Sitting in a new wheelhouse

Summer's Retreat is a sturdy ship for any weather- fair or foul

Phil Burgess in the driver’s seat of his boat

Phil Burgess in the driver’s seat of his boat

It may not look much like it, but spring is here and with it comes the first races of the Schooner Cove Yacht Club’s spring series of races.

The first two of the four-race schedule saw Amazing Grace and Flight trade first and third place positions, while Shingebiss stayed steady in second.

Rambunctious also remained consistent, finishing in fourth place in both races. Island Fling, which took fifth in the first race, dropped one place in the second to take sixth. Trinity meanwhile, improved its standing, moving from seventh to fifth place, while Maxim dropped one level, finishing sixth and then seventh in the final race.

The last two races in the series will leave the dock on April 15.



• She may be called Summer’s Retreat, but veteran fisherman Phil Burgess knows the 50-foot former troller won’t likely be forced to retreat from anything but the most ferocious of storms.

The Shipping News boat of the week is tough, sturdy and eminently seaworthy, a safe bet to bring its crew home once its quota is safely in the tank.

“I used to troll with this, but I got out of trolling back in ‘98,” Burgess said.

“Now we prawn fish, as well as longline for tuna and salmon. We have a crew of four, although sometimes when we’re doing krill we have five. This is a big boat and we can go out in just about anything.”

Burgess left his home in Nova Scotia in 1966, swearing he wouldn’t go fishing, but his move to Toronto left him uncomfortable and before long he found himself in Prince Rupert.

“I just went for two years, to get a stake, and didn’t leave until 19 years later,” he said.

He moved to the Oceanside area and built the Wheelhouse Cafe at French Creek. His restaurant career didn’t last long however.

“You have to be pretty dedicated to run a restaurant,” he said. “On the first day we didn’t get out until 10:30 p.m. and I said to my wife, you know, this place just took away the rest of our freedom.”

The next day he took Summer’s Retreat off the market and, as he sat in the kitchen chatting with the restaurant staff, he heard people were tuna fishing off the Oregon coast.

“I said to my wife, here I am, trying to make $400 or $500 bucks selling hamburgers and those guys are out there fishing tuna, and she said, ‘why don’t you go?”’

By day five of his restaurant career Burgess was longlining for tuna and the restaurant — which is still going strong — was up for sale.


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