Noel Woodworth running the Edac in Prince Rupert harbour in 1999 (Lonnie Wishart Photo).

I still remember the first time I saw Edac, down at the Prince Rupert Rowing & Yacht Club in about 1995. At that time Rob Morris was editor of Westcoast Mariner, and he and I used to talk about her quite often. We both have a real soft spot for classic pleasure boats, and, having been launched here by noted Japanese boatbuilders the Suga Brothers in 1914, the Edac certainly fit that bill.

I came to know Edac’s owners, Noel and Alberta Woodworth, quite well as regulars at the chowder sessions we used to hold at Sabre Marine. In fact, we ended up displaying the Edac and Charlie Currie’s 1929 tug CRC together down at the lightering dock for Heritage Week in February 1999. Noel said he was writing a book, and since he’d published more than one story I always thought that there was good chance of him finishing it. As his health failed I assumed that was the end of that. I was wrong.

Alberta finished the book after Noel died in 2006, and it was released this year as Edac: 80 Years Cruising the North Coast of British Columbia. And it’s a real treat. Part travelogue and part biography of a place and a classic boat, it follows the tradition of The Curve of Time, Upcoast Summers, Three’s a Crew, or Seven-Knot Summers. Yet, like Iain Lawrence in Sea Stories of the Inside Passage, Noel has provided a special treat by focusing on northern BC waters.

Edac was launched for Drs. Kergin and McRae as Kermac, and renamed when she was sold to Dr. Cade in 1919. The vessel passed through a few other hands before Noel and Alberta bought her for a thousand dollars on Valentine’s Day 1966.

The book is a series of vignettes, really, a collection of treasured memories. Some are gathered by topic, such as fishing, wildlife sightings, beachcombing, or favourite cruising grounds. Adventures and mishaps are recounted through fine writing and delightful, self-depreciating humour.

Noel wrote his story in the mid-1990s, while Edac was still tied up at the Yacht Club and Charlie Currie still brought a big pot of clam chowder down to Sabre Marine each week, so in the book we avoid the sad ending – the passing of Noel, and longtime friends Bill and Paddy Elkins who shared so many of Edac’s adventures, and the dismantling of the ruined old Edac herself at the Cowichan Bay Wooden Boat Society nearly a decade ago. Instead the story is one of continuing adventure, somehow frozen in a world of endless summers.

Noel did not intentionally write about himself. Yet his character, and Noel and Alberta’s deep love of Edac and the times they had with her, come through with crystal clarity.

“We loved this cruising as nothing before in our lives,” he wrote. “We enjoyed beachcombing on beautiful beaches where few human footsteps are seen each year, walking the low rocky tidal areas where nature’s undersea beauty is exposed, seeing the endless wild flowers of the seaside and the tortured trees that grow according to the winter winds. It was always thrilling to see the ever-changing seas of waves and swells and currents, of calm and of anger, but always of beauty. It also brought us many friends and introduced us to a way of life we would sorely miss if we had to leave it. Thirty years later we are still enjoying it.”

I hope that Edac: 80 Years Cruising the North Coast of British Columbia joins its storied predecessors, The Curve of Time and the others, as a classic tale of cruising the BC coast. It has certainly earned that place on my shelf.

(First published in The Northern View, July 27, 2011.)

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Bruce Wishart
Whimsies. Sometimes about writing.
Sometimes about folklore. Sometimes
about the sea, or life on the coast.
And sometimes not.