HMCS Quadra is situated on Goose Spit in Comox Harbour, BC, on Vancouver Island. It was former RN naval dock, established as a Sea Cadet training camp in 1952 and commissioned as HMCS Quadra in 1956. I was hospitalized for an operation while in Naden and was scheduled for a second one prior to my release from the RCN. With all my new found "expertise" as a motor boat coxswain on the Athabaskan, what better place to send me while waiting around. What a life.... cruising around the harbour forever ready to rescue any any cadet that happened to tip his dinghy. If they had offered me an extended stay up there I might have signed on again. ;-)
I have no photos from Quadra but the picture etched in my mind of how I almost sunk my "command" brings a smile to this day. A Canadian frigate (I can't recall the name) stopped for a visit and anchored in the harbour. There were tours scheduled for the cadets but the first order of business was to take the officers (RCN and Sea Cadet) from Quadra to the ship for tea and crumpets or whatever it is they do in the wardroom. The ship was anchored to the right of the jetty with her bow facing the jetty. The accommodation ladder was over the ship's starboard side so my plan was to go straight out from the jetty make a U turn to starboard and tie up port side to.
Standing tall with whistle in my mouth, going full ahead, I started into my U turn. I tooted for the stoker reduce to slow ahead. "hmmm" I thought, "this is going to a little tight". As the landing on the bottom of the accommodation ladder drew closer I was having a few thoughts that I might have not taken a wide enough turn and I might hit the ladder. I became fully convinced of it when the two officers on the top of the ladder jumped back to the safety of the ship's upper deck.
Within a few feet of tearing the ladder off of the ship I disregarded navy protocol of tooting instructions to the stoker, poked my head under the canopy and very quietly whispered, "FULL !&!%#$ SPEED ASTERN". I still had the tiller full over to port and with the prop going full astern, the cutter shuddered, the bow lifted a bit out of the water, came to starboard and the stern went to port. When forward movement stopped, I stopped engine and the cutter sat motionless right alongside the landing of the ladder and directly in line with the opening between the cutter's two canopies. The bowman simply used the boathook to keep us from drifting. As my passengers boarded the frigate the senior officer, an RCN Lt. Cdr turned and said, "Thank you Cox'n and well done. Pick us up at 1700."
I replied "Aye aye, sir" but I knew that I would be off duty and I was going for a cold relaxing beer. To this day I have no idea how this impending disaster was averted so I will just chalk it up to excellent seamanship ;-).
Here is a website with photos of the camp and the harbour.
The Alumni Association of HMCS Quarda is open to former cadets and staff
Alumni Association of HMCS Quadra
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