To you who will hear my story close your eyes, open your thoughts and see who I am. Keep your mind blank until you know me. Feel my youth, my vigor, and grow with me to maturity and my golden years. Feel the plight of my friends. Understand that our stories do not have to end. Understand the care, the dedication we need, and the lifestyle we can provide in return for this commitment
I am M.V. Deerleap; conceived of a vision inspired by my 70 foot older sister, Fifer. Created by Hoffar and Beaching Maritime Designers and Builders, in Vancouver Canada. It is June 25, 1929 and I breath my first breathe of life. Even in this time of ďthe great depressionĒ my luxury is not forsaken. I was intended to be 110 feet long; however, it was decided I would be 85. I am 115 tons with out my water, fuel, or other items on board. I draw nine feet (that is how deep my hull lies beneath the water). I am a fantail. For those of you who do not know, a fantail means that my stern wraps concave underneath me to my water-line, like the Titanic or the Queen Mary. Though I am shorter than I should have been, I am as tough as a pissed off marine. You see, my ribs are 10 inches by 10 inches of Canadian Oak, and are spaced by the same measure. My hull is 4 inches of Port Orford Cedar over my stocky frame. My decks are 4 inches thick: They and my spacious 600 square foot upper cabin and wheel house are made of rare Burma Teak. Top-side I am beautifully varnished, bringing out the unique characteristics of the grain in my wood. From my covered fantail you look through beveled glass of double French doors to my opulent salon. Inside I am plush. My walls and bulk heads, again of teak, are finely finished and ornate. I have many windows with white lace curtains for an exquisite yet private view. A hand crafted china cabinet with its original lead glass, filled with silver goblets and hand cut crystal, is built into my bulk head and separates my dinning area from the galley. A circular brass railed stairway leads to my accommodations below. Those who are kind enough to care for me reside in the grandeur of my master stateroom. They enjoy a comfortable bed and have a private shower and head adorned in black marble. With spacious private quarters my guests do not lack comfort. There are two additional heads and showers for them. In all, I have four staterooms and a crews quarters which are as finely crafted as my upper decks.
Bestowed to Col. Mc Limont, President of the Winnipeg Power and Light Company, I have been given the prestigious status of Flag Ship to the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. The Colonel relishes the outdoors and occupies my youth as a hunting and fishing lodge. From the Strait of San Juan De Fuca and its islands to the Alexander Archipelago and Glacier Bay, he fills my insatiable boy-hood with excitement and wonder. We bound from island to island and sea to sea exploring new and remote places: lands of dreams, adventure, and quest. We fill my decks with King and Silver Salmon, Herring, Halibut, Alaskan King Crab and other Pacific game fish. We watch Humpback and Killer Whales, Sea Otters and Sea Lions frolic in the water, often with young at their side. We accompany eagles gliding over old growth coastal forest; bears trying to teach life to their cubs, when they would rather romp in the summer sun. Caribou, fox, wolves, so many of nature's greatest gifts are all a part of our journeys. Whether sunny or cloudy, clear or stormy, they are days together consumed by youth and vigor.
1942 and World War II has touched the hearts of Canada. I have been commandeered to spend my adolescence with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a communications and patrol vessel. Our waters in Canada do not see much war activity, of course. However, I see other changes happening in my life. Myself and others like me have begun to evolve as a part of history, a legacy of the past. The war has spawned new technologies such as marine ply-wood and faster building techniques. Gone is the era of the shipwright as I know him. Gone are hand steamed and bent frames of monumental woods. Ship building has become fast, cheap, and lacking the durable strength of those born to my time. We are swiftly becoming a rare breed.
My military commission continued two years beyond the warís end in 1945. But now it is 1947 and I am eighteen years old. Freed to civilian life, I now spend my adulthood in the coastal waters of Seattle, venturing the inland passages. The waters here are calm, subdued and peaceful. I enjoy a slower pace of life residing with Campbell Charter Services, and the Spencer family. Boyhood innocence has been replaced by sobered age. This is a time of stability and maturity.
1960, and thirteen years have passed. I live in Los Angeles as the play ground to the executives of the Quaker Container Corporation. I do not have many fond experiences with these people. You see, lost in a world of corporate expenditures, and economic ratios my preservation is a not part of the equation. They are a corporation who exploits my virtues. This is a traumatic time in my life, I am in ill health and tattering the edge of dereliction.
Woodstock and free love, itís the late 60ís and Iíve come to know Max Mc Clellan. Max is guilty of trying to change who I am, to modernize me. I must give Max credit for trying though. he cares for me. he is just going about it wrong. He has cut me, making passage for a new electrical system, covered my teak walls and open beam ceiling with cheap ply-wood and wall paper, and removed the black marble from the head in my master stateroom. Max is guilty, as with many other caretakers, of hiding my flaws in need of repair in the name of profit and trimming overhead to his charter service. He does not rejuvenate my former splendor. He tries to cover my illness with modern make-up.
Max has introduced me to some very prestigious people. Johnnie Weismuller, the original Tarzan, Amos and Andy, Bob Hope, and Bing Crosby. Martha Ray and I often stay in Avalon, Catalina together. I met President Kennedy and his family: in-fact, Bobby got himself in some serious trouble for jumping into the water from my top deck.
Relieved to no longer be a part of the corporate world, it is 1970, and I reside with the Antonís. They are raising their son aboard me and I watch with great interest the youth and vigor I remember so clearly. Our most Profound event together has been an attempt to travel to Alaska. Though, Sadly we did not make it. This is when I had my fire. I was burned badly. My engine room and crews quarters were gutted, and I had to be towed home by the Coast Guard. The Antons are taking good care of me and are repairing the damage. However, now we do not venture far from home.
Now in 1997 I spend my golden years with the Gardners, a family who believes in who I am and where I come from. They respect the artists of my conception, the way they created me, and their ideals. They fight diligently to correct the way others have mutilated my lineage with what was supposed to be modernization. Their first act of kindness was to strip the white paint from my upper cabin and wheelhouse which covered my varnish. They have replaced my teak walls and have taken down the cheap plywood which covered my open beam ceiling. Restoring me to my former splendor, they give me the most special gift of all, love. They care for, and respect who I am. They are my family
In 1999 we will be traveling five thousand miles to celebrate my 70th birthday. I will be returning to my home port of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and my namesake, Deerleap Island. On the way I will visit San Francisco and Seattle. From Vancouver I will be traveling the territory of my youth; the Strait of San Juan DeFuca, the San Juan islands, and the inland passages. I will be going as far as Glacier Bay: smelling the salt air, I will feel the gentle roll of pondering a lifeís journeys, reflecting days gone by, memories of childhood.
My story continues while others only dream.
I am humbled by impoverished stagnated lives among us. So rarely noticed are the unfortunate disheveled orphans. Life, opportunity, and happiness are consumed by ambivalence and deplorable living. Drudgery is so easily passed on by those who care for us. We live it with them when it causes them to forget our needs. When we are overlooked, even temporarily, a mortally threatening cycle may begin. Some end up sinking, even intentionally, or are cut up and thrown out as scrap wood; usually after many years of changing hands, and being tossed from one make-shift home to another. They lye in littered and hidden marinas. Dry rot eats at them like flesh rotting from a leper. Wood blisters and warps, it peels away from their structure, opening gaping wounds. Mixed with derelicts of lesser post war stature, they are Steinbergs thrown to the junk yard crusher.
As I have aged and matured I have seen how precious the lives of others are. How easily the rich colors of life can dull, how the sweetness of living can pass from the pallet, being impaled by daily hopelessness.
I have a good life, with many happy memories. I have met many wonderful people: and cuddled intimately with some of the most famous. I have a nice home, and a family who takes good care of me. I am lucky, I have not been forgotten like so many others. Many of my most charming friends are committed to rest homes, shanty town marinaís. Their lives have become a distressing state of decay. Under layers of peeling paint their histories fade, and become fogged. They do not want to be forgotten. They are waiting for a caring friend to nurture them back to health, so their journals may go on.