Stephen Hodges-Whittaker with the YAG 320

Sooke man keeps his word and takes his ship home

Former navy reservist buys and fixing up ship he served on

  • Aug. 11, 2016 4:00 p.m.

By Adam Marsh

For Stephen Hodges-Whittaker, it is impossible to be lost at sea. It is where he says he is most found.

Hodges-Whittaker, 62, sailed on the navy ship YAG 320 for the first time in 1970, and spent the next 32 years training recruits on board the ship.

He knew within moments of stepping aboard the 23-metre vessel he wanted to take the ship home with him.

More than 40 years later, he fulfilled his dream.

“I had just fallen in love with boats,” he recalls, sitting in the galley of YAG 320 sipping Hawaiian coffee. “I said, ‘I could live on this boat.”

In 2011, he bought the ship at a federal government surplus sale, and quickly made it his retirement project.

But repairing and renovating the vessel has been no easy feat, Hodges-Whittaker says.

“The navy’s wiring was old and standards and requirements have changed,” he says. “Because they used normal steel nails, we’re pulling up all the deck boards and either treating the steel, or replacing it with stainless.”

Hodges-Whittaker says the steel is treated by changing the rust into iron phosphate, which is done by putting phosphoric acid on the steel.

“We pour that stuff over the steel; it changes the rust, and seals the steel where it is.”

He says the phosphate incases the steel and essentially acts like a shield against spreading rust. But he doesn’t mind the hard, occasionally tedious work.

“It’s a feeling of that’s where I belong,” he says. “Every time I pull out a rusty nail or a broken screw, it feels to me like I’m pulling a splinter out of somebody’s finger.”

Hodges-Whittaker says it comes down to treating the boat how she deserves to be treated.

“The boat, to me, has a personality. It’s an entity.”

Cam Ward, who works at Rush Adventures in Cooper’s Cove, where the boat is anchored, says he sees Hodges-Whittaker put his zodiac in the water regularly and motor into the cove to work.

“From what I’ve heard, he’s trying to refurbish it back up. It’s a nice little conversation piece. It’s always fun to see those guys go back and forth in their little dinghy,” says Ward.

Hodges-Whittaker’s wife, Susanna Joy Hodges-Ransom, says she is looking forward to getting the construction of the boat done.

“It’s been a construction zone, but we’ve been able to still stay on it while they did the plumbing or took out the electrical.”

But Hodges-Ransom says things changed when the deck work began.

“Since it’s been having more and more construction, I’ve been staying on it less and less, because when I get there, instead of enjoying being on the boat, I’m now cleaning and organizing and helping.”

Hodges-Whittaker says it is not the kind of project with a definite end date. He links his experience on the water to that of an addiction.

“As soon as I got out to sea, I was sick as a dog, but it was like an addiction. I can’t stay away. There’s something about feeling the deck move, that’s a lot of it. Just feeling it move under my feet as I’m walking, I’m moving with it and it’s just the way I want to be.”

 

 

 

Just Posted

Sooke School trustee and VIHA both call for vaccine education in schools

A renewal of cultural memory is needed, says trustee

Greater Victoria teachers experienced more than 30 incidents of violence from students in one month

Shuttered behavioural programs, lack of resources creates challenges for local schools

Canadian alcohol policy gets failing grade from UVic researchers

Canadian provinces and territories collectively achieved less than half of their potential to reduce alcohol related harm

MISSING: 32-year-old Heather Limer last seen in Victoria

Limer was last seen in the 800-block of Johnson Street on Feb. 18

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

Writing contest for teens

Students in grades 8 to 12 are invited to enter the Vancouver… Continue reading

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Federal fisheries minister calls for precautionary approach to fish farming

Government still reviewing Federal Court’s decision on PRV – Wilkinson

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

Most Read