The name Farrell is synonymous with quality boats to those in the know up and down the British Columbia coast. Working in and around Pender Harbour on the Sunshine Coast, Barrie's father, Allen Farrell, was a much loved eccentric and noted wooden boat builder who created offshore sailing vessels from beachcombed lumber using only basic hand tools. Barrie built his first boat, an eight-foot rowboat, in his early teens using only an old hammer with one claw, a dull handsaw and a rusty block plane. Dozens of speedboats, work boats and fish boats followed.
Despite his grade six education and his grounding in traditional methods, Barrie became one of the leading innovators in West Coast boatbuilding. When fibreglass first became available, Barrie was among the earliest to see its potential. He perfected a method of laying up hulls in moulds that accelerated production and his designs incorporated flowing curves and shaped details that were never possible with wood. He was one of the first to realize that modern fish boats needed to be fast and consequently his graceful, planing gillnetters and trollers dominated the BC salmon fleet in the 1970s and 1980s. By the time he was done in the late 1990s, Barrie had built over 300 commercial and sport fishing boats as well as pleasure boats and left a profound stamp on West Coast boat building.
Boats in My Blood isn't just about the boats. Barrie also shares the story of his life--the highs and the lows. His memories of growing up in Pender Harbour provide an amusing picture of fishing village life in the 1950s and his sharp eye for character makes for many amusing anecdotes. He is frank about his periodic battles with the bottle and bad business dealings, but through it all Barrie's engaging character and unquenchable good nature shine through. Boats in My Blood is a fascinating chronicle of a life devoted to the art of the boat.
Barrie Farrell was born in North Vancouver in 1934 and built his popular Farrell line of fiberglass boats at various locations around the south coast of BC until the late 1990s. He currently lives in Nanaimo and, at the age of 81, is still working on boats.
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