Five O’Clock Boats

You know what it is like when you visit a different country or culture, even if you speak the same language, there is so much you don’t understand? It is a moment, or a month, of realization that you are an outsider.

When I first immigrated to Canada, I was bewildered by much that was new to me. It wasn’t only that I was experiencing the different landscape, figuring out hockey, and being served beer in bottles. It was a million turns of phrase, social expectations, and unspoken norms that were not normal to me at all.

Today I had another of those moments. I moved this week from Edmonton, Alberta to Nanaimo, British Columbia and am enjoying the view from my apartment overlooking the yacht harbour. For seven days I have been looking at the many boats that are parked (is that the word?) here and noticing as one or two come and go every now and then. It has been a slow, fluid, loss and replacement that is completely in keeping with my retirement.

Something unusual happened today, though. It was significant in its difference and proportion to the point that I felt the need to write about it: several boats left at once.

Between 4:30 and 5:00 PM today, a Saturday, about twenty percent of the vessels in view of my living room, left the harbour. Even some of the big double-decker boats, whatever they are called, left. Is something happening that I am not aware of?

Since then, I have wondered if the crews are all headed to the mainland for a concert, or if there is a sudden influx of desirable fish, or if the owners’ tenancy at the harbour expired at 5:00 PM. I have no idea what is driving them away.

But, there it is. I am once again a stranger in a strange land. It isn’t a bad thing. It is just a little bewildering. Now that drinking beer out of bottles instead of glasses has become normal, almost anything is acceptable. It is just a matter of time before I adopt this peculiarity of five o’clock Saturday boats as a part of my life.


  1. I believe the word is “docked’. Living on the lake there are lots of things that happen like that, my neighbors are aware of fishing tournaments and regattas etc, but we just look out of the window and say…”Hey check out all of the boats!”

    1. Right! Docked is the word. What is the difference between a boat being docked and a boat being moored, I wonder.

      I like your idea about just enjoying the view without necessarily understanding it. 🙂

  2. Oh Anne I had to google ..shame on me but it makes sense lol. Mooring a boat at a pier for a couple of hours while you go ashore for lunch would be docking, but mooring a boat at an allocated slip in a marina where it’s always stored when not in use would be berthing. To put it another way, a boat is docked for a short period of time and berthed for an extended period of time. My unsolicited info.

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