Dan­ger­ous Mo­ments on the Outer Coast

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight -

Joanna Streetly, Caitlin Press (APRIL) Soft­cover $22.95 (224pp), 978-1-987915-65-5

Joanna Streetly was just nine­teen when she moved to Tofino, on the west coast of Van­cou­ver Is­land. “It was a time be­fore the tech­nol­ogy ex­plo­sion, when boats were ex­pected to leak, or sink, and boat mo­tors were ex­pected to be fickle,” she writes. “It was an era un­com­pli­cated by cell­phones or GPS—OR even wealth—when sim­ply hav­ing a com­pass el­e­vated me above those who ap­proached the fog with mum­bled prayers, or fin­gers crossed.” And it was a place that val­ued a good story.

Streetly’s mem­oir is filled with the raw in­ten­sity of life-or-death mo­ments in the wild, and reflections on how they opened un­charted re­gions within her. Work­ing as an out­door guide, lead­ing oth­ers on kayak or whale-watch­ing tours, she learned the treach­ery of this wilder­ness: how is­lands that seemed like par­adise in the sum­mer were deadly in the win­ter, blasted by fierce storms.

She tells of be­ing swept out to sea, fac­ing likely death in the cold wa­ter, yet feel­ing only peace; of how lack of day­light and long pe­ri­ods of iso­la­tion could dis­rupt sleep and bring on hal­lu­ci­na­tions; of her sur­prise at find­ing her­self swim­ming along­side a bear; and of fight­ing her need to prove her­self equal to a man in fac­ing chal­lenges thrown at her by this un­tamed land.

She tells of her years part­nered with a First Na­tions man, and the crum­bling of both their float house and their re­la­tion­ship; of conflicts be­tween white and abo­rig­i­nal peo­ples; of a new re­la­tion­ship and the birth of a daugh­ter; of learn­ing to bal­ance her fear for her child’s safety with the risk of de­stroy­ing her de­light in the wild.

She has given us good sto­ries of breath­tak­ing ad­ven­tures, both beau­ti­fully crafted and en­chant­ing.

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