My name is Justin Speers and I’m from Guelph, Ontario. I’m a second engineer, 4th class ticket with McKeil. I started in June 2006 with McKeil – that means I’ve been going on 9 years. One of the most powerful memories of water was going to Sawlog Beach and Wasaga Beach and being able to go out way way far, even for someone my size, you could go out way far and it would only come up to your waist you’d be out for hundreds and hundreds of yards and all of a sudden it would drop. You’d go out for hundreds of yards. I work mostly on the Great Lakes. Recently, it’s mostly been Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
So I do go through the Welland Canal and the St. Lawrence Canal. I really like going through the canals looking up and thinking from the ship perspective thinking wow guys built this in the 30s with hand tools and that’s like bad ass.
Water has been important in my life probably since high school where I basically decided that I wanted to work on the water. I was better in math and physics than I was in biology. But in rough weather it’s kind of like why did I want to do this again? I finished college in 2001 so I did a co-op then. Didn’t get a job opportunity when I got my ticket so I went to work in a factory in Guelph. The factory closed and that was my kick in the butt to try the engineering thing again. Applied and the very next day McKeil phoned me and it’s just been fun ever since.
My first memory of water was probably a bath. I have vague memories of the cottage. My father’s side of the family did, and we have pictures of playing baseball on the beach and all that. I think I asked and I think it is Sawlog Beach area. I do remember hanging out on Wasaga Beach as well, but Sawlog Beach sticks out in my memory the most.
My connection with water is probably really geeky in that it was tv shows like sea lab or sea quest. In terms of other stories I want to share other than some of the rough weather that I was in, or how I shared Christmas this year which was kind of interesting. Water was seeping through the seals in the doors. We left at 4pm Christmas Eve and around 11 o clock that night on the way to Hamilton it basically just hit us right in the face. I came out to watch it at midnight and it was already leaking water down to the engine room and there was water leaking into the accommodations. It was nothing like pipes had burst, it was that the waves were hitting the sides so hard that it was leaking in in around the windows and the doors and all that. It was starting to pool. In the engine room it was like oh this is interesting. We were leaned off to the side the whole way. That was an interesting 6 hour shift. Then we spent 2 hours just cleaning the water up before we could pack and go home.
Water is worth protecting because we need it to live. What’s the saying, 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, basically that’s your survival.