The Observer

The Sophia Z tied up at Northland Terminal, as seen from my office on January 3.

One morning a couple of weeks ago—it may have been the 8th of January—I stood on my veranda and watched the Sophia Z make her way out to sea. She ghosted down the harbour through hazy mist, with a tug alongside.

The 57,000-tonne Sophia Z was on her maiden voyage when she arrived in Prince Rupert in December. She was on approach to Prince Rupert Grain on December 18, taking on wheat for Bangladesh, when she ran aground at Bishop Rock. There were no injuries, and there was no environmental damage. The ship suffered only propeller damage, and a bit of internal bruising.

On December 21 she was moved for repairs to Northland Cruise Terminal, directly below my office at the Museum of Northern BC.

It’s really quite an amazing thing to have a 190-metre vessel just below your window. Our office was closed for the holidays while she was there, but whenever I stopped by I was invariably distracted by watching.

The scene always changed. Hatches opened and closed. Men in orange suits and flashes of reflective yellow moved around the decks.  Divers worked on her wheel, and other vessels came and went. Gulls circled.

The weather here doesn’t really plan ahead. At one moment the ship’s colours glared in bright sun. Then she loomed from the fog, or a milky horizon closed in and left the vessel inside a swirl of snow.

When I was a boy on the prairies, as far from the sea as I could be, I imagined being able to scrape an eyehole in the frost on the window and see a real ship right there before me. I’d forgotten that. I see too many ships and boats these days to think much about things like that. But it’s hard to ignore an ocean-going vessel that really is tied up just outside your window.

Writers are inveterate observers—but sometimes, just like everyone else, our eyes become jaded. Familiarity softens the sense of wonder. Sometimes I’m so wrapped up in other thoughts that I barely notice the eagle soaring by, or even the simple fact that I live in a place of stunning beauty.

When reminded, such as at this moment of having a childhood whimsy come true, one instinctively goes back to that genesis of storytelling—observing, and trying to understand.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

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