Tag Archives: sailing

Memories on the Bounty: A Story of Friendship, Love, and Adventure by Janet Coulter Sanford

Bounty, Lunenburg, NS 2012

Oct. 29, 2012, was a sad day in nautical history as the replica tall ship Bounty sank due to damage from being caught in Hurricane Sandy off the coast of the eastern U.S. A little over eight years later, on December 5th, 2020, Roy Boutilier, one of the original crew members of that ship, quietly passed away in Nova Scotia from Alzheimer’s disease. Roy, who had no previous sailing knowledge, was a last-minute substitute crewman for the hand-built replica built in Lunenburg in 1960. The ship was commissioned by MGM studios for the making of the movie “Mutiny on the Bounty” starring Marlon Brando and Leslie Howard. The crew’s mission was to sail it to Tahiti and move it around various locations there as filming required. Some, like Roy, were even employed as extras on the set and can be seen in the movie if you know who to look for. He was even befriended by Marlon Brando himself!

Someone who knew Roy well was Janet Coulter Sanford. She and her husband had been friends with Roy and his wife Bev for years before Roy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017. Janet was quite used to hearing Roy talk about his time on the Bounty and never thought much about it until she realized that these stories would be slowly shut away in Roy’s brain, never to be heard of again. “What a waste,” she thought. Determined to create a small book of remembrances for Roy’s family and friends, she soon realized that Roy had all kinds of stories and a host of memorabilia to go with it.

I was there a long time that first day—astounded and at the material Roy had amassed. Right away I could see that the twenty-five page account I had originally envisioned would never suffice for this rich, little-known story. Encouraged by my enthusiastic reaction, Rov asked, "What do you think, Jan? There's a lot of terrific stuff here, isn't there?"
"Yes," I agreed. "You have a wonderful story here. I really had no idea there was so much to tell."
Neither of us said anything for a few moments. And then, almost shyly, Roy continued. "I bet you could write a great book about all this. What do you say, Jan?"

So, despite all my misgivings, I heard myself say, "Yes, Roy, we're going to write a book! " We would tell the story of Bounty—its Nova Scotian  beginnings, the voyage to Tahiti, and its starring movie role. We would tell the stories of the men who sailed with him. We would sort through Roy's photographs and slides and preserve some of those moments in time. Alzheimer's might someday rob my old friend of those memories, but his story would not be lost.
I was not aware of it at the time, but I was actually embarking on something more important than just retelling Roy's Bounty stories. But that would only become clear to me as the months passed.

The result is a beautifully wrought memoir of both Roy and the Bounty and the time spent aboard her, and the years after as Roy returned to Nova Scotia and the business of making a living, like so many other of the crew, did. Ms. Coulter Sanford manages to track down two other shipmates of Roy, and their subsequent meeting after all these years is quite poignant, as they pick up where they left off, and tell more stories, new ones that Jan hasn’t heard yet. Another touching moment is when, in 2012, the Bounty visits Lunenburg once again and Roy meets a descendant of Fletcher Christian, the leader of the mutineers. Weeks later, the Bounty is no more after Hurricane Sandy is done with her. With many of Roy’s photos (colour and black & white), newspaper clippings and other ephemera, Memories on the Bounty is a perfect softcover keepsake book for anyone fascinated with nautical history.


Janet Coulter Sanford is a book lover. Throughout her thirty-year career as an English teacher, she championed Canadian literature and fostered a love of reading in many students. A graduate of Mount Allison and Dalhousie Universities, she lives in Moncton, NB, with her husband, John, and her incorrigible golden retriever, Kristy. Memories on the Bounty is her debut book.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Nimbus Publishing Limited (July 27 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 176 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1771089571
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1771089579

This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

Around the World in a Dugout Canoe by John M. MacFarlane and Lynn J. Salmon

The first independent account of the remarkable voyage of the Tilikum. Anticipating fame and wealth, Captain John Voss set out from Victoria, BC, in 1901, seeking to claim the world record for the smallest vessel ever to circumnavigate the globe. For the journey, he procured an authentic dugout cedar canoe from an Indigenous village on the east coast of Vancouver Island.

This is a tale, a true tale, I can get behind. For the inner-child-adventurer in each of us, it has it all: a search for buried treasure, stormy seas, exotic locales, and deliciously sketchy accounts pieced together from personal journals, logbooks, letters, and wildly differing accounts. But whatever information was recorded, authors John MacFarlane and Lynn Salmon have unearthed it, pieced it together like a once scattered jigsaw and meticulously reassembled an engaging, informative page-turner. This is rock-solid historical writing, composed by acutely knowledgeable and passionate researchers. Researchers who know how to share a great story.

In late 1900 Norman Luxton felt much like Herman Melville’s Ishmael with a “damp, drizzly November” in his soul as he sat in the dingy second-floor office of the struggling gossip sheet In Black and White on lower Johnson Street in Victoria.

I understand the notion of varying recollections – people experiencing the same journey but once recalled and retold, one suspects those involved couldn’t possibly have been in the same place at the same time. And so it is with Captain John Voss and Norman Luxton, the first of many hands to sail alongside Voss aboard the two-man Tilikum. Together Voss and Luxton sail from Vancouver Island across the Pacific. In subsequent legs of the voyage, mates came and went, the boat itself becoming, perhaps, our protagonist, circumnavigation her white whale.

Before leaving port [from Pernambuco, Brazil], Voss tallied all the days spent on his voyage and concluded that the Tilikum had completed a double world record: not only as the smallest vessel to cross the three great oceans but also as the only canoe to do so. Voss and the Tilikum had been voyaging for nearly three years.

As a Canadian west coaster, I feel I know the Tilikum. It’s part of our lore. But one predominantly unknown, until now. As curator emeritus of the Maritime Museum of BC and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of London, John MacFarlane knows his subject. With marine aficionado and co-author Lynn Salmon, also of the Maritime Museum of BC, we as readers are in the guiding hands of experts.

The end of the jetty was crowded with onlookers. The crew [Voss and then mate Harrison] was immediately accosted with shouts from the curious throng.
“What ship is that?” they called out.
“This is the Tilikum from Victoria, British Columbia,” Voss answered.
“How long have you been out?”
“Three years, three months, and twelve days,” he answered.
“How many miles have you sailed in your boat?”
“Forty thousand miles,” was his last answer.

In his journal, Voss refers to the Tilikum as a trustworthy friend. Reading MacFarlane and Salmon’s Around the World in a Dugout Canoe, we experience the Captain’s adventures on land, at sea, and promoting his trip firsthand to skeptics and fans worldwide. Which leaves me sharing the sentiment of Voss, describing this remarkable vessel – construction in part indigenous, colonial, and jerry-rigged, the Tilikum is symbolic of our nation, with all its irreparable flaws, mended cracks, and inimitable strength.

About the Authors:

John MacFarlane is the curator emeritus of the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, curator of the Nauticapedia Project and author of a number of books and articles on nautical history. He was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy (Reserve). He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (London), recipient of the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers and the SS Beaver Medal for Maritime Excellence. He lives in Qualicum Beach, BC.

Lynn Salmon has written extensively on the marine history of BC and her articles have appeared in publications including Western Mariner and the Times Colonist. She worked as collections manager for eight years at the Maritime Museum of British Columbia and recently concluded a fifteen-year career as a radio officer with the Canadian Coast Guard. She is senior editor of the Nauticapedia Project. She lives in Courtenay, BC.

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On the Edge by Lesley Strutt

A MacGregor boat at anchor. (From https://macgregorsailboats.com/)

Ontario author Lesley Strutt’s novel On the Edge is part of Inanna Publication’s Young Feminist Series, and is an adventurous read for all ages, especially for those who like sailing stories. Fourteen-year-old Emma (short for Emerald) is living an overly-restrictive life on her Aunt and Uncle’s farm near Kingston, Ontario. For mysterious reasons. her mother handed over care of her to them when Emma was only a little girl. Her only reprieve from her confines is when she gets to have a little time with an older woman named Jess, who owns The Edge, a 25-foot MacGregor sailboat. Emma appears to be a natural sailor as they cruise Lake Ontario. One day, the elderly Jess passes away, and Emma finds out to her disbelief that The Edge is now hers, along with a substantial amount of money in a trust fund. Her Aunt Petra is not pleased with this news and is determined to sell the boat, although legally she cannot. This doesn’t stop her from listing it as “for sale” and when Emma discovers the advertisement, she escapes the farmhouse and makes tracks for The Edge. She has heard that her mother may be in the Bahamas and is determined to sail there on her own to find her. Along her journey though, she feels that she is being watched. She gets strange notes and even has her anchor cut at one point. Other times, she is alerted to a disaster before she crashes on the rocks. There are a few mysteries to be solved as she sails The Edge single-handed from one map point to another.

On the Edge is a novel of a young person determined to take matters into their own hands to find out the truth, solve some family mysteries and to discover her birth parents. Set on a sailboat, Emma’s journey of discovery does not take place by land-based research and combing through birth records but begins on crossing Lake Ontario, entering a foreign country (illegally) navigating the interconnecting canal system and locks in upstate New York as well as open sailing off the east coast of the U.S. and then around the Bahamas. In this regard, the book is a bit of a travelogue, and educational as well about the historic lock system and of sailing in general (the MacGregor boats are equipped with a motor for navigating the locks and rivers). While Inanna Publications considers this a feminist novel, Emma still has to prove her worth to men and has to disguise herself as a boy for parts of her journey to lessen any suspicion of a young girl sailing on her own. A reflector of the real world, one supposes, where a woman’s worth needs to be constantly proved (or is questioned), while that of a man’s worth (in many cases) is taken for granted. At any rate, I quite enjoyed reading On the Edge and I recommend it for all young adult readers and sailing aficionados.

On the Edge by Lesly Strutt
Inanna Publications

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Sea Trial: Sailing After My Father by Brian Harvey

I consider myself an armchair sailor. I have been on a small sailboat (once, on Lake Ontario) but I enjoy reading about the travels of others, whether fiction or fact, small craft or large, alone or with a crew. So it was with great eagerness that I approached Sea Trial: Sailing After My Father by Brian Harvey (2019, ECW Press). The cover alone was enough to entice me: a watercolour print on textured paper that suited the subject matter perfectly. Kudos to cover designer David A. Gee.

Sea Trial involves two storylines: the sailing of the author along with his wife (and their Schnauzer Charley) aboard their boat Vera around Vancouver Island, and the delving into the files from a malpractice suit against the author’s late father. So “trial” takes on two meanings: the trial of circumnavigating Vancouver Island (not as easy as you might think) and the trial of going through his father’s papers regarding his legal case. The author has an ardent desire to do both, so why not do both at the same time? It’s an inspired idea, and it works, particularly in the way Mr. Harvey unreels each storyline, then weaving them together in a logical way since the sailing of Vera takes precedence and a lot of patience so he can only scrutinize his father’s copious notes when safely anchored.

I wasn't interested in judgment — of him or his accusers — and I decided right then that if I looked any further into this story, it wouldn't be with any romantic idea of exoneration. There had been no findings in the hydrocephalus case, no assessment of fault, only accusations, discovery, a few days of trial, and the huge settlement. It was over a long time ago. Nobody cared about it anymore. But there was a detective story in this box, even if the only person interested in the outcome was me. Who was this man who came to the breakfast table with blood spatters on his glasses, who never took holidays, who lugged his camera into operating rooms, who exhorted his children in their projects, "Do a job!" (And, I have to add, who took his sons in a nineteen-foot sailboat to certain death in Haro Strait?) After death comes to me, will my own children unearth a summary of my life like this one? Not a chance. Most people, when their parents die, have to do their reconstructive work using letters, snapshots, mementoes. How many people get the chance to really understand what a parent actually did when they left the house each morning? How many people get the answers to family mysteries neatly packaged in a single cardboard box? Even if, as it turned out for me, it's not the answers they're expecting?

The fascinating thing about sailing stories (and Sea Trial is no exception) is the different characters one meets at every port and anchorage. Sailors have their own fraternity and it’s only neighbourly to say hello or knock on the hull of the boat anchored next door and share a meal or a drink or two. This happens quite often throughout Sea Trial and it makes for a nice diversion from the weighty legal matters Mr. Harvey must sift through. Yet the reader is just as eager to get through the files as the author is, for we want to know the outcome, as we would with any trial, whether civil or criminal. It’s irresistible.

There are also various places along the shores of Vancouver Island that Mr. Harvey colourfully describes for us, so much so that by the time the trip was over, we feel as if we have circumnavigated the Island along with him. There are abandoned Indigenous and settler communities, salmon farms (he even tours a fish processing plant), old mills and popular tourist areas like Hot Springs Cove. Thankfully, there is a map of the Island at the front of the book with major locations of interest pointed out. It would have been nice to have had some photographs to accompany the narrative, but it appears this was not to be.

Semi-psychological and cathartic at the same time, Sea Trial was a highly enjoyable read. Mr. Harvey, through his writing and interactions with others, comes across  as the type of person one would like as their neighbour (on land or sea) and we easily sympathize with both his father and the young child (“Billy”) who was born with so many problems that it made treatment difficult, to say the least. This was in the time before CT scans, so lumbar punctures were the order of the day. It was an unadvised lumbar puncture (performed by another doctor while they awaited Dr. Harvey’s arrival) that was the at the core of the malpractice suit.

If you are a sailing enthusiast (armchair or otherwise) then Sea Trial deserves a place on your shelf alongside Joshua Slocum, Henry Dana Jr. and others who so masterfully brought the world of sail to life in printed form. Sea Trial received five stars from me at Goodreads and goes on the 2020 shortlist for “The Very Best!” Book Awards for Non-Fiction.

  • Shortlisted for the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Jaguar Book Group (April 29 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 384 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1770414770
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1770414778

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Wayfarer: A Memoir by James S. Rockefeller Jr.

Being the son of James S. Rockefeller Sr. the successful Wall Street banker, young James’ childhood was “very privileged. There were no material wants. The food was plain but wholesome. Wealth, as I grew to be aware of it, was not be flaunted, but I didn’t know back then that my family had it.” As you read through the pages of Wayfarer, his memoirs, you definitely get the sense that none of the four children in the house in Connecticut received any special treatment, nor did they believe they were entitled to any. Money was just not an issue like it is for many of us.

The Mandalay, Tahiti

James Jr. (Or “Pebble” as he was nicknamed) was schooled, expected to graduate and eventually take his place in the business world. But it was not to be, despite his father’s best efforts. At an early point, he introduces young James to the inner workings of a textile mill in Rhode Island:

“The manager of the mill was due for retirement shortly after my scheduled release from higher education. No other family member had stepped forward to take his place. My father’s eyes rose expectantly to mine. I failed him by slipping away the following year, selling my interest in the Casey cutter [a boat he and he brother Andrew has peurchased] to buy an old forty-foot Friendship sloop of dubious virtue in Annapolis, which I also christened Mandalay. The plan was as directional as the North Star—namely, to sail around the world. Napping machines and print rollers, preparing cloth for pyjamas and shirts, could not compete with the incense of the Tropics.”

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Margaret Wise Brown

And so the adventure begins. Along the way, he takes us down the east coast to Cumberland Island, a barrier island off the coast of Georgia that generations of Carnegies (his maternal relatives) owned. There, he meets a visitor that becomes the first love of his life, children’s author Margaret Wise Brown. “Like her books, Margaret is eternal and forever loved” Mr. Rockefeller states.

Lest you think Mr. James S. Rockefeller Jr. is sailing the oceans in a crewed yacht while sitting back sipping single malt Scotch, reading Wayfarer will quickly rid you of that notion. The Mandalay was no rich man’s yacht, and James, along with a friend or two were the entire crew. Certainly, the money at his disposal helped to pave over some of the rougher spots, but he was still out on the ocean in a tired, leaky old boat with few, if any luxuries. The amazing part of his memoirs, whether he is in the Tropics, America or Norway is the fascinating people he meets, the relationships formed and, sadly, loves lost.

One wonders if a person could do the same type of trip today: would those isolated islands now be inhabited, with modern technology available? The relative ease that James has in sailing from one port to another, meeting people, getting supplies and spending time as a guest of a resident or two is endlessly engrossing. His writing style is eloquent, yet down-to-earth, with a  talent for making words state a certain feeling or event in his life.

“Keeping a diary or writing letters is alien in this age of email and the cell phone. It was somewhat alien even back when I was young. J don’t know why, but from an early age I wrote letters and jotted down thoughts. There were several close friends to whom I could pour out my heart in writing, saying things I would not say to family and those surrounding me. Letter writing and diary keeping seemed to arrange events and people in better perspective. When we are young, emotion rises easily to the surface, while with age, observations are often wiser but not so vibrantly colored. We grow more guarded, building up barriers against the abrasions of daily living.
Looking back over my letters and diary of the voyage, I see that the incidents, people, and places were like eyelets in a boot. Laced together they became a structure supporting my footsteps along the path to adulthood, from heartbreak to some measure of healing.”

Living vicariously through books like Wayfarer is what makes reading so fun. While it is a personal memoir, it is also a time capsule from an era when the world held great mysteries, and one had to see them for themselves; there was no Google Earth to rely on. Just maps, charts and the stars. I highly recommend Wayfarer to those with an interest in sailing, travel and experiencing exceptional adventures populated with captivating personalities every step of the way.  Gripping, honest and impassioned, this is a memoir writing at its best.

You can read an excerpt from Wayfarer at the Islandport website. It is Chapter Six in the print edition. https://www.islandportpress.com/press/writer-of-songs-and-nonsense.html

Wayfarer: A memoir by James S. Rockefeller Jr.
Islandport Press

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This article has been Digiproved © 2019 James Fisher

Some Rights Reserved  

Original content here is published under these license terms:
License Type:  Non-commercial, Attribution
Abstract:  You may copy this content, create derivative work from it, and re-publish it for non-commercial purposes, provided you include an overt attribution to the author(s).
License URL:  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Sea Change: A Man, A Boat, A Journey Home by Maxwell Taylor Kennedy

I am a landlubber, but I love all things maritime whether it is naval ships, submarines, or the days of wood and sail. It started with Joseph Conrad’s sea stories and carried on through those of James Fenimore Cooper and C.S. Forster. Then there were the classic true-life sailing experiences of Richard Dana Jr. in Two Years Before the Mast and Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World through which I lived a vicarious life on the sea. While I have been on a small sailing craft (on Lake Ontario), I have never actually been on any type of craft on the ocean. I’m really an armchair adventurer, so I’m often on the lookout for books that take me to different places and put me in situations that I’ll likely never encounter.

Schooner Valkyrien in better days.

Sea Change (2018, Islandport Press) is such a book. Maxwell Taylor Kennedy is, amongst a host of other things, an accomplished sailor, particularly on the waters around Cape Cod. He is on the board of the Pearl Coalition, a Washington DC non-profit group dedicated to memorializing the schooner Pearl, on which 77 African-American men, women, and children were trying to escape slavery in 1848. Mr. Kennedy wanted to find an existing schooner similar to the Pearl, to bring to Washington as a museum ship. He found a similar schooner in a very dilapidated, but salvageable condition in California, the Valkyrien. It was his dream to sail her from California to Washington DC via the Panama Canal.

“I loved everything about her. and the historic beauty of her hull and hardware blinded me to the rot that had settled in. Pieces of the cabin top came loose in my hand, the wood disintegrating into broken particles and a fine dust. I noted, but dismissed her flaws. She seemed seaworthy enough to make the voyage, and most of the defects could be taken care of along the way. […] Just then, I looked up and saw two black crows sitting on Valkyrien’s spreaders, cawing. another warning sign. It’s an old sailor’s superstition that a crow on a boat in port is a bad sign. I thought to myself, turn around right now. Leave this boat.”

How many times throughout the voyage south from San Francisco to the Panama Canal did Mr. Kennedy wish he had never set sights on the Valkyrien? Almost every nautical mile it appeared, for there was always something that went wrong with the vessel. There were other warning signs too: hired local men would refuse to set foot upon the boat; they sensed something ominous about her. There were several times when the author came close to losing his life, and once, the life of his teen son Maxey that joined him for part of the cruise. In writing about that time, he reflects:

“Now, though, sometimes at night, just before I fall asleep, I think of Maxey struggling on the end of the bowsprit to save a decrepit boat, and my body shudders. I fear the side of me that forced him.”

There are many such ‘do or die’ moments aboard the Valkyrien. There is stinking, fetid bilge water to get rid of, irate Costa Rican Coast Guard sailors with guns, storms, rocky coastlines, failing engines and even pirates to deal with. Thousands of repairs. The allocated funds begin to fly away at alarming speeds. Still, Mr. Kennedy is maniacally driven to get to Panama where decent shipyards are available to get the needed repairs done for the second leg of the journey north to Washington DC. He later tells us:

Maxwell Taylor Kennedy

“. . . this book is not so much about the attempted salvage of a decrepit schooner as it is one man’s attempt to come to terms with personal demons through the challenges of an ocean voyage.”

I’m not so sure about personal demons, for Mr. Kennedy is a fairly well-grounded person (he is the ninth child of the late Robert F. Kennedy) with a loving, supportive family. I believe the demons were already waiting aboard the Valkyrie (recall the crows) and would have been visited upon anyone trying to sail her out of that lonely berth in California. The voyage, however, brought out the best – and sometimes the worst – in Mr. Kennedy, but as he mentions in the book, he prefers to face danger head-on rather than dwell on any imagined fear that might grieve him.

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Sea Change is a riveting sailing story, deeply thoughtful and startlingly honest in the telling. Here is a man that can take control of any situation at sea, and the outcome, while not always pretty, was one that at the very least spared your life. Whether you read this book for pure escapism or to satisfy a nautical interest, as a sailor or a landlubber, Sea Change will richly reward the attention of any reader of true adventure.

“This is a daring story of perseverance, desperation, self-enlightenment and humility. A man, a boat, a dream of the sea. This is the story of a mariner and love.”
––Captain Keith Colburn, F/V Wizard, as seen on Deadliest Catch

Sea Change: A Man, A Boat, A Journey Home by Maxwell Taylor Kennedy
Islandport Press

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This article has been Digiproved © 2018 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Islandport Press

Some Rights Reserved  

Original content here is published under these license terms:
License Type:  Non-commercial, Attribution
Abstract:  You may copy this content, create derivative work from it, and re-publish it for non-commercial purposes, provided you include an overt attribution to the author(s).
License URL:  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Arrow’s Flight by Joel Scott

In Joseph Conrad’s autobiographical short story Youth, we are introduced to Marlowe, who upon initially sighting the ship he is to join in his first commision wistfully states:

“There was a touch of romance in it, something that made me love the old thing – something that appealed to my youth!”

Similarly, when Arrow’s Flight protagonist Jared Kane sights the wooden ketch Arrow for the first time:

“She was laying into the sunset and seemed to float in a coppery sea of light, her tall amber masts suspended above her. Sometimes that first impression colours everything that follows and so it was with me and Arrow.”

A ketch, similar to Arrow.

Arrow’s Flight (2018, ECW Press) by Joel Scott is an adventure story worthy of the master himself. I also wondered if the Conrad connection even went as far as the boat’s name Arrow (from Conrad’s novel Arrow of Gold, about – among other things – arms smuggling by boat). There is yet another Conrad similarity, this time regarding the author, Joel Scott. Like Conrad, he came from a landlocked area (the Canadian Prairies) and became familiar with sailing. His bio says he worked as a fisherman, and as a yacht broker. No doubt this enabled him to put various touches of authenticity into the story, like the numerous fishing pursuits available on the West Coast, the myriad details of the Arrow and other pleasure craft that appear throughout the book.

Jared’s Story

Jared Kane was tragically orphaned at a young age and raised by loveless and strict Christian grandparents until he was old enough to leave their farm. Since then, he spent time in the fishing industry, crewed on a yacht and spent 2 years in jail on a trumped-up assault charge. As the book begins, Jared is back in the city after another fishing season has ended. He finds in his mail a letter from a lawyer informing him that he is being bequeathed the Arrow by his old friend Bill Calder who has just passed away from cancer. His widow, Meg hopes that the Arrow will “be the catalyst” that will help Jared break free of his personal history and “move beyond it.” Jared lovingly restores the parts of Arrow that time has taken its toll on and he lives aboard her.

“I lay on the bed a long time [….] thinking about the past and how it all wove into the present: it had all started on a sailboat and now a sailboat was giving me a chance to make a fresh beginning, to wipe away the old mistakes and bitterness and move on, and I swore I would not foul up this time no matter what. I should have known better.”

His immediate plan is for him and his friend Danny to take a trip down the coast to Mexico. Danny is reluctant for his fishing season was not so financially productive. Jared tells him not to worry, for he had a good season and he and Danny can pick up odd jobs as they cruise southward. Danny agrees and a departure date is set. Jared reflects:

“I congratulated myself on how quickly it was all coming together. It all fell apart even more quickly.”

The last sentences of both quotes above (“I should have known better” and “It all fell apart even more quickly”) foreshadow that for Jared, his old way of life hovers over him and hampers any positive changes he wishes to make. Danny, wanting to get quick money to pay his end of expenses for the Mexico trip, uncharacteristically gets involved in a smash and grab that lands him in the hospital, being left for dead by his two accomplices. Jared, feeling that he is partially responsible for Danny’s impetuous action, tries to get Danny a lighter sentence by helping the police arrest the ones who left Danny for dead, the drug dealing Lebel brothers, from Quebec. This is the jumping off point of the novel, and it occurs less than 90 pages in.

The Crew

Aside from Jared, the other characters in Jared’s circle are quite likeable as well: Annie, a Haida who is like a mother to Jared, and her youngest son Danny MacLean, who is part Haida, part Scot; large, strong and a good worker. Annie’s father Joseph is a Haida Elder and shaman is quite old (“somewhere close to ninety”) and only speaks in old Haida dialects, soft, low and with a “murmur of sibilance.” He appears to understand English when spoken to, however. A unique character, he is still youthful at heart, coming and going when he wants, and wherever he wishes. He appears to be a type of talisman, a touchstone for an earlier age of wisdom and sagacity. He is also Raven clan (Raven was a trickster), which is advantageous for Jared and Danny at times. Joseph additionally provides subtle comic relief throughout the book. While Jared and Danny are most agreeable to the reader despite their rough past, Joseph is, by far, the most likable, and it is refreshing to see a strong Indigenous character given such a central role.

The adventures really start when Jared and the others “kidnap” Danny from an ambulance and get him aboard the Arrow where Jared feels he will be safer from those out to finish him off. It appears that when Danny got involved with the Lebel brothers, he heard or saw something (which Danny can’t recall for the life of him) and now someone wants him dead, as well as Jared and Joseph since they are all together now. The three of them decide to hightail it to Mexico, but not until they load up with plenty of guns and supplies.


Arrow’s Flight is a riveting story which propagates even more nail-biting as the boys sail further south and escape attempts on their lives by whomever it is that is able to trace their every move. Nevertheless, there are periods, or interludes when the three actually get to enjoy themselves on their trip, meet love interests and make new friends. It serves to ease the tension (of both the characters and the reader) until the next clash with danger. Also, when alone, Danny gets to reflect on where his life has taken him.

“My life was not my own, and never had been. Not when I was a child, not when I left the prison, and never since. It seemed there was a special vengeance reserved for me and those I loved. My family taken as a child, and everything since a cruel irony. A second chance with Annie and Joseph and the family, and then the gift of Arrow, which should have changed my life but instead had led to tragedy and death for those around me.”

I can’t say enough good things about Arrow’s Flight; it’s not merely a good guys/bad guys action/adventure set on the water, but also a lesson in the fact that every action has consequences, and responsibility must be taken for the choices one has made. Another takeaway is to trust in those who love you and don’t be afraid to confide in them, for you never know when you’ll need them in a tight situation.

Consider putting Arrow’s Flight on your Summer reading list (I’m adding it to my “Summer Reads” category) and I’m also adding it to my long list for a 2018 “The Very Best!” Book Award for Fiction. 5 stars!

(Note: this review was based on an Advance Reading Copy supplied by ECW Press.)

This article has been Digiproved © 2018 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Joel Scott, ECW Press

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Adventures of a Grenfell Nurse by Rosalie M. Lombard

There is a meme floating around the Internet that states: “Don’t live the same year 75 times over and call it a life”. For at least two years of her substantial life (born in 1927, she is still alive as of this writing), Rosalie Lombard could not be accused of any sort of repetition as she served as a nurse for the Grenfell Mission in St. Anthony, Newfoundland. Train wreck, dogsled trips to assist very remote patients, delivering a baby onboard a steamship, sailing trips and more made up the years 1952-1954.

A small, but important piece of Newfoundland & Labrador history has been preserved for the ages by Ms Lombard.

What is engrossing about Adventures of a Grenfell Nurse (2017, Flanker Press) is the time period: the early 50’s and Newfoundland & Labrador is no longer a British colony, but part of the Dominion of Canada. Getting around “the Rock” is still fairly primitive: the narrow-gauge railway on which the “Newfie Bullet” runs, good roads in rural areas are pretty much non-existent (especially in winter) and medical supplies are hard to come by. Surgeries had to be done with the most basic of equipment, yet patient outcomes were favourable for the most part, thanks to the expertise of Dr Gordon W. Thomas to whom the book is dedicated.

Fully half of the book is taken up by the fascinating day-to-day narrative of a voyage onboard the Northern Messenger, a 45-foot ketch-rigged ship (fitted with a 25 HP motor) which once sailed up and down the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador for the Grenfell Mission, ferrying patients to and from hospitals. However, in 1953 it was half submerged in waters off Murray’s Point and had to be righted and put into dry dock before she could be sailed anywhere. This was done and Rosalie and a few others were off on another adventure, using some free time to act as crew members attempting to get the owner to Boston in time for the birth of his first child, “with a little luck, in ten day’s time”. Things turned out much differently than anticipated, however!

In her “Afterthoughts – 2016” at the end of her book she writes:

“During the past five to ten years, my thoughts have increasingly turned to the time I spent in St. Anthony and the realisation that those experiences were truly unique. Although it was just a two-year slice out of my eighty-nine years, it has had a profound impact.”

It is evident from reading this book that Ms Lombard genuinely enjoyed her short period of time which she spent with the Grenfell Mission. Her lively recollections are as vivid as if they just happened, though over sixty years have passed. Her reminisces in Adventures of a Grenfell Nurse will be of particular interest to health care professionals, as well as the armchair adventurer. A small, but important piece of Newfoundland & Labrador history has been preserved for the ages by Ms Lombard.

Adventures of a Grenfell Nurse
by Rosalie M. Lombard
Flanker Press

This article has been Digiproved © 2017 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

Joshua Slocum: The Captain Who Sailed Around the World by Quentin Casey

This book is part of the “Stories of Our Past” series published by Nimbus. The look and feel of this book is very polished. It is only a little over 120 pages, but Mr. Casey manages to condense a full lifetime of Captain Slocum’s adventures and trials into these few pages. There are plenty of colour and B&W illustrations throughout the book, printed on good high quality paper.

The target audience for this book would be the general reader, perhaps even young adults. In fact, it kind of reminds me of the “How and Why Wonder Book” series of illustrated books that were popular with young people back in the 60’s and 70’s (see: https://www.pinterest.com/rastin/how-…) I still have my How and Why Wonder Book of WWII, in fact.

Many years ago, I read Captain Slocum’s Sailing Alone around the World and found it fascinating reading. Fascinating not only for the feat itself (he was the first person to sail around the world alone) but also for it’s engaging sense of adventure and the Captain’s writing style, which was very good considering he left home at a very young age to go to sea.

However, I always had this vision of him retiring to a quiet shore life after attaining fame and (some) fortune from his globe-encircling trek. This was not the case, as this volume by author Quentin Casey well describes.

Mr. Casey includes a bibliography at the end of various books he used in his research and freely quotes from throughout each chapter. With a cover price of $15.95, this would make a nice gift for anyone with an interest in Maritime/Nautical history. I would definitely enjoy examining the “Stories of Our Past” series of books further.

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This article has been Digiproved © 2018 James FisherSome Rights Reserved