The Fathom No. 1

by Patricia McKenzie and John MacFarlane 2017

Fathom No. 1

The day in 1956 when the Fathom No. 1 was launched, was a celebration. At the christening of the Fathom No. 1 the three people standing off to the right hand side are Mr. and Mrs. Sam Jaffrey, and my mom standing between them. The Jaffreys were very special family friends.

In 1956 the Fathom No. 1 was built by John Manly Ltd. at Vancouver BC. 8.99m x 3.35m x 1.22m (29.5’ x 11.0’ x 4.0’) Steel hull 9.09gt 6.18rt She was powered by a 200hp engine (1956) and re-powered with a 165hp diesel engine.

Fathom No. 1

The Fathom No. 1 (Photo from the Patricia McKenzie collection.)

In 1956–1960 she was owned by Earl McKenzie, Lantzville BC. In 1961–1963 she was owned by Griffiths Towboat Co. Ltd., Richmond BC. In 1964–1970 she was owned by Raake Marine Services Ltd., Vancouver BC. In 1971–1975 she was owned by Rivtow Marine Ltd., Vancouver BC. In 1976 she was owned by Hugh T. Currie, Campbell River BC. In 1977–2011 she was owned by Donald J. Palmerly, Campbell River BC.

Fathom No. 1

The Fathom No. 1 (Photo from the Patricia McKenzie collection.)

The lady christening the Fathom No. 1 is my mother, Donna Mae McKenzie, and the man beside her in the dark suit in the third picture is the owner, my dad, Earl McKenzie. (I presume the other two gentlemen would be from John Manly Ltd, and perhaps John Manly himself??) Dad always said this was the first steel tug ever built, and that people thought he was crazy to build a steel tug. You would have a better idea of whether that information is true. I also have some (or all) of the blueprints for this tug.

It brings tears to my eyes to look at these pictures again after so many years, remembering the good times we had on his boats when dad would take us out for fun. He was a very strong man, an excellent swimmer, and a hard worker who feared nothing. He had many tales of his adventures salvaging logs that had broken away from booms in and after storms, as well as rescuing other boaters and abandoned animals, and indeed rescuing himself when things sometimes went awry. Our homes had a constant parade of rescued cats and kittens.

One story is that when a tow line snapped and flew through the window, hitting him square in the face. The glass that remained in his eye cause permanent impairment to his vision in one eye and yet he carried on as if nothing had happened. Another, when he was ship–wrecked off the cliffs somewhere in Gordon Head; he managed to climb the high straight cliff and arrived covered in mud and soaking wet at some terrified woman’s doorstep, asking for help! The two ships I remember him owning are the Fathom No. 1, and before that, the Elizabeth A.

Editor’s Note: The author, Patricia McKenzie, is the daughter of Earl McKenzie the Fathom No. 1’s first owner.

To quote from this article please cite:

McKenzie, Patricia and John M. MacFarlane (2017) The Fathom No. 1. 2017.

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