Things Aren’t Always As They Seem


“Hold things lightly.”   ~ Barbara Mark, PhD.

David woke me up early Tuesday morning, and proclaimed there was a window in the weather perfect for a trip in the skiff to Port Hardy. It looked very mild out: there was a bit of sun, a light breeze, and no whitecaps in Christie Pass or across it on Balaklava Island. We packed ourselves up, shopping bags, coolers and empty gas cans on board, and headed out of the cove.

As we rounded the nearest point at Duck Bay and began to head south, the motor started coughing oddly. Then it sputtered out completely. Each time the key was turned, the engine would turn over, and then sputter and die. “There’s water in the gas,” David said.

Things aren’t always as they seem.

With the uncooperative motor, we paddled and rowed to the nearest shore, not far from Duck Bay, where we knew there to be a trail back to the house. I would stay with the skiff while David took an empty gas canister back to the dock for a fresh refill. We’d swap out the gas and continue with our plan to get to Pt. Hardy.

Hold things lightly.

We found a spot deep enough for the skiff on all sides, a spot that looked calm and relatively safe, and tied a rope very loosely to a rocky outcrop. David jumped out, scrambled up the rocks, dropped his life vest, and ran into the woods.

Things aren’t always as they seem.

The tide started coming in. The configuration of the rocks caused the water to surge forward, pulling the skiff toward and onto the rocks, and then abruptly pulling it back and away. I pulled the gaff from the bottom of the skiff and tried to steady myself and the boat against the rocks and the erratic pull of the waves by holding the side hook on the rock. Naturally, a stream of worries clouded my thinking: What if I lose the grip on the rock? What if one side of the skiff gets stuck on the rocks, and I tip over? Or if a wave hits the skiff so hard that the rocks punch a hole in the side? Could the tide rise so fast that it sweeps David’s life vest into the waves? What if David slips on the trail to or from the house and gets knocked out?

Hold things lightly.

I found that a loose grip on the gaff combined with a relaxed posture with bent knees, and the universal lesson of relaxing into the motion of the waves, kept me and the skiff both near the rocks, but not on them. I took deep breaths, and mindfully watched my train of worries go by without believing them to be true. David came back in 20 or so minutes. We emptied the gas from the tank and then refilled it, and listened as the motor turned over and died, repeatedly.

Things aren’t always as they seem.

We rowed and paddled the half mile back to the dock. Turns out that neither the gas nor the motor had water in it. David had added gasoline to the tank intended for the chainsaw (there’s oil mixed in), and it kept the fancy Honda outboard from running properly, or at all. Later that evening, after the motor was working again and David said we’d try again in the morning, I asked him why he was so committed to the trip to Port Hardy. “We’re almost out of treats, and besides,” he said, finally uttering the truth, “it is a big adventure I want to have.”

Hold things lightly.

As we prepared to head out on Wednesday morning, we noted conflicting wind and wave reports, so we called our host, Bill, in Vancouver. We learned that looking out over our “front yard” and even into Christie Pass toward Balaklava Island wasn’t ever half the picture about what to expect. The wind and wave reports were underscoring bad weather we couldn’t see but would encounter as we neared Port Hardy.

Things aren’t always as they seem.

He strongly discouraged our adventure.

Hold things lightly.

Later that evening, which was mild and clear, and the sky overhead was filled with stars, we wandered down the dock to get a few things we’d left in the skiff. Looking off the dock into the water with a headlamp, I saw the distinct shape of a flounder on the bottom. This was an exciting find, and David went to get his fishing rod and lure. A few minutes later, after he had waved the rubber squid at the end of his line near the fish, we laughed. The flounder was actually a patch of seaweed, deceptively configured into the unique shape of a flounder.

Things are not always as they seem, hold them lightly.



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3 thoughts on “Things Aren’t Always As They Seem

  1. Dear Susie and David,

    You are now my heroes!!! Your Mother sent me your blog, and I’m addicted. Such fun and such courage, I’m in awe!… Keep having wonderful adventures.

    My ‘adventures’ with your Mother are so tame in comparison…. However, we’ll muddle on, and make our next Camino trip in April.

    My very best



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