Magic Harbor

About 20 some years ago, a fellow named Skip gave me a sailboat.  Ironically I only knew him through email and I had never seen the boat.  I wanted it, he wanted to get rid of it, and we did the deal without ever even meeting.

I traveled to Seattle and boarded a ferry. I crossed the bay to an island.  I unloaded my dinghy from my pickup and rowed out to a new adventure.  The boat was sound, even quite tidy.  Someone had broken in and stole the heater, but they covered up the vent and closed the hatch before leaving.

I began to live on board that boat while making it seaworthy for the sail back to my home port.  While I was there I became aware of two distinct communities. There was the water community and the land community.  The water community consisted of about 50 people.  They lived at anchor aboard their boats and one boathouse.  I think I was the only one there with a car. Transportation was by dingy or raft and then onward using foot power. There was another name for it on the map, but those who lived on the hook knew it as Magic Harbor.

The residents of the floating community were a mishmash of various personalities and baggage.  There were those who had no income, little means, and lived off of public benevolence.  There were some who chose to work odd jobs, others who had outside income from retirement, disability, or other.  Almost all were below the poverty line.  They lived a life of self reliance. They subsisted. There was even a code of conduct, unspoken but very real, among the community.  They were freedom lovers who chose the harshness of living “on the hook” over whatever they might have experienced ashore, and they were constantly under attack from those on that shore.

Those on the shore were middle class to wealthy.  Their yachts were tied up securely in the high priced and well maintained marina. They paid high prices for their homes in this desirable island location.  They loved their sweeping view of the Seattle skyline and their quint little island village.  They looked with a great deal of scorn and sometimes outright animosity toward those who enjoyed the same view and the same little seaport but did not have to pay anything for it.

Eventually those ashore were able to make it illegal for those afloat to continue living at anchor.  That is how democracy works. Their numbers and the dollars they represented gave strength to their desire to be rid of those who lived afloat. They had some good reasons and some bad, but they had the ability to sway the course of government and completely wiped out a community and an entire way of life with the signatures of a few government officials.  That was the end of what one of the residents called, Magic Harbor.

Fast forward 20 some years.  I left the seagoing life and moved to a small mountain hamlet.  I was drawn there by many of the same desires that drew those other folk to Magic Harbor.  Among those were the affordability of housing, the lack of government intervention in day to day living, and the necessity of self reliance.  There is even a code of conduct that goes beyond simply what is legal and what is not.

While many people dream of living this lifestyle. Some actually attempt it. Many are distrustful of people who choose this way of life. They don’t believe a community can do what is right without intervention. They make rules and pass laws that make it difficult on those who live this way of life. I am sure that if they could they would drive out the little “off grid” self reliant types that enjoy the mountain scenery without the higher price tag. They introduce apex predictors, regulate mining and other resources, and generally try to impose their preferences on a freedom loving, self reliant community. They have the numbers.  They have the dollars. One day they hope to drive us out, making it the exclusive playground of the wealthy.

I have dropped anchor here.  This is my place.  I hope I never see a time when those who choose this lifestyle are displaced, run off, by those looking down from their lofty views.  I hope I can stay free.  I hope you can too.

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