacon Registry
CFB Trenton,
P.O. Box 1000 STN FORCES
Astra, ON K0K 3W0

Tel.: 1-877-406-7671 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time 24/7 Telemessage
Fax: 1-877-406-3298


Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require additional information.
Sincerely,

Us."
I do love it when people use our services for all the right reasons. :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A friggin' battleship, you say...???


So one of my cohorts was lucky enough to receive the following call from Dartmouth, NS this morning. Apparently it was from a Navy man who is part of Canada's East Coast Fleet.

He wanted M-A to believe that he was in fact "the captain of a battleship...". Now, I don't know who he thought he was talking to, but clearly he was trying to create an undue impression of his overall worth to mankind.

Canada's Navy does not possess ANY "battleships", per se. In fact, I would have to go on record as saying that it never has. Yes, we have guided missile frigates (FFGs) of the CPF class, we have guided missile destroyers (DDGs), as in the remaining Tribal class destroyers, we have Victoria Class submarines (ex-British Upholder Class), we have fleet supply ships (AORs), we have Coastal Patrol Vessels, which are manned by a mixture of regular and reserve force naval members, we have scads of auxillary vessels... but we have absolutely NO cruisers, certainly NO battleships and while I'm at it, since the paying off of HMCS Bonaventure in 1970, we don't have any aircraft carriers either.

The USS Missouri (BB-63), USS Iowa (BB-61) and the USS New Jersey (BB-62), are real, honest-to-Jesus battleships.


The last large naval ships the Canadian Navy had on their roster, back in the WW2 days of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), were HMCS Uganda (later named HMCS Quebec) and HMCS Ontario. Neither of these were battleships, by the way. They were only light cruisers. The HMCS Uganda was a Crown Colony Class Light Cruiser (Ceylon), which was laid down at the British Vickers-Armstrong Walker shipyard in 1939. She was transferred to the RCN on Trafalgar Day (21 Oct) 1944. She was last de-commissioned as HMCS Quebec in 1956. HMCS Ontario was a Minotaur Class Light Cruiser, which was laid down in 1941 as HMS Minotaur, at the Belfast shipyards of Harland & Wolff. She was last decommissioned by the RCN in October of 1958.

So in the words of my co-worker M-A, the call went something like this:

The caller started out by saying he wanted some information on the "boat license thing that you need for the boat". He then actually corrected himself by saying: "Oh no... the card to operate the boat..."
He then informed me that he's been in the Canadian Navy for 24 years now, and that he was the captain of a battleship in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia...

I explained to him that if he wanted to operate a pleasure craft, he would require the PCOC, even if he was in the military. I told him that there were many people that had served in the military for more than 21 years and they still had to get the card in order to comply with the law.

I advised him that if he had a one of many eligible Marine Safety Certificates issued by Transport Canada, he only had to show it to a particular course provider and that they would provide him with a Pleasure Craft Operator Card.

He then went off again about being in the Navy and that he was a "captain of a battleship".

I then proceeded to name a few of the TC - Marine Safety Certificates that I thought he might have. When I mentioned the MED-A4 certificate he sort of cut me off and said: "So I can bring an MED certificate and they'll give me a card...???" Obviously I corrected him and said: "Well, it's actually the MED-A4 certificate specifically.

Again he cut me off by saying: "We'll see about that..."

I was going to offer him the website for the list of accredited course providers, when he hung up on me.

Apparently he was less than pleased with the information I had to provide him with.

******************************

So here is a lad that requires not only a reality check, but a naval history lesson. I dearly wish I could have gotten that call. And he's been in the Navy for 24 years, has he...? And he's the skipper on a goddamn battleship, is he...??? Just goes to show you that some people are just beyond education. I'm gonna guess that this individual has never served a single day in anyone's Navy, much less ours. And if by any remote chance he is an officer serving somewhere, I'd advise him to shut his yammer before the other sub-lieutenants notice just how dumb he is...

That's an old Navy joke. But he probably won't get it...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Think it's easy living like a Canadian...???


I pulled this one from the CBC's website today. I have to admit, I got a good chuckle out of it... I was going to title this one: "So you think it's easy being a Canadian...?", but I changed my mind. Just because a person finds themself living in this country, does NOT necessarily make them a Canadian. It may make them many things, but not Canadian...

Immigrants struggle with declining health.

Vitamin D deficiency likely a contributing factor

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 3:27 PM ET

Some healthy people who immigrate to Canada find their health deteriorating after their arrival — an issue immigrant communities are struggling to understand and address.

"The immigrants when they come here, the first five years they are healthy," said Abdirizak Karod, director of the Somali Centre for Family Services in Ottawa.

"After that, they join the club — the Canadian club: they [are] facing…diabetes, autism, blood pressure, depression and all those things."

Abdirizak Karod, director of the Somali Centre for Family Services in Ottawa, said health problems faced by immigrants in Canada, including diabetes, depression and autism, are virtually unheard of in Somalia. The problem isn't limited to the Somali community.

It is well established that immigrants and refugees are healthier than the general Canadian population when they arrive, but their health declines after they start living in Canada, said Dr. Kevin Pottie, co-director of the Immigrant Health Program at the Elisabeth Bruyère Research Institute in Ottawa.

Both Pottie and Karod think changes in diet and exercise habits and vitamin D deficiency may all contribute to those health problems.

Karod said that in Somalia, exercise is a part of everyday life.

Vitamin D is needed by the body to produce healthy bones. A deficiency in the vitamin can lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures in adults. In children, a deficiency can cause rickets, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities.

The vitamin is found in foods such as milk and fish, but the human body can produce its own vitamin D in much larger amounts if the skin is exposed to the sun's ultraviolet rays. People with paler skin require less sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D.

"The younger generation, they have so many sports," he said. "We have one of the best beaches in Africa, or maybe the world … The older generation, they walk a lot. That prevents a lot of the diseases that we are facing here in Canada or in Europe."

Fruit is cheap and easily available while fatty and sugary items popular in Canada are not.

Karod is also concerned about the role of vitamin D, which is produced by the human body in the presence of sunlight — something that is far more plentiful closer to the equator. People from countries like Somalia often have darker skin than the Canadian average, which makes it more difficult for them to produce vitamin D.

The vitamin is crucial to maintaining healthy bones, and vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to many other diseases such as schizophrenia and autism that are affecting immigrants from sunnier parts of the world in greater numbers.

Dozens of studies show that rates of schizophrenia increase as you move away from the equator, said Dennis Kinney, a Harvard University genetics researcher. Kinney and his collaborators analyzed 49 studies for larger patterns and noticed that the increase was most prevalent among people with lower fish consumption, higher infant mortality and darker skin.

Dr. Kevin Pottie said a lack of vitamin D has been associated with a lot of health problems, but diet, a lack of exercise and genetics may also play a role. (CBC)Their results, published in Schizophrenia Bulletin in 2009, are consistent with the hypothesis that vitamin D plays a role, Kinney said.

Some parallel studies in Sweden are looking into the very high rates of autism among Swedish children whose families are from sub-Saharan Africa, he said.

Both schizophrenia and autism are known to have a strong genetic component.

"It turns out that vitamin D plays an important role in the regulation and expression of hundreds of genes in the body," Kinney said. "It's also very important for protecting DNA against damage and then repairing it once it occurs."

He suggested that a shortage of vitamin D could lead to mutations in egg and sperm cells and could interfere in early brain development to boost the risk of autism and schizophrenia.

'That's the risk of saying everything is vitamin D — you could miss other diagnoses.'— Dr. Kevin Pottie
Pottie said vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to other mental illnesses such as depression, as well as breast cancer, colon cancer and heart disease.

"But a lot of the … evidence is really just association," he said. "There could be a lot of other things that are playing a role there … it could be a lack of exercise, diet or genetics."

Immigrants' struggles to find a job, the stress of being separated from their families and social support networks could also have a major impact, Pottie said.

"That's the risk of saying everything is vitamin D — you could miss other diagnoses," he said.
Nevertheless, he does recommend that his darker-skinned patients take a vitamin D supplement.

Karod acknowledged that immigrant communities such as his need to make people aware of the benefits of taking supplements to boost their vitamin D levels, especially before pregnancy.

About 100 Somali-Canadian children and teenagers in Ottawa are being mentored in sports such as skating and skiing this winter. Karod said Ottawa's Somali community is also working to address other factors that could play a role.

When it comes to mental illness, Karod acknowledged that cultural barriers must also be addressed.
"It is taboo in the Somali community that your child has … depression," he said.

It is important to teach parents the symptoms to ensure their children get treatment if they do suffer from mental illness.

"We're understanding now there is issues we have to deal with as a community," Karod said. "Do we need help? Yes, we need help."

The Somali Centre for Family Services is already seeing the fruits of some of its efforts. It runs recreational programs for youth every weekend, encouraging them to exercise by playing basketball and soccer — and even participating in "Canadian sports" like skiing and skating, Karod said.
More than 100 youth are being mentored in those sports this winter.

"And now it's becoming popular," Karod said. "Now, [even] the fathers are starting doing those sports."

***************************

So... You thought it would be easy to come up here and live like Canadians, huh? I realize more than anyone that we're not a country that's in tip-top shape. Truth of the matter is, we and the Yanks are pretty close when it comes to having retardedly fat people by the score. But with that fact having been acknowledged, we're also a very tough and hardy breed of people. The country makes us so. Ask the Taliban about that...

So all you 'Gimme-grants' best suck it up and grab a helmet. It's a tough run up here in Canukistan...

Monday, February 15, 2010

On mandatory safety equipment for boats...


I have just got off a rather lengthy call with some moron from the West Coast. It sems this lad went out and got ticketed by the RCMP out there, for wearing a Mustang floater jacket which had been approved by the USCG (obviously bought in the States), but not by our lads up here in Canukistan.


So idiot-child here begins the conversation by lying to me. He tells me that he was ticketed for wearing an American-approved Mustang floater jacket. He's asking me if I know what that is, if I'm familiar with the Mustang products. (I was wearing Mustang jackets on the upper decks, in the North Atlantic, when he was still sperm...). I didn't mention my years of military service, but I did admit that I was familiar with their jackets.


I told him out of hand that I had a very hard time believing that he was ticketed for wearing a US-approved floater jacket. I then explained the Small Vessel Regulations to him, particularily the part where it mentions lifesaving equipment, such as lifejackets and PFDs. I advised him that nowhere in any regulation, did it state or even imply, that an individual could be charged and/or fined for wearing an American piece of lifesaving equipment. "Well you'd better advise the police out here about that then", says he. "Apparently they don't know the regulations...".


I then informed him that the regulations DID state however, that if he DIDN'T HAVE a Canadian-approved lifejacket or PFD for every person on his vessel, that he WOULD be liable to a fine. "So, what I am telling you, Sir... is that contrary to what you have been trying to make me believe, if you were in fact charged, it was NOT because you were wearing an American floater jacket... It was because you DIDN'T HAVE a Canadian-approved lifejacket onboard your boat!"


"There is a world of difference between these two statements", I advised him. Then he starts on with this whining lament that it's all the same thing. "Six of one, a half-dozen of another", I believe he said. That Mustang sells this very same jacket here in Canada... that there is only one number's difference in the stock number of the jacket... that this jacket that is legal in the US should be legal here in Canada as well.


I asked him: "And does this Mustang floater jacket of yours have the tag which states that it has been approved for use here in Canada, by either Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard or Fisheries and Oceans Canada...?"


"Well... no. But it's the same jacket!!!"


"That is not what I asked you, Sir", I countered.


"And are you aware, word for word, of what the regulation from the Small Vessel Regulations (Canada Shipping Act) states?", I queried. 


Not waiting for him to respond, I continued: "That every vessel is required to carry one personal flotation device or lifejacket of appropriate size, for each person on board.

These items must meet the standards as set out in Schedule III.

Schedule III of the Small Vessel Regulations.

EQUIPMENT STANDARDS

Lifejackets.

1. The standards for a small vessel lifejacket are those set out in Canadian General Standards Board standard CAN/CGSB-65.7-M88, Lifejackets, Inherently Buoyant Type.

1.1 The standards for a SOLAS type lifejacket and a standard lifejacket are the applicable standards that are set out in the table to section 121 of the Life Saving Equipment Regulations.

Personal Flotation Devices.

1.3 (1) Subject to subsection (2), the standards for a personal flotation device are those set out in

(a) Canadian General Standards Board standard CAN/CGSB-65.11-M88, Personal Flotation Devices; or

(b) Underwriters Laboratories standard UL 1180, Fully Inflatable Recreational Personal Flotation Devices, with the Canadian addendum.

(2) The standards for a personal flotation device intended for use by children are those set out in Canadian General Standards Board standard CAN/CGSB-65.15-M88, Personal Flotation Devices for Children."

"So... You Sir, are in fact NOT looking for information on the rules and regulations which pertain to boating in Canadian waters", I paraphrased. "Rather you are looking for me to agree with you in declaring that these long-standing rules and regulations are nonsensical, simply based on the fact that you chose not to acknowledge or abide by the letter of the law, which I must point out, is absolutely crystal clear.


" "Yes I know that", he says... "But you must see my point, don't you?", he pleaded.

"Absolutely not", I replied.

Once more, he launched into a tirade about how if a plane was found safe to operate by the FAA, that we here in Canada would 'rubber-stamp' it as safe also. He put forth the same argument regarding automobiles, throwing another bunch of thoroughly unimpressive acronyms at me. Clearly a case of: "If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with bullshit". "Aaaahh..." I mused to myself, "we have another idiot-savant here... but without the 'savant' part." Clearly this lad was unaware that such was not always the case with vehicles. Otherwise, we would not have the Registrar of Imported Vehicles.


We ARE our own country up here, you know.


"Sir, you're bringing up topics which are not germaine to our conversation", I said to bring him back on track. He was grasping at straws now, as he had been from the beginning.

Again I had to advise him, to my great delight, that there was to be no 'rubber stamp' for him. That his skewed West Coast, 'we-are-Americans-too' perception of how life was, did not necessarily make it so.


I even provided him with that very section of Transport Canada (Safety Equipment) that actually sets the standards for and approves life saving equipment which is required aboard commercial vessels and pleasure craft, so that they being the final authority, could basically repeat everything I had just told him.

Yes... his beef was actually with the folks at Mustang. They are the ones who decide which tag to sew into their products. Those which are destined for the US market, get the 'USCG approved' label. Those which are meant to be sold here in Canada? Well, they get the TC/CCG/DFO label.

Like I told him before we parted company, you don't have to WEAR your Canadian-approved lifejacket aboard your boat... but you'd better have one there. It's zero tolerance and $200.00 per infraction. And ignorance of the law (or just plain ignorance...), is no excuse. No matter what you happen to think...

You have fun paying that fine, now...

Indian cuisine... Good and better.


I had planned to avoid the Valentines Day crush and so was going to schedule a nice romantic supper for 2 at the Sitar Restaurant, but on Monday evening... the 15th. Now this would have worked, as I was finishing at 2000hrs and didn't necessarily mind a later supper, if it meant having it in peace and quiet. This idea did not fly with my other half, however. Too late in the day for an actual meal, apparently...

So, it was decided on the fly that we would beat the odds and show up just as the restaurant opened that evening, which would be around 1700hrs. Now The Sitar, which is located at 417 Rideau Street in Ottawa, is by far my significant other's favourite restaurant. Now, if I have learned ANYTHING from our 12 1/2 years together, it is this:
- Black socks (or any socks...) do not necessarily look okay when worn with sandals; and
- Indian food is her very favourite food in the world.
So like I said, The Sitar is her favourite of all Indian restaurants. It is this, because of several reasons, not the least of which being the wonderful quality of the food served there. Their menu items are authentically Indian, they are fresh and they constitute the best Indian food to be found anywhere in Ottawa. The variety available is actually surprising. My spouse has been frequenting this restaurant for the last 13 years now. Myself...? The last 10 years. So when I read critiques on this restaurant, written by people who "just happened to be passing through town from Toronto", I tend to take what they have to say not with a grain of salt, but with a bagfull. Like you could critique any restaurant based on a single, hasty visit.

At any rate, we arrived very soon after opening and there was a single couple seated when we arrived. We had managed to snag an ideal parking spot right outside the front door. Truly, it was our evening. We sat at our usual table for two, right by the fish tank. I was somewhat taken aback to note that the two huge oscar fish that normally inhabited the tank, were now gone. So were the white, irridescent scaled smaller fish, with the barbels and crowns that looked as though they had suffered a John F. Kennedy head-shot, as seen on the Zapruder film. They had been replaced by three much smaller oscar fish. In the background, Indian music played softly, unobtrusively.

We took our seats and were soon served a papadum along with our water. My spouse put in her order for a glass of their white house wine and I ordered a coffee. We had been sitting probably 15 minutes, when the owner came to our table. He greeted us effusively, stating that it had been some time since he had last had the pleasure of seeing us. We informed him that we had moved some time ago and did not stray into town too often. My wife went on to state that she had been missing their fare, which she regularly describes as "her favourite food in the whole world". He thanked her for the compliment and took our order. He informed my wife that his wife would be along shortly. She was happy to hear this as she truly enjoyed talking with her and probably above all, really enjoyed seeing what she would be wearing on any particular day.
The owner's wife was truly from the old country and she dressed the part to the nines. She always wore the most beautiful saris and accessories. Her jewelry pieces were normally nothing less than stunning. She was elegant, soft-spoken and gracious. She floated over to our table, much to my wife's delight. She looked wonderful dressed in a fiery red, gold and black print. She also had a pair of the most ornate earrings I have ever seen. My spouse and her share a sort of mutual-admiration society thing, where my wife will effuse over our hostess' latest costume and accessories. She in turn, will carry on over how gracious and complimentary my wife is.
We have eaten at various other Indian food restaurants true enough and they were all good, mind you. But they just couldn't compare with The Sitar. I will be the very first to admit that if you're in a hurry, The Sitar might not be for you. Once your order is placed, you can reasonably expect your meal in about a half-hour. If you are waiting for the bill once you've finished your meal, by all means go see them at the cash, if you're pressed for time. I often will, if I feel like leaving. It's just that simple. Their being on a different timetable than I am, does not constitute "bad service". I far prefer this to a restaurant where the staff 'hover' around your table like so many fruit flies, just waiting to rush you out so the next paying customer may be seated in your still-warm booth.

The Rangoli in Orleans...? Wonderful food. The service is great, the staff, very pleasant. But the vibe is not the same, even though you will often find Indians thronging there for a 'real taste of home'. For my honey's taste, it's too 'westernized'. We discussed this as we sat waiting for our order. If you were going to operate an ethnic eatery, wouldn't you want to convey to your customers, the complete experience? Or would you simply settle for serving Indian dishes against a thoroughly North-American backdrop? Clearly, some people (us included) seem to prefer the former of the two.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tempting fate on the Nootka Trail...


It was some time ago that I wrote an entry into the blog, describing how many of the worse ideas ever conceived, began with someone suddenly exclaiming: "Hey... I know what...". The e-mail we received this morning has that certain air of 'doe-eyed Darwinism' about it, as many 'not-really-well-thought-out-plans' have. The goal is lofty, the proposal ambitious and the reason...? Just to prove a point.

Read on and see if you can spot the possible deficiencies in this planned outing:

February 10, 2010

Canadian Coast Guard

"To Whom It May Concern,

In late May 2010 a group of 9 hikers is embarking on an expedition we are calling '****** ** ******'. In summary, this expedition is based on a paraplegic's goal to prove that her disability is not an inability. Along with ********* ******** (the paraplegic) is her sister (myself), a photographer, a nurse, and 5 other individuals with a wealth of technical training and coastal outdoor experience.

We are currently at the stage of developing an Emergency Response Plan for any situations we may encounter on our trip that are outside our scope of control. There is no cellular service along the trail but we will, of course, be carrying with us a marine radio.

This note is to request the protocol that we should be following given the unique nature of our trip. I assume that there is a Coast Guard Station at Yuquot/Friendly Cove whom we should be contacting upon our departure and return? If so, how can I go about contacting that particular station and what information will they require?

Thank you for taking the time to read my inquiry and I look forward to your response. You can reach me at the email address or phone number supplied below.

Kind Regards,

******* ********."

*********************************

After doing some very cursory research on the Nootka Trail, I found the following highlights:

"This is not a hike for the faint of heart. In good weather, if things go right (and with all your limbs), it is medium difficulty. If you have problems, you are a long way from civilization. You need buy or rent a marine VHF radio in case of emergency.

- hikers have died on the West Coast Trail and they could die on this hike just as easily
- rogue waves and tides pose the greatest hazard
- river crossings can be very dangerous after rain — especially Beano Creek and Tidal Lagoon. Wait until water level drops before crossing.
- slippery footing causes almost everyone to fall multiple times
- few finish this adventure without at least minor injuries
- emergency phone at the William place in Yuquot. He can call in an Air Nootka plane for a small docking fee.
- this is not a good hike for those who have never done a long multi-day trip
- not pristine Canadian wilderness, the coast has been much degraded by logging.
- each year the beaches get more littered — many hikers have called it "filthy"
- you must carry your own pack
- miserably exposed, rain and wind is the norm. You need a good tent and tarp.
- consider wearing water walking shoes instead of hiking boots
- risk of hypothermia
- few pit toilets en route
- bring rope to hang food from trees, away from animals
- most hikers see black bears on this trek (there are no grizzly bears on Vancouver Island)
- many hikers see wolves, as well
- you need to be bear savvy to do this hike"

There is probably nothing that starts off the sinister music in the background faster, than a foray into bear country by someone who is disabled in some way. Ever seen the movie "Prophecy"...? (John Frankenheimer, circa 1979). And this is without taking into account all the other variables of such an undertaking. For the rest of her posse, hey... it's no sweat. They don't have to beat the bear, they just have to run a little faster than their handi-capable friend.

Secondly, is this person going to do the trail, or simply be hefted along like so much luggage by her mates? In that case, what's the point??? All you're doing is jeopardizing their safety for the sake of your own vanity and that's just wrong. You can't lay claim to having 'done the trail' either. It's like trailering your bike to an event. If you didn't ride it, you weren't there.
I have done some reading on this young woman and God love her, she really is one to push the envelope. And good for her for doing so. Nobody likes the idea of having limitations imposed on them, physical or otherwise. But you really have to learn to pick your battles.
Taking on nature is not like taking on someone who might feel badly for your condition. Nature is one big, politically incorrect bitch. It doesn't care that you're gimped up, or that you're trying to prove your worth as a human being to the world, or anyone else. (That is actually referred to as 'grandstanding', by the way...). Ma Nature will not take any pity on you whatsoever. It will very coldly and unceremoniously, kick your ass to the curb.

So... owing to the fact that these individuals will probably be traversing the Nootka Trail strictly on land, the Coast Guard will have nothing to do with them per se. The Coast Guard monitors Sail Plans as filed by people who are transiting Canadian waters by boat, yes. But not so much (at all) for hikers. Our office drafted them the following response, to ensure we were on the same page and to verify they had taken all relevant factors into consideration:

"Dear Ms. ********,

Thank you for your e-mail dated 10 February 2010, requesting information on the use of a marine VHF radio for your hiking expedition.

Unfortunately, you have not provided us with enough information to assist you. Does this proposed trek involve time on the water in a boat of any description? Or will the Nootka Trail take you uniquely over land? Does the proposed operator of this marine VHF radio hold a valid Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime)?

Are any of your hiking party members equipped with a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) and if so, are these registered with the Canadian Beacon Registry?

Are you looking for information on contacting the Canadian Coast Guard, or perhaps more appropriately a point of contact for local Search and Rescue services in the Pacific Region? Inland SAR services are not provided by the CCG, but rather by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centres across Canada.

Please send us more detailed information in order to help us better identify your needs.
Sincerely,

Us."

I for one will be very interested to see how all this pans out.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Goodbye, Captain Phil...


It was with genuine sorrow that I read of the passing of Capt. Phil Harris today. Capt. Phil was the skipper of the vessel Cornelia Marie, featured on the Discovery Channel's reality show: "The Deadliest Catch". Between his ship and the crews of other crab vessels (Northwestern, Time Bandit, Wizard, Incentive, Lisa Marie and the Trailblazer), they introduced the viewing public to the harsh and unforgiving world of commercial crabbing, in some of the world's most dangerous and unpredictable waters for mariners: the Bering Sea.

Capt. Phil was 53 years of age, when he succumbed to a massive heart attack, as his vessel offloaded it's catch of Alaskan crab at St.Paul's Island, Alaska. He was a constant on the show and was joined by his two sons Josh and Jake. There was never any mistaking who was the Master on that boat and Phil didn't play favorites. They were a humorous lot and the love they shared was evident. True to the breed, I have no doubt that Capt. Phil partied as hard as he worked. That's normally the way for those who "go down to the sea in ships". It's unfortunate that this lifestyle doesn't normally lead to a life of longevity.

I have not had the chance to watch the show in some time now, sad to say. Doubtless his presence will be greatly noted and deeply missed, by all those who have grown to love this show. My very heartfelt condolences go out to his family, his crew and those who knew him in real life.

Sail on, young man.

I wish you fair winds and following seas, always.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Some important info on MMSIs...


So we get this e-mail from a lad in Washington State. It seems he has a DSC-capable marine VHF radio, which in itself is a very good thing. His MMSI however, was not issued by the American FCC, but rather by a private corporation known as BoatUS. It's all legal and above-board, but when an American boater gets an MMSI through these folks, it is ONLY ENTERED INTO THE USCG DATABASE.

He wanted to know if he would be okay (if his MMSI would be recognized) should he sail up the coast into BC waters. In fact, his MMSI would not be recognized and would come back as 'invalid', should he attempt to activate his DSC system up here.

So, if a boater intends to use his vessel uniquely in American waters, he ought to be alright. Otherwise, he really ought to get an MMSI through the FCC, as these are entered not only into the USCG database, but also in the International Search and Rescue database (ISU).

Here in Canada, MMSIs are issued solely by the federal government (Industry Canada) and as such are instantly entered into the CCG's database and the International one. Why someone would decide to cut corners when it comes to a system that's designed to save your life at sea, is well beyond my scope of understanding.

Some wanker from 'across the pond'...


This Monday morning, we were greeted by the following e-mail in our Inbox:

From: Phlilip***
Sent: February 6, 2010 9:13 AM
To:Subject: Information please
"Hi,
Can you advise me please! I've booked flights and accommodation to Vancouver Island for September this year, yet when I tried to purchase an online fishing license for 5 days from the 9th September I was informed I could not proceed because the fishing season ended before my license expired!
This has come as a bit of a shock to me to say the least!
Is this correct!!
Regards,
Philip ***"

Dutifully, we replied to Mr. *** and provided him with a description of the activities performed by the regional *** offices in the Pacific Region and included address, phone and fax numbers, 2 e-mail addresses (including one which responds specifically to enquiries regarding licensing) and the Pacific Regional website. In brief, everything he could have possibly wanted to contact the proper regional authorities, who would best be able to answer any concerns or questions he might have, regarding his fishing license. Right...??? Right...!!!

Comes his reply this afternoon:

-----Original Message-----
From: Phlilip***

Sent: Tuesday, February 09, 2010 2:17 PM
To: ***, *** ***
Subject: RE: Information please

"In the UK we call a response like your ' the shunt' absolutely bloody useless."

Seriously...??? Well here in Canada, we call arrogant young upstarts like you 'the cunt'... also absolutely bloody useless.

There are a good many things I would have LIKED to have replied with... Like how the whole of the UK fits seven times within the Province of Québec alone... Like how we're not your personal bloody travel agency. Like how Canada is a mind-bogglingly big country and no, we don't all know one another on a first name basis. Like if I wanted any shit from him, I'd squeeze his head. The list goes on...
However, remaining absolutely professional as per the norm, I drafted the following:

Dear Mr. ***,

Thank you for your email dated 09 February 2010, requesting information on recreational fishing in the Pacific Region of Canada.

Unfortunately, since our General Enquiries service here in Ottawa, Ontario, some 4,000 miles distant from the Province of British Columbia, only offers basic information on the programs and services of ********* and ****** ****** / ******** ***** *****, we cannot provide the information you requested.

We have, however, forwarded you the specific contacts for the regional ********* and ****** ****** offices in British Columbia, which regulate both commercial and recreational fishing in that area of this country.

You are invited to contact those very same offices directly for any further information.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require additional assistance.

Sincerely,

Us.

This lad may claim to be a resident of the UK, but in the overall scheme of things, he sounds more American than anything else. I reckon 'fucking assholes' truly are a universal phenomenon... as if soccer hooliganism and the Brits' total inability to consume alcohol in any socially acceptable manner, hadn't already taught us that.