A Ladysmith man who wanted to be able to share his love of the sea with his young son was inspired to build a boat, specially designed for fishing in and exploring Ladysmith’s waters.
“I wanted immediately for him to have a life that was more like the life that I had when I was young, in so far as I lived near the water — we always got to go fishing,” said Geordie Pickard.
After living away from Vancouver Island for many years, Pickard made it a goal to move back to raise his family where he was born and raised.
“I knew we always had wanted to have kids and just life kept happening and it got later and later and I suddenly looked like Santa and I was like, ‘oh my god it’s now or never,’” he said.
He spent time living in Montreal, where he built his first boat. He said he decided to design and build his own because he wanted a boat, but did not have the funds as a university student to spend all at once to buy one.
Now his son is two-years-old and beginning to take interest in Pickard’s boat. “It was just the most amazing feeling in the world. It’s unreal. It’s so powerful of having this experience of having this child who is so fascinated in what you are doing,” he said.
Part of the desire to build a boat was fuel efficiency, so he could go out without being worried about cost. When his wife was pregnant, the couple lived on Ruxton Island while waiting to get a home in Ladysmith.
“We were going back and forth on this big heavy duty fibreglass boat and burning tonnes of fuel,” he said. “My wife’s entire pregnancy really was spent living in a cabin with no running water or electricity and then we got this place [in Ladysmith] finally really late in 2019.”
He designed the 17-foot boat to have a high hull speed, with as much length on the waterline as possible, and be able to plane for maximum speed. He said he took inspiration from aviation construction to help keep the weight down. Though the boat looks like a traditional wood vessel, it is made entirely of fibreglass and weighs just 700 pound with the motor.
Features specially designed to handle the waters surrounding Ladysmith include a bow skeg to prevent structural damage from hitting logs. This also allows him to drive up on beaches while out exploring.
“I wanted a boat that was simplicity. I just wanted a stripped down open boat that would get us from Ladysmith to Ruxton and all this inshore, spectacular water around here,” Pickard said. “You don’t really need a big heavy tank to go exploring.”
Pickard still has plans to improve his design, but said since he made it usable, he has been doing a lot of fishing instead of working on it. He plans to build a detachable cabin for next winter.
“I don’t mind standing on the deck of an open boat all winter but I understand why not everyone shares that particular passion or tolerance,” he said.
He also plans on creating a formal design he can include in a book he is working on about his experience reconnecting with nature through boats and moving back to the island.
“For a lot of people who live particularly on the B.C. coast, our attachment to nature has almost taken on a spiritual/religious significance for a lot of people,” he said. “It sort of replaces that for a lot of us. Certainly for me, I feel quite passionate about the marine environment. I think you only feel that if you spend a lot of time on the water.”
Pickard said he gets a lot of questions about the boat when it is parked outside his home, people even ask if it is in production. He said he does not intend to make a business out of boat building but will keep doing it as a hobby.
“I don’t park it out in front of my house for attention — I park there because I keep using it,” he said.
Pickard worked construction jobs, which gave him some of the skills he needed for boat building but he said he mostly learned as he did it. “It was more of a matter of I wanted to do it so I began to do it. most of what I do is fairly straightforward.”
He has shared the specifications of the build with a man in Australia, who is working on his own build.