Since it had nothing to do with my childhood, upbringing, or my university days, I have no idea why I am now so enamoured by harbours, ports and the ocean. I’ve lived within a half day of them all my life, yet never yearned – let alone took advantage – to visit.
At the end of my second year of university I flew over the ocean to work on a farm in Germany – a student exchange. I was near the port of Hamburg, where I both visited and took boat tours. I worked on a farm that was nearly on the banks of the Elbe river, which flowed into the North Sea. Canals on the farmland rose and fell with the tide.
I crossed the English Channel twice (one way in a storm so bad it made the crew sick – as it did to me).
So, perhaps with this sea and port exposure, I became enthralled with harbours and the ocean. I crave fishing villages with their small ports, and have visited many. I currently live in one of the largest harbours in the world.
Over the decades I have visited and lived in Halifax, I have walked the waterfront hundreds of times. I never tire of it. I have written four novels where harbour and ocean play a significant part – more than just as a setting.
Decades ago, when I was just visiting Halifax, there was an anomaly on the harbour. At the very edge of where the tugboats were berthed, there was narrow slip. It looked as if it was not made on purpose, but was an erratic triangle of water between a dock and a (at the time) jutting shoreline of rocks. Someone kept their small and narrow sailboat there. There was no signage, and I never knew if it was done legally. I never saw the boat come or go, but I often found the slip empty. This situation lasted for years, and although the sailboat was long gone, the slip itself only disappeared this year through massive changes to the shoreline.
At the other end of the harbour shore, where additional major changes are being made (a huge hotel, condos. restaurant, shops), between an established peer and the new construction, there is an anomaly. A narrow triangle of a slip, suitable for one solitary boat – if it is ever used.
Such a slip has now appeared in my current novel.