A Sailor’s Story
Born on March 8th, 1948, in St. John, New Brunswick, the first child to Stuart Upham and Tine Kooi, a boy sailor named Harold Hart Upham.
Stuart and Tine met and fell in love in Holland just after WWII ended. Stuart returned to Canada and awaited his bride to be. Tine was able to find passage once all the soldiers had returned home, on a “Liberty Ship” These boats were built to bring supplies to Britain during the war, then used after the war for passenger liners. Tine arrived in New York in July, 1947, eager to join her fiance and start a new life, full of adventure and promise. The harbor was cloaked in such heavy fog that the ship had to wait outside the entrance for the fog to lift. As Tine stood on the gunnel, waiting anxiously and watching for Stuart, a man approached her and asked her whom she was meeting. She replied, “my fiance,” then the man said, “oh, it happens often that they never show up.” This made Tine even more nervous while there was no sign of Stuart. Meanwhile Stuart had been waiting for word of whether the ship had entered the harbor, and when he found out he went straight down to meet Tine. Reunited and greatly relieved after the long separation, they traveled back to New Brunswick by train and were married shortly after.
Their new life started with Stuart resuming his job as a tea buyer and taster, while Tine cared for their growing family. Four children and six years later, many adjustments were made for an immigrating bride. In Holland Tine’s family had always had a maid, so we can only imagine the work involved, learning to cook, clean and wash diapers!! Harold remembers his mother being very nurturing, with a European influence to her decorating which was very pleasant.
Trips abroad were arranged every few years to visit the Dutch relatives. The first time Harold went he was 2 1/2 years old. It took 10 days to cross the Atlantic by boat, arriving in London, then transiting to Rotterdam, where the Grandparent’s would pick them up, then drove across the Oflodyke (21 kms long) to their home in Friesland.
Harold’s first memory about small boats was approximately at age 5 or 6. He remembers looking dreamily at a sketch in a magazine of a sailboat called “Flying Cloud.” He mused that this would be a nice way to live. The magazine was from the 20’s or 30’s, “Dad never threw anything out.” At age 7 he found Popular Boating magazines and was fascinated by the Chris Craft boats. Since they lived in a harbor city there were plenty of boats to admire whenever the family went down to the sea.
Stuart started telling some of his friends how interested his son was in boats and it wasn’t long before he was invited to go out on their boats. Norm Harrison took him out on “Oh Yes,” a power boat, and Dr. Murphy took him out for his first sail on his day sailor, which was a small sloop.
In 1957, at 9 1/2 the family returned to Holland, again on a Liberty Ship, the “Grote Bear.” They return trip was on the Dutch luxury liner “The Van Oldenbarnevelt,” which later, sadly burned and sank off the coast of Africa. Reportedly, the Greek crew and owners all jumped ship, leaving the passengers behind. Luckily, everyone was rescued.
“Mom always got seasick, she brought alot of comic books for us to read”, “We read them all the first day, but there were kids’ activities to participate in and jigsaws to build things out of wood, and lots of kids to play with.” The children’s area was at the stern.
Click this link for a video of the Van Oldenbarnevelt.
NOW – 2018
Seven decades, and 8 years living aboard OMOO, a 43′ Jeanneau DS and fully enjoying taking trips up and down the West Coast of British Columbia, the Skipper and 1st mate set out for another summer sailing adventure.
Leaving the dock at Maple Bay Marina, which is home port, on June 23, our destination is north to the Broughtons. The skipper spends his winters doing maintenance and repairs to get ready for the summer trips. This year one of the projects took “forever” to complete, so we left anyway. The furnace which had failed, was removed and sent away to be repaired, and the installation and bleeding all the lines of air pockets was a “nightmare.” BUT, if we never left until everything was ready, we’d never leave, so we left anyway. The tools and project materials were not so carefully stowed in buckets and boxes in the V-Berth. No room for guests yet!!
Our first night we were back to Clam Bay, our 2nd home, and an easy sail within 2-3 hours. After a peaceful night at anchor we’re off to transit Dodd Narrows at slack tide, along with a dozen other boats.
The weather changed suddenly from calm and sunny to torrential rain and increasing winds, so we gave up our usual plan to catch a mooring buoy at New Castle Island across from Nanaimo Harbor and radioed into the Nanaimo Harbor Authority to request overnight moorage, as did the other dozen boats coming from Dodd. It was pandemonium on the dock in a storm, with everyone arriving at once and the warfinger running around like mad trying to direct traffic and catch lines. Everyone eventually got tied down, but the scariest moment for us was pulling around the breakwater into the marina at the same time a 45 foot American power boat that was having trouble docking and decided to back out, without looking. We swung out of his way just in time to avoid a collision. “No slamming on the breaks out here.” Not even the woman on the stern was looking back, they were all looking forward at who knows what.
But, we were headed to the wilderness and this is all part of boating, “Anything can happen.”
OMOO loves having company and so after docking, Harold’s nephew Di and wife Sarah arrived for the evening, we are getting to know them better as they are the only relatives on this coast, and a very fun young couple to chat with. In the morning good friends arrive to catch up, Ken and Tanis are our long term friends and crew, they help us with haul-outs and come sailing every summer. They are a total joy to have aboard. Rick and Wendy found us while out for their morning walk along the boardwalk surrounding the harbor. Rick and Harold met at Van Isle Marina when Harold first bought his boat, then later Harold followed Rick to Maple Bay Marina, which is the perfect live aboard community. It’s all good on OMOO when friends visit.
We pushed off the dock later and slid over to the mooring buoys at New Castle Isl for a restful night so we could set sail in the morning. We motored out of the harbor inside New Castle Island where there are hundreds of boats at various marinas. It was an extremely low tide due to the Super Moon so care was taken throught the narrow channel. Unfortunely, one beautiful new sailboat had hit or run aground, which is a disturbing sight to see. There were a few power boats there to assist but they may have had to wait for the tide to rise to get off the rocks.
Winds were 15-20 knots NW on the Salish Sea, and although our original destination was Comox via French Creek we quickly ditched that plan opting for a better transit with the sails close hauled heading across the Strait. Jedediah was within sights but the sailing was so sweet we kept going. We ended up on the Sunshine Coast in a favorite anchorage in Secret Cove. IT’S A SECRET WHERE WE ANCHOR!! (cause we managed to figure out the code for a yacht club)
WE LUV A GOOD SAIL AND WHENEVER WE HEAD OUT WE KEEP A GENERAL DIRECTION IN MIND, BUT ARE FREE TO GO WHERE THE WIND TAKES US. WE CONSIDER THIS THE BEST WAY TO MAKE THE MOST OF OUR SAILING TRIPS AND IT’S WHAT THE BOAT WAS BUILT FOR.
Leaving Secret Cove in cloud and light winds we motored north to Texada and pulled into Sturt Bay. The docks at Texada Boat Club are inviting and very protected from the NW winds. The walk around town and up to the pub (which burned down 2 years ago and is now refurbished and reopened) is a treat for a meal and a great view. Next day we are again off under motor in light wind and clouds and occasional rain showers.
Lund has a destination bakery and is a treat we never miss. Every year it’s a must to stop and enjoy visiting Nancy’s Bakery for the best sourdough bread in the world. The Boardwalk Cafe for evening music and a delicious Boardwalk Burger which is their lamb burger. BUT, our most important tradition in Lund is to have a tool sorting party while listening to some good country music by Corb Lund. We get the music going and if anyone on the dock is from Alberta they’ll recognize it and mosey on over. Harold doesn’t quite get the attraction but he suffers through two full CD’s, which causes him to sort the tools faster so the music stops. We get the V-berth free for extra company and stuff stored where it belongs once again. The final adjustments are done to the heating system so we can use the furnace in the long deep inlets where cooler winds blow down from the snow fields and glaciers. The laundry gets done and more fuel, wine and groceries are acquired so we’re set for the wilderness.
Once again we’re off the dock and away to Desolation Sound, under sail to another favourite anchorage at Walsh Cove.
We decide it’s a good opportunity to practice a stern tie, as every year we seem to forget some important steps. WELL THIS YEAR WE GOT THAT PART RIGHT. Alighning the boat so it’s perpendicular to the tree we’re tied to became a major F*#k-UP. While I scrambled ashore with the end of the stern line I miscalculated which tree to tie to, which caused us to be 45 degrees to the shore with a very picturesque rock wall that we snugged up to. We joked about how close we were stern-tied, almost being able to walk off the stern onto the rock!! This was ok when the wind stayed calm but later that evening the wind blew up and we were getting way too close for comfort so off came the stern tie and in came the anchor. We like to mix it up.
The skipper had a bit of a medical issue the day before (he was peeing blood) but once it resolved itself he felt SO GOOD he agreed to come ashore to Gorges Island to visit the Oyster Catchers who so enthusiastically inhabit the island with it’s gazillions of oysters. Well, getting him into the dingy is like getting a giraffe onto a trampoline. What do we do with those 4 foot long legs?? Now, understandably, it’s one of the reasons he doesn’t particularly enjoy getting off the boat at anchor, but today he was committed to being a good scout and taking part in a little trek to the island. This all went horribly wrong after landing the dingy in a shallow approach on the rocks, where I stepped out and held the dingy in place so long legs could get himself sorted and out of the dingy. One foot on a rock and the second foot on the way onto another rock, realizing a little too late it was wet and slippery. SPLAT!! THERE WAS 6’4′ OF HAROLD FLAT ON A BED OF OYSTERS AND BARNACLES, NARROWLY MISSING HITTING HIS HEAD ON ANOTHER ROCK. It happened so fast!! Then the bleeding started, with cuts to ear, hands and knees. BLOODY HELL, there was blood everywhere. He bleeds like a siv, (due to his warfarin). What a sight and what a shock, we both scurried back in the dingy and got back to OMOO to clean and apply pressure bandages to stop all the bleeding. We then soaked his clothes and cleaned the trail of blood off the dingy, stern and cockpit. Once we got a bit more settled down, seeing that it looked worse than it was, and realizing it could have been so much worse, we were very relieved he was ok. He won’t be getting off the boat while at anchor again any time soon (likely never).
Later that evening we had a small fireworks show from someone on the island and it was a perfect ending for our FUST (f*#k up stern tie), BLOODY HELL dingy trip and CANADA DAY.
HAPPY CANADA DAY, WE ARE SO HAPPY TO BE ALIVE!!
Well that brings us up to today, where we now are at Toba Wildernest Marina, with a breathtaking view, power to shine more stuff and wifi to write more blogs!!