Last summer, Pat and I accompanied Blaine and Lisa on a daysail out of Gold River on the MV Uchuck III.  A wonderful voyage down the Muchalot inlet on the west coast of Vancouver Island from Gold River to Friendly Cove on the Pacific.  This was a sort of commemorative sailing with Dave Young the son of the first owner / skipper of the line of Uchuck motor vessels on board with his family.  Dave himself later became the owner/skipper of the Uchuck boats until his retirement in 1994.   A beautiful day although Blaine missed most of it because he had taken a pill to avoid sea sickness that just made him sleepy the whole day.  Irony was it was dead calm for the entire voyage.

The Uchuck III was originally a WWII minesweeper made of wood.  A sister ship of the famous Cousteau Calypso.

Anyway, for Christmas Blaine gave me an copy of the book The Uchuck Years signed by the author Dave Young.  I just finished reading it and thoroughly loved it.  Not my usual action novel just a history and set of recollections about a small shipping firm that formed in 1945 and served the mining, forestry and fishing camps up and down the inlets on the west coast of Vancouver Island (and still operates today).  In the early days there were no roads to Ucluelet or any of the communities on the west coast of the island.  All the supplies and people were serviced by small coastal vessels.

When we were on the trip, Pat and I briefly talked to Dave.  I had asked him if he noticed much difference in the way the vessel was handled that day compared to when he was the skipper.  I remember his response as quiet, clear and descriptive.  Reading the book was just like listening to a long narrative by him.  Maybe not to everyone’s taste but I loved it. He writes very well, clear and descriptive but not flowery.

A hard scrabble life with long days and constant maintenance  (Uchuck, Uchuck I and Uchuck II were long gone by the sixties).  As a wooden vessel the Uchuck III needed constant rebuilding.  It is estimated that only 5% of the vessel we sailed on is actually original.  Most of the work was done by Dave Young, his father and their partners between sailings.

As you know I admire people that are handy so loved the way Dave described every year undertaking a major overhaul of part of the vessel by themselves because there was not much money.  Like most small companies it was year to year living with scavenging for parts and depending on the hard work and loyalty of their crew.  I kind of wish I had read the book before sailing so I could have appreciated the extent of the commitment the family had done to keep this historical working vessel alive.  Might even have to take the trip again with my kids.

Uchuck III