From a reader drawn to the Arctic

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Icefield, Arctic Ocean

From a reader drawn to the Arctic
by BigJules

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One of the joys of being a writer is hearing from readers around the world – and learning a little about their lives.

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William de Vaney, a marine historical artist, now living in the States, was raised as a bush Alaskan in the twilight of her days as a territory. He has an enduring connection with Neptune’s Realm and first put his hands on the wheel of a 32 foot wooden limit seiner when he was seven, and wore through his first storm with his father when he was eight.

William also has a special appreciation of ‘the wonderful, sacred expanse of wilderness’ that is the Arctic and spent three years living there, including a couple of seasons kayaqing the Passage.

 

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William – with a good book!

The Arctic, William says, ‘cares not a whit for human concerns.’ Encountering an ice storm east of the Prudhoe Bay area a few years back he found himself battling a closing ice pack for over twelve hours. Desperate to find shelter he struggled through cul-de-sacs of shifting, grinding pan ice amidst misting ice-fog and wind before finally coming upon a floe with a small lagoon to shelter in. Later that same trip he had to weather 35 knots+ winds off his port quarter to get to the village of Kaktovik on Barter Island.

William has built a number of native frame kayaqs and is currently working on one now for himself so he and his wife Kim can explore some of the Maine coastal waters together.

 

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Kim de Vaney’s whimsical puffin

William told me: ‘I’ve always been a fan of the very sea that I worked upon (and on occasion has tried to take me out), and I appreciate the hardships of the days of sail. Working a longliner with the decks awash over your knees is a real wake up call (as I’m sure with your time at sea, you understand) – though, I confess, working a small gaff rig sloop to weather in a gale is nothing compared to being aloft in the Age of Sail! I don’t mind heights, but that would be tough. I don’t think anything sailors endure today can compare to it, especially in their type of warfare. What a brutal business.’

I was especially tickled with one photograph William sent me – it was taken at West Quoddy Head Light, which holds the distinction of being the easternmost lighthouse in the US. Look what books he’s holding!

The de Vaneys are not just a couple with a deep appreciation of the natural world. Kim is a talented artist in her own right and William has recently had a novel, ‘Lightship’, published.
He also has his own blog.

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