For as long as I can remember, fishing has been a part of my life. One of my first memories after we moved to BC is going sport fishing with my Dad and an Uncle in Saanich Inlet near Victoria.

Baba's Beach

Us kids would also fish for bullheads during our summer holidays at Baba’s Beach, near Campbell River, BC.

When I was 9 or 10 years old, my father quit his job as the Production Manager at a local print firm (something that he had done for 21 years, starting after the death of his father) and took on whatever job he could to put food on the table. I have always loved him for his courage to take back control of his life and completely change directions. It has given us children that same courage and faith to make tough decisions to better our lives. One of the things that he did one summer, was to deckhand on his brother-in-law’s salmon troller. He caught the bug and soon bought his own troller. A 32′ fibreglass boat named Susie IV. On my 12th birthday, I joined him for what would the first of many, many summers on the water.

Suzie IV Wheelhouse/Engineroom/Galley

The boat was large enough that we could fill the hold full of ice and stay out for a week or so, depending on what we were fishing for (some species keep better on ice than others) and how successful we were. I say we, but it was all Dad. He had a knack. He could think like a fish. When his fishing buddies would be coming up empty, he’d be on the fish.

During the last few weeks of the season I’d go back at school ( Junior High, High School, then College) and he’d hang on to the last trip to bring home to a) sell to family and friends and b) fill up the freezer and canner with fish. We always had fish and while some folks (Mom) got sick of so much salmon, I could never (and still can’t) get enough.

A small spring

Fishing is indirectly how I got my current (and best) job. After I graduated from college, I went fishing for the summer and through to the end of the season. I made enough money (and enough fish in my own freezer, now shared with Moe), that I wasn’t in a huge hurry to find a job like the rest of my class. When I applied for job “with 15 years experience in the marine sector” at a small Oceanographic Consulting company, the General Manager expected some crusty old 40 year old sea-dog instead of a fresh faced 20 something year old with that “pick me, pick me” attitude. One of the qualifications for the job was that I had been unemployed for 26 of the last 52 weeks…honest, I was looking. I started  in January ’86 and for many summers after that, I would still take a stint on the boat as part of my holidays.

He was fast, but not 3 a minute fast

In fact, most of the family would at one time or another, be Capt C’s deckie. My older sister Rose Anne went for a few years, my little sister Heather took a turn, Mom would go if the end of the season and the salmon run brought him to the relatively protected waters of Georgia Strait. She would be sick as soon as the boat pushed off from the dock, but she was a trooper. Moe even took a turn when I was in college. That was a scandal… “Have you heard? Clarence has some chickie as a deckhand?!?!” The background snickering stopped after they found out she was almost family and they all saw how well he was eating. While they were eating beans out of a can, Dad was eating roasts and things that they didn’t eat when they were at home!

Over time, with special thanks (not) to DFO, the fishing seasons got shorter and Dad spend more and more time at the Coast Guard as a fabricator in the Blacksmith’s Shop. During the last years that he still had his commercial license, he and I would take our holidays to fill the boat (and our freezers) with sockeye.

She's full

Somewhere in one of those last summers, long before Safeway started selling cedar planks, I gaffed a big block of cedar as it drifted past and the idea for Mark’s Famous planked Sockeye was born. I can still remember standing in the kitchen, filleting salmon while my two kids stood, mouths open like baby seagulls as I fed them bits of raw salmon. I think that’s why they’re so smart.

Little Fishers




But the coolest thing I have ever done with fish didn’t involve catching or eating them.  3 years ago, in the fall, Dad and I went snorkeling with the salmon as they returned to their spawning grounds in the Campbell River. We were released upstream and drifted for 30 or 40 minutes downstream as the chum and spring salmon passed underneath us. It was a truly fabulous experience that I will never forget.

Some days, you're the bait

Posted in By Sea, Family | 1 Comment


In September 2010, I attended a conference in Oban, Scotland. I travelled via Glasgow where I met up with my good friend Sergey and his wife Luda from Ukraine.


I see Sergey every year at this event and we have become great friends over the years. It has become a tradition that we exchange bottles at this meeting. He has become fond of Canadian Rye and I love the Ukrainian Vodka that he brings for me.

We took the train from Glasgow to Oban and found our way to our B&B overlooking the bay.


Overlooking the bay


Oban is a beautiful seaside town and we took advantage of its location with seafood at most meals.

Those that know me well know that whenever possible, I seek out Real Ale. Before arriving in Scotland, I had used CAMRA UK’s iPhone version of the Good Beer Guide to check out the local watering holes. The Tartan Tavern was highly recommended and we were not disappointed. It became our pub.

Real Ale

The food was decent and the beer was local and pulled fresh from the cask. From their first taste, Sergey and Luda were hooked on Real Ale.

No trip to Oban would be complete without a stop, tour and some shopping at their distillery. The tour went through the process from start to finish, grain to whisky. 6 months later, I am still enjoying the smooth taste of the 14.


Oban's Colloseum

After the conference was over, I took the train back through Glasgow to Edinburgh. I had planned my return home to have a brief stop over to see the sights.

I arrived in the late afternoon and caught a cab to my B&B about 3km south of Central Edinburgh.




With my Good Beer Guide in hand, I headed back toward the city centre. At about the half way mark, I found The Auld Hoose. Once again, good pub food (bangers and mash with an onion and ale gravy) and cask ales. I tried several, but the Hobgoblin was my favourite. Refreshed, I continued my walk into town, getting my bearings for my full day as a tourist.





Edinburgh Castle by Night

The weather was dry and mild…better than I had expected and I took advantage to get some obligatory scarf shopping and photo snapping done.

Edinburgh's Underground



Next day I had an early start and visited the castle and grounds before the throngs of tourists arrived. The tour (free with admission) was quite good and gave a good grounding in the history that I missed while not paying attention in High School. I walked the length of the Royal Mile (downhill) and on the advise of some travel sites, took an underground tour of Mary King’s Close. It gave a wonderful insight into how Edinburgh was before the Royal Mile was full of Tartan shops and Starbucks.

Edinburgh is one of those places that I’ll re-visit.


My Favourite Beer Poster

Posted in By Land | 1 Comment

Dominican Republic

While it sometimes seems to me that most of my deployments are in the North Pacific in winter, every once in a while, I catch a break. In the spring of 2008, I was lucky to be tasked to give some training on one of our products in the Dominican Republic.

When I was checking on airfares with the major carrier, the airfare alone was over $1800. A hotel would be on top of that. It was suggested that I check with one of the charter companies, and I found that I could get 1 week all inclusive (with air) for less that $1000. Hmm, I’d be saving the company $$$ if I stayed for the week, right? Moe was quick to point out that if I took her, we could save even more. She’s the English Major, not the math whiz, but she got her wish anyway.

When we were at checkin in Vancouver, a colleague was there with her daughter…a last minute getaway after UVic classes were over. It worked out great for Moe as the three of them would take turns “watching the stuff” while the others went for a swim or whatever.

My office for the week

I would march off in the morning through the lobby of the resort in my Nomex coveralls and workboots and Moe would plan her day at the beach.

I had to unlearn how to drive

It was my first time driving in a country like this and I was in for a surprise. I had to forget almost everything that I’d learned in Watson’s Driving School 30 years before. It seemed that the idea was to drive like hell and not look back. I did…once.

The resort that we stayed at was small and this meant that we could eat at any of the five (small) restaurants without needing a reservation. This worked great for us as I was never really sure how long I was going to work each day. Most days, I’d get back at 6, freshen up, have a shot of the local rum (supplied in the room) and hit up whichever restaurant suited our tastes. Our favourite was the Fondue Restaurant.

Mmmm Fondue

It was one of the most relaxing weeks that I’ve had at work and I hope that Moe and I can get back there one day.

The end of a hard day

Posted in By Land, By Sea, Family | 3 Comments


I’ve been lucky enough to visit Chennai, India on a few occasions. Whether I was there to work (most of the time) or to attend a conference, I always found the people friendly, caring and eager to make me feel at home.

I love meeting families

One of the things that I enjoy the most about these trips to other countries and working with people around the world is that I get to meet their families.

They invite me in to share a meal, go on a family outing or maybe they just take me to their local shops to buy trinkets and bobbles to bring home to my family.



Special Days

One special invitation was to the wedding party for a child of a friend of my dear friend Premkumar.

Prem had known the son since he was born I was honoured to have been invited. The bride and groom had been receiving visitors for the last two days and you could see the pride in the parent’s faces even after many hours.

Special Occasions


As the many guests came to greet the new couple, it was expected that the guests would be fed and I was happy to participate.

We enjoyed a meal eaten – by hand – off of a banana leaf.

In the fall of 2004, I attended a conference in Chennai at a seaside resort. One of things that I remember the most from that event was that the organizers had included many family events during the week of meetings. It was very evident that family time was a very important part of the Indian way of life.

Two months later, on December 26, a tsunami destroyed much of the resort that we stayed in and several of my friends in Chennai had to cling to palm trees as the water rushed in.

Another thing that I remember from that week in Chennai was the Bollywood movie that was been shot on the beach while we were there. Thanks to Rob Lee ( for the reminder.


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments


When I was young, my Dad and Uncle Bill would make beer and wine at our house. I guess that’s how I caught the bug.

I started brewing when my kids were small…before the craft beer industry took off in Victoria. I found that I could make beer that was as good (if not better) than anything that I could buy in the liquor store or at a pub.

It's Brewday

I started with kits and eventually progressed to whole grain mashing which, while more complicated, produced a much better product for a fraction of the cost. I got busy with work and other projects, (CAMRA related) & I found that I didn’t have the time to keep it up. I’ve rearranged my priorities and I’m starting my 3rd batch since the restart…Brew V2.0

This is going to be a post in parts…as the day and the brew progress. Check back to see how it’s going.

The first step is to crush the grain. (please pardon the messy bench)

Next, let’s get the yeast going. When I started, yeast came in a dry packet that resembled the bread yeast that Baba used to make the best buns in the world. There’s another B that I could have used. I’m sure that I’ll use her later.

Anyway, the best yeast to use these days these starter packs of liquid that ensure that you have a thriving yeast culture in your brew very quickly. The package contains 300 Billion (go ahead…do the pinkie thing) yeast cells and some nutrient that kicks the yeastie beasties to life when you smack open the packet. In three hours, it’ll be ready.



Yeast Before

Yeast after 4 hours

With 9 litres of hot water added to the grain, we’ll let the enzymes do their thing for 2 hours.

Start of a nice rolling boil:

Start of a 1 hour boil

Added more hops after fifty minutes, then cooled everything down. When the temperature was right, I transfered the wort to the fermenter and pitched the yeast. Now it’s beer.

Now it's beer.

B is also for blue…which is the colour of Autism Awareness Day. To raise awareness (and believe me, people will ask me about it) I have made a guest appearance on a blog that my daughter and her friend of hers have. Check it out at

Posted in CAMRA | 6 Comments