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Voyages North
To Alaska - Without Jigger
Elsie Hulsizer
05/22/2015, Posted at Port McNeill

Photo: Did Jigger sail off into the sunset?

I scrambled up the steep hillside on the trail at Lagoon Cove, enjoying a brief respite from the last few days of pushing north. Sunlight filtered through the alders, lighting new-leafed ferns on the forest floor. Then I spied a clump of wide-bladed green grass. I should pick it I thought; it is just the type of grass Jigger, our cat, likes us to bring back to him when we're cruising. I imagined his little meow of happiness when he saw the grass in my hand. Then I remembered with a jolt; Jigger was not with us. We'd had to leave on our 6th trip to SE Alaska without our boat cat. I had grown so used to having him with us it was hard to break the habits of 13 years.

A week before we were due to leave, Steve let Jigger out the front door at 3 am - as he often did. Normally, Jigger would have been back by breakfast, waiting to come in with the newspaper. He never appeared. We put up posters, talked to the neighbors, put an ad on craigslist. But although we met a lot of friendly neighbors, including some who had seen large black cats that might have been Jigger, we never found him. Reluctantly we left Seattle. Our house sitters are still watching for him but with each passing day, the odds are less. We don't know what happened. Did a coyote get him? Did he wander too far and get lost?

Jigger was an exceptionally good boat cat. When we started the engine in the morning to raise anchor, it was his signal to hop up onto the cabin roof next to the chart plotter. When the weather got rough, he'd disappear below to this bunk for the duration. When we were at anchor, he'd sit on top of the dodger, surveying the anchorage. In the evening he'd curl up on one of our laps as we read. And always, when we came back to the boat, he was there to greet us, meowing in protest at our temerity in leaving him. Without him the boat seems empty and way too quiet.

In my imagination - and in the book I have been writing, Jigger the Cat Sails to Alaska - Jigger was always having adventures. He rode an iceberg, escaped a bear, fought a crab and danced with totem poles in the moonlight. I like to think that wherever Jigger is, he's having a grand adventure. But if you see him, please send him home.

05/22/2015 | Sharon Morris
It's even hard for me to imagine the Osprey sailing north without Jigger, and I only experienced it through Elsie's book. The only solace is that once the book comes out many children and adults will be able to enjoy Jigger's adventures.
05/24/2015 | Al Cantrell
We're glad the trip is going well, sans Jigger. We're so sorry about Jigger!
Al & Emily
05/24/2015 | Vivian Strolis
I just could not believe my eyes when I read that Jigger was not onboard and I so hope that when you return at the end of summer he will be waiting for you. I have so enjoyed your writing about Jigger and it is heart breaking to know you are without your wonderful cat.

Have a good trip and I'll cross my fingers for his return.
A Renaming Ceremony. May 9, 2015.
Elsie Hulsizer

Photo: Renaming Saila-V to Kathleen

We walked down the dock to the rhythmic thumping of Steve's drum, Steve in his northwest native hat and wearing his copper pendant, I with my west-wind charm and my wild woman T-shirt carrying a carved bowl of blueberries. It was Saturday noon and boaters out working on their boats dropped paintbrushes and tools to watch us.

"What's the occasion?" one of them asked us.
"Renaming ceremony."
"Oh, sounds like fun." He went back to his work. Apparently, it wasn't too outrageous to do a renaming ceremony in Northwest Native garb.

When our friends Rob Fox and Karen Laemme invited us to the renaming ceremony of their Cal 39 - and asked Steve to officiate - we were honored. But then, Rob asked if there was anything we needed for priestly garb. Priestly garb? I was mystified. A Neptune outfit perhaps, but we didn't have anything like that.

The morning of the ceremony, Steve announced he'd figured it out. "I consulted with Neptune, Jupiter and Poseidon," he told me. "They said their jurisdiction extended only to the Mediterranean. Then I asked Odin, father of the Norse gods, Thor and Njord. He assured me they only controlled the north Atlantic. Then I talked to the Northwest spirits, who agreed they controlled the north Pacific, but since they didn't have a written language, I could do it in English." With Steve wearing a Haida hat and copper pendant and carrying a Tsimshian drum and me wearing a Nuu-chah-nulth west-wind charm and a Kwakwaka'wakw wild woman T-shirt and carrying a Tlingit bowl we had a good representation of Northwest spirits.

We reached Karen and Rob's boat to find an altar set up on the dock. A silk cloth was draped over a box and on top a burning candle, incense, and other trinkets surrounded a photo. Rob explained that the name of the boat when they purchased it, Saila-V, just didn't suit them. The new name would be Kathleen, named for Rob's great aunt. Kathleen had never married, by choice. She'd been a store owner in Australia but every so often, she closed the store and went traveling - to Indonesia, New Zealand, you name it. Whenever Rob talked about traveling, his family would say, "Oh, you're just like Kathleen." Now Rob and Karen planned to set off on adventures on their own: in a boat named for Kathleen.

The ceremony began. Karen stood on the bow, the rest of us on the dock.

"Have you expunged all evidence of Saila-V? asked Steve.
"We have."
"Then sprinkle champagne to the east, the west, the north and south."
"With the permission of Neptune, Jupiter, Poseidon and Odon, and in honor of the northwest spirits, I name you Kathleen," declared Steve as Karen poured champagne in four directions.

"Now a toast!" said Rob.

Rob poured four glasses from another, more expensive bottle of Champagne. "To Kathleen!" we all cried as we sipped our champagne.
Then we all repaired to Kathleen's cabin for a delicious lunch and more champagne.

05/22/2015 | Kathy
So glad you are on another adventure. I am so sorry about Jigger; he was a great companion. Looking forward to traveling with you via your blog. Kathy and Rick
Westview Blackberry Festival August 15, 2014
Elsie Hulsizer
08/31/2014, posted at Sydney, B.C.

Photo: The annual Blackberry Festival at Westview near Powell River

"Are you here for the Blackberry Festival?" the man behind the counter in the Westview Harbour Marina asked us when we checked in.

"Blackberry Festival?" We hadn't even heard of it. We had stopped at Westview because it was a convenient stop between Parker Harbour, where we had been the day before, and Pender Harbour, where we planned to go the next day for their Chamber Music Festival. I hadn't thought of Westview, the bedroom community for the pulp mill at nearby Powell River, as a festival town.

"It starts at 6 pm," the man told us. He turned and pointed through the window to a street up the hill. "They close the main street."

Six o'clock was still a few hours away. We decided to take a walk and explore the town. Already, businesses were busy setting up tents on the sidewalk. Walking along the sidewalk we saw several appealing restaurants, including a South American restaurant. We wondered what the chances of eating there during the festival were.

Six o'clock found us strolling the street with what must have been several thousand other people. Where did they come from? We hadn't realized the town was so large. "The whole town turns out for this," a resident told us. There were families with babies in strollers and toddlers in hand, children carrying balloons and eating (blackberry flavored?) cotton candy, teenagers in tattoos and T-shirts and old folks with canes. They strolled by tents selling everything blackberry plus anything else the owners might want to sell. Musicians playing jazz, rock, and folk seemed to be everywhere.

I stopped to stare at a blackberry pizza ready to go into an oven.

blackberry pizza

The South American restaurant had a large tent set up on the street in front of their building. We sat down and ordered blackberry margaritas and chicken tacos. The tacos weren't bad but the margaritas were a bit sweet. Across the street two men wearing bakers hats in a Safeway tent were giving away cupcakes as fast as they could squeeze frosting on them. We each got one for dessert.

We finished our dinner and walked on, enjoying the bustle of the festival. When we returned to our boat an hour later, the festival was still going on.

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Voyages North on SV Osprey
Who: Steve and Elsie Hulsizer (author of Glaciers, Bears and Totems and Voyages to Windard)
Port: Seattle
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