A Wild Wild Life

Legacy Part 12 – Kai & Andrea – Mariners, Wilderness Lovers

Link to Photo Gallery

By Jason Murphy, Founder & Creative Director

A Warm Welcome

The photographs didn’t turn out as expected.

After a wonderful evening of food and wine (the latter for Andrea and me – Kai doesn’t drink much as far as I can tell,) I finally found the courage to ask if I could take a photo or two, and the light levels in the cosy saloon of the Black Witch – a boat, not a pub – were too low.

I’m usually pretty confident in my ability to take pictures in low light – you can sometimes find something better in those conditions – but this one defeated me.

I felt terrible because Kai and Andrea had been so welcoming to a stranger just showing up on the dock, curious about the scuba tanks on the deck of their sailboat.

Naturally when you just arrive in a place and you want to make contact with the locals you look for any common ground, and scuba diving is an easy thing for me to start a conversation over. After hearing about Sealives and why I was in Port McNeill they invited me back for dinner.

Freedom Requires Flexibility

Kai and Andrea are everyday adventurers. By this I mean they have led a lifetime exercising a level of personal freedom and independence that most people only ever dream of. She is German, and he Swiss, they met in Victoria during a moment when Kai was not on some ambitious international expedition as one of the dive team.

They live aboard their boat and divide their time between town and the wilds of coastal BC depending on their preferences and economic needs.

They both work but Kai makes money in a few different ways, including donning his diving gear to do underwater maintenance work on boats (always make them pay before you go in the water he advised me,) but his real vocation is as a shipwright and craftsman, and when I met up with him a second time he was at his current work-site – a full conversion of a fishing boat into a cruising vessel fit to go anywhere in the new owner’s exacting and eclectic style – the high level of craftsmanship apparent in the carpentry and other work Kai has completed on board.

He also has a miniature craftsman’s workshop set up next to the Black Witch’s chart table where he makes small craft items from found materials, bone, tooth and yes, fur – for Kai is also a hunter.

The Ethics Of a Hunter’s Life

There are plenty of us who would never harm a wild animal if we could help it, but Kai is an example of why it is difficult to judge many true hunters when you meet them. The truth is that hunting – using the natural resources available to get by – is a natural part of Kai’s existence and his relationship with the world he lives in. Without it, he would be more tied to buying things than he already is, more tied to spending time in town doing paid work, and less free.

I am always struck how those who hunt have a much closer affinity to the natural world than most of the rest of us as a result of the life they lead. And given that hunting for food is a part of his life, he tries to utilize as much of the animal as he can, including using their bones, teeth and fur in his work.

He told me how he helped scientists in the area dismember a dead whale for research purposes because he had the necessary skills where they did not, clearly loving that his bush education was needed despite the esteemed scientific minds in the room.

He is also the first person I have met to have witnessed blast fishing first hand, although in very bizarre circumstances in Scandinavia.

Self Sufficiency, An Unsentimental State of Mind

Andrea and Kai showed me hospitality and helped me immeasurably by putting me in touch with some of the residents of Echo Bay.

Kai has a worldview shaped by a lifetime of extraordinary experiences and a dedication to self-sufficiency and independence. I’ll likely never agree with him on many things but I was glad the next time I was in Port McNeill, to run into Andrea and find out where I could locate Kai again, and pleased, the following morning, after meeting with Rebekah Pesicka on her boat and after her dog Coda followed me down the dock, to get a picture or two of him that I can use.