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Sep 16 12 7:12 PM

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My name is Justin Davey and I am a filmmaker originally from Nova Scotia. Soon after graduating from a BFA in filmmaking in 2008, I began thinking about affordable living and my future desires to see the world. While living in the attic of an old mansion, which overlooked Lake Ontario, I came to a natural idea. Go to sea. Having once sailed Lasers on a small lake at children's summer camp, I harkened back to that feeling and joy from drifting in the wind. Now would be the best time I figured to buy a boat and get going. I needed a little boat that I could afford with no money and found a Continental Folkboat in Toronto where I lived. The bulkheads were rotten, but it was a well built fiberglass boat.  The little brother of the Alberg 30 I so desired, having recently then discovered fellow Canadian Mr. Yves Gelinas round the world film Jean Du Sud. So I asked the owners of this boat if I could pay them off in increments over the summer. They agreed and I moved aboard. I made several small improvements to the boat and sold her the fall. The girlfriend I named her after was not so inspiring anymore. I immediately needed another boat next summer to live on. 
That was the summer of 2008, and two boats later I am still struggling to find the cruising life I wanted. Naturally, I looked at simplifying my life in every way to save money. Finally, I was able to bring a boat up to Toronto from California, dump a bunch of time and money into it and then sell it for what might then buy me a larger more liveable boat. I knew I wanted this boat to be on the west coast, where I could live comfortably in-water year round and take advantage of the abundant sea life for food. So finally I escaped Toronto's grasp, and the horribly paying but nevertheless enjoyable job of driving a city taxi. 
Then I found then called "Oosik Narwhal". A George Buehler Emily. She was a heavy ol' girl without being too big. It was love at first sight, even as I found her sadly neglected in a boatyard in Bellingham. I made a deal with the seller, and she was mine. Next I moved to the Yukon where I could live cheaply out of the back of a pickup and work to save a bit of kitty. I have a few friends up in the Yukon who are of like mind. They grow as much of their own food as they can. Some live in apartments, some cabins, and others in yurts. They were all supportive of a life off grid aboard my new boat and I knew I had finally come to the right coast to make my long time dreams come true. The jaded life of Toronto slowly became forgotten as I embraced the liaise-fair west coast with it's undeniable beauty. As a budding author, the idea was forming that I should make the book and film that I wanted to see. A guide to fishing, foraging, and living aboard in the PNW. It might just be a way to help make living aboard, truly day to day without the 9-5 that can slow valuable on-water learning.

Wanting to know more about my new boat I found the builder online and we began a nice back and forth. Turns out this gentleman is a Bellingham resident, builder and musician, whom some of you here may know. Turns out he is an Oar Club fellow.

Upon further investigation of growing food on a boat, just this summer I discovered "sailing the farm" and shortly thereafter Mr Jay Fitzgerald's "Sea-Steading". When on Amazon, I did a "look inside" the book and to my much amazement found a photograph of my new boat, then named Avalon. You can imagine my delight of having found THE BIBLE I had been looking for with a picture of my new boat in it. Serendipity! Of course I ordered the book from Amazon and I am now patiently awaiting its arrival.

This brings you up to speed and so now I humbly will ask this group the following.

Would those of you, with vastly more experience than I in both sustainable living and sailing, please chine in as I undertake this new adventure, which you all have a keen interest in? Will you consider supporting this documentary I am now calling "O"? Support can come in many forms.  Hands-on assistance, advice, and encouragement would surely propel this personal film project of mine well into production. 

The concept is what I now know to called Sea-Steading. Please email me at daveyjustin(at)gmail(dot)com to receive a PDF with a little more about me, the project and my crew. Tried uploading it to the forum but it didn't work.

I hope to work with you soon. As of today, I am finishing up some work in the Yukon and planning my early October drive to Bellingham, where work on the boat begins.


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#2 [url]

Sep 16 12 9:27 PM

The .pdf file don't load.
Short of that, is there a narrative beyond: I'm gonna video my boat-building/sailing quest?
As a homesteader of sorts, I'm a little unclear on the sea-stead narrative.
What's yours?

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#3 [url]

Sep 17 12 9:29 AM

I am going to have to comment here…Yes that is the boat I built in Alaska some years back. (My recent cautionary tale of one particular day of my voyage south from Alaska to Bellingham will appear in the October edition of 48 Degrees North for anyone interested.)

First of all - assuming it was intentional - Justin's phrase "please chine in" is brilliant, as the Emily by Buehler is of course a hard chined design ;-)

Beware of hubris, Justin.  You must become intimate with your new home before taking on the additional survivalist challenge, although I must admit, to city folk who have never procured food from any source other than a grocery store or restaurant, even failure would be of interest, and millions of city-bound folks tune in to reality programming daily.  For those of us who have grown up in rural areas and years off the grid, such subjects and lifestyles hold far less fascination, but I admit that I am certainly in the minority here, as I suppose many in this forum are.

I am reminded of a play produced some years ago back in Alaska by a fellow playwright entitled, "The Bark Eater."  It was the mostly true story of a man who moved to Skagway Alaska (the worst of all possible locations to attempt such a feat - even the Native Americans only lived there seasonally) intent on "living off the land."  Sadly, he was ultimately reduced to a diet of tree bark (he had the double misfortune of being a vegetarian - not a good eating strategy if you want to live a subsistence life-style in Alaska…) and nearly died before he was flown out to the Juneau hospital where he eventually recovered his health, if not his wits.

It is perhaps possible to live such a life style, but probably not so easily in the San Juans.  Up north on the coast of British Columbia there is far more game and fish available, and the waters are much cleaner than Puget Sound.  On the other hand, as Jay has pointed out, with a wet suit and diving gear it is certainly possible to eat fish year round in the Salish sea.  But you must be able to recharge your tanks…
Of course the local natives lived off the land for thousands of years without the benefit of "civilization," at least as we define it.

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#4 [url]

Sep 17 12 9:34 PM

The Puget Sound isn't really viable except as a launch pad, as the ecosystem is pretty well shot and you'd be crazy to eat clams or rockfish anywhere near development. One will have to go further afield for sure, but it's important to realize as with homesteading that "growing food" or whatever is the really easy part of the issue. Epoxy resins and sailcloth, dental care and gasoline-- these must be earned. 

And that's the tough nut to crack.

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#5 [url]

Sep 18 12 2:05 AM

Boats are great and we've all lived aboard our share of them, but they are kinda extensions of land.  At best, they stay at sea for several weeks, then they go to land again, so they are more of an island than an ocean.  There is also the great dream and myth of sailing off into the sunset without a care in the world, sort of a modern day pirate outside the rules.  Boating is highly regulated and there's rules up the wahzoo.

For sustainability and such, it seems most folks seem to think you have to produce all your own stuff to be truly sustainable.  That's not a workable concept.  It looks good on paper, but when it gets to the real world, it don't work.  True sustainability is when you produce enough of something that you can sell or trade it for everything else you need.  We've had way too many people who just don't produce anything, they just consume.  Even when they have jobs, their work doesn't actually produce anything substantive.

If you grow enough sweet potatoes (at a profit, of course) then you're sustainable even if that's all you do.

Making a video of fixing up and sailing around on a boat could be a good thing.  Should have some interesting scenery if nothing else.  If you can make a go of it, then that could be your "sustainable" sort of thing, I guess, although entertainment is sort of less edible than sweet potatoes.

I suspect there are a lot of mutable areas in this whole "sustainable" thing.  Seems a lot of folks are trying to cash in on it, though.  Perhaps there would be more moral integrity in making a reality show of sailing around and sort of downplaying the sustainability part of it.

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#6 [url]

Sep 18 12 11:27 AM

Well, as a survivalist platform I'm still convinced that the "seasteading" lifestyle is pretty viable as a whole and attractive in its own way if one can master the extensive skillset needed to make a go of it. It is harder to make a go of now than a decade ago for various reasons, and will be harder yet a decade from now. I'm still convinced one can carve out a lifestyle of authentic benevolent living there. For me, however, with the larger ecosphere now in systemic collapse, I've felt the need to take on lifestyles that while more vulnerable personally allow me to more effectively contribute to the greater good. Sailors in general have done a very poor job of protecting and or advocating for the very systems they depend on-- and the future is largely ghost ships on dead oceans now--but without a doubt there will be a place for those who have the fortitude to still ply that trade.

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#7 [url]

Sep 18 12 11:44 AM

I used to follow this guy when I first looked into seasteading. Project Blue Sphere

I haven't read his blog for a couple years and it seems he mostly is now pushing some reality TV crap (I work with a reality tv star on her project's website, nice lady but reminds me of the late night infomercial type of rah-rah promotions with little substance) but he still has his "ships log" blog (go to Members --> Ships Log - don't need to be a member).

His early blogs were really entertaining to read because he set off with limited resources and not a lot of research so had a number of struggles both physically and mentally/emotionally.

I think you have to be of a particular mentality (not unlike living in the jungle here) to handle the times alone if your going to do this solo. And finding someone that you could spend that much isolated time with (in my experience but then I'm an introvert - so lacking in social skills ) would be difficult.

The biggest draw back that I can see to seasteading is the need for maintenance. Like Jay said getting manufactured parts and fuel require that you perform some type of service or product to purchase these.

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#8 [url]

Sep 18 12 11:56 AM

Chooks may indeed be on to a 'treatment' that might engender a wider audience. I'm getting tingles as the vision comes clearer:
First off, this production need insist that no one is allowed on the boat who isn't both young, and frankly very attractive. Very minimal clothing is to be worn by the "crew"; looking good upon the numerous wardrobe mishaps is going to be paramount. So anyway, they go sailing along, but every now and then, they're required to beat the hell out of something (I haven't worked our the details on this, but trust me). Oh, the sustainability factor!... easy. You pick the appropriate title:
Sex and Violence at Sea for as Long as Possible
(that's a little clunky, just a working title)

Okay. There it is. Naturally, I'd expect a little writer's credit. The last contractual item would be a small somewhat incongruous part written in to facilitate this character Obi-Wan-Get-Jiggy. He's played by a 48 year old homesteader guy who dispenses his perspicacity to the said crew primarily whilst in the on-board Jacuzzi. At night he mostly perspires playing drums in the Tower of Power cover band (oops, the boat's gonna have to be a tad larger).

Anyway, that's all I got for now.

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#10 [url]

Sep 19 12 3:30 PM


If you frown on Puget Sound then where would you recommend?

I fool around on the East coast of Canada a bit.  That looks like a tough go too.  Newfoundland now imports 95% of their food.

Also, I would be interesed in why you feel it is harder now than before and to get harder later.  Not arguing, wondering.

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#11 [url]

Sep 19 12 9:09 PM

Hi Newbie,

I don't frown on Puget Sound at all, that's where I got my start and it's a wonderful place to learn technically able sailing as it's very difficult and weather is fickle. If you can handle the Puget Sound predictably, you'll be a good sailor. The problems is more so that a decade or so ago there were still anchorages or reasonably priced marinas that catered to affordable craft-- I feel that's largely disappeared-- but I've not been there in a while and I don't really have a pulse on it. In terms of "sustainability" when I first started sailing the Sound, it wasn't unusual to see pods in the hundreds of "Dahls Porpoises" and the last year(or two maybe) I didn't see any. This is a very fast, very nasty decline in the whole ecosystem and development is the culprit.

A decade ago "classic plastic" was 25 or so years old, now it's 35 -- and epoxy and repair materials are multiples more expensive. The 25 year old boats are largely shit, and they'll be throwaways.

This world in general is more hostile. It will simply take a bigger and more robust commitment to the lifestyle, and frankly, when times were good, most were too spineless for it.

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#12 [url]

Sep 19 12 10:11 PM

Newbie - I'll toss in my 2 cents worth again, since I do live in the Northwest:I live in Bellingham now, and have for 10 years, and even before that in the 80s I was in Anacortes.   Jay is accurate in his appraisal of the state of Puget Sound, or the Salish Sea if you prefer.  The situation is especially bad where the water is shallow, and/or where the flushing action of the tide is weak.  He is also right on about the sailing.  Even the Pardey's consider this one of the hardest places to sail in the world.  You master engineless sailing here (I confess I have not) and you can do it anywhere.  My current boat, an Alberg 37, is 42 years old and hasn't fallen apart yet, and I sometimes push her pretty hard, but some boats that age are pretty marginal.

I suggest farther north.  Not SE Alaska, but in the area roughly from Dixon Entrance south on the convoluted coast of British Columbia.  I spent nearly a decade off the grid in Alaska and built a boat there, and I have traveled by boat from Skagway Alaska to Washington State, so I guess that qualifies somewhat as "local knowledge."  

The weather is somewhat harsher farther north in the winter (but Puget Sound is no picnic either), but plenty of places to anchor for free, wild game and fish in abundance, and nobody gets too uptight if you decide to squat is some old abandoned cannery or logging camp.  Grocery stores and fuel depots few and far between though!  A true test of your mettle if you want it!  Not me anymore - I love civilization too much!  

And it is spectacularly beautiful up there...

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#13 [url]

Sep 19 12 11:07 PM

Firstly. does the PDF work or no? Not really an essential document to the conversation anyway. Its more dramatic language isn't very well suited to this topic. Would prefer it deleted. Is that a possibility for the moderator?  
I very much appreciate all of your thoughts, but I should write that today I am concerned with how I can make my sea-stead, more than I am about doc making. I wanted to introduce myself to the group, and perhaps the divulgence of doc film ambitions should have been downplayed. I just wanted to afford the group a sense of my trajectory toward the forum and perhaps preempt the naive questions which may flow from me in this and other topics.

I get why there is an interest in establishing a clear narrative, but without getting too much into film theory (we're all pretty savvy an audience at this point), I'm approaching this project with wide-eyes. While possible, I do hope that the conclusion I reach isn't to close them, or reduce my outlook to squinting uneasiness.  Documentaries of an experiential nature, don't often find a directive before entering the cutting room. On top of this, my street distributed, self-published fiction has avoided narrative in the past. I tend to create less than popular work. Reality TV is not documentary, and I agree that a camera can be more exploitive of a subject than observant. It is a concern.

Right now my intention for the documentary is as a meditation of sorts, on the bounty, the extraction, and creation of resources. This is what I will surely struggle with, as I do come from city life with little knowledge of how to fish, forage, prepare raw food.

As a Canadian, the plan is to head up into BC looking for a good winter hideout from the storms. Any ideas for friendly coves where food can be found?

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#14 [url]

Sep 20 12 5:13 AM

Well, after listening to Jay and mrostron I'd suggest you go back to Nova Scotia or there abouts.  It seems to be better sailing than the PNW, no bigger disadvantage, and some advantages.  Halifax is booming with construction and crafts people are in demand, so I am told.  

Beth and Evans consider Notre Dame Bay on of the best spots to sail.  Thr Bra d Or lakes speak for themselves.  Land is cheap in NS and NB.

Is there enough interest to start a thread on where to sea stead?  At least as a start base?

Jay, we ( stupidly) have 2 steel sail boats, each about  30 years old but well maintained.  If I stock up on some zinc epoxy paint.I think I can keep em going a long time yet.  Sails?  That is another matter.

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#15 [url]

Sep 20 12 8:29 AM

Yes, the pdf opens for me.
Best places for a sea-stead?  Maybe a good question, and perhaps the answers should not be made too public!  Many sailors would not even consider anything north or south of 30 degrees latitude.  I guess it depends on your ability to tolerate colder climates.  Native American groups made a pretty good go of it on the Alaskan and Canadian coasts.  I suppose there is a sort of sea-steading that took place in the South Pacific when a few sailors like Spike Africa made a living trading in the region.  Any sort of sea-steading must involve both subsistence and trading.  No life style that does not involve community and exchange of goods and information is sustainable, either materially or, for lack of a better term, "spiritually."  We must all be part of some wider community.

The Inside Passage is a tough place for pure sailing, but if one, like the original inhabitants, has a good paddling craft as well, there is plenty of food for the taking.  Using traditional methods of smoking (is it still legal to smoke salmon - which end do you light?) and drying, one can put away plenty of good protein and fat for the cold months.  Most of the thousands of islands teem with deer, and many native plants and berries (in season) are edible.  Although the climate is harsh compared to Hawaii and the tropics, unlike those more populated areas there are plenty of coves and protected anchorages. When one gets tired of the isolation the Gulf Islands, Sunshine Coast, Vancouver and Victoria are within striking range.

It sounds like I am extolling the virtues of Coastal B.C., and perhaps I am to some degree.  On my voyage south from Haines to Bellingham some years ago I was tempted to linger in many of the areas I passed through south of Prince Rupert.  As a Canadian you have lots of advantages over U.S. citizens.  You can work and travel more freely in commonwealth nations, you don't have to worry about health care, and you are not as likely to be targeted by extremists in your travels; and of course you can stay as long as you wish on the B.C. coast or (my personal favorite) Gulf Islands.

I look forward to meeting you, and I will share my observations and log notes in more detail.  

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#17 [url]

Sep 21 12 2:33 PM

I really believe that there is a message that would resonate with a larger audience-- but I'm not certain how well I've effectively communicated it in my books. A few get it, for sure-- and see that basically everything I've ever written is basically a reactionary moral manifesto railing against the inherent lack of integrity in modern life-- and how "seasteading" loosely defined was my personal experiment in attempting to find authenticity. It's really very little about sailing, except as a means to an end. If that narrative is understood and represented, I'm sure there's a lot of appeal. Otherwise runs the risk of producing just another stupid fishing show.

Food for thought-- along similar lines.

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#19 [url]

Sep 22 12 12:00 AM

thanks Jay
I want to say that to your face and shake your hand

thanks mike
look forward to that happening soon. bring your charts of BC, eh!? Perhaps you have a few you might part with for some fresh food? Let's think optimistically, no?


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#20 [url]

Sep 22 12 5:30 AM

Good go Jay.

I don't know if you have ever heard of Ethical Humanism but I felt you described its core values well in Seasteading.  I have even quoted you at the odd time as an example of one from outside the group who would be a natural fit.  Unfortunately you live closer to the life they  espouse than most within the movement.

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