experts: real estate column Thursday, August 17, 2006

Summer Musings at Sea

Marty's adventures on a packet freighter on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

By Marty Douglas

As published in REM - independent news and opinion for Canada's real estate industry.

In my July 2004 REM column, I wrote: "Speaking of the future, will you be on the West Coast this summer? Planning a corporate retreat for the fall or next year? Let me plug the west coast's best and most economic cruise ship industry. Actually it's a packet freighter. Two of them - the MV Lady Rose and MV Frances Barkley, offering day trips from Port Alberni down the Alberni Inlet to Ucluelet, Bamfield and the Broken Islands.

"No whaling stations are in operation in B.C., which explains why the whales are doing so well. Today's whalers run rigid inflatables at 50 knots filled with tourists hoping for an orca or grey whale, but who will settle for a seal or dolphin. But if you want the slow boat towards China for you or your group, check out You wise men and women in the east should trade your Blackberry for a black bear even if just for a long weekend. We also have cougars - two and four-legged.

"Our company recently chartered the Lady Rose to carry us to Sechart Lodge on the edge of the Broken Islands Group for two days of sun and kayaking. Imagine a very high-end hostel for adults with a cook used to refueling high-energy paddlers at either end of the day. That's where we were, not what we did. I read, sipped wine, smoked a Cuban cigar and decided that these are indeed the best of times. On the second day I rested. Actually I was shamed into struggling into a kayak skirt and vessel, handed a paddle and led around a confusing array of islands I think they were trying to lose me.

At times like this I remember the George Herbert quote, "Living well is the best revenge."

Its two years later and our company has just returned from its annual outing to Sechart Lodge via the Lady Rose. Other than catching a well-known husband and wife team (names available on request, photos extra) in my room removing a light bulb (honest, thats not a euphemism!), not much happened the first night. (Apparently its some form of celebrity scavenger hunt and in the future on eBay you can expect to see the bulb that shone on Marty Douglas offered for sale.)

Rather than kayak, this year I sketched and burned in the sun. Watching kayakers made me thirsty beer time. Beer made me sleepy nap time. In the post-prandial torpor, world problem solvers gathered on the deck Afghanistan, Iraq, George Bush, the Da Vinci Codes view of Mary and Jesus and my personal favourite how to get the yellow dye out your hair by using purple shampoo.

Now that I'm on the nearer my God to thee if there is a God side of 60, Im amused by the antics of 40-somethings trying to keep up with 20-somethings: perhaps clinging to their youth, ignoring the wattles beneath chin and bicep, just not yet ready to embrace middle age. Me no choice but go the other way and hang out with 70-somethings and look like the youngster.

A question why do young people smoke? Yes, Ive had a cigar in the recent past but Im old and I can afford it. Smoking looks bad, smells bad, tastes bad, costs a fortune and, as an added bonus, it can kill you. Go figure.

The afternoon bocce tournament was something like agency make up the rules to suit the situation and hope no one complains. The crowd oohs and ahs on cue. More drinks are quaffed, apples munched. The buttery smell of sunscreen wraps around the tart whiff of lime for the Coronas. The foundations for hangovers of monumental proportions are being laid. And not much else.

But its a quiet night. An amateur game of Texas Holdem produces an early exit for me, called by my book to a quiet corner until it slips from my fingers for the third time. Must be the sunscreen.

On the cruise home, feeling a little overdone from sun and food, I contemplate exercise, as in a walk around the deck. The Lady Rose is 105 feet from stem to stern, so 26 times around is close to a mile. On my first half lap I tripped over extended feet, mooring lines and folding chairs and then was distracted by impressive legs, cleavage and drink offers. And those were just the guys.

Apparently, nature intended me to be more round than straight.

Marty Douglas is the sales manager for Coast Realty Group (Comox Valley) Ltd., one of nine Coast Realty Group offices on Vancouver Island. He is a past chair of the Real Estate Errors and Omissions Corporation of B.C., the Real Estate Council of B.C., the B.C. Real Estate Association and the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board. 1 800 715 3999; fax 250 897 3933. Email

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Recent Articles by this columnist:

Surviving in a slower market
Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The downside of teams
Saturday, October 02, 2010

Thank you, FINTRAC
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Snapshot of Alberta
Thursday, January 03, 2008

No song and dance for weighty housing issues
Monday, October 29, 2007

All articles by Marty Douglas

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MV Lady Rose

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