The Dutchman in the Promised Land
“Money is growing on trees here. All you have to do is shake the trees and it falls off!”
Stoffer Boertien might have been a tad enthusiastic in a letter to his younger brother Egbert (Bert) Boertien describing life on Prince Edward Island in 1949, but he wanted to make a strong point.
Back home in his native Holland, young Bert was working as a peat moss harvester when he received his brother’s letter. He was intrigued by Stoffer’s excitement for his new life after emigrating to ...
Building a Better Future – Part II
Last month we told you about a remarkable fisherman from Cheticamp, Nova Scotia. Leonard LeBlanc has worked tirelessly to make the fishing industry as progressive as possible. Leonard has retired from the fishing boat now but his work with various associations continues. Improving safety in the fishing industry has been a large part of Leonard’s raison d'être for a long time. An accident that claimed the life of his young son had a lot to do with that role.
This is Part II of Building a ...
Safety – Everybody’s Job
Safety in the fishing industry is different than in other industries.
Statistically, fishing is still the most dangerous occupation in the country outside the military and policing. We lose, on average, nearly a dozen fishermen every year. That high number is due in part to the fact that some accidents at sea cause multiple deaths, especially in these days of larger boats.
While no two fatal accidents are alike in the inshore fishing industry, there are often similarities. I once wrote ...
Houston, We Have a Problem – Part II
Last month, we told you about the U.S. barge Houston that was adrift in a bad storm near Port Hood, Cape Breton on December 17, 2007. The barge was not carrying cargo but did have approximately 9,000 gallons of fuel onboard and that was a huge environmental concern. If the Houston was pushed onto the rocky shores and punctured a hole in its hull, a fuel spill could be a catastrophe for marine life in the area. The Coast Guard ships Terry Fox and Edward Cornwallis were dispatched to the scene to ...
Building a Better Future
Leonard LeBlanc didn’t aspire to be a fisherman when he was growing up in Cheticamp.
Although he comes from a long line of fishermen on Cape Breton Island, Leonard’s dad quit fishing in the early 1940s to join the Canadian Navy in World War II. When he returned from overseas, the elder LeBlanc took a job as a diesel mechanic on a fisheries patrol boat.
Subsequently, Leonard didn’t have a fishing enterprise to inherit from his dad, but even if his father had still been a fisherman ...
Houston, We Have a Problem
In the 1970s, a pop culture phrase for something gone wrong was “Houston, we have a problem.”
The line was attributed to astronaut James Lovell, commander of the Apollo 13 space mission in 1970 when the spacecraft developed a serious mechanical problem while in space, forcing abandonment of a planned attempt to land on the moon.
It is not exactly word for word what the astronaut said, but it was close enough to become an every-day catch phrase by those who lived in that era.
A few ...
Happiness is a Clean Boat
Jana Jeffery has probably been labeled a few things, but no one has ever called her lazy.
Jana has seen and done a whole lot in her time and during most of her adult years, she’s held down a couple of jobs at the same time.
Born in Ottawa 42 years ago, where she lived until age 4, Jana grew up in Elliot Lake, a mining town in Northern Ontario. She was always an active outdoors girl.
“I grew up building forts, riding bikes, fishing and swimming in the lake behind my home and lots of ...
In the early hours of an October morning in 2009, Captain Dean Hynes and his four-man crew were looking forward to getting home after a long evening and night mackerel seining off Stephenville on Newfoundland’s southwest coast.
Dean, from Fox Island River, was captain and owner of the Blue Islander, a 45-foot seiner. His crewmembers consisted of three brothers, who were also Dean’s cousins — Wally, Paddy and Doug Leroy. The fifth man was Shane Lafitte, a new addition to the crew. Shane ...
The Model Man – Jeff Clarke
Jeff Clarke likes to build boats — little boats, especially models of commercial fishing vessels.
So far, Jeff has built 32 and he has orders from people for another 32 or more.
Model boat builders are not rare in Newfoundland and Labrador, but what sets Jeff apart from others is that he builds models armed with nothing more than a photo of the vessel, viewed on the small screen of his iPhone. Obviously, his boats are not built to scale, but his ability to produce an almost exact ...
Dreamboat Turned Nightmare – Part V
Captain Byron Oxford and his eight-man crew survived a harrowing ordeal after the fishing vessel Atlantic Charger sank south of Baffin Island in September 2015.
For some of the survivors, the experience will haunt them forever. Captain Oxford said he battled anxiety while at sea for several months after the incident.
For the vessel’s owner, his battle was different and started after the loss of the Charger.
For nearly nine months following the loss of his vessel, Brad Watkins dealt ...