A father’s dream fulfilled by his daughter

Long-time Kelowna resident Ella Rodenkirchen sees her father's manuscript self-published 50 years after he passed away.

Ella Rodenkirchen holds up she edited that was written by her father Herbert Rees called Ship Ahoy

Ella Rodenkirchen’s father wrote a manuscript about his adventures at sea as a British merchant ship mariner.

The journey of her father, Herbert Rees, eventually became a journey for her into the self-publishing world to see her father’s dream of seeing that manuscript turned into a book be  realized.

“I have to say for me it was a most fun journey, a surprisingly joyful journey for me to go on and see my father’s dream realized,” said Rodenkirchen, a Kelowna resident for the past 30 years.

Rees died in 1966 while living in Edmonton, and the manuscript he had been working on about his younger days serving in the British Mercantile Marine as an engineer hit a dead end.

It was his story about life at sea from when Rees started at age 21 in 1903 until he gave it up in 1914.

The manuscript was passed on to his younger son, who lived in Penticton. He in turn passed away in 1997 without making any progress on it, and then it was bequeathed to Rodenkirchen.

“I was busy raising kids at that time and didn’t have the time to deal with it either but when I retired in 2012, I turned my attention to self-publishing it,” Rodenkirchen said.

Her journey ended when the book was published in September, and a second printing done this month.

“I do not believe that my experiences have been unique. I am sure that there are many sailors with more interesting stories to tell, but who are possibly reluctant to recount them,” wrote Rees in an introductory forward to his book.

“Great changes have come about in the lives of the sailors of sixty or seventy-five years ago, compared to the comforts and safety afforded the modern ‘sea farer.'”

Back in his youth, Rees noted the British nation depended almost entirely on the ships and the men who operated them to further the economic interests of their country.

“One of the things I realized in editing the manuscript was just how hard life was for people like my father working on those ships. We had all heard the stories growing up but you appreciate how difficult it was in reading his stories about being at sea,” Rodenkirchen said.

This being Christmas, she says her father’s exploits at sea make a great literary gift for anyone who enjoys reading about history and life at sea in the early 1900s.

Ship Ahoy, A True Life Sea Story is available at Mosaic Books in Kelowna.