Nanaimo writer, poet and playwright Kevin Roberts presents Flashers and Hoochies at Nanaimo North Library on Aug. 12. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Memoir recalls life as a rookie Nanaimo salmon troller in the late 1970s

Author Kevin Roberts worked as a fisherman in the Strait of Georgia from 1974 to 1979

Kevin Roberts said becoming a commercial salmon troller was the fulfillment of a “romantic dream,” but at times it was a nightmare.

In his new memoir, Flashers and Hoochies, named after fishing gear, the Nanaimo author and playwright looks back on his time as a long-haired “hippie poet” fisherman from 1974 to 1979.

He said there used to be hundreds of fishing boats in the Strait of Georgia, and his memoir is a return to that era.

“It’s a dying industry,” Roberts said. “There are none of these guys left. Most of them are dead. The boats have been sold. You don’t see them. The salmon have disappeared so the whole thing’s a bit of a tragedy.”

The book recounts Roberts’s brushes with success and disaster, especially aboard his first boat, a “very old” vessel named the Wren.

“I bought that rather unwisely and struggled to make it work and stop it from sinking,” he said.

Roberts said it was cussedness, sheer determination “and to some extent, stupidity” that kept him going.

“I was learning all these things about boats and engines, which I never knew beforehand,” he said. “The challenge was there: Can I do it?”

WHAT’S ON … Kevin Roberts presents Flashers and Hoochies at Nanaimo North Library on Monday, Aug. 12 at 6:30 p.m.



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