George Dibbern: His Life and Quest
Adventurer ~ Sailor-Philosoper ~ Free Thinker ~ Self-declared Citizen of the World
Quest by George Dibbern (New York: W.W. Norton, 1941) entered our lives just as my husband, Walter, and I were beginning to contemplate early retirement and relocation from the city of Victoria to a Gulf Island on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. Reading the book (a library copy, as there was none to be found in used book shops) and visiting BC Coast legends, the boat-building couple Sharie (who, when she was still Gladys Nightingale, typed Quest to George’s dictation) and Allen Farrell, confirmed our inclination to make the change sooner rather than later.
We quit our jobs—mine as a translator and French instructor for scientists, and Walter’s as a mechanical engineer at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich—in the summer of 1994. Though both of us are originally from Montreal, with each move we had headed west, but there wasn’t much west left so we moved north. I still had not found a Quest to purchase, but by then was so intrigued by this man, George Dibbern, that I had already decided to write a book about him.
With the exception of the two years it took my husband and me (just the two of us together) to build our house—the marriage, by the way, survived—I followed George’s trail. The process has been all-pervading and the resulting publication of Dark Sun: Te Rapunga and the Quest of George Dibbern in Auckland by David Ling Publishing Ltd. in June of 2004, has been extremely gratifying.
Dr. Frauke Dibbern Ploog, George Dibbern’s only surviving German daughter at the time, transferred copyright of her father’s book to me. That served to increase my determination to generate an affordable reprint of Quest. After two unsuccessful attempts to work with regular publishers I decided to go it on my own—and RockRead Press was founded. It’s been a huge learning curve and took longer than I expected, but it was certainly worth the effort. The new Quest became available in December 2008.
I always welcome feedback, information, photos, personal anecdotes, so please feel free to contact me.
For more information, see BC Bookworld and search for Erika Grundmann.
Above left: Walter and Erika, research trip, Hobart, Tasmania, 1998
Above right: Returned home after Wooden Boat Festival Port Townsend, 2006
Below right: Selling Dark Sun at Wooden Boat Festival Port Townsend, 2006