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Life on the water

Less is moor for Hank Vandyk who calls is 30 foot boat home.

It’s a sunny, but chilly morning as Hank Vandyk pours the coffee aboard his 30 foot Trojan, a wooden powerboat, he lives on most of the time. It’s moored at the Nanaimo City Marina. There’s frost on the docks, but a Newport heater keeps the boat very comfortable as Vandyk answers a few questions about the pros and cons of shipboard life. A light chop on Newcastle channel provides a slight rocking motion and occasional splash against the hull. The stern of the boat has been closed to add living space. Vandyk did most of the work himself, but the result looks like a shipyard quality and it isn’t obviously an addition. Extensive glass in attractive wood frames creates what a landlubber might call a solarium. “You can’t be a packrat," says Vandyk. “If you don’t use it, chuck it out. “ Looking around, there isn’t a whole lot of spare space on the other hand, everything you actually need is there. The cooking arrangements are compact. The single sink encourages you to wash up now instead of stacking dishes to soak. The boat's bathroom or “head “has a shower and the marina has showers. The boat is connected to shore power, water and telephone. Vandyk also has a fax machine and electronic piano in his main cabin. Below is the lounge, or sleeping area. Asked “why?” Live aboard, Vandyk wastes no time getting to the finances. The boat is paid for and the roughly $4.50 per foot per month moorage fee is not a budget buster it. But, of course, he could park a 30 foot trailer or RV for about the same and a few of the complications. So there’s has to be more to it. “I was born on a boat in Holland, says Vandyk." "I spent a lot of my life on everything from canoes to houseboats. If feels natural to be floating. “ Floating – maybe that’s it. Buoyant. The boat is in motion even though it isn’t going anywhere. It’s an experience in itself. Not that Vandyk's boat spends all its time tied up. He isn’t enthusiastic about the floating homes found at False Creek. They're deluxe but when Vandyk is having one of those days it only takes a few minutes to disconnect and head over to another location. Mark Bay is a favourite place to anchor. It’s just a few minutes away, but unless you’re a fugitive from justice no one is going to bother you there. However, once you start anchoring rather than just tying up, you have to know what you’re doing, he cautions. “If the water is 30 feet deep you need a minimum of five times that much anchor line out with about 10 feet of chain at the anchor." The idea is that the boat tugs the anchor sideways across the bottom, not up. Even with his experience, Vandyk's boat once lost its grip. A very high tide raised the line and gust of wind made the boat jerk the anchor free. The Harbour Patrol brought it in and undamaged, no charge. Vandyk wants it on the record that the Harbour Patrol are “good guys “who keep an eye on things but aren’t out to ticket you. “ He adds that even if you spend a lot of time at the dockside you need to be “handy” and get interested in the boat systems. During the interview, a neighbour dropped by wondering if Vandyk has a certain size hose clamp. He quickly produces a ring with a dozen varied clamps. Last month the same neighbour helped Vandyk with an engine problem. The closest comparison on land is farm life; your neighbour maybe half a mile away but if you need help, he’s ready. Vandyk enjoys the activity on the dock until he want some solitude. Then he casts off and gets some real solitude. Now with the collapse of the fishery, some solid boats with potential have become available for a decent price. It’s something to think about….

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