Paddling the ‘Broken Islands’

I have to share a very much appreciated review of my book “We Don’t Talk About That” from my good old friend, one who has written books and many essays himself, one who has started the first kayaking club in eastern Canada and tried to teach me to ski on Grouse Mountain on the west coast; one who has started and established architecture courses and taught at the university, involved in building an opera house and did all kinds of other incredible things. One thing we did together was a weeklong kayaking trip through the ‘Broken Islands’ starting in Ucluelet, B.C. on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Broken Islands - 1I will never forget how I carried all our supplies to the boat close to the ocean where we were to take off. Gerhard had left to find a parking place for his car. Returning on my second trip with another arm full of ‘stuff’ I saw hundreds of seagulls ripping into our food bags, nuts and dried fruit was all over the place. I had to fight them off while I saved what I could. When I finally had everything piled up next to the boat the ocean had left, – the ebb tide had set in and I stood next to the kayak on the sand watching the water retreat farther and farther. Quite a helpless feeling!

I will also not forget how we had a fishing line attached to the kayak and all of a sudden the paddling seemed harder. Wow! A good sized salmon was on the line and fighting to get off. As my friend started to reel it in it took just a moment and an eagle dove down and stole our supper. We had to cut the line, we had no choice. Camping on different small islands we harvested mussels and oysters, cooked them in ocean water and sometimes shared them with other campers.

Broken Islands - 2Paddling towards a huge big rock off the coast we heard the howling of sea lions. As we came close one giant stood up and apparently gave a loud order and at least a dozen of them dove into the ocean and stood like a wall in front of us, bobbing up and down in the waves but never taking their eyes off us. I was scared and wanted to paddle away but Gerhard kept his course and only just during the last moment steered away. I am sure those beasts would have capsized our kayak and we would have drowned.

Broken Islands - 3It was my most exhilarating and exciting kayak adventure in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes we had to fight huge waves but we made a terrific team as we were both experienced paddlers. Gerhard, an Austrian by birth knew the ways of the ocean while I was used to paddling on the Baltic Sea even though my kayak competitions were mostly on lakes and rivers of Germany.

Memories. And now Gerhard read my book. I was anticipating some critique from this widely read and educated man. I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart for what he had to say:


Finally I purchased your book. I started reading and couldn’t put it down. It isn’t just good it is very good. It is gripping, even though I have heard much of the story from you over the past twenty years. It is good to see the story did not change. It is well organized so that one knows who is who as we meet them over the years of age, old rural bliss, looming disaster, cataclysm and redemption.

You may have started a new genre with this book. It is not often we encounter a book showing fortitude and heroism amongst the despised losers of a bitter war, together with kernels of humanism remaining amongst the unspeakable brutality of vengeful victors when they encounter the only ones left: the innocent. Everyone should read it.

Gerhard S.

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About gmroeder

Author: - there was so much I never talked about and now, that my memoir "We Don't Talk About That" is written I can't stop talking about it. And the reviews I get are awesome; so I think this book needed to be written. Interesting that I receive many e-mails from people who read the book and now tell me their similar stories... Did I open "a can of worms?" I think there are so many people who carry a heavy memory load and they do need to "unload". But interesting enough, even more people want to know MORE of my life and therefore I am working on a sequel.