Saturday, November 23, 2013

RIP Quoddy's Run

Today we found out that our boat cannot be saved, and so is going to have to be scrapped. We have been waiting nearly two months for the survey of damages and estimates of the basic cost of repairs from shipwrights and riggers and composites experts; those estimates finally came in this afternoon and they are higher than the maximum insurable value of the boat. We can neither do this work ourselves, nor afford to save her. She has been finished off then, not in her element, in the water, but on the ground, having been poorly laid up by the yard, and with a faulty jackstand that failed and crumpled beneath her; she was thus unable to withstand a windstorm at the end of September that did not damage any other boat.

We are heartsick and sad; it is like losing a member of the family. Yes, Quoddy's Run is a thing, not really a living being, and yet, we did experience her as an eager, vibrating body, leaping into the wind. When we got our new rigging and sails two years ago, as soon as we put up the mainsail, we could feel her 40,000 pounds of hull and keel and load lift and pull sharply forward, a horse hastening eagerly into the waves.

Sailing her was always a thrill; when she really got going her hull would hum and purr, as if she were singing with joy to be so in her element, a large animal gamboling in the sea.  Often, when we were sailing, we were visited by whales and dolphins and porpoises: sometimes they traveled alongside us; other times they played in the bow wake, or once, when we came upon a pod of fin whales mating in the Sea of Cortez, two lovestruck whales rushed us and, at the last moment, rolled--one looked up at us from its huge eye as if it were laughing. Both then dove beneath the boat, leaving in their wakes a huge whirlpool.

Quoddy's Run was for us very much a live thing, very much about being fully alive, in the elements, surrounded by the sea and its many creatures, anything but what it is that her hull will now become, a broken mass of fibreglass composites, twisted metal, ruined wood, lead tonnage, torn fabric, aging wiring and plumbing and electronics. Perhaps some intrepid do-it-yourselfer will decide save her, and she will have another life, but the structural damage to bulkheads, not to mention the utter ruin of her rigging, may be enough to rule out that effort.

This blog began when we were on the boat, following a painting lesson with our friend Dee Vadnais on the beach in San Juanico, in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.  Being on the boat gave us not simply subjects, but also the wish to write, to draw and to photograph, habits of patient observation, the rhythms of poetry, the slow transit from one place to another, the sounds of whales surfacing nearby, the howl of the wind, the colours of the dusk fading over the mountains, the green glow of the sun setting over the Pacific. In this way, Quoddy's Run has been bound up, not simply with our affections, but with our very sense of soulfulness.

Yes, I do mean this word.

Please do not tell me a boat does not have a soul! Anyone who has sailed one knows that they do. Tonight I want to know where that soul goes when we have left her, condemned? With what ritual can we prepare for this putting to death, which must also be the end of something infinite inside of ourselves? Quoddy's Run was the greatest purveyor and conveyor of dreams we had; when life here, or at work, was unbearable, when the winter unendurable, when the crush of obligation, or rejection or failure-- or the harassment by a homophobic neighbour--got to be too much, there was always the boat, always the pleasure of getting on the water and sailing away before us.

After a time, particularly in places that we loved and where we stayed for several years--in Mexico in the Sea of Cortez, for example, and in British Columbia--we came to anticipate, as well, the joy of return--to La Paz, to Loreto, to Ballandra and San Juanico, to Isla Coronado, to Sointula and Texada and Hakai Beach and Bella Bella. Not to dock in Echo Bay again, at the Salmon Coast Field Station, or to return to Cassel Lake, in Tekearne Arm for a swim, not to be surprised by a humpback mother and calf in Browning Channel, or to hear the wolves howl on the mainland: right now, this is unimaginable. I am not finished yet; Quoddy's Run cannot be finished yet, our beautiful vessel, our faithful protector, our propagator of both realities and dreams.

Yet this is our reality, her reality: this particular dream we have shared with her, up and down the coast of Central America, up the length of Mexico, and from Sidney, Vancouver Island to Juneau, Alaska is shattered. Over. Unsalvageable. And so we are mourning this windy November night, stuck as only life can stick you, with making the best of a sad bad job. Quoddy's Run: she was beautiful, and this is her eulogy.

For more on our adventures on Quoddy's Run, see


  1. A very good eulogy. I know... I've sailed some, but not much--I'm a canoe person, and even canoes have souls...

    1. Thank you--I do agree, canoes have souls. They are noble fabulous boats.

  2. Hi Marike and Karen,
    We have returned Karina C back to BC waters as I have run into some health "challenges." Fortunately, so far these challenges have not cut into our sailing time. We are planning a big season with commissioning beginning next week. We are so sad to hear of Quoddy's passing. Maybe this is the portal to a new adventure? We are deeply involved in the music community here in Nanaimo and have enjoyed a fun winter of music with our jazz combo, Nanaimo Concert Band and trombone quartet. Maybe we will see you on the water in another boat?
    Jay + Anita