A Sad End for Trekka
by Les Webster
Maritime Museum of
On a trip to Alaska in September,
I passed through Victoria, British Columbia. I had been there
to attend the Classic Boat Festival, but I had missed the Maritime
Museum of British Columbia. Actually I hadn’t missed them,
they were closed the day I was there. I had called the Museum
the week before to inquire about viewing Trekka, which they now
had in their possession. I was told that John Guzzwell's Trekka
was stored in a warehouse, and I would not be able to see her.
The following May I returned to Alaska via Victoria and decided
to go to the Maritime Museum and see what chance I had of seeing
Trekka this time. Two young men were on duty behind the counter
of the gift-shop/ticket office and were busy selling souvenirs
to visitors, so I decided to buy a ticket and checkout the museum
exhibits and then return if Trekka was not on display and make
an inquiry. The museum also holds Tilikum which is a modified
decked cedar dugout canoe sailed by Captain John Claus Voss. After
reading "Venturesome Voyages of Captain Voss" seeing
the boat was quite a treat.
Tilikum from the stern. The picture
is a little dark because the museum is quite dark; I wished I
had bought a flashlight.
Two shots of Tilikum from the
bow. The boat is well presented and you can get quite close to
her. Much of the boat has been reconstructed from her terrible
state when she was discovered lying derelict on the Thames in
1929. There is not much in the way of rebuilding information or
pictures of her before the restoration, and I was not to sure
of what had been replaced. I thought when I returned to the gift
shop that I would see what information was available. Tilikum
was purchased and restored in Victoria by The Thermopylae Club
and they did a wonderful job.
Also on display at the Museum is
a good display of BC Ferries artifacts and information; the extent
of the Ferry system and travel between the mainland and islands
would make for an entire museum.
A rather simple display of outboards
without much information is on one wall. The only thing I came
away with from that display is how much I would have appreciated
oars. Those old outboards are massive and heavy.
Some of the old outboards are truly
massive with cast iron parts and big rudders. All areas of the
museum are dark as can be seen by these photographs, and this
gives the outboards an eerie feeling.
After some time in the Museum I
finally got to the top floor and confirmed that Trekka was not
on display. I returned to the gift-shop/ticket office and asked
the two young men on duty some questions. Are there any photographs
of the restoration work on Tilikum? "What restoration"
was the reply from one young man, "Tilikum has always looked
like that". The others reply was that he had been there a
year and it always looked like that. So much for Tilikum, I would
see what I could turn up on Trekka. Next question--- Is it possible
to see Trekka? First young man didn't have a clue, second young
man said sure it's on display right now at the Mall. After receiving
directions I was off to "The Bay" a shopping center
only blocks from the Museum.
Arriving on the first floor I asked
around "Does anyone know where the Trekka exhibit is? No
results, so I started asking everyone, "Has anyone seen a
sailboat around the mall?" An older gentleman said he had
seen a sailboat in the Hudson Bay Company Department Store. Finally,
I was narrowing down my search and would soon be able to see the
boat that has been an inspiration to so many small boat cruising
enthusiasts. The book "Trekka Round the World" by John
Guzzwell had been one of my favorites. I think I have read the
book at least 3 times over the years. I was interested in seeing
how the boat was constructed and especially how the rudder and
keel had been attached to the hull. I also wanted to see the boat
in true size. The boat always looked a little bigger in my mind’s
eye than it actually was, at least that was my thinking.
I entered the Hudson Bay
Co store and came upon the saddest boat display I have ever seen.
Trekka was sitting on the floor supported by some 4X4's without
keel, rudder or proper main mast. This must truly be a sad time
for the little boat, to finish as a window sales display in the
Indian Blanket Department. The hull and deck were painted and
shiny yet the mast was obviously chosen for the boat because it
would clear the ceiling. No signs or display information was available
for the boat; it was just a big sales display. A young boy asked
his father whose boat it was and the reply wa,s "It was built
here in Victoria and sailed all the way to California". He
credited the store clerk with providing that information. Poor
Trekka -a sad end to a great adventure.