Low Tide

Yacht Designer Tad Roberts' Web Log


Echo, Orivo, Sailfish, Joe Drinkwater, and Deerco tied at Doriston BC.

Echo and Orivo, trollers built on the beach at Doriston, a tiny village on the Sunshine Coast, by my grandmother’s fourth husband, Gunnar Gjerdin, and his brother Martin. It’s a poor picture but the only one I have. Echo is the tiny white boat, about 25′ long, and I would guess built sometime around the second world war, when this picture was taken in the 1970’s she was “Martin’s boat” but had never fished far from home. Pretty much every fish hauled aboard Echo would have been delivered to Egmont, four miles north through the Skookumchuck Rapids. The larger grey boat is Orivo, about 36′ overall and built in the 1950’s, in her Gunnar would travel the coast and he fished all over with nothing more than a compass and flashing sounder.

Tied outside Echo is the big abalone fishing boat Sailfish, owned by my aunt Zoe Roberts, and further out on the dock are the tugs Joe Drinkwater and Deerco.

Gunnar and Martin lived in Doriston most of their lives, their parents Oskar and Albertina having arrived with three small children from Sweden in 1923. They raised sheep, tended a large garden, and built and repaired boats, Oskar was locally famous for growing and curing his own tobacco. The three Gjerdin children, Gunnar, Martin, and their sister Harriet, attended the Doriston school before it closed in ’39. The boats are pictured in the tiny harbour that Gunnar and Martin built by hand, hauling rock for the breakwater in wheelbarrows. In winter the brothers logged, in summer they fished, and the huge garden was tended by my grandmother, Cherry. They built a dam up the hillside from the farm, and installed a pelton wheel for electric light. Gunnar was the raconteur while Martin was quiet, and their hospitality was widely known.

I only visited Doriston once, in the mid ’70’s, on New Year’s day. We’d come down from Lund on New Year’s eve, I with my Dad Lee on the Joe, Zoe and Rex with the Sailfish, and Richard and Pam with Deerco. We ran south in a flat calm with the three boats tied together, everyone below on Sailfish except me (the kid) steering on the Joe. Late in the day we untied from each other to buck the ebb through the Skookumchuck before dark. Dad and I went first, running the boat from the flying bridge to better spot the big holes, it was wild coming around the corner and facing a huge hill of water to climb, but we managed it, Sailfish and Deerco followed. We pulled into Doriston in semi-gloom, probably four-thirty in the afternoon. I remember Cherry’s gleeful, “Lee!”, I don’t think they had seen each other in maybe 20 years.

Six semi-strangers arrive on the doorstep at dark on New Year’s eve and what happens, a party of course. Within half an hour we were all sitting in Gunnar and Cherry’s snug living room with steaming bowls of clam-chowder, fresh biscuits, and Gunnar was breaking out the latest batch of home brew. There were some hangovers on New Year’s day, but much to explore and various chores to attend to. No doubt Gunnar, Cherry, and Martin lived hard lives in Doriston, but it surely contained some aspects of heaven as well.

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