Oil painting by Leonard Mizerek
Leonard Mizerek nurtured his artistic love of nature while growing up in Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley, made famous by the Wyeth family of artists. “I was exposed to works by the whole Wyeth family,” he says. “The one who greatly influenced me was N.C. Wyeth, the father of Andrew. He had a great ability to tell a story, and his strong use of light and dramatic color [made an impression].”
For most American cruisers, the Pacific Northwest stops at the U.S. border and the San Juan Islands, but the scenery and cruising only get better the farther you go up the British Columbia coast.
Among the very best of Canada’s Pacific Northwest destinations is the Haida Gwaii archipelago, at the nation’s farthest point both north and west. Once known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, they are closer to Alaska than the Canadian mainland and are packed with countless protected anchorages, mountain wilderness, spectacular wildlife and a unique native culture.
Bluenose, Canada’s most famous schooner, made its mark almost a century ago fishing and racing in the Atlantic off Nova Scotia. Today, a direct cousin of Bluenose is still sailing off Canada’s other coast, in the Pacific Northwest: Passing Cloud.
Bluenose was the 17th William Roué design, and he went on to create more than 100 commercial vessels and yachts. One of them (No. 165 in his portfolio) was Passing Cloud, but Roué did not live to see her sail. She wasn’t built until 1974, almost 30 years after he drew it and four years after he died at age 90.
Blame it on bureaucracy. Roué designed the boat for a 1945 contest sponsored by the new United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration as part of a program to help China recover from World War II. The design was to provide a simpler, stronger and short-handed alternative to the Chinese junk to revitalize coastal fishing and freighting.
With plentiful food and towering evergreens on Haida Gwaii, the natives there had the time and resources to develop a boat like no other in the region. Their canoes were the only ones capable of crossing the 60 miles of Hecate Strait between Haida Gwaii and the coast, allowing them to raid and trade with mainland villages — without fear of counterattack — and range from present-day Alaska to Vancouver.
When I first moved to Portsmouth, Virginia, I expected a relatively balmy winter, compared to northern New England. This expectation has largely been realized, although last winter tested my hypothesis. We had three shovelable snowfalls, one of nearly a foot. I felt quite smart with two snow shovels tucked in my shed — I loaned them out widely. I hope I won’t need them this winter.
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