Skeena A Hunter
|Club||Middle Harbour Yacht Club|
|Owner (s)||Arthur Hunter|
By Bill Watt
One of the most interesting characters of my early days at middle harbour was Arthur Hunter. He lived at Clontarf, with his daughter, was a MHYC member and sailed a 23 foot gaff cutter Named SKENA.
Skena was clinker built, canvas on the deck and fairly dilapidated. It had a wide counter stern with a rudder hung on pintles. On one occasion the main sheet got caught under the tiller, lifted the rudder off and we had to dive for it.
Skena had a ford car engine which Arthur had installed himself and it worked fine. The engine was immediately behind the mast and had the longest propeller shaft I ever saw in a boat. Arthur was a bit ashamed of the engine but he excused the installation on the grounds of his advanced age.
Arthur could be seen somewhere between the Spit Bridge and Grotto Point about every third day when the wind was light. He never raced, just liked to muck about in his boat. Even though he was over 90 enjoyed a beer and while we sat in the old club house Arthur would reminisce on the experiences of his youth.
Arthur had been a cowboy in the American west and names like Wyat Earp, Lily Langtree, Judge Roy Bean punctuated his stories. He was one of the rough riders who went to Europe with Buffalo Bill Cody. The troop included Indians and the cowboys enacted mock battles against them to entertain the aristocracy.
As a boy Arthur had been sucked into a pipe to a paper mill in Canada. He was under water for over 30 minutes before they could turn off the pump and open the flue to get him off the screen. He was resuscitated with no-ill effects.
His boat got its name from the Skena River in Alaska. Arthur had gone there to make his fortune in gold but finished up running the maile service up the Skena a small sailing boat to avoid starving to death. He had only one blanket and said he spent weeks without getting warm. He once described the public hanging of a very large chinaman for murder in Nome. He thought that the chinaman did not enjoy the experience.
Arthur died at, 96 years of age about the year after we moved into the new Spit Baths Premises.