Qualicum Beach resident Bruce Stratton hand built this red cedar boat which will be launched into the ocean Sunday

Minnie the Moocher launches this Sunday at French Creek Marina

Qualicum Beach resident Bruce Stratton launches handmade red cedar boat Sunday at French Creek Marina

A vintage-style red cedar boat built entirely by hand in Qualicum Beach will be launched into the Salish Sea for the first time Sunday morning at the French Creek Marina.

Owner Bruce Stratton said he started the project 10 years ago and has been working on it periodically throughout the last decade.

“I wanted a boat that was unique,” said Stratton. “Nobody had what I was looking for so I built my own.”

The majestic wooden vessel currently sits in Stratton’s Qualicum Beach drive way.

It is 19’6 feet long by 6’9 feet wide. According to Stratton most boats of this length are at least one foot wider.

Additionally, he said the modernization of boats makes his quite rare in this day and age.

“Most boats these days are made from fiberglass not wood,” he said. “They’re cheaper to build, there is an idea that they’ll last longer and will require less maintenance.”

But Stratton said his boat — affectionately named Minnie the Moocher — is “very seaworthy” and insured to go out as far as the Queen Charlottes.

The name was thought up by Stratton’s wife and comes from a famous 1931 jazz song.

One of the lyrics reads: “but Minnie had a heart as big as a whale.”

Stratton explains mooching is also a type of salmon fishing which uses a piece of herring, a two inch weight and the ebb and flow of the ocean.

He said the red cedar used to construct the boat comes from Vancouver Island. It is complemented by Honduran mahogany and more than 30 custom cast bronze parts including scuppers, antenna mounts and knife hinges. Moreover, Minnie the Moocher boasts 24 different electric circuits and a 33 horsepower diesel engine. The design resembles what Statton called “an east coast style lobster boat” characterized by a flat bottom and round chine.

“I’ve always been drawn to the ocean,” said Stratton, adding he will mostly use the boat for pleasure and the occasional fishing trip. “Being out on the ocean is lovely — there are no roads, no turn signals and no tolls. You can go anywhere you want to. We live by the ocean and we should appreciate it.”

Stratton estimates he put $25,000 into building the boat and had it appraised at $100,000.

Asked if he’d ever sell it, Stratton, a retired West Vancouver stockbroker said: “everything has a price, but I have no plans to sell it any time soon.”

The official launch of Minnie the Moocher will take place this Sunday, July 13 at the French Creek Marina at 10 a.m. The launch is open to the public and Stratton encourages anybody interested to come check out his boat.

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