Atlantic Ocean, NL - Rick Nickerson
My name is Richard Nickerson. I was born in Langley, lived most of my time on the West Coast. I’ve been working for McKeil coming up 5 years. I am a chief engineer with McKeil.
I have lots of watermarks, more like a bladder than a watermark. My first memory of actually being strongly connected to the water was when I was 10 years old. My father was in the armed forces, we’d been living in Germany for 5 years. We came back across to Canada on the Ivernia, a liner. That’s how they moved their personnel in those days.
I remember being on the middle of the Atlantic and all hell was breaking loose and everyone was flat on their backs not doing anything and just riding with it. I being a 10 year old kid was up and around, had the run of the ship, was all over the ship and everything. I remember going down to the stern and the weather didn’t affect me – it was great, I loved it. I was going down to the stern and I climbed in a coil of rope, the mooring lines in the back and I just hid in there for a while. Some sailors came down and were talking about this and that saying wow, this is good. And that was my first connection to the water and knew that that’s where I wanted to go, to be connected that way, and that’s proven all throughout my life.
I’ve been on the water since ‘72. I live on the water. Water is important because it gives me life, it keeps me alive and keeps me living in the moment because it is always variable, it is always changing and it’s important to life. When I found my way back to water, it’s been a part of life through it all…. Raising a family, having them all. I did charter work for years and I was able to take my family with me which was really great. I had a friend who was a mountain man at one point, he’d come to the water and say it’s great because you can take your whole family and go to places and explore and see things that you would otherwise require a lot of energy for, you would have to pack a lot of things. But on the water you can do a lot and go to a lot of places. I remember a moment, like I said, I took my family with me for a number of years.
I did research work for fisheries for 14 years and my family would come with me. There was a moment where I was sitting in an inlet on the Queen Charlottes, Haida Gwaii. I’m with my oldest boy, boxing the compass with him sitting down on the deck of a boat and boxing a compass. My youngest son who was 4 at the time (just about to start playschool), I could tell he was listening to what we were doing. Finally, he said, “Dad, I know which way playschool is”. We were about 60 miles away in an inlet surrounded by mountains. I said “oh you do, do you, which way is it”. He pointed and said “that way”, and he was dead right, he knew which exact direction to go. From that I realized both those boys had spent a lot of time on the water.
My oldest boy now has his own business, he runs his own boats, his own charter. I could see the connection, I could see what I enjoyed having been passed on to them. What I know of the family history is that they came up during the American Revolution time from the Massachusetts area and went to Nova Scotia. They had a fishing schooner and sailed that up and settled in a place called New Harbour and ran their schooners out of there. There are quite a few Nickersons in Nova Scotia with a fishing history with everyone connected to the water. My grandfather, the youngest of 13 boys, moved West after the first world war and came back after the first world war. My father was born in Alberta and it took me a while to find my own way back to the water. But I recognized it once I got on to the water, I knew it was definitely what I wanted to do with my time.