So here is the winter’s news scoop. We are working towards our dream, a bit banal perhaps, but a big dream in my little world. 3 years ago we bought a bankrupt fish farm for the materials and it took two years (of winters, remember I am on the boat all summer) to dissemble the monstrosity. It is really a huge mechano set with component steel pieces that we rearranged into a big “U” shaped dock to fit the Columbia III. As well we were proceeding with legal permission to moor the structure in our bay . . . there’s a quick two years of bureaucracy pounding. And finally this winter after saving our seasons earnings for the last 5 seasons we are building a floating shed to house our heritage vessel. This will be like a garage to protect her. We ardently hope and believe this will extend her life and make our annual maintenance time and money be a little less arduous. We live in a very rainy place in the winter and 90 inches of rain over the winter is not uncommon. Water and 55 year old vessels are a labour intensive combination when you are trying to maintain a boat to the standards of the Columbia III. In between eating and sleeping and answering emails from potential guests this has been my whole winter. This is not a mail-order product, we are building this ourselves.
Because the structure is made of steel we have been doing a lot of welding to make the structure and to ensure it is strong enough to support the roof and survive the winter storms. Here our son, Tavish, (also one of our skippers, and guide and cook!) is welding a stub wall in place.
Working on the water has its challenges. We had to acquire a new bigger diesel generator and welder and housed them on my uncle’s herring skiff so the welder could follow us around the building “site”
Then a life long friend came to help out. He arrived complete with tug, barge, crane and pile driver. He delivered decking material and manufactured the galvanized steel stiff-legs that hold the boat shed float securely off the shoreline.
Finally the dock portion is taking shape and the new decking makes it alot easier to walk around!!!
And there is the Columbia III just aching to get out of the rain.
Believe you me, there will be more shots of this as it progresses . . . The most asked question in the summer is, ” what DO you do with your spare time in the winter?”!!
We seem to have started a new tradition in Campbell River BC, the town nearest our island home. Originally we ran the tours at Christmas to allow the many old timers in the area that know and love the Columbia III but realistically aren’t going to join one of our tours. For some it is admittedly too expensive or outside their mobility. Many are quite elderly. But still they do love the boat and the chance at a ride aboard “the old girl”is not to be missed. We started out running 2 tours on a Saturday 5 years ago, but we had to expand to Saturday and Sunday. And still we turn down the reservations by the dozens! You have to be quick to get a spot on the much coveted cruise. We charge $10 per per person by donation. If you don’t have the money, we don’t ask, and everyone seems to appreciate the Christmas thought. Fern and the kids make a MOUNTAIN of homemade cookies for the weekend. I wanted to make a giant batch of chocolate chip cookies for simplicity, but no, there were some very fancy and time consuming Christmas treats made. The candy canes were two types of dough rolled together. I know this is a classic wooden heritage vessel and she is high maintenance, but even the cookies are a lot of work!
Brian and Ann are coastal mariners but they drove the 3 1/2 hours up island to join the 2 hour cruise.
And here is Rick of Rick and Carolyn. They drove 4 1/2 hours(!) just to travel with us again. They had been with us in September in the BC Great Bear Rainforest but they wanted to be on the Columbia III again. It was great to see them. It was a present for us.
I am going to submit this shot below to Transport Canada. They keep a close eye on our operations to ensure everything and everyone is “up to snuff’. So I thought I would reassure them that I am “Training for the future”. This little guy was glued to the wheel! His eyes were as big a saucers, even if Tavish had to nudge the wheel a little left or right. He wasn’t quite strong enough to steer unassisted but he could sure hang on.
The Columbia III left the dock in front of our house in late May and finally returned about the 20th of October. Home safe: all guests safe and satisfied, all crew safe, the Columbia III safe. Thank-you.
The final trip south to our home was storm plagued and we waited 7 days in one harbour waiting for the winds to abate. There is one prominent headland that we must round and 5 meter seas and heavy swells just don’t work. When we do make it home we have to demobilize the ship for the winter and just in time our friends on the Coastal Messenger pulled into the bay. They are very good sports and all were willing to help us carry loads up to the house and give the ship a final scrub and vacuum.
Of course, as soon as we settle in there is lots to do. We hammered out the details for our 2011 season and mailed out the information to our guest list. And there is no time like the present to get a start on the winter maintenance. We removed the anchor winch for maintenance and upgrade. Here Luke is welding a new base on the winch. I have added a new, much heavier 1/2″ stainless steel cable for the “rode”. This will let me sleep more easily next summer.
And then our first heavy snowfall of the winter. I can never resist the opportunity to take a few shots of the boat. I must put one on the bulletin board next summer.