Coastal Characters

Coastal Characters

My bi-monthly column in Pacific Yachting, called “Coastal Characters,” profiles people whose lives have been influenced by salt water.

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.

Joe Martin, Traditional Canoe Carver

Art,” says master canoe carver Joe Martin, “has been one of the most important aspects of human life. Art acts as a first-aid to memory.”

Kristina Long, Working on a Super Yacht

Working as crew on a megayacht isn’t all “Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous,” but it can be a rewarding and interesting job. Kristina gives us the pros and cons.

Peter Vivian, BC Coast Pilot

Piloting the largest ships on our coast is a challenge, one that marine pilot Peter Vivian doesn’t take lightly

Harvey George, Fishboat Carver

At the end of Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre’s long pier, the “BC Supercargo Pavilion” features 11 colourful and precise carvings of traditional BC fishboats. Most of these fishboat styles no longer ply our waters, but T’souke carver Harvey George is preserving their heritage through his precise and built-to-scale models.

Cheryl Alexander

Cheryl Alexander, Offshore Sailor, Wildlife Photographer and Environmentalist

“Wolf lady” Cheryl Alexander became the biographer of a lone wolf, “Takaya,” who lived and thrived on the Discovery Islands archipelago near Victoria. Photographing him from small boats, or from a distance on land, she built an almost spiritual connection with this wild animal. Her book, Takaya, became a best seller.

Greg Marshall, Megayacht Designer

Having designed some of the world’s finest megayachts, Vancouver Island yacht designer Greg Marshall has built a reputation as one of the planet’s top naval architects. The photo shows Greg Marshall (right), with business partner and naval architect Gordon Galbraith after winning a prestigious yacht design award.

Mike DeRoos, Master Skeleton Articulator

Mike DeRoos puts together marine mammal skeletons with skill, precision and art. His whales grace several natural history museums.

Howard White, Keeper of B.C.’s Heritage

Through Harbour Publishing, Howard White has showcased British Columbia’s coastal people for decades. Because of his books and chronicles, the history of loggers, fisherman, bush pilots, boat builders and other hard-working, every-day folk have been preserved.

Kelly Cochrane, Executive Chef

How does a guy from Campbell River grow up to be the executive chef responsible for the production of 3,000 meals a day, seven days a week aboard a luxurious cruise ship? Kelly shows us how.

Capt. Gordon Coutts

Capt. Gordon Coutts safely delivers and collects BC coast pilots to freighters, cruise ships and tankers from Prince Rupert to Triple Island through BC’s rough northern waters.

The “Kelpologist,” Louis Druehl

“Seaweed is the engine that runs the shallow waters of the world,” says renowned phycologist Louis Druehl. “They capture the sun’s energy and pass it on as food into numerous animals.”

Pat Carney at Saturna Island’s Lamb Bake

Pat Carney has had an impressive career as a journalist and in government, politics and business, and her work continues as she attempts to preserve British Columbia’s most historic lighthouses. She recently published the light-hearted On Island, a roman à clef about Gulf Island life.