A sea venture with piracy, dangerous uncharted waters, political loyalty and betrayal, all bound up in a web of international intrigue. That's the story members and visitors to the Puget Sound Cruising Club will hear when maritime historian Dr. Barry Gough speaks about his book Juan de Fuca's Strait: Voyages in the Waterway of Forgotten Dreams
at PSCC's November 15 meeting, 7:30 pm, North Seattle Community College Rm LB1142.
Each summer when I go north I take with me at least one nonfiction book about nautical or northwest history. I find reading them while I'm cruising enhances my journeys by giving me a new perspective on the places we visit. This year's book was Barry Gough's Juan de Fuca's Strait
. I had read many of the original sources (such as Cook's journals) myself but on reading Gough's book I was struck how he managed to pull it all together into a coherent and interesting story. So when I got back and learned Gough would be speaking to the PSCC I was delighted.
An award-winning writer and historian, Gough has been writing about Pacific Coast history for almost four decades. His interest dates to his childhood when he cruised in his father's boat out of Sidney B.C. and sailed in a lightning out of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. Those experiences gave him an understanding of tide-rips, shallows, charts and weather, an understanding that makes his stories good reading for boaters of today.
Gough begins the story of Juan de Fuca's Strait in sixteenth-century Venice, when explorer Juan de Fuca encountered English merchant Michael Lok and told a fantastic story of a broad strait that connected the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans: the fabled Northwest Passage. The search for the Northwest Passage would inspire centuries of dreaming, and exacerbate English and Spanish rivalry, eventually bringing the two countries to the brink of war.
Juan de Fuca's Strait (the book) is not just about the body of water labeled on the charts as "Juan de Fuca Strait." Just as Juan de Fuca's tale led explorers to waters beyond the Strait, so Gough's stories take us into the Salish Sea, onwards around Vancouver Island, and beyond.
As a historian, Gough has the ability to marshal a multitude of facts - the silver dinnerware of the Spanish Navy vs the pewter of the British Navy for example - and bring them to bear in explaining events. By the end of the book I understood and appreciated the place Juan de Fuca Strait -- and the dreams it inspired -- had in our history.
In addition to Juan de Fuca's Strait Gough has written many other critically acclaimed books including Fortune's a River: The Collision of Empires in Northwest America
, the award winning book of how British Columbia became British and how Oregon, Washington and Alaska became American ).
Copies of Juan de Fuca's Strait: Voyages in the Waterway of Forgotten Dreams ($32.95 plus tax) will be for sale at the meeting. Checks and cash only please.
For more information about the meeting and its location see http://www.pugetsoundcruisingclub.org/