Man oh man; it’s been ages since I’ve been out chasing the boys around. As some of you know I’ve been laid up the past year or so with an illness. Painting, sketching and blogging have been sporadic at best as every time I started anything this past year my energy tanked on me. But thanks to the great tugboat in the sky my energy seems to be returning with gusto. So today I am so thankful that I was able to finished not one but two paintings.
This one is for a friend of mine who is also going through an illness. I painted it for her because she has a special fondness for the deckhand.
To celebrate this grand achievement I decided to pull my spider-web encrusted bike out of the shed and head down to the upper harbour to have a good gawk around. It didn’t take me long to come across the LaFarge gravel barge that the Tug “Storm Spray” ties up under the Bay street bridge. The setting sun was lighting it up pretty good. So I pulled my bike off the path and yanked it into the bushes, pushed some broken beer bottles off a rock and took out my sketch book and got right down to work.
Sometime during the night or early morning the large masted “Storm Spray” drops off a load of gravel a couple times a week. I think it works that way but I am not 100% sure as I’ve never actually seen him come into the harbour. I’ve only seen this blue, white and red Tug leave town and it’s always after 6 pm as the bridge guy can’t lift the bridge up for them until after rush hour is over. The gravel unloading guy with his blue hardhat and his orangey-yellow loader takes most of the day to unload the barge. The loader bounces along and beeps back and forth as it scoops the gravel up and places it onto the dented blue conveyor belt. Sometimes I have noticed that the barge is sitting empty before 4 pm. So I’ve assumed that the boys are still napping over by Point Hope. That’s why I think they might travel during the night to get here from somewhere on the mainland. If I could get closer to the tug I’d probably be able to figure it all out but since the shipyards is off limits to me and the tug is tied in behind the docks I have no idea what’s going on.
Holy smoking tugboats! what the heck is that in the water? I looked up to see this snake-like creature slithering along the top of the water heading towards the bridge. I couldn’t tell if it was an overstuffed seal or an extra-long otter on steroids. By the time I was able to grab the camera and shoot a photo it was already in the shadow of the bridge. Whatever it is it seems to be taking a joyful sight-seeing trip. His nose pointed sky-word like an Ivy League snob and his ears were sticking up like an evil llama’s just before it spits on you. As his head loped from side to side he cut though the dark green water sending up twinkling lines of fluorescent red trails.
The last of the mauve tinge in the water was disappearing and my bones were shaking cold, so I decided it was time to head home and cook something hot. Darn bike! I complained as I tried to yank it out of the bushes and back unto the path. Oh no! Am I going to make it home? I crossed my legs to hold off nature while putting my camera and stuff back in my bag. I looked up and saw the “Storm Spray” snuggling up to the lime green barge. Already nimble deckhands were jumping from tug to barge scrambling up ladders getting ready to tackle the job at hand. Not now! Oh please not now!
The next 20 minutes I spent charging after tug and barge through the upper, inner and out of the mouth of the harbour. My spine tingled as “Captain Spray” blasted his horn multiple times and the vocal deckhand yelled out the window at the kayakers in his way. It all brought back entertaining memories of when ‘Dave on the Inlet Rover’ would stand on top of his tug with controls in hand shouting four letter words to anyone brave enough to get in his way.
The Storm Spray use to be yellow in a former life. Then it was called the Evco Spray. It was the first tug I ever painted in the painting “In the Wake of Joe Norris”. So this is the tug that started this whole crazy life for me.
The working harbour brings joy into my life. The clanking, grinding, thumping of barge’s moving and the huffing, puffing of tug’s rolling moves my blood from head to toe. Being able to paint what I feel deep inside is my greatest joy. Victoria’ working harbour is changing far too rapidly. I feel called to record these images of the working boys so that they are not forgotten in the future. Sometimes we don’t know what we have until it is no longer with us and then when it is too late we realise how foolish we were to let it all slip away.
So my good friends until my next energy burst.
Good sketching and happy tug boating,