Touring the Nonsuch

Nonsuch from starboard stern

My cur­rent WiP, Every­thing that Nev­er Hap­pened, is set main­ly aboard a small 17th-cen­tu­ry sail­ing ves­sel, a square-rigged ketch named the Man­dalay. It’s not a coin­ci­dence that it’s a square-rigged ketch, just like the his­tor­i­cal Non­such; ever since the first time I vis­it­ed the Non­such gallery in the Man­i­to­ba Muse­um, I’ve been fas­ci­nat­ed by the ship. I’m not a nau­ti­cal type; I’ve spent my entire life on the prairies, and have seen ocean a total of three times. But some­thing about the ship has always stuck in my mind, and I find myself con­stant­ly return­ing to it.

Maybe it’s just the name. I’m a suck­er for a good name.

Tiller

Any­ways, some­time in Feb­ru­ary it occurred to me that, to real­ly under­stand the Man­dalay and her crew, I might be wise to learn more about the Non­such. I sent an email to some­one at the Man­i­to­ba Muse­um, ask­ing for any infor­ma­tion they could give me, and also ask­ing about tours. I received some infor­ma­tion in the mail, a rec­om­men­da­tion that I check out a book by Laird Rankin, who’s some­thing of an expert on the Non­such, and an offer of a tour. To trim a long sto­ry to a short one, I went on a tour of the ship on Mon­day. Since the muse­um was closed, it was a quite pri­vate tour.

I spent three hours on and around the ship, ask­ing ques­tions of Robert, the museum’s res­i­dent Non­such expert. I learned a lot, and I took a lot of pic­tures. Some aspects of my sto­ry are great­ly clar­i­fied for me now. Some of the things Robert told me will find their way quite direct­ly into the nov­el.

And now I’ll get back to writ­ing it…

All my Non­such pho­tos