Uchuck III skipper retires

Fred Mather retired from Get West Adventure Cruises after almost 18 years onboard the MV Uchuck III.

Uchuck III skipper and co-owner Fred Mather has retired from operating the vessel out of Gold River.

Captain and co-owner, Fred Mather retired from Get West Adventure Cruises on Nov. 1 after almost 18 action-packed years onboard the MV Uchuck III.

“We already miss Fred’s laugh around here,” said Alberto Girotto, co-owner at Get West Adventure Cruises in Gold River.

“Guests would always poke their heads into the wheelhouse when Fred was on board just to see what was so funny.”

Working on the water for more than 42 years, Mather started out on fishing trollers from his hometown of Bamfield on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Before joining the Get West Adventure Cruises crew in 1994 as captain and co-owner, Mather has also served as captain onboard the pilot boat R.D. Riley and the coastal freighters MV Lady Rose and MV Frances Barkley out of Port Alberni.

“Fred was a respected captain who loved to share the beauty of the area and his job with our many guests. He also had a particular soft spot for Luna,” Girotto said, recalling the famous orphaned orca that frequented the Nootka Sound area.

“Not only did he stop to let our guests see Luna but he also kept an eye on him in the evenings, making sure that visitors acted responsibly around the whale.”

Luna wasn’t Mather’s only memorable wildlife encounter during his years with Get West. Alone on the MV Uchuck III one evening, Mather heard some odd noises coming from inside the ship. After discovering that a door had been left open, he continued down below to investigate and was met face to face with a large black bear happily eating a dish of rice pudding.

“Luckily, the bear was only interested in the pudding and both it and Fred took off screaming in opposite directions,” Girotto said.

Now enjoying retirement, Mather plans to travel with his wife Glenda, and work with his local church in Port Alberni.

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