Monday, September 17, 2012


A work barbeque, outdoor fire and sing-a-along on Friday night led to a great adventure for my three boys in Conception Bay on Saturday evening.

The management team wanted to thank the staff for their good work following a stressful few weeks delivering this fall’s revised student loan program.  After the bbq, I ventured out for a stroll down Bishop’s Road along the shoreline of Long Pond in Conception Bay South. The beauty of the sunset over Conception Bay was only eclipsed by the incredible array of cruise boats and yachts tied up at the wharfs that dot the salt water pond that is home to the Royal Newfoundland Yacht Club.

Tied up along side one of the cruise boats was a strip planked twenty foot wooden boat with a muffler sticking out indicating a make and break engine. Nostalgia and curiosity got the best of me, so I sauntered on out on the wharf striking up a conversation with the owner.

Max Clarke's  boat was new, it had been built in Winterton. The engine was a 4HP Acadia that he had rebuild from two older engines. When he turned the wheel and started the engine, the put-put put-put  sounds of a by-gone era came rushing back at me.

I remember my fathers last motor dory before outboard engines became the standard. Dad would stand in the lower third of the boat, the ropes for the rudder in his hand as the engine clamored away.

The rhythmic sound of the make and break engines was  ubiquitous to little outports like St. Bernard's. 

I will never forget the time my grandfather, Uncle Pete as he was known, took dads new boat with the Evinrude outboard for a run. He sat up as the boat went in circles for 10 minutes before he grasped how to control it!

The owner asked about my family and generously offered to take them out for a spin in Long Pond and Conception Bay on Saturday if we wished. On Saturday evening the boys and I arrived with our life jackets for a trip of a lifetime!

They were super impressed and grateful. They are now hyper curious about traditional boat building and make and break engines.

Liam compared  to riding in an antique car. In many ways he was right. This engine changed the way people fished and got around. The age of sail and rowing was replaced by these engines.

 I think there is a least one, if not two school heritage projects in the making

I had forgotten how numb my butt used to get sitting on the tots as the vibrations from the engine shook the boat! 

It sure was nice to re-live history with my boys. 

Thanks Mr. Clarke.

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