My sailboat is moored alongside the dock in our local town of Ganges - such an exotic name for a little island community, only matched by the even more peaceful village of Vesuvius just down the road. The boats tied up around me are a reflection too of the makeup of these Canadian Gulf Islands of which this island -Saltspring - is the largest, and whose place names really reflect the history of British naval exploration: HMS Ganges, HMS Vesuvius.
My little folkboat, slowly emerging from of a long re-fit, lies astern of a rusting, steel hulled schooner that has not stirred for many years and trails a luxurious forest of sea weed beneath it. Opposite me, a once pretty wooden bowsprited sloop is peeling and rotting away. There are smart fiberglass sailboats too, rough aluminum skiffs, many varieties of dinghys and runabouts. A still beautiful oceangoing yacht is beginning to decline, neglected after almost sinking at it`s moorings two winters ago. Visitors slide alongside for an overnight mooring in the big metropolis, bringing fresh faces to the usual crowd of people working on their boats. This is a busy and fascinating place to spend a weekend day.
So many stories are represented here and portrayed so graphically. Fishing boat names are instructive: One, being converted to a yacht, still proudly proclaims ‘Canadian Star’ on it`s wooden stern, another, selling shrimp, is ‘Bandit’, ‘Miss Conduct ’is snugged up close to cute little‘Minnie Pearl’. The people who own all these boat are an interesting crowd too, just as Gulf Islanders have always been. But it`s not just the scenery and sunny Fall weather that makes this a good place to be, not just the people, it`s really all about these interesting boats making history right now in Ganges Harbour.