This week on Offshore

I haven’t done one of these posts in awhile. It was prompted by a sudden recollection of running into a Japanese pop duo performing whilst a friend and I were wandering a mall during our weeks of being stranded in Okinawa – 3 years ago this week (I remember because it was around Valentine’s Day when we were in the mall… they were into Valentine’s Day in a big way in Japan). Then I wondered, what else happened this week on Offshore?

We finally left the Island of Okinawa and the wonders of its shopping streets. Crossing the South China Sea and experiencing a series of mishaps: snapping a fore stay, breaking the stove, and exploding anchor winch hydraulic lines, we finally ran up Chinese colours and entered the Yangtze River. There were possibly more boats than we’d seen all at once in months (or ever) and the banks of the Yangtze and Huangpo rivers were overloaded with boats and buildings, garbage and miscellaneous detritus. Finally, we were able to dock in Shanghai with a stunning view of Pudong.


I have been associated with SALTS, the Sail and Life Training Society, for over ten years now. My first trip was a three-day coastal voyage in high school. I’ve been on board nearly every year since then. For two years, I worked for SALTS in the position of cook. Coastally, I’ve sailed all around the Gulf Islands and Sunshine Coast/Desolation Sound as well as circumnavigating Vancouver Island at least once. Offshore, we circumnavigated the Pacific Ocean: Hawaii, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, China, Japan… I lived and breathed SALTS for those two years – at times literally never leaving the boat for weeks on end (the longest passage we had was 30+ days without sighting land). I had to miss sailing with them this summer because of school, but I am looking forward to getting back on the water next season. It is hard work, but it is some of the most rewarding work one can ever do. Enjoy the short video. If you watch closely, you might pick me out once or twice in the offshore footage at the end.

Power and Authority

Today was good. I accomplished things: 4 chapters of anatomy, 2.5 hours studying chemistry, and 1 chapter of philosophy. I made Pad Thai for dinner and proceeded to eat far too much of it at dinner and just ate most of the leftovers when I got home half an hour ago. I have no self-control. I also listened to a cd I just got over and over and over again. It is by a former offshore trainee who sailed with us on leg 1. She would sing both the hold and foc’s’le to sleep every night with her songs and listening to it brought back great memories of her singing.

I also got to meet up with some friends I haven’t seen in ages tonight. The IVCF group on campus shifted their weekly meeting from Friday night to Thursday night (which meant I couldn’t go, not that I’ve been going to the Friday meetings either) and a good friend was speaking about her experiences in China. We first went to China together three years ago on the Global Partnership and she has been back twice, most recently for nearly a year. I couldn’t go to the meeting for reasons I’ll explain in a minute, but I met up with some of them at Tim Horton’s afterwards. Now that I’ve reconnected, hopefully I’ll be able to see some more of these girls again. We did Bible Study together during my two years at UVic and were on the IVCF leadership team together, and…

The reason I couldn’t go to the IVCF meeting tonight was that Tony Campolo was in town tonight and speaking at a church downtown. I believe he will be at Missionsfest in Vancouver this weekend. He was here on behalf of World Vision Canada so there was the usual push to sponsor a child, however what he had to say went much deeper than that. He started off talking about our inner spirituality (for lack of a better term or Campolo’s eloquence) and the importance of taking time to just be in God. That resonated because that is what I’ve been trying to accomplish over the last couple weeks. He talked about prayer and sitting in prayer, free of distractions and, again being.

He went on to bring things to a larger scale and challenged us that real change does not happen by us electing a “Christian” political party or having the right lobby groups or anything that we may be able to accomplish politically. Jesus didn’t chose to work that way, he was offered political power and rejected it. He was offered economic power and he rejected that too. (See Matthew 4.) What he did do was bring about a radical change through living sacrificially. And he had authority as a result. Power and authority: two very different things. One is commanded, the other is out of respect.

Where are we as the church? Do we try and command power by having people high up in the political proceedings or is our authority respected because of our track record for feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, giving shelter to those who need it, and visiting the sick. I don’t think that many churches could claim to have the kind of authority and respect that we should. We should be at the forefront of social justice but often we are too concerned with maintaining our building and declining memberships. What would it take for us to get back to a place of living sacrificially? I suppose, it is done as Mother Teresa said when asked how she was going to save the tens of thousands of kids on the streets of Calcutta: one person at a time.

The Children of Huang Shi

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon yesterday when our professional development day for work ended.  I decided, since it was a nice day, to walk home.  
When walking to and from downtown Victoria, I usually try to think of alternate routes to take so as to avoid Shelbourne because that street is quite busy and boring.  I ended up detouring up Richmond then Henderson to go to UVic because I vaguely remembered that Cinecenta, the UVic theatre was playing a movie I thought looked interesting.  I ended up arriving half an hour before showtime and was able to get a student discount, so in I went.
It turned out to be one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.  Set in China in 1937 (Massacre at Nanjing), the movie is based on the true story of British journalist George Hogg.  Hogg ends up taking care of about 50 chinese orphans at a camp north of Nanjing and eventually decides to move them all as the Japanese army draws closer.  These kids, with only push carts, walk 1000 miles to the desert in western China (200 miles past Lanzhou) to escape the approaching war.  While the story of Hogg is the main focus, one gets and idea of the three-way tensions that existed between the Communists, the Nationalists, and the Japanese.  
I thought the movie was really well done.  I found the story of this guy and the kids profoundly moving.  Shot on location in China for much of it, the scenery is absolutely spectacular.  It tugged at my heart and made me want to go back to China again.

Here to there and a bit of everywhere

Well, I`m back in Japan… Hiroshima of all places, to be exact. We arrived yesterday afternoon after a relatively flat passage from Shanghai. Which, is probably where I need to start because, well, its been awhile. I pretty much avoided Internet in China because of censorship (yay for not being able to get to my favourite news sites or anyone`s blog) and because net cafes there are smokier than a European bar if you know what I mean.

So… we left Okinawa on Valentines Day and, strangely enough, I was cooking. We arrived into Shanghai 4 days later after having everything go wrong (stove didn`t work one day, broke the thing holding one of the forestays up another which could have cost us a mast or two if the weather had been rougher, and broke the hydraulic line the night before arriving in Shanghai meaning our wonderful trainees and crew were up all night winching the anchor up by hand. I woke up and turned on the stove and made hot chocolate. Katie slept through the whole thing: she`s a good sleeper.) and sailed up the Yangtze River. It was grey, and dirty, and cold…

Ilya, Chris, Kara, Rachael, Sarah, and Elske cuddle to keep warm… we all look so spiffy in our crew uniforms which we have to wear arriving in any port. Now all we need are crew issue parkas, toques, and mittens for the next time we have such cold legs on Offshore!

Our poor pilot was freezing… I think he`s used to bigger boats with heated bridges.

Speaking of bridges, we passed under a cool bridge…

And suddenly, there was the skyline we had heard all about and were waiting to see…

The requisite Chinese men were there to stare at us as we came in. Apparently we look strange or something. You`d have thought they had never seen a tall ship crewed by white people before. Oh wait… we are a bit of a novelty everywhere we go. One gets used to a cool boat when it is your home!

And the local newspaper was there to take pictures (the photo is by Mr. Lu)

Then, we discovered that we had a sweet view from where we were docked.

By day…

…and by night… (yes, I was standing on deck when I took this one!)

I spent the day wandering around the area near the boat, saw narrow roads that reminded me more of China than the towering skyline of Pudong we could see from the boat.

I found the requisite markets, complete with animals, alive or dead. Unfortunately the alive ones (chickens, roosters, and ducks in this case) were crammed into ridiculously small cages)
And I also found a small Buddhist temple really close to the boat. I was the only white person, the only `tourist` there really. It was two days before lantern festival, the last day of spring festival or Chinese New Year, so the place was all decked out still and there were lots of people working their way around praying to all the various Buddhas. The smell of incense was, at times, overpowering, and its smoke filled the entire courtyard.
That night, I left to Beijing, the adventures of which the first 36hours or so were recounted for the log and posted here last.
So, the photos must follow…

The Train…
Picture 1: From the top bunk looking down, waaaay down. (Susan`s hand on top of Jose`s face, Antony and Sarah Luty bottom bunk left, Sarah Brizan in the green bandana…)
Picture 2: The corridor

Beijing… ICE!The Forbidden CityTienanmen Square
The amazingness of the night market…!

And, the Peking Opera!

Then it was off to the Great Wall for us! The four of us took a day package through our hostel that drove us up to Jingshanling section of the wall where we hiked roughly 10km along the wall to the Simatai section. Can I just say amazing! Probably the best wall I`ve done yet (and I`ve now been to 4 sections of the wall). About a third of the way in, the restored section ended and all of a sudden we found ourselves walking along a wall with no side walls and half the steps missing. It was a bit sketchy at times, but so dramatic. The wall is literally perched on mountain tops all along and in some places, the drop is almost straight down at least a couple hundred feet. Some of the classic shots you see of the Great Wall I am convinced come from here: we could see it snaking along the hills for miles.

(no kidding, eh? Some what was being cheeky!)

Then it was back home that night, Lantern Festival (after a quick stop at the night market once again!) for Sarah B and I. This time we were in the pure luxury of the soft sleeper compartment!

The post Beijing exploring of Shanghai will have to come at a later date. I`ve spent two hours on this already!

I do need to send out some big thank yous for mail: Thanks Jen, Lynne, and Nancy for the card in Shanghai, also Dad and Colleen for the package and Nancy for the letter. The newspaper clipping are being cycled through being posted on the crew head door as our sitting reading material. Now that its cooler, we don`t mind spending time in the head, its a little cooler now! Thanks to Bev for the card and to Jen for the letter and clippings as well. In Hiroshima, thanks to Nancy and Remi for letters and cards and clippings so far! The bodyless feet article is currently in the head…! Jen, Kelsey, and Adam, holy cow that was an amazing package and to whom do I owe the thanks for the stunning (and oh so becoming) yellow pants?!? Tav, the chocolate and mangos in the package to the crew were inspired genius.