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George Weeks still afloat saluting Sea Gypsy, mourning loss of Fisherboy II
George Weeks’ soft blue eyes behind spectacles betray a bittersweetness about the loss of Fisherboy II, his floating home in Cowichan Bay.
The June 4 afternoon sinking of 42-foot Fisherboy, in the bay’s estuary log-boom area, stung Weeks.
“It was just lousy luck,” he said. “It was like the Titanic.”
But Fisherboy’s salvaging, through generosity from locals, deeply touched Weeks, whose been a bay salt for nearly three decades.
He aims to continue calling the bay home aboard his new craft, 32-foot Sea Gypsy.
She was bought with some $10,000 raised by his many friends who supported a campaign dubbed Let’s Keep George Afloat.
“Fisherboy had no insurance, and it was a total loss,” said Weeks, 76, touched by local help that started the moment Fisherboy sunk.
Efforts continue at george-oldmanofthesea.com where lists of needed boat and personal items surfaces.
“People in this community down here are absolutely wonderful, the pub was packed.”
The summer’s Bay Pub benefit helped Weeks shop for Sea Gypsy. She’s sitting on a trailer in Chemainus where Weeks is swapping its big Chrysler gas motor for a diesel one. Donations are helping that refit.
“Lots of people just send me money. Apparently I’ve helped a lot of people in this area in the past 25 years, and they say it’s payback time; good news from a helluva community.”
That seagoing community worked all of June 5 trying to get air bags under foundered Fisherboy, while some $3,000 was for Weeks within 24 hours.
Those were tense yet blurry hours for Weeks. He thanked God no one aboard was killed when sturdy Fisherboy keeled over in the freak accident.
“I was taking some Chinese people out for a couple of hours around the bay, and took them to see baby seals on the (Western Forest Products) booms.
“They’d been yarding sinkers (logs) out of the alleyways, and two didn’t get to deep water.”
Somehow Weeks drove Fisherboy onto the low-tide apex of those two soggy logs.
Weeks figured Fisherboy would do “a balancing act’ on the logs until the tide nudged her free.
“It fell on its side and filled with water almost instantly.
“It went over in a big lurch. Everything in the boat tore loose: all the cupboards opened and drawers shot out; all the tools went flying to the other side; the deep freezer tore loose and went over the side,” he remembered sadly.
“Everything was lost.”
Salt water ruined his electronics. It also buckled the wood paneling in the vintage 1942 boat Weeks bought in ‘98.
All his possessions are coated in thick, black oil — including “every tool imagianable” collected by Weeks, his father and grandfather.
Weeks’ stunned passengers were rescued by another boat. Three days of pumping out were needed before Fisherboy was dry enough to float her back dockside.
“We’re stripping out any stuff good enough, then sending her to salvage,” he said.
And buoyant Weeks is salvaging his beloved seagoing life.
“I’ve bent a few boats, but never sunk one before.”
His 50 seagoing years span census taking and patrolling for federal Fisheries, mixed with steam-engineering shifts at various coastal mills, including Crofton where he ran the recovery boiler.
Weeks appreciated the $500 good omen, donated by his rescued passengers.
“They figured they caused me bad luck, and by paying for it, it changes back again.”
Meanwhile, Weeks expected slightly bigger living quarters aboard Fiberglas, single-deck sedan-cruiser Sea Gypsy.
“There’s no 30-tonne hold for all my junk,” he noted. “What the hell did I need all those tools for?”
Weeks can be called at 250-709-5496. Cheques toward his project can be sent to: George Weeks, Box 27, Cowichan Bay, B.C., V0R-1N.
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