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category: History
published: May 2004
publisher: TouchWood Editions

Sailing with Vancouver

A Modern Sea Dog, Antique Charts and a Voyage Through Time

by Sam McKinney

tagged: sailing

"Could I have been one of them?" That was what Sam McKinney wondered as he retraced, alone, the explorations of Captain George Vancouver and his men from Puget Sound to Queen Charlotte Sound. In the 1790s, they rowed for long hours day after day, camping on rocky beaches in all weathers and charting the intricate coastline for the first time. Two hundred years later, McKinney followed them in his 25- foot sailboat, anchoring where they did, meeting the same winds and waves, and sharing "the link of vulnerability that is the ever-present condition of all people who go to sea."


Describing the two voyages, McKinney offers insightful comparisons of what sailors saw and experienced, in the 18th century and today, around the Inland Sea. At the end of his trip he, like Vancouver, claimed the area he had explored, "not by deed of ownership but out of love for the place, its staggering beauty [and] the memories of the people and cultures who have found homes along its shores." Could he have been one of Vancouver's men? He isn't sure, but he would like to have given it a try.


With his boat, his pipe and the occasional glass of rum, McKinney invites readers along on a perceptive voyage through time and along the magnificent, storied west coast.

About the Author

Sam McKinney has been, among other things, a journalist, a small-boat builder, a founder of outward-bound schools and a professional seaman. The author of Reach of Tide, Ring of History, he lives in Vancouver, Canada, where he is a research associate of the Vancouver Maritime Museum.

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