Then and Now 3
Reaching adulthood, Harold graduated high school and got a job at a pickle plant in Sussex, New Brunswick. He was saving money for university and started that fall in St. John then went to UNB in Fredrickton to get his Bachelor of Science in Engineering. He worked the summers, first painting houses and then got hired by Warnock Hersey testing bitumen at the Irving Oil Refinery. Then tested concrete when the company set up a lab in St. John. After his 3rd year he tested bitumen at an Imperial Oil Refinery in Halifax.
Sailing was still a priority but he didn’t get back to St. John often since he didn’t have a car. Once, he took the train and went sailing again. After 4th year Harold got a job at Fraser Pulp Mill in Edmunston, N.B. in the engineering office. After graduating in 1971 at age 23 engineering jobs were hard to find close to home so he took a job in Labrador at Wabush Mines which was an iron mine. The job lasted two years, and he did not enjoy it but it was good experience. He was foreman in maintenance, and the equipment was huge. By now he could afford a car, and since it was a very isolated location he put his car on the train to get in and out. There was good skiing and he often went night skiing and could view the northern lights.
He’d saved enough money to take a trip back to Holland in 1972 to visit his grandparents. His cousin Hessel was married by now to Selma. Hessel worked on the family tulip farm and had built a forklift that would attach to the back of a truck. The forklift was for lifting boxes of tulips. Hessel was approached by an owner of a silage processor to make some forklifts for him, which was the start of further development of fork lift factories, pattening the product and shipping them all over the world. The machine was called the Kooi Ap (the family name, ap meaning monkey in Dutch) and was later sold to Telladine then Moffat. Now these machines are seen everywhere. IE – on the back of Home Depot trucks.
The engineering gene was strong in this family. Although Hessel had trained in horticulture, he experimented all the time. Hessel later built a sailboat that could walk up the beach. He had bought a 30′ steel sailboat with an unfinished hull and deck. The first thing he did was cut off the hull at the water line, then welded on his own hull and a keel that would split in half and would come out like wings to form two platforms that would hydraulically walk up the beach so his kids could step off the boat and play close by. Harold’s connection to Hessel and his family had a big influence on his life and he thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them.
Harold left the Wabush mine after his 25th birthday and looked for a job in St. John. He was hired by Lockwood in Moncton, as a plant engineer in window manufacturing. This afforded him the means to buy his own sailboat and in 1975 at age 27 he bought a brand new – right from the factory, Tanzer 22 #1017. He sailed on weekends out of Schediac (lobster capital of the world). He sailed up and down the N.B. coast and to P.E.I. He named his boat Joshua after whom he thought was a loyalist ancestor. People would ask him if he’d named the boat after Joshua Slocum who was a famous sailor (1st man to sail around the world). Coincidently, there is a Harold Upham in California who is also a famous sailor (for extensive sailing trips) and he also named his boat Joshua. These things are known due to the internet.
Many things were learned on these sailing trips. On one trip to P.E.I. he blew the Tanzer logo and number off the sails from sailing in too big a wind. He also found out the lockers in the cockpit were not sealed or waterproof when his gas tank started banging around when they were taking water in over the side of the cockpit. He bailed in a hurry to stop the boat from sinking.
Later on he moved the boat to the St. John River at St. John Marina. He was on the river every chance he had, also leading to lots of learning. One time he went on the wrong side of a buoy and slid the boat straight onto an old barge and found himself and Joshua lying on their side until the tide came up a bit and the boat slid back down. Another time he had to tack quickly while sailing under the spinaker ,to get out of the way of an oncoming ferry, he beached the boat, so he took the spinaker off and they were able to shove the boat back into the water. There were many, many days of joyful sailing and running aground regularly. There was a deep drop off at the river’s edge, allowing Joshua to sail close to shore, close enough to pick the flowers, but then the river would suddenly be shallow and they would run aground. The river was warm so Harold would jump in the water and push his boat back into the water and keep going. There was no depth sounder or radio. Often times friends and family came out on weekends when everything went right!!
One holiday Harold took the opportunity to sail on a 125 yr old schooner off the coast of Maine with 15 other passengers. This was alot of fun, he remembers being the only Canadian.
No physical symptoms of Marfans developed during this time, other than Harold was unable to develop strong muscles. His grip was always good, which he feels was from sailing, and his work was not physically taxing. He lived on oatmeal, peanut butter sandwiches and sardines. He tried learning to cook which was “hit and miss” He’d took Power and Sail Sqaudron Courses so would grab a Sub Sandwich and eat it in the parking lot before attending a course.
Blind Channel is a welcoming spot for fuel and a few provisions. It has a current running through which either helps or hinders boats from docking. The wind and current weren’t in our favor but with a little help from the dock hands and crew of the other boats we might hit we tied up in a mix of rain and sun. The next morning was foggy but it burned off by noon which is when we needed to leave to hit the slack tide at Green Point rapids, then catch the current through Whirlpool Rapids and land in Forward Harbor for the night. While getting off the fuel dock at Blind Channel when Grant and Lesley from Maple Bay were tying up so we waved hello and goodbye.
In Forward Harbor we found our next door neighbors from Maple Bay anchored, or rather they saw us coming in and yelled a hello while we were anchoring. It was a fun visit aboard “Gypsy Spirit” that evening, with their salmon chowder and our chili with homemade bread and some lovely wine. We learned something new from Chris and Susan, that KY Jelly can fix anything!! Apparently the lube is effective for more than what it is intentioned!!
Off we went the next morning into Johnstone Strait with forecasted gale winds but we got lucky and were out and into Port Neville before the winds got going. We explored the inlet and went through the narrow channel into upper Port Neville which has good holding in a protected anchorage. There were some old pilings and logging equipment on shore and other than that we had the inlet to ourselves. The NW gale did blow up that night and we could hear it overhead without any waves building so we were very comfortable.
One thing about an anchorages like this is it gets so dark, especially with a cloud cover, that we sleep very well and wake so rested. Back out into Johnstone Strait in 8 knot winds. We’ll take it!! First a whale watching boat came by and pulled alongside close to ask if we’d spotted whales anywhere, the passengers all waving at us. That was a first, we usually watch the whale watching boats to see where they are to spot any whales. We had not seen any so away they went. A little later they caught up to another whale watcher and found the pod of Orcas. We watched for awhile from a distance then continued on our route to Port Harvey. A pod of dolphins visited, swimming in the bow wave, always delighting us with their company. SOOOO beautiful.
We reached Port Harvey and tied up mid-day, ordered our home made pizza – George’s specialty (the marina owner) and took a little walk up the ramp to a lovely bench looking over the bay. We learned later that the industry in the bay have been expanding against by-laws so Marina owners George and wife have taken their opposition to the Supreme Coart of B.C. So, things aren’t always as peaceful as they seem here in these remote islands.
Off the dock just as Susan and Chris from Gypsy Spirit arrive, we say hello and goodbye and head up Chatham Channel to Tribune Channel and enjoy a sail under light winds and more visits from Dolphins. They say hello very briefly as they are obviously in the middle of fishing, then dart back to their side of the channel foraging for food.
We anchored in Kwatsi Bay in low cloud. We are in one of our favourite spots as the dolphins come in for night and we watched them in the morning.
The biggest thrill of the trip happened the next day, as we motored past Trivet Island, we were hailed on the radio, asking more details about OMOO (size and make). Then the person on the radio announced they were the previous owner. Switching to another channel so we could talk more Harold talked to Denny on Jersey Girl, whom he had so hoped to meet at some point. As the boats got closer we cut the engine and went of deck to say hello. They said they were very emotional seeing us as they loved OMOO and only had to give up sailing due to aging and being unable to manage the climb in and out of the cabin. They were on a 60′ yacht.
We were able to ask why they named her OMOO and Denny said exactly what we had researched, OMOO is a book written by Herman Melville and means “Wanderer” in Polynesian. What an awesome chance meeting on the water. Later at Sullivan Bay some other boaters who met Denny and his wife at another marina, said they were telling them of our meeting with tears in their eyes. We could tell by all the extras on OMOO that they had put alot into this boat, and I had relayed to them a little bit about how the Skipper being an engineer had kept everything in great condition.
We carried on to Sullivan Bay, feeling very VERY lucky about our experience and so happy to be where we are, in a life where dreams come true!! Sullivan Bay is a lovely posh marina run by American float home owners. Everything is done up beautifully and we thoroughly enjoy our stopover. The next morning we are lounging in our dock chairs enjoying the surrounding view while waiting for slack tide at the Narrows to enter Drury Inlet. We meet and chat with our neighbors, Peter and Helen. Peter is celebrating his 82 Bday today and we wish him Happy Bday. Then ALOT of big power boats pull in, obstructing out view and as space runs out on the dock, we run away to get the quiet anchorage across the way until slack tide.
We find Drury Inlet to be quite desolate, even the little marina in Jennis Bay has been abandoned. We anchored in behind a small island which gave us protection from the wind and had another dark peaceful night. Next day we woke up to low, low tide and alot of exposed beach on the bay. We researched the time for slack tide to get out thru the narrows and I will now describe what I am going to call a “Pseudo Slack” and I have promised the skipper to blame this on the chart plotter. It turns out we went against the current at a very dangerous time, having to dodge debris, weeds and underlying rocks between whirlpools and 7 knot current. We got pushed around alot and crawled over to some back eddies where we were going 9 knots with the current suddenly, and then back into the whirlpools and junk. What a stressful ride. I would call it thrilling but my mind was busy thinking of all the possible things that could go wrong, like a log popping up and hitting the hull, punching a hole through the fiberglass, or getting caught in the rudder or propeller and wrecking it, making us lose steering or power. That along with it being dead calm so we could not have sailed back out of the narrows. I also wondered how would the dingy respond in this situation if we had to abandon ship. Where was my knife in case I have to cut the lines to the dingy quickly?? Well OMOO did not let us down, but got us through safely. Both through the narrows and our stupidity for not figuring this out accurately. WHEW, were we happy to get back to calm waters and an uneventful trip across the Queen Charlotte Strait to Port McNeill.
Here we are, another week of adventures, all intact, just like it never happened!!