The little blue-hulled ketch Trekka
rekka, a 20’ 6” yawl was built in Victoria by 25-year-old John Guzzwell
to plans drawn by the legendary yacht designer Laurent Giles. Guzzwell approached Giles with a request to design him a small cruising boat along the lines of Sopranino, 19’ 6” vessel Laurent had designed for Patrick Ellam’s transit of the Atlantic in 1951. Giles accepted the Trekka project and delivered her detailed drawings for 50 pounds.
Trekka was Guzwell’s first serious attempt at boatbuilding. He laid, clamped, and glued her keel in the boiler room of Victoria’s YMCA then sheeted her strip planked hull in fiberglass and fitted her out built mostly unaided and with hand tools in the storeroom at the rear of his friend Johnny Bell’s fish and chip shop on View Street. He launched Trekka in Victoria’s Inner Harbour in August 1954.
In 1955, long before GPS, satellite phones, and modern air-sea rescue had been conceived, John set out to sail to Hawaii but as can be the way of things, four years later he and Trekka returned to Victoria in 1959 after having circumnavigated the globe and setting two records: the smallest boat ever to have circumnavigated, and being the first British citizen to circumnavigate. Twenty-eight years later in 1987 Serge Testa broke Trekka’s smallest boat record aboard his 12’ micro cruiser Acrohc.
Over the years Trekka changed owners until 1980 when the Thermopylae Club of Victoria purchased her from her Honolulu owner and gifted her to the Maritime Museum of British Columbia (MMBC). As she sailed back into Victoria’s harbour she was greeted by hundreds of people, including her builder and master, John Guzzwell. Today Trekka, along with two other vessels in the MMBC historic fleet, the yacht Dorothy, and Tilicum greet cruise ship passengers as they disembark at Victoria’s Ogden Point Cruise Ship Terminal.
Guzzwell’s amazing story is told in the book Trekka ‘Round the World.