Joesph William Cousineau
17 November, 1955 – 17 February , 2019
I am very shocked and very sad to share this news of the sudden death, by fire, of my old friend and lover, Joe Cousineau. He was born in Tofino, BC and he died on February 17, in his cabin near Tofino, BC. Joe was a one of a kind human who lived life according to his own songs. Not many understood Joe, but many would find the warmth in his heart and the stories in his head, just as I did.
He sailed the seas of Barkley Sound, Clayoquot Sound, Nootka Sound and all the way to Haida Gwaii. He was the best boatman, ie: I always felt safe, as much as one can on those challenging seas. Indeed, he was born with sea legs and it was Joe’s love of the sea which encouraged me to get my own sailing Skippers ticket.
I have so many amazing memories of our time together in the Pinkerton Islands of Barkley Sound, on the float house he built. There was one trip, we had been floating and stormbound in the back of Barkley Sound for weeks, in a cold and dark February. One day the sea seemed calmed enough, at least from our perspective, to head to town. So the tugboat Moe was fired up and we cast off.
However, on the other side of Hand Island, the sea was not so calm and even though it was my suggestion, there was no turning back. The swells were approaching from every direction. It seemed to me that the entire Pacific Ocean was piling and roiling on that shallow rock beneath us, as we headed past Beg Island and into Ucluelet Harbor.
Those swells, the thumps of them ending in green water cascading over the wheelhouse, on that stunning midwinter day. I was trying not to get too scared-sick while being awed by the beauty of it all.
And Joe, he was singing.
I don’t ever remember Joe being a singer, but on that day he was belting out every Christmas carol he could remember. About halfway across the passage, we noticed the hawser, a tow rope, had fallen off the stern and was going to sink, then wrap itself around the prop. Joe was finessing that wheel, and singing those songs, and by osmosis was encouraging me to hang on with my eyelashes, and wrangle that wayward hawser back onto the deck. What team work!
Oh memorable moments, one loves those which can be told over and over for decades.
When on the water, Joe would always get the destination. He was the one who was the most adept with those swells and those rocks and that fog and that rain. I would have gone anywhere with him, as long as it was on water.
And who could forget the time, at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, where Joe and I were the invited partiers onto a big and beautiful multi-story converted tugboat. Just before docking, we learned the engine had now gone haywire and we were about to ram into the event jetty not 100 meters away. When all else fails, the skipper let Joe have at the engine and, of course, Joe stopped that ship. It was a moment that saved not just a gorgeous ship, but likely the lives of those onboard and on the docks.
I would have more pictures, except a few days after we met, Joe left my camera on the beach at 52 Steps. The tide came in and the tide went out. He found the camera, about 300 meters from where he had left it. It was a day’s search, and it was that day I fell for the guy, and damn the camera.
Although it has been a decade since I last saw Joe, and more than two decades since we hung out together, He will always have a special place in my heart and mind. If I thought he could hear me, my last words for him … “Go gentle on yourself, Joe.”
Thank you Eydee and Anamarjia for seeking me out at this sad time. I know he loved you very much and to have him gone now is a big hurt. Big hugs all round.
Obituary : by Anamarjia
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