Submarine Races at McInnes

 

Our viewpoint - photo Paul Kurbis

On our lighthouse at McInnes Island we got to see many submarine races. It was usually a random event, and if the weather was good we would sit up at the front of the lighthouse beside the foghorns with our binoculars and radio and notepad waiting for the races to begin.

 

Weather like this was not good - photo Colin Toner

We were notified by radio beforehand and noted the times on our notepad. Good weather was always a necessity, as if it was too rough you would see nothing. The children loved the event as it could occur at any time of the day and so sometimes they could stay up late at night to watch and cheer, or even miss school.

 

 

If the weather was bad we went back and waited impatiently for the next announcement on the radio. They were mostly US submarines as Canada has not too many serviceable ones. Plus, the American ones were faster and provided more fun.

 

If you ever get a chance when near the ocean, try and take in this rare event. See the video below for a touch of the excitement!

 

Continue reading

Mise Tales Three

If you do not know what Mise Tales is then please see Mise Tales One.

One or two things have come to mind. A friend wrote and asked if I had ever heard such and such a story about a crazy lighthouse keeper who killed himself.

Reading his story brought to mind another story that I had heard or read about at one time, but a Google search cannot seem to find any reference to either one.

Anyways, here are the two stories about crazy lighthouse keepers. If anyone can help in locating the source, or more information, please contact me.

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Tale Number One from my friend.

Bob says:

I was again browsing your multi-faceted site and got to wondering if you had ever chanced on the story of a supposed suicide wherein a keeper bludgeoned himself to death by repeatedly running headfirst into a brick/stone/concrete wall?

The instance as it was told to me almost fifty (50) years ago was that a headkeeper on an unnamed light on the Pacific Coast went mad and performed the terminal skull-smashing in the presence of his assistant keeper.

It was related that the assistant keeper was a recent immigrant from Eastern European background with very little English language capabilities and who, by dint of his Eastern Bloc Soviet state upbringing,  was also very fearful of any form of police or military authority. Continue reading

Mise Tales Two

I did not think that Mise Tales Two would come out so soon. If you do not know what Mise Tales is then please see Mise Tales One.

January 25, 2012

Entrance Island from the webcam

 

I received a comment today from Len O’Hara at the Gabriola Georgia Strait Cam website. He said:

 

I just wanted to let you know that we have a live-streaming camera over Entrance Island (lighthouse) and the Georgia Strait. The camera returns to Entrance Island every tour. We also have a good video of the Coast Guard hovercraft rounding Entrance Island in our Community section under By The Sea.

Len hoped that I would find it interesting. I did, and will, and hope that you will too. I am viewing it in the night right now and you can see the flash from the lighthouse. Just imagine if you were a boat on the water – comforting flash is it not?

You never know, you might even see some killer whales going by in the daylight. BC Ferries to Nanaimo goes right by there.

Are there any other webcams on the British Columbia Coast? Please let us know.

Later. Oops, I didn’t look – there is a link on the website to some more webcams. If you know of any others not listed, please let us know. Continue reading

Mise Tales One

No, it’s not a misprint, but what is a Mise?

When I was a teenager I always had stuff to repair, and my Father had drawers of spare stuff  that I needed for the repairing.

In the wall of small drawers was one labelled Mise. These were very small drawers and the hand-written label on meical adhesive tape was also small and very hard to read.

In the Mise drawer were small nails. In my naivety I assumed that Mise was a special designation of Mice, and these small nails then became Mice Nails to me.

It was not until I was out and working did I discover they were actually called finishing nails, and the drawer label actually read Misc, which naturally stood for Miscellaneous!

So I will dedicate these pages to my Father, Alec F. Coldwell. This is Mise Tales One and I will post here miscellaneous things I find that are too short to make a full story. I do hope there will be many more Mise Tales later.

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A Language Problem

– story from Candy-Lea Chickite

My grandmother loved to tell this one to me. I think she may have had the wrong name of the lighthouse keeper. She said it was her father, or maybe she said her father told her the story – I was young when I heard it but I think it may have been a Mr. Grafton who was the fellow involved. I believe the story is true . . .  (a Thomas Grafton was on Point Atkinson lighthouse from 1889 – 1910 and his dates are right for this story – JC)

Back before the days of radios, when a ship entered the Vancouver Harbour they would use a megaphone and call in the name of their ship to the lighthouse at Point Atkinson

One pitch black evening a horn sounded, the keeper hailed his welcome and asked the vessel to identify itself. 

“Wat-a-matta Maru” was the echoed reply in a heavily accented Oriental voice. 

“I say again, what is the name of your vessel?” hollered the keeper enunciating each work emphatically. 

“Wat-a-matta Maru!” 

“This is the Point Atkinson lighthouse, and I DEMAND you identify your vessel before entering the harbour!” replied the keeper of the light. 

Again, “Wat-a-matta Maru!” was the return call. 

Incensed now, the lighthouse keeper yelled back, “There’s NOTHING the matter with me, WHAT the HELL’s the matter with YOU!” 


Humour – Lightkeeper – Management Boat Race

The Lightkeepers won by a mile!

The Coast Guard Management (red) and the Lighthouse Keepers (green) agreed to engage in a yearly boat race. Each team would contain eight (8) men. Both teams practiced hard to get in the best shape and  to reach their peak performance levels. On the big day they both felt ready to win. The Lighthouse Keepers won by a mile! 

 

Here was the root of the problem!

The Management team was discouraged by the loss. Morale sagged. Coast Guard Management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found because they were going to win the race next year. So they established a panel of auditors to observe the problem and see if there were any differences between the teams. Continue reading

Foghorns Were Cool Places to Sleep! c. 1980s

– Roger Mogg (Assistant keeper on McInnes Island 1983 – 1987) 

Airchime horns - photo Chris Mills

Back in the early 1980’s I was offered the job as a assistant lightkeeper at McInnes Island.  I was told at the time that this offer was only for couples, not for singles (this turned out to be false information). I had just broken up with my long term girlfriend so assumed I would have to decline the offer. 

At the last moment I happened to meet a girl named Liz Robertson, and she seemed like the outdoors kind of person that one would have to be to enjoy life at a lightstation. After hardly enough time to know her first we agreed to go to start life as lightkeepers at one of the more remote stations in British Columbia. 

Coast Guard took us there in one of their lighthouse tenders (ships) that also doubled as an icebreaker. After the ship refueled each and every station on the way up from Victoria , we finally arrived at McInnes Island, one of the most scenic places on the planet earth. 

We were real busy the first day as you can imagine. Unpacking all of our belongings, opening up house windows that had been sealed for years with paint, trying to learn weather transmissions, and generaly getting to know how the station operated.

Looks like it just landed

One of Liz’s prized possesions was this cat of hers that was as black as charcoal. John Coldwell the senior keeper was giving me the grand tour of the station and we were in the radio room teaching me how to test the foghorns. Now these foghorms were massive things designed to be heard at sea for several miles in heavy weather (banks of grey painted Airchime horns facing south into the sun and open sea – ed.). 

At this time Liz came running up in a big panic and said that she had just witnessed something black shoot out of one of the foghorns at high speed. We went to investigate and found her cat maybe fifty meters away shaking like something out of a bad cartoon. The cat must have climbed inside one of the foghorns because they were a warm place to take a nap. We never saw the cat go within eyesite of those foghorns again. 

[audio:Pulteney_Point_2X_Electronic_Airchime.mp3|titles=Pulteney Point Electronic Airchime]

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men . . .

With credit to Robbie Burns for the title quote I will tell a tale of woe that  I heard  many years ago about the Green Island lightkeepers and how they had run out of tobacco (a common occurence on the lighthouses) and the keepers had pooled their money to charter a float plane from Prince Rupert, 25 miles (15.5 kms) away, to bring some more cigarettes and tobacco out to the lighthouse. 

It should be easy, eh? - photo Ray McKenzie

The small float plane arrived with the cargo on board and circled the island a few times, tipping his wings as he spotted the keepers standing outside waving. But alas, he radioed the keepers that because of the outflow northeast winds from Portland Canal he could not land on the ocean as requested, but, if the keepers wanted to take the risk, he could could fly over the island and drop the package from the cockpit window.  Continue reading

Humour – A Casualty of Automation

The following was supposedly an actual advertisement in an Irish newspaper: 

      1985 Blue Volkswagen Golf
      Only 15 km
      Only first gear and reverse used
      Never driven hard
      Original tires
      Original brakes
      Original fuel and oil
      Only 1 driver
      Owner wishing to sell due to employment lay-off

At least according to Dan’s Lighthouse Page!

Do You Have a Photo of Me Mid-1978?

– Rand Grant (relief keeper on Triple Island June – July 1978)

Melville Island - looking NW from Triple - photo Rand Grant (Flickr)

The story is in reference to the photo at right, Rand writes: 

The large Island is Melville. Prince Rupert lies just beyond this. The tanker is on it’s way into Prince Rupert Port. One of the deepest and busiest on the west coast of British Columbia. 

One evening back in ’78 [while stationed on Triple Island], I noticed an Alaskan Cruise ship on it’s way by. I walked up to the roof; it was a beautiful summer evening; I was curious, so started waving my arms over my head, back and forth. I actually witnessed that ship light-up with so many flash-bulbs that it made me laugh.  Continue reading