Craft and Artisan Distilleries on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands
                                          A Spirited Journey

This book is in progress and will be published by TouchWood Editions in the spring of 2021

Before I Forget . . . a Memoir

Ben’s memoir traces his life’s long journey—from war-torn Holland, through teenage apprenticeships, to his arrival in Vancouver with a mere $52, to becoming Canada’s largest luxury yacht builder. It’s a fascinating tale of grit, hard work, luck and faith. Ben’s stories are intriguing, honest and funny.

In this absorbing book, Ben Vermeulen relates his intimate experiences as a youngster surviving the German occupation in his native Holland, overcoming the trials of dyslexia, and immigrating to Canada to find his fortune. From steel fabrication, he plunged into the risky boat-building world. With his wife Leidy and the next Vermeulen generation, his West Bay SonShip yard has built nearly 250 vessels, including 165 luxury yachts. In Before I Forget, Ben regales us with tales of his eventful life with wit, humour and candour.

I listened to Ben’s tales, fashioned them into chapters, added much historical data, and published his story of rags-to-riches.

To order Before I Forget (CDN$ 19.95 plus shipping and handling),
visit, email
or call (604) 946-6226, X115.

Naturally Salty — Coastal Characters of the Pacific Northwest

I often wonder if people whose lives are linked to the sea are more interesting than those who inhabit landlocked places, or if it just seems that way. Maybe life on, or at the edges of, salt water attracts those who are more adventurous, daring or curious. What I know for sure is that the individuals whom I have had the privilege to interview up and down the coasts of British Columbia and Washington lead a varied, fascinating and fulfilling existence.

Many of my nautical people profiles are featured in my book, Naturally Salty — Coastal Characters of the Pacific Northwest

Published by Touchwood Editions, 2003.

Below are three samples of the characters featured in the book.

Meet Flo Anderson, lighthouse keeper and bluewater sailor.

Flo Anderson was 37 when she left her commodious Vancouver home for Lennard Island light station, a desolate rock near Tofino on Vancouver Island’s storm-tossed west coast. Her husband, Trevor, had been appointed Lennard’s junior lighthouse keeper — his second career — after serving 20 years as radio operator and radar fighter controller in the Air Force.

Meet Sven Johansson, an adventurous ship’s captain, reindeer specialist, bush pilot and the first person to navigate the Northwest Passage in a yacht from west to east.

Meet Edith Iglauer

Edith Iglauer is not an easy person to interview. While she graciously welcomes me into her home on Garden Bay in north Pender Harbour, her more than 60 years of journalistic investigation compel her to ask rather than answer questions. With laser beam inquisitiveness she asks me the who, what, when and how. Repeatedly, I remind her she’s the subject — not I.

Ocean Alexander, the First 25 Years

After writing about Ocean Alexander’s president, Johnny Chueh (left), in Northwest Yachting, he asked me to author a coffee-table book to document the company’s evolution. To write Ocean Alexander, the First 25 Years, I travelled to Kaohsiung  to interview the company’s founder and many of the long-term staff. As well as detailing the history of the Taiwanese boatbuilding company, I described its naval architect Ed Monk, Jr., its engineers and interior designer. I also included the stories of dozens of Ocean Alexander owners from around the world. Here is Chapter Seven.