Floating in here, though, on a boat that needs its hull repaired or painted, it’s all intense action, focus, business. The tide must be high, the captain’s aim straight, nudging the bow right between the rusted steel rails. Lines extended, a rope passed on board and affixed, then a large hydrolic pully hauls her carefully up the ways. In some wonderous feat of engineering, the vessel is now safely balanced upright, out of the sea, supported between posts, and safely in the hands of experienced men.
The man in charge here started building his first wooden boat when he was 16. Who knows how old he is now, but hundreds of commercial fishing boat and yacht owners trust this guy and the Tarkanen Ways, because they know what they’re doing.
Everyone knows that a wooden hull mustn’t be cradled in dry dock, it’s not engineered for that. It must be brought up on the (rail) ways, or its hull may never be the same. That’s why Tarkanen’s is so busy. Good luck getting your pleasure boat in there when the commercial fleet is in. Those guys have priority, and the Ways works fast, moving boats in, getting down to the business of repairing or painting at low tide, and out again with the high. As one vessel leaves, another moves in on the same high tide.
As one vessel leaves, another moves in on the same high tide.
One of the last ways off the east coast of Vancouver Island, this busy shipyard started up generations ago in the Finnish community of Sointula on Malcom Island. It may look like a sleepy museum display from the past, but underneath the picturesque exterior lies a booming business that is always busy, always needed.