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Review in the Coast Reporter

Whenever a historian is also a good storyteller, you can be assured that an excellent book will result. From the Wheelhouse is a good read.

Doreen Armitage, known on this Coast for her history of Howe Sound, has interviewed 16 old-time tugboat captains, engineers and deckhands to assemble an in-depth account of life aboard B.C. tugs. Told in the narrative voice of the mariners themselves, the book has a compelling old-world feel. It harkens back to a time when tugboaters were a hardy crew, when they burned coal and stopped at Union Bay on Vancouver Island to load up and of winters when the ice would build up on the boats, destabilizing them, and the men would attack it with picks and axes in the old way.

Their collective memories roam over exciting ocean rescues, wild weather, political will, traditions such as mounting a Christmas tree on the mast and the boredom of days at sea towing logs.

The book includes a biography page of the many captains and a useful glossary of log towing and tugboat terms.