Coast Salish art book gets civic boost

Susan Point (right), beside Vancouver poet laureate Christie Charles, reacts to news that a book on her art, written by Robert D. Watt, has won the 2019 City of Vancouver Book Award. FULL STORY

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When Gary Karlsen ran away to sea

November 05th, 2019

Fresh out of high school in 1965, Vancouver’s Gary Karlsen was expected to go to university. He had other ideas. Growing up in Vancouver’s West End, he had frequently gazed at the deep-sea freighters in English Bay and wondered, “What would it be like to be on one? Where did they come from? Where were they going?” he writes in No Ordinary Seaman: A Memoir (Self-published, $22.95). With a little ‘truth-stretching’ he managed to sweet talk his way on board the M/S Havkatt in September 1965 to work as a deckhand. The journey took the 17 year-old to Tokyo, back to Vancouver for a few days, then off again through the Panama Canal to New York City where he disembarked the following December. Shortly after, Karlsen took a passenger ship to Norway, his father’s ancestral home. But by August 1966, he had signed a six-month contract to work aboard a new tanker, M/T Polycastle. His book, “compresses a lot of LIFE – more than 38,000 nautical miles of it, into little over a year,” says Roger Elmes, a retired officer of the Royal Canadian Navy in the book’s foreword. Eventually, Karlsen returned to Vancouver, got a couple of university degrees and remained a landlubber. As for the Havkatt and Polycastle, both continued as working ships, although sold off several times and renamed until being too old to be profitable. Then, they were sold to scrapyards to be broken up. “Kind of sad,” writes Karlsen. “These ships took us safely between ports, and they thrummed with human energy, my own included. I was fortunate to have sailed on them.”  978-1-7752669-0-7

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