Category Archives: Family

Why I love paying taxes . . .and other warm thoughts.

But Here is something different. I’m going to go back in time to last August 2021, but I am often a bit slow with the blog and other things . . .

I’ll set the stage. The pandemic had eased-off somewhat, and we decided to try to run some tours. We contacted potential guests and the tours filled quickly. Despite the blistering heat in the Salish Sea near my home, our first tours were off northern Vancouver Island and it was charmingly cool. And finally, on August 12th, 2021 our first guests in 18 months arrived in Port McNeill and boarded the ship. It was wonderful and strange, I felt rusty in my role as host, thankful to have some revenue and excited just to be acting normal again. We showed our guests to their rooms and I gave them the initial safety briefing and then finally we were underway!  Appetizers were served, guests began to make it out onto the front deck with binoculars and I was desperately trying to be the hero and find our first orca of the season.

.. . But my cell phone rang . . . a neighbour was calling in great agitation to let me know that Diamond Bay with the floating shed that houses the COLUMBIA III in the winter and my home were engulfed in a forest fire!

Literally, 42 years of effort and the home base for my small business flashed before my mind’s eye . . .  But I was too far away to help. It was all beyond my control. So I told my guests that I needed to be frank and that I might be a bit distracted by this new turn of events and they were all deeply concerned and understanding.

And the news and the photos trickled in during the next 24 hours. While I was relaxing (!?!) on the gorgeous COLUMBIA III, eating sumptuous snacks and even better meals, as we searched for and found orca to watch and finally found a tiny secluded anchorage for the night in complete comfort, two planes dropped fire retardant, three helicopters bucketed sea-water, 14 professional firefighters fought the blaze and nearly 50 locals came to save all our family’s buildings from destruction. The 14 fire fighters even set up in my little home (cabin) and slept on my floor and used my shower and cooked in my kitchen.

On the second day the ship’s cook asked me how I was doing and I said I felt pretty shook up. And she said that was natural given how close I was to losing every thing  (nothing is insured out on the islands) . . . But I said “No, that’s not it. I’m moved to tears in appreciation that I live in a country were trained fire fighters sit waiting every day of the summer on a 5 minute call-out time to respond as required. That there were 3 helicopters ready and waiting to fly out to Sonora Island and that there were water-bombers tasked from hundreds of miles away to come to our rescue and that 50 locals (its a small community and that was everyone!) came to help and even near by resorts sent pumps and boats and help . . . .”

And no one asked me for a cent. I wasn’t even there. And I didn’t even make it home for another 6 weeks as I was skippering the COLUMBIA III.

“No,” I said to the cook. “I’m thankful to live in this country and I’m happy to pay taxes so that all this can happen for me when I really needed it and for others when misfortune comes knocking.”


Childish Tugs . . .

Ok. Ok. Someone asked about my tug boat sketches . . .  these are the only ones that have survived the whirlpool of time . . .

I have been mucking about on boats for a few years . . .  and I have always doodled with pen and pencil. Nothing consistent. When our kids were small I kept myself amused by creating sketches in ink for them to colour in: my answer to a coastal colouring book. There were many scribble-scrabble tugs produced in wild purples and oranges and greens. I finally got smart and started to make multiple photo copies of the basic images, then they could scribble to their hearts content and even share with friends . . . But all the scribbling got on my nerves  . . .  Hey you guys, slow down. Here, let me grab a pencil (instead of a big fat crayon) and I will show you what you can do . . .

Here are four pen sketches I shaded-in with pencil to give the kids an idea of what was possible.

The first real boat I owned as the classic small tug, the Ella McKenzie . . .

The other three images are simply fabrications of a father desperately trying to amuse his children. I did always want to own a ship with a upper wheelhouse/skipper’s stateroom . . . so the next best thing was to draw myself one . . .

Pulling for the Hole in the Wall . . .

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.