In 1932 Alexander McDonald was elected the first Skipper of Victoria’s Thermopylae Club

Alexander McDonald went to sea at the age of seven aboard City of Corinth with his father as master in 1883. The voyage was from London to Australia and on to The Orient. Weeks along their course young McDonald recalls being woken by strange whispering sounds coming from the sea just beyond the hull. On deck he discovered the ship sailing through acres of lava afloat on the night sea. In the days before wireless it was not until they made landfall that they learned they’d sailed through some of the debris thrown by the eruption of the volcanic island of Krakatoa in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. The explosion’s tsunami killed more than 36,000 before finally breaking 7,000 miles away on Cape Horn.

In 1890 McDonald became an apprentice and by 1900 he earned his Foreign Master’s ticket and shipped on the Arden Craig for two years. Marriage and six years on the New Zealand / London run led to the family moving to Victoria. He signed on with the British Columbia Coastal Steamship Service and later on various coastal freighters.

One can read of his adventures and those of his Thermopylae Club shipmates in Ursula Jepp’s Home Port: Victoria