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.
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
(Heritage House’s Touchwood Editions, 2003).
Meet Flo Anderson, lighthouse keeper and bluewater sailor.
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.
After writing about Ocean Alexander’s president, Johnny Chueh in Northwest Yachting, I was asked to author a coffee-table book,. I traveled to Kaoshiung to interview the company’s founder and many of the long-term staff. I then wrote the history of the Taiwanese boatbuilding company, as well as of its naval architect Ed Monk, Jr. I also included the stories of dozens of Ocean Alexander owners from around the world. Here is chapter seven.