Author pens book about life as a charter captain

Peter Gordon came to Victoria in 1977 after a self-described California divorce, in search of new horizons.

Victoria author Peter Gordon’s memoir Stalking Salmon and Wrestling Drunks is an account of his life at sea during an 11-year-period.

Victoria author Peter Gordon’s memoir Stalking Salmon and Wrestling Drunks is an account of his life at sea during an 11-year-period.

Peter Gordon came to Victoria in 1977 after a self-described California divorce, leaving a successful career in the film industry behind in search of new horizons.

“I had $10,000 and a new car, and not much else, but I wanted to try something new …something I’d love to do,” said Gordon. “I found it in Victoria.”

He took his money and purchased a 50-foot cruiser, which he converted to a charter boat, and Magna Charters was born.

Gordon had no idea how to manage a boat that size and was totally unfamiliar with the waters around Victoria so, as part of the purchase deal for the boat, the old owner had to agree to spend a month showing Gordon the ropes.

“I had no idea, but I was a fast learner,” chuckled Gordon.

“I loved the boat and I loved meeting new people, so the business seemed to be a perfect fit. Before I knew it, I was the skipper of a charter business.”

He named the boat, Kahlua as Kahlua and coffee was a staple on board. Then, with the help of his two children, Ian and Anna as deckhands, he was open for business.

His memoir, entitled Stalking Salmon and Wrestling Drunks has now been released and is an account of his charmed B.C. life as a charter captain. The book is a story of a joyful lifestyle, set against the spectacular backdrop of the Olympic Mountains and the sea and sky that made up Gordon’s existence for the next 11 years.

But it’s primarily a story about the people Gordon met during his decade at sea.

“Of course, some were real asses, but mostly they were this amazing collection of people from all over the world,” explained Gordon. “Mostly, it was great fun.”

Still, not all the adventures on the Kahlua were fun.

“We had this one charter…a family outing…and I saw the guest of honour. She’d removed her glasses and was walking up toward the bow and I wondered what she was up to, so I followed her,” recalled Gordon.

And it was a good thing he did, as it turned out the elderly woman had decided to commit suicide. Gordon learned later she was on medication and had prior psychological problems. He also learned how her medications didn’t react well with alcohol and that offering her a beer had probably been a very bad idea.

“She jumped in but her blouse captured some air and bubbled up around her, keeping her afloat. My partner and I managed to get a rope around her and get her back aboard,” said Gordon.

That task was made slightly harder as the woman’s grandson decided to “be a hero” and jump in after his grandmother. It turned out he wasn’t much of a swimmer and the young man’s heroics necessitated a second rescue to be preformed.

“It you look at the cover of the book, there’s a cartoon image of grandma making the jump. It’s funny now, but at the time, it really wasn’t,” said Gordon.

On another occasion the Kahlua played host to royalty as Prince Andrew chartered the boat for a tour.

“We didn’t realize how thoroughly the boat had to be vetted,” recalled Gordon, adding that he hadn’t been allowed to leave the boat for over a day after that vetting to ensure security. “If I left, they’d have to start all over, including sending divers under the hull to look for explosives.”

Stalking Salmon and Wrestling Drunks is described as a book of humour, pathos, and sincerity. His book transports the reader to 1978, giving a glimpse of Victoria and its visitors at that time. It also serves as a reminder of the full range of people who come to visit the Island; each with their own story.

“Whenever I look back at this moment in my life, it crosses my mind that those were the good old days,” said Gordon.

“It was a good life, and I’m glad to have the chance to share a bit of it with my readers.”

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich police officers were one group of dozens that submitted dance clips to the Greater Victoria Festival Society, to help create the Dance Across Victoria video montage. (Youtube/Screenshot)
WATCH: Saanich police, Victoria mayor bust some moves in new Dance Across Victoria video

Montage features submitted dance clips from across Greater Victoria

Former Oak Bay High Grade 12 student Brandon Kip plays the $100,000 Steinway piano in the Dave Dunnet Theatre. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay High Alumni Association passes torch to new president

The association has given back more than $70,000 in its 16 years

Saanich’s Malia Brodie competed in the Vancouver qualifiers for the 2020 National Championships. (Photo by BC Sport Karate Snaps)
PHOTOS: Saanich teen awarded $1,800 Karate Canada bursary to pursue officiant certification

Malia Brodie, 18, has black belt, nearly 15 years experience in karate

This photo courtesy of Leanne Grover shows the immediate aftermath of the fire at 7987 Galbraith Cres. that caused extensive damage and displaced six residents. (Leanne Grover/Submitted)
Residents of a Central Saanich duplex ‘fortunate’ to escape Sunday morning fire

Damage to the duplex extensive with one resident said to be ‘catatonic’ after escaping building

After more than a year, open forums will resume at a Saanich committee of the whole meeting on April 19 with up to five residents having the chance to speak for three minutes each about any district-related matter. (Black Press Media file photo)
Public input resumes at Saanich council following lengthy suspension due to pandemic

Up to five residents can present by phone for up to three minutes starting April 19

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read