Sunday, May 12, 2013

I Like Big Boats and I Cannot Lie

I've always loved working boats, both big and small to be honest, and there are few places better suited to someone with a love of such boats than Atlantic Canada. From the sandy shores of Prince Edward Island to the tides of the Bay of Fundy, shared by Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, to the rocky coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, this region has a wealth of boats of all shapes and sizes.

They can be found in small towns and big cities, tied up at wharves, riding at anchor, or moored "on the collar" in small coves whose names don't appear on any map. The unifying thread among all these boats is their utilitarian grace. They're built for work, not for show, but they have an innate beauty that's a bit poignant somehow, as if try as they will, they just can't help being graceful and elegant.

These days their hulls might be fiberglass, metal or even concrete, but there was a time when every one of them had been built from wood in a local boat shop. Examples of those older wooden boats can still be found if you're willing to look; they might be housed in museums where they're carefully studied for their lines, hauled up on the shore and falling into ruin, or -- in some rare cases -- lovingly patched and mended and still afloat after seventy-five or a hundred years of plying the North Atlantic.

I particularly like those parts of the region where there's a lot of individuality expressed in the colours of the boats; those bright reds and yellows and blues and greens add cheer to a foggy day, and from a practical standpoint of those who wait on shore, it's a lot easier to recognize the boat you're looking for when it rounds the headland making for home. Although today's navigational and safety equipment have reduced the hazards, fishing is still a dangerous way to make a living; here's wishing safe home to all those boats, and to those who travel in them.

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