Summer 2019

Ok, ok. This is going to be embarrassingly quick and dirty.  My main workload is maintaining the ship and shepherding her through the byzantine worlds of Transport Canada regulations, First Nations negotiations, provincial Parks permits and training my staff.

So when the touring season begins and I get to putter around on a lovely classic wooden vessel, meeting wonderful guests, eating fabulous food and seeing amazing wildlife, I simply relax and enjoy myself . . .

…  and I forget to take photos or write my blog . . . . I can relax, … sometimes . . . Can’t I ???

There are lots of 2019 photos from our summer in the website photo gallery, and I don’t want to repeat them here. So the following photos are just to prove that we do have guests, many whom return, and we see cool things and have fun.

What more could a guy ask for???  Perhaps a few months without a blog?

Here is a shot gun smattering of summer photos. Standby for the really, really exciting next blog loaded with seriously boring ship’s maintenance details.

Super Ace guide, Sam Lam . . .


stupid blogger/skipper/owner/maintenance flunky/chief dishwasher/tardy email responder etc, etc.;;; Mothership adventure 2019, British Columbia, Canada, Isobel Springett

;;; Mothership adventure 2019, British Columbia, Canada, Isobel Springett

;;; Waterfalls in GBR., British Columbia, Canada, Isobel Springett

;;; Mothership adventure 2019, British Columbia, Canada, Isobel Springett

;;; Mothership adventure 2019, British Columbia, Canada, Isobel Springett

Stretch Sam!!

Usually super Ace guide, Robin Humphreys, caught at a bad moment . . .  I went back into the records and made an appropriate pay-roll deduction.

Certainly, wildlife viewing is a wonderful part of our summer and here is a classic example. Really, how many ecotourisms operators can brag about having a Cowbird join the ship of a day. The little hitchhiker even flew into the wheel house . . .

and finally fell asleep on my binnacle as we chugged along . . .   


Bute Inlet!!

Grizzlies and the COLUMBIA III

These are spring time shots of 2 grizzlies . . . They haven’t fattened up yet, that’s later in the fall.

Now that’s a big red cedar.

Sam’s dad giving some professional advice.

Another ace guide, (all our guides are pretty darn swell), Luke Roman.

;;; Mothership adventure 2019, British Columbia, Canada, Isobel Springett

;;; Mothership adventure 2019, British Columbia, Canada, Isobel Springett

;;; Mothership adventure 2019, British Columbia, Canada, Isobel Springett

;;; Mothership adventure 2019, British Columbia, Canada, Isobel Springett

;;; Mothership adventure 2019, British Columbia, Canada, Isobel Springett

;;; Kermode Bear (Ursus americanus kermodei), British Columbia, Canada, Isobel Springett

And all of a sudden the season was over and it was back to work for me. Here Tosh Harvey helped me with the end of season laundry . . .

and carrying everything BACK up to my house  for dry winter storage.

All kayaking gear washed, rinsed and stored away.

The kayaks washed and hoisted into the boat shed rafters to get them out of the way for the winter.

And now, after about 40 days of straight work with the last tours and the run home and the end of season laundry and cleaning . . . now I can take the boat back to Campbell River for a special winter maintenance project . . . Stay tuned.

Spring 19 Regular preseason S&P&V and . . . .

Come April 1st, Sam and Robin and Farlyn and Luke and Steve arrived to begin the annual spring sanding, painting, varnishing and cetoling. Tavish arrived a few days later.

There are hours and hours of dust and sand paper, but mixed in are a crazily disparate list of tasks needing completion. This year seemed especially hectic for me and I didn’t take enough photos, but here is a sampler of the month’s activity.

The usual fun begins with sanding the ship’s exterior . . Here ace kayak guide, Robin Humphreys gets to work . . .

and Luke leans into a special sanding tool he made to clean out the seams on the hull. Bystanders often think our hull is fiberglass and are surprised that it is original wood.

And skipper/daughter Farlyn working away . . .

And another Ace kayak guide, Sam Lam, decided to see what all the excitement was about in April . . . “Here’ this is a wire wheel. Clean my engine room floor boards.”

One of the consequences of redoing the front deck is that the underside of the deck is the ceiling of the forward stateroom and toilet. This might sound like a small detail, but it wasn’t. Number one, ALLLLLLLL the debris, (read rotten wood, shavings, sawdust, rusty bolts and drippy hydraulic oil) fell through the deck beams onto the bunks, toilet, vanity sink and floor below . . . And Tavish had meticulously resanded and painted and varnished this state room only two years ago . . . So I cleaned the room repeatedly to keep ahead of the debris and finally made new ceiling panels using the old ones as patterns. These were then painted and finally reinstalled, plus the hydraulic lines, water lines,  electrical connections and  ceiling lights . .

And the first exterior paint gets applied. We start on the top of the ship and work down . . .

The lazarette was completely emptied, vacuumed and painted. Here the removable floor boards are sanded and painted.

After much sanding the Cetol oil finish is applied to the gumwood . . .   

And whilst the sanding and paint of the ship proceeds, there are numerous side projects that get attended to . ..

Here Steve makes a replacement box for our spare life jackets . . .

I modified a book shelf in the salon to add critical library space aboard . . .

And I was fed up with replacing expensive waterproof kayak lifting winch controls that leaked and failed  . . . .so I designed my own controls out of mahogany and brass that are easy to maintain.

If anyone ever wonders why my tours are so expensive this photo might help them understand . . . The diesel fired water heater has three small sensors that regulate its operation. I goofed up and “blew” one of the overheat “fuses” and so when I ordered a replacement I thought I would get “spares” for the ship’s inventory . . .  2 of each, 6 total. . . .

You guess . . .        Well, it surprised me at $700.00 for the 3 little baggies!

And FINALLY the transom is DONE, DONE, DONE!!!!  Sanded, stained, 5 coats of varnish, new stainless steel ladder and crisp new name decal . . .  Now that was a lot of work. Phew!           THANK YOU, LUKE HYATT!!!!

Ah! The annual joy of getting the life-raft winched off the roof of the COLUMBIA III, transported to Victoria for inspection and returned to Sonora Island a month later. Here Steve meets me at the end of the road with my skiff. The sheet of plywood acted as a bridge between my truck backed into the water and the skiff with its special rack made to hold the life-raft . . .

Every two years, (if we are lucky and the guests have been behaving . . .)  Luke removes the salon table from the boat and takes it to his shop to refinish. Usually it only needs sanding, a couple of new coats of finish and a good polish to ‘shine’r’ up. Here the finished table travels across the bay by water . . .

Gets off loaded onto my dock . . .

and bolted back in place. I advise my passengers at the start of every tour to “Please treat the bright-work like it’s your Grandma’s coffee table!”

Every 12 years our CO2 cylinders need to be hydro-statically tested. That is easily said, but not easily done. The two cylinders weight over 150#s!!, have no handles and must come up a spiral staircase, go over the side of the CIII, onto the dock and then into a skiff that transports them by water to my truck waiting at the waters edge on the beach. Then they are loading into my pickup truck and driven to Campbell River 2 hours away and unloaded at the inspection depot. 2 weeks later, reverse the procedure . . . 

and here is a funny one . . . A wooden boat colleague recently retired and inquired if I was interested in his accumulated supply of edge-grain clear boat lumber. Unfortunately he forgot to confirm our rendezvous so I awoke to the sound of his text saying, “see you in two hours!”

“What!! The herring skiff was fully loaded with a pallet of cement and lumber for Steve’s construction project . . . So we scrambled to get the skiff unloaded and zip to Brown’s Bay where we meet the trailer of lumber precisely on time. Here Steve is lounging on the return home.

And into a shed for dry storage.

I need to accumulate good boat lumber when and where I am able.

Another little upgrade . . . we use a boarding ladder to climb aboard the COLUMBIA III at dockside. But we never had a real designated place to store the ladder whilst on tour. So I moved our EPIRB and created a spot and Luke created a custom ladder holder. Now the ladder is stowed and lashed and ready for inclement weather.


And yet another little project . . . two years ago Transport Canada asked me to move my 2 big CO2 cylinders into the engine room as a precaution against inadvertent leaks into the passenger accommodations . . .  but then TC contacted me to request I upgrade the protections on the system now located in the engine room. So after deep and ponderous thoughts, I found a CO2 detection system that could be modified. Now if my CO2 systems leaks CO2 into the engine room there is a warning (audio and visual) that alerts the crew and an exhaust fan is automatically triggered to vent the engine room too. But as Farlyn pointed out, I also needed to be able to disarm the system when I actually wanted to  fill the engine room with CO2 in the event of a fire . . . So a new switch and placard and updated Standard Operation Procedures Manual.. Here is my rough schematic. . .

And one of the displays located outside the engine room compartment.

And the real sign that we are getting close to being done is when the decks get refinished. No more dust or paint drips or even shoes are allow now!!!

And the biggest day of the year when the ship comes out of the shed, polished, painted, sparkling and glinty into the bright light of day.

WOW!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!! PHEW!!!!!!!!

And the masts go up, with Tavish in the rigging . . .

There she is!

And another project!!! I added a new weather station sensor, a new anemometer and a transducer that reads sea level temperature. These were then tied into the main ship’s computer for display on the navigation program. The photo below shows my wiring of the various components. Projects like these take a lot of time as I have to learn the system requirements, figure out what is needed and then try to squeeze it all in somewhere in the wheel house in a logical, tidy manner . . .

The weather station sensor.

Once the ship is painted and cleaned, all the mattresses, bedding, towels, books and kayaking supplies move from my house down to ship. When we start making beds with quilts and pillow cases we know we are getting close!

And the annual emergency flashlight battery replenishment . . .

Here some of the crew are engaged in the annual spring recurrent training. There are usually several upgrades to procedures and the Standard Operating Procedures manual to review.

Before our annual Transport Canada dockside inspection we test all the safety equipment including the fire fighting pumps and hoses.

We must be getting close to completion. Three copies of my “Pre-Dockside Inspection Report” are finally completed.

And finally the ship is PERFECT for the arrival of our Transport Canada Inspector. I try to get everything ready for him. Here is the wheel house waiting for his inspection. Important documents laid out and the contents of our Abandon Ship bag on display.

Essential gear ready for easy inspection in the tender as well.

And yet again, despite lazing around all winter, despite completely neglecting the COLUMBIA III in the off-season, despite financial neglect and inattention to detail, our Transport Canada inspector begrudgingly issued a safety inspection certificate for another year . . . Phew!.  Scraped by for another year. I guess I should try harder to maintain the old girl.

Maybe next winter I’ll get around to doing some maintenance on her . . . . .

Shipyard. Spring 2019

Ok Ok, Trying to get the ship ready for the season AND write about it is kinda crazy so this is going to be quick.

The COLUMBIA III comes out of  the water every year for at least a minimal wash, inspection, anti-fouling paint job, and replacement of zincs. In boater talk this is called “a shave and a hair cut.” Other years require more in-depth procedures like pulling the rudder off and drive shaft out for Transport Canada to inspect. But this was an “off year” and therefore a smaller work load for me. Except, that is, that I cut my bow iron off.

As I say every year, I NEVER like seeing the COLUMBIA III lifted high out of the water, “It just don’t seem NATURAL!” And I never really relax until she is safely back in the water again.

Here she comes out and I have my first peek at her undersides since last May, 2018.


The first order of business was for me to sand the water-line gumwood. It seems like the ship is 150 feet long when I am holding a heavy sander up on the top of a step ladder. Add the poor visibility of a face respirator and you have all the makings of a fun few days!  

Here’s a quick step back in time . . . another project was to make a mount for a new transducer for a second sounder. This will enable me to have sea water temperature readings in the wheel house. Cool and useful for research tracking for the local First Nations . . .

and here is the finished product. I think this particular job required at least 87 trips between the chapel bilge on the INSIDE of the vessel, up the internal stairs, out the door, along the side deck, down the 15′ shipyard staircase and crawl on my hands and knees to the point on the OUTSIDE of the hull where the new transducer was going to go . . . . only to realize I’d left the wrench I needed back inside . . .  it’s good exercise working without a helper on the INSIDE.


and then new bow iron . . . .  It is always good to remain flexible . . .

I had planned on having the bow iron made out of regular steel. This would require the iron to be fabricated in place on the ship, then removed and shipped to Vancouver to be galvanized and then reinstalled on the ship . . . But after a whole day with two welders attempting to make the iron in mild steel, the welders vetoed my plan. They felt there was no way to make the iron in place that would not cause it to spring inwards upon removal for galvanizing. They felt I would never get the iron back onto the ship. So they suggested I switch to stainless steel that they could form and secure in place on the ship. So, on day two they started again. Here they ran a new SS bar down the stem and tacked the side plates on.

There was much bending, prying and trimming before I added many, many tubes of Sika FLex  sealant to the hull before the plates were welded into place. I was able to locate the forward most oak rib in the for’csle and I ran 1/2″ SS bolts thru to pull the side plates against the hull. It was satisfying to see the sealant squeezing out along all the edges. These bolts were then carefully welded in place and the nuts cut off leaving a flush but secure fastening. The 1/2″ x 5″ SS lag screws that hold the bar against the gumwood stem were also welded in place and ground off flush after.

The existing portion of the bow iron that was well below water-line had not deteriorated and the new SS sections were welded into the lower portions of the existing iron.

And the boot top!!! . . .  The shipyard  crews were supposed to do the waterline detail but they were too busy . . . . so I did it myself. I do love working on the tippy top of a step ladder . . . Here’s a dusty me, getting the water line ready . . .

and taping the waterline . . .

and painting the black boot-top stripe . . .

Getting pretty shiny!        

I also painted the draft marks carefully. . . . very carefully!      The gumwood was sanded and refinished as far up as I could reach standing on the top of a step ladder. The rest can be done from a paint float in the boat shed. Starting April 1st.     

Oops! . . . . how did this picture of my grand-daughter, Maeve, slip in here  .. . . .?

The new bow iron in all its glory! The best part about the new stainless steel bow iron is that now, when the swinging anchor bumps the bow iron, it will not chip off the zinc coating and it will not rust!!!! YAY!!!!

And one week ahead of time, (because I didn’t need to ship the bow iron to Vancouver to get galvanized) the COLUMBIA III slipped back into the water.

The new bow iron gets wets!

And I am finally home. Shipyard alone is a lot of work for me. Now to get ready for the REAL work to begin with the crews, April 1st!  But that’s the next post . . . . .