Quinque

Quinque was built in the mid-1980’s at the Whaler Bay Boatyard on Galiano Island, British Columbia by boatbuilders Shay & Greg Foster. She measures nineteen feet long and is constructed of Yellow Cedar.

In build

The Fosters modelled the boat after a fishing boat once common to the Shetland Islands: a Sixareen (Sixern) or ‘six-oared‘ working vessel. Amongst the many other wonderful wooden vessels that they built at Whaler Bay, the Foster family constructed at least two other Sixareen types – including a pair of them at twenty-two feet long for a troop of Sea Scouts.

Quinque sports a simple, schooner, standing lugsail rig. Her original Egyptian cotton sails were sewn by Shay. Shay’s sailmaking signature feature is a smiling whale embroidered to the tack of each sail she crafts.

Laughing whale sail
Just… wow.

Quinque was built for the Clark family of Victoria, British Columbia. The word Quinque is Latin for Five. Martyn and Marg Clark have a family of five beautiful girls, and so the boat’s name naturally followed suit.

The Clark family

Martyn Clark wrote of his family’s journeys with Quinque in a newsletter for the Anglican Parish of Central Saanich.


The Anderson family of Victoria were the next owners of the boat. Quinque was kept in excellent working condition under their ownership for more than twenty years. Tony and Bonice were very generous to offer the use of the boat to friends. She had many adventures with the Andersons – including a trip in which she was trailered north to sail the Brooks Peninsula area. She was kept at Oak Bay Marina, where she managed to weather a fantastic storm that resulted in a dock breaking loose and many boats piling up on a lee shore. She was damaged during the incident, but Tony was careful to have her properly repaired to her original standard of build. It was a common sight to see the Anderson family sailing out to Chatham and Discovery Island during the weekends.

Tony Anderson rowing at Oak Bay Marina
Stephen Mohan stepping ashore with the painter in the Chatham Islands.

Coco Hess and Martin Mitchinson were the subsequent owners of Quinque. They kept her on a mooring off their idyllic property at the head of Okeover Inlet.

Okeover Inlet

Avid sailors, Coco and Marty adventured with the boat extensively, sailing her on long voyages. Twice they ventured North past Cape Caution – one time as far as Bella Bella!

The boat’s original cotton sails were now well over 35 years old. They were threadbare and showing their age with multiple patches and repairs. A new suit of sails was constructed at Force 10 Sailmaking & Rigging on Marrowstone Island in Puget Sound, where Coco happily worked alongside the skilled sailmakers. The result was a lovely set of cream colored, traditionally crafted lugsails made of Duradon – a modern material built to emulate the look and feel of ‘olde-world’ canvas. Coco and Marty could now cruise in the confidence of a new suit of sails without the need for stitching constant repairs.

Coco has the tent set up for a Christmas aboard

Coco and Marty came to the decision to find a larger cruising vessel. Coco offered the boat for sale to Barbra and Stephen Mohan. Barb and Stephen had previously owned a larger twenty two foot long Sixareen built at Whaler Bay: Smaug. Also, Barb and Stephen had on occasion borrowed Quinque years ago when she was owned by the Andersons. (Queue: It’s a small world after all… )

Stephen at Quinque’s helm, Barb immediately next to him at the mainmast. Barb is clearly pregnant with their future son, Jasper!

The Mohan’s son, Jasper, spent his childhood sailing these wooden boats, among others. Actually, when Jasper was in his teenage years, he was the one who suggested that Coco should find Quinque and see if the Andersons would consider selling it to her and Marty.

Jasper playing with his toy cars

Sadly, Jasper Mohan passed away at the young age of fifteen due to cancer. Because Jasper had been the one to recommend Quinque to her, Coco felt strongly about that connection with him. She believed that Jasper’s parents should have the opportunity to purchase the boat.

Better times: Barb at the helm, Stephen tending the foresail sheet, and Jasper perched in the bow as the sun rises over Savary Island on the Sixareen ‘Crofter’s Dram’

After the loss of Jasper, Stephen and Barb had considered they may never go sailing again. Then Stephen was invited along on a daysail with a friend on a Lightning class sailboat. Something sparked and rekindled his passion that day.

Meanwhile, Coco and Marty had all three of the Mohan’s in their thoughts – as they pondered their future with Quinque and the possibility of a larger cruising vessel…

So it was that Barb and Stephen took on Quinque. Stephen echoed Martyn Clark’s previous writings of ‘finding love again’:

“Since losing Jasper and parting with Carlotta, sailing and boats have been almost non-existent for Barb and I. I just couldn’t look at a boat anymore. The energy wasn’t there for me. My mind would race with anxious thoughts whenever I pondered getting involved with a boat again – whether it be wooden or not! I couldn’t even bring myself to walk the docks of a marina. A passion that had previously brought me such pleasure now made me bitter and sullen.

Then last fall I was invited by a friend to go sailing on a Lightning class sailboat. An afternoon was spent tootling around Maple Bay. The owner asked if I’d like a trick at the helm. I took my place at the tiller and immediately felt a familiarity. Something magical sparked and ignited in me. “Oh yeah… I forgot about this… I liked doing this at one time… I love this.”

So we have acquired a boat once again. A lovely, little, elegant and simple wooden boat named ‘Quinque’. It is a boat that we’ve sailed several times in the past, borrowing her on occasion from kind and generous friends; we have a photo of Barb fully pregnant at the helm, and we have a photo of Jasper as a toddler playing with his toy car in the bow. Such good memories. And now I find myself looking forward to creating more of them. I ‘Googled’ Quinque last night and found an account written by Martyn Clark for the church bulletin ‘St.Stephen’s Outreach’. It brought me to tears reading of the rebirth of the grieving ‘old man’ brought back to life again – so fitting of my predicament these past few years with my own personal struggle. Adding to that analogy, I include here a photo of Jasper pulling Quinque up the beach of Jimmy Chicken in Oak Bay. Love is come again.”    – Stephen Mohan

Jasper pulls Quinque ashore at Jimmy Chicken Island

When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain,
Thy touch can call us back to life again.
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again
Like wheat that springeth green.

   – The Oxford Book of Carols (as referenced above by Martyn Clark)

Let’s see where Quinque’s journey goes from here…