The Beginning

Eagle Rock

Original Letter to Patt King, WWBA Historian

Hi Patt, we took ownership of the “Eagle Rock”, July 1998; she was tied up at Ucluelet, our beauty. This begins the travel to the organisation we know today as the Westcoast Work Boat Association. Watching the owners at our various gatherings, I see the same sense of love for their vessels that I felt at the turn of the century. I was twitter pated to use an old expression; there were not enough hours in the weekends to do what I wanted to do for this boat.

By 2000, we had spent enough hours pulling things apart, cleaning, painting, learning, to feel confident enough to head north, Alaska our hope, but anything north of Nanaimo would have been fine, whatever happened, however it happened was OK. That summer turned into a very memorable time, with no schedule to keep, that magic carpet took us where ever our whims led us. Chance conversations on upcoast docks told of more areas to see, our next destinations, it was wonderful. By the time we finally crossed 54 40 going north the summer was getting on, after visiting Ketchikan we turned south, getting back home in time to attend the Victoria Wooden Boat Festival.

Flush with that awesome trip just finished, the boat looking mighty fine with it’s recent paint job, I met with one of the festival’s organisers, picture in hand, asking if I could be included in next year’s meet. Well the reception I received would have cooled the flames of hell, at least for awhile anyway. Well you know Patt, that drive back to Nanaimo was pretty quiet for a little while, thinking about that long nose I had just witnessed. I suppose it was that Irish blood that prompted me to say, hell, I’ll create my own festival! Cecile reminded me about that the other day. I had forgotten about that little scene and had never thought to mention it when asked how I got started into this business.

By the third week in September 2000, I had contacted several owners who we had met upcoast about the possibility of organising a gathering of these workboats just to have a beer, share ideas, generally show off the boats we loved so much. Well they all expressed a desire to do such a thing, so the wheels were set in motion. Everywhere I explored, the expression of interest and support was overwhelming, by the first week of October a rough plan was on the drawing board, no dates or venue had been decided, but we had sort of discussed spring of 2001 as a target. Unfortunately a family tragedy took place after that first week in October and my interest in boats and a gathering of same just didn’t seem to matter anymore. Slowly with calls from the other people pushing, things began to move ahead again, but like the present quest for locations to hold a large number of large boats, where do you put any number of boats for a weekend was the biggest stumbling block. We sure expected a lot hey Patt; here we are all ready expecting a large number of boats!

On my only trip on the Fastcat, that winter, I met Tony Grove, boatbuilder, artist, who had just moved to Gabriola to teach at the Silva Bay Wooden Boat School. In the ensuing conversation, the idea of a workboat gathering came up and the attractive possibility of Silva Bay as it’s venue was brought forth. Tony suggested I should phone Fred Apstein, the manager of the boat school, as anything to do with boats would be of interest to him. The first call to Fred rather astounded me, he thought it was a great idea, we talked at length of what that weekend could encompass. His suggestions included one that the school could do a plank replacement as a focal point throughout the Saturday and the idea of workshops for maintaining these boats came into focus. The re-planking exercise did not happen but Tony did a remarkable presentation of using bits and pieces of scrap wood and Tyvek to build a full-size mockup of the cabin you had an idea of to put on your boat. The idea being to get your lines and spaces worked out using cheap materials before you start cutting up the expensive stuff.

So you know Patt the show was coming together, whenever I needed encouragement or talk through an idea or work through a sticking point, I would call Fred, his enthusiasm was the much needed grease to keep the wheels turning smoothly. From then on it was a lot of dock walking, putting notes in windows of likely looking works in progress, encouraging people I met to show up, getting the poster out, 50 bucks, Fred paid half, I the other half. Best 25$ I ever spent! My brothers and friends were pressed into service putting up posters around the Gulf.

The marina at Silva Bay had just been taken over by a young couple, as was previously mentioned the enthusiasm that other people showed when I approached them about this idea was really encouraging, Brian and his wife were no exception, they supported the gathering wholeheartedly, and in the following year invited me to sit in on their planning meetings when we decided to be part of their marine festival and the schools boat launching party.

Another idea of Fred’s that is still with us today, he assured us that we could get reasonable moorage if we would have our weekends on the haunches of the boating season. Anyway Patt, from that start till the weekend in September 2001, my world was dock walking, putting up posters, writing notes on boats, phoning people to pursue ideas, writing letters to magazines, generally getting into a tizzy, cause I really didn’t know what to expect. I was so nervous, Fred kept telling me to chill out, it will be just fine. And it was better than fine, the boaters were a bit shy that first time, they didn’t know whether or not they wanted to tie up next to those plastic things, so a good proportion of them anchored out in the extreme reaches of Silva Bay. The contingent from Powell River were barely visible in the North corner, we fixed that though, my friend Gordon Mcdonald, cleaned the fish scales out of his herring skiff, 20 people would climb on and go visiting the anchorees. It was quite exciting at one point when the unannounced visiting folk were going through the cabin when the lady of the boat stepped out of the shower. It really was a hoot.

Here’s a list of the boats that attended September 2001. Oh yeah Patt, just remembered, the weather was all you could ask for, for such an event, it was gorgeous.

Alaskan morphed into the Maggie

Ardis from Vancouver, Washington

Beaver V powered by Easthope, morphed into the Hope Isle, then into the Beamsville

Christine B morphed into Alisa

Eagle Rock

Early Mist

Fan Isle

Forest Dispatcher

Kev Ann

Lord Tennyson sailboat now tied up at Cow Bay on the breakwater different name now, same owner

Matilda

Miss Audrey

Northern Cross former church boat out of Prince Rupert

Pacific Princess

Polaris

Vigorous

Western Mist

Western Standard

Willmar ll

There was a boat out of Fulford, conversion happening, came in late, anchored out, didn’t get her name, although the gang boarded her and looked through her new aft cabin that wasn’t finished. There also was another fish boat anchored near Harvey Gifford down Page’s way, didn’t get her name either.

Crew present without their vessels; from the Bona Fisher, Julie May, Restless Wind, Remora#1, Green Sea, Island Shadow, Silver Star No1 and Mango.

Well Patt that’s about all for the moment, I hope I didn’t miss anyone, my record keeping is pretty hokey at the best of times, we didn’t have our super efficient Loretta doing registrations, actually there were no registrations. To get a name for the happening many were considered, Silva Bay Workboat Rendezvous, Gabriola Workboat Weekend, Gabriola’s Silva Bay Retired Vessel Rendezvous, they were all kind of a mouthful, but I noticed the WWW showing up on the computer, hey that’s it, Westcoast Workboat Weekend! It encompassed all workboats, and as Fred was fond of saying, we’ll welcome all workboats and anyone who wants to hang out with such a crowd. Kind of works hey! Terry