A Sad End for Trekka
by Les Webster

Maritime Museum of British Columbia

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.