About the Author
Peter Vassilopoulos is a long-time West Coast boater who has traveled the Pacific Northwest coast extensively and contributed to numerous boating publications—Pacific Yachting Magazine in particular.
Since 1994 he has produced a series of best-selling marine guides: Docks & Destinations; Anchorages and Marine Parks; North of Desolation Sound (The Broughton Islands); Gulf Islands Cruising Guide and Cruising to Desolation Sound, which includes Howe Sound and the Sunshine Coast. His latest works include a coffee-table, hard-covered book about the marine artist John M. Horton (published by Heritage House). His earliest book, Antiques Afloat (1981), on historical local pleasure craft, remains a highly regarded work.
Peter currently lives in British Columbia where he continues writing and publishing books on journeys along the west coast with advice on near shore ocean travel and snippets of history of the area. He continually works on updating his marine guides and spends time boating and flying (with friends) up and down the coast updating his vast library of coastal photographs and keeping in touch with coastal communities.
He moved to Canada in 1973 from South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) where he worked as a radio and television reporter, editor and journalist. He founded and published for 30 years Canada’s underwater publication, Diver Magazine, focusing on marine life, environmental issues, world travel and personalities in the ocean, travel and scuba diving realm.
Living with Carla, his wife for over 40 years, he is enjoying semi-retirement, continuing to work on book projects and writing for Pacific Yachting Magazine.
Peter Vassilopoulos writes:
Read Pacific Yachting Magazine by subscription, from magazine racks or online. It has been my window to the world of boating in British Columbia since 1974. Its ongoing articles keep local and visiting mariners abreast of latest news, developments and destinations on the west coast of Canada and in Puget Sound. It also does interviews with people involved in boating. In the October 2012 edition the magazine posed six questions to me. Some of the answers required very careful thought and I am not sure I was able to come up with everything I would have liked to say. Some questions were posed as to whom of note, over my life of working in the media, have I met.
This takes me back to early years of my working life, in the 1960s, when I first got into radio news. From a sub-editor’s desk I was soon doing part time reporting and interviewing and covered some interesting if not amazing events. I was at the news desk when the first moon landing produced a number of moon rock samples. Again when Dr Christiaan Barnard performed the first and then the second (first successful) heart transplant operation in Cape Town, South Africa. I had become friends with the Blaiberg family, visiting them and Dr Philip Blaiberg at their home, and was the first to be notified when he died. His family invited me to be a pallbearer at the funeral.
One of the jobs that I took on was meeting the Union Castle line mailships on Wednesday mornings. This entailed having breakfast with the captain, time spent in various parts of the ships, primarily on the bridge or with the shipping line’s public relations staff and the captain in his office, and meeting dignitaries who were aboard. Among others, I met and made friends with South Africa’s singing couple Des and Dawn Lindberg (the country’s equivalent to Sonny and Cher, my meeting Sholto Douglas, First Baron Douglas of Kirtleside, one of the world’s earliest pilots (Royal Aero Club certificate number 1301) was most memorable. He had flown in the First World War and was Marshal of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He was on a retirement cruise and visit to Cape Town. He, his wife Hazel and his traveling companions invited me to their cabin where I was introduced to a popular breakfast cocktail, the Mimosa (champagne and orange juice).
I met Michael Peter Hayes (he was a pop singer at the time and went by the name Mickey Most) who became a leading English record producer. He worked with the Herman’s Hermits, The Animals and other recording artists and was one of the leaders in his field in the 1960s and 70s. Other notable people in the entertainment field that I met included Marlene Deitrich, singer Max Bygraves and trumpet player Eddie Calvert in Africa in the 1960s, and Tony Curtis, the lovely Sharon Lawrence, Jamie Farr, and Lloyd Bridges in north America in the 1980s. (Eddie Calvert was first to record Oh Mein Papa that earned him a gold disc, selling over a million copies. It was the first top of the hit parade recording to have been cut at the Abbey Road studios in England).
In the years of my involvement with the scuba diving community and industry I met Jacques Cousteau and became friends with Jean-Michel Cousteau. Through the Bluewater Cruising Association a meeting with Thor Heyerdahl (Kon-Tiki expedition) turned into a couple of very interesting discussions over a period of two evening social events.
Although I don’t play golf, I got caught up following the sport as part of my broadcasting career. Through a friend who was involved with the Outward Bound Society, I had met Gary Player at his home in Johannesburg, even before I became involved with the media. Once associated with broadcasting I ended up spending time around the golf courses on a number of occasions when he was playing. I was called one day to join him at a special event. Gary Player was doing a round with the prime minister and members of the cabinet, and being the good-humoured person that he is, Gary demonstrated how the various members played golf. How they addressed the ball and how they actually should be addressing it. It was a fun-filled day with the PM and the cabinet members taking it all in good humour.
I moved on to the editor’s desk in what was then called Rhodesia, did some reporting on the side, interviews with prime minister Ian Smith and other notable people for about a year before heading to Canada.
Out of Africa
My wife (born in BC) and I were off on a trip around the world when we stopped in Vancouver to visit family. I was so taken with the city, its ocean shores and tall mountains, and particularly with the extensive numbers of boats and yachts at the marinas and plying local waters, that I simply had to stay. We would continue our travels later.
My arrival in Canada was heralded by one of the sunniest summers I can recall. Boats were everywhere. Walking along the shores of Stanley Park, or standing on the rocks at Point Atkinson I was amazed at the volume of vessels moving about in English Bay. I had spent lots of time in and on the water back in Cape Town, running a small outboard engine powered runabout, paddling in a series of my own homebuilt canoes or poking about with friends in their fishing boats. One memorable trip was aboard a small lobster fishing boat off Cape Point, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. Other, more exciting lobster fishing expeditions were in small boats to a series of reefs off Robben Island (Mandela’s prison). After declaring the waters in Table Bay a conservation area, the activity turned from recreational and light commercial lobster fishing, into poaching. Working for the broadcasting corporation I had to forego my involvement in diving for lobster. Besides I did not relish the firing of .303 rifle shots overhead by the prison guards when we strayed a little too close to the island.
Writing articles for a number of magazines, I found myself becoming increasingly busy with projects for Pacific Yachting magazine. I was assigned the covering of predicted log races and soon found myself, with my wife Carla, cruising the waters of the Strait of Georgia as an observer and guest aboard 60 to 80 foot classic motor yachts. These cruises gave me an introduction to the waters of the Pacific Northwest and I soon learned about tides and currents, weather and wind conditions, seasons and the operation of larger vessels.
I began reviewing and testing new power boats for Pacific Yachting and soon I was also writing a regular column. Meanwhile I had founded a scuba diving magazine that we called Pacific Diver. A small staff produced that magazine six times a year which left me time to continue writing for Pacific Yachting. Carla and I acquired a small pocket cruiser that we moored in False Creek in front of our magazine offices. We began using it for extended cruises to familiarize ourselves with the coast, doing year-round weekend trips to nearby destinations and longer summertime voyages to places such as the west coast of Vancouver Island and to the north coast beyond Cape Caution.
A set of circumstances later prompted us to turn the scuba magazine into a national publication and by dropping the regional nomenclature it became Diver Magazine. As a national magazine it required more of my time, took me to Ontario and California frequently and then to many diving destinations at the invitation of tourism entities looking for publicity in the North American market.
Invitations from numerous dive resorts, tourism authorities and airlines had us travelling to some exciting destinations in order to write about them in Diver. These included Belize, South America (we loved Rio de Janeiro), the Bahamas, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao), Hawaii, Fiji, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong and more. We also traveled extensively around Canada and the United States visiting members of the industry, diving and attending dive conferences. A long time friend in the diving industry is Phil Nuytten, owner of Nuytco Services in North Vancouver. His one atmosphere suits and deep diving submersibles are legendary as is his work with training astronauts in weightlessness. To Phil went Diver Magazine when we sold it and he maintains it as a successful and respected publication.