History of Duen
1939 – 1969
Duen was originally built as a fishing vessel in Flekkefjord, Norway.
She was designed using Pitch Pine and Oak wood, and was used as a fishing vessel for 30 years off the Northern coast of Norway and Iceland.
1940 – 1941
When German forces occupied Norway in 1940, a stream of refugees began heading west, most of whom landed in Shetland, a small town in the northernmost part of Scotland, United Kingdom.
The Secret Intelligence Service and Special Operations Executive Norwegian Naval Independent Unit decided to utilize the link to Shetland (located in the north sea about halfway between Norway and Scotland) to shuttle out refugees and people of wartime importance.
Duen was one of the many fishing vessels involved in the ‘Shetland Bus’ operation. The ship transported Norwegian nuclear scientists from German-occupied Norway to the Shetland Islands to protect their scientific discoveries and prevent them from being forced into service by the Nazis.
1970 – 1986
Duen was purchased by an adventurous American couple, Dottie and Albert Fletcher, who saw the offshore potential in the full keel of Duen. The Fletchers bought Duen in Norway then redesigned her to create a loftier and more graceful sail plan.
After the conversion, the couple set sail on a 15 year world tour.
The couple completed a full circumnavigation of the earth, as well as two South Pacific journeys, all without electronic aids (except for an old “Simrad” paper depth sounder and a trusted traditional “sextant”).
In the 1970’s, the Fletchers hired a young man named Michael Hobbis to sail with them through the South Pacific, to help keep up their children’s education while at sea. Mike fell in love with the wild and free lifestyle of sailing, and never forgot about this formative experience with the Fletchers.
The couple were close with famous British circumnavigator and author, Jimmy Cornell, who wrote about them several times in his publications with Cruising World magazine.
Mike and Manon Hobbis flew to Barbados, where they intercepted the Fletchers on a Caribbean voyage. They were eager to make their dreams of sailing together on Duen a reality.
Once they spotted the vessel, Mike was so eager to see them that he swam out to the vessel from the beach. It was lucky that he did, because when he got on board, he discovered that the Fletcher clan was suffering from Ciguatera, a foodborne gastrointestinal illness. Mike and Manon stayed on Duen and managed to nurse the Fletchers back to health. It was at that time that the Fletchers decided that it was time to return to a life on land, and the Hobbis’ were a perfect match for their beautiful vessel.
Mike and Manon Hobbis purchased the vessel and spent nine months sailing her through the Caribbean and the East Coast of the United States. Duen was again renovated and equipped with a full range of new navigational and safety equipment to meet Transport Canada safety requirements.
Later that year, Mike and Manon started ‘Duen Sailing Adventure Inc.’
They began by sailing Duen with teenage students as part of a youth training program along the Altantic Eastern seaboard. They kicked off their first year in business together by participating in the New York Harbour Liberty Day Celebration.
People flocked to see the vessel where she was docked, surrounded in the glittering lights of the Big Apple.
After two amazing years of sail training along the North East Atlantic coastline and through the Caribbean, Michael and Manon made the long journey back to their home waters in the Pacific Northwest.
They sailed the Eastern seaboard, through the Panama Canal and back to the beautiful British Columbia coast, via the Galapagos Islands and Hawaii. Duen had once more proved herself a solid offshore vessel.
The 1990s and Beyond
Duen received Canadian passenger carrying certification for the entire British Columbia coastline.
Duen’s interior was completely renovated to create private accommodations, consisting of 4 double or twin cabins, with skylights and porthole in each. A new electrical system and water tanks were added to the vessel.
1990 – 1997
Duen was recruited to take part in the “Coastwatch” marine environmental program at Lester B. Pearson United World College.
The program allowed students from all over the world, as well as curious explorers from the local community, the opportunity to participate in activities related to local environmental conservation.
Mike and Manon worked as teachers and houseparents at the school, while ensuring the safety of their students during water activities, such as sailing, kayaking, and even scuba diving.
1993 – 2017
Mike and Manon begin their own ecotourism company, “The Natural Coast“.
They began running summer sailing charters along the Northern Coast of B.C. Their unique charters allowed guests to explore the spectacular and untouched beauty of the Great Bear Rainforest, Haida Gwaii and Alaska.
1995 – Present
Mike and Manon partnered with retired police officer and Captain Martin Pepper to create Sailing Educational Adventures (S.E.A. Programs).
The new venture was designed to introduce youth to the joys of sailing and the beautiful Gulf Islands. The company caters to Grade 9 students from Alberta, and provides 5-day sailing adventures in the shoulder seasons (March-June and September/October). Duen is still actively used as a part of S.E.A Programs, and can sleep fourteen students, two chaperones and two crew in its comfy quarters.
When Captain Rob McAllum decided to retire and sail his vessel Thane out of the Inner Harbour, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority invited Mike and Manon to take his place as a tourism operator in the Inner Harbour. Mike and Manon purchased Three Hour Sail, and have been operating Duen in the Inner Harbour ever since.
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