Refuelling a Lighthouse

map

photo credit Ron Amundsen

British Columbia (BC) lighthouses mostly have diesel generators unless they are close enough to a large town or city to allow a power cable to run to them.

So how does one refuel a lighthouse as most of them are sitting fairly high above the water line and very distant from a local gas station?

Well, thanks to the lighthouse keepers at Scarlett Point lighthouse and Ivory Island lighthouse for giving me permission to use their photos, I can now show you. 

Scarlet

Scarlett Point lighthouse – Google Maps

Ivan Dubinsky at Scarlett Point lighthouse, north of Port Hardy, BC has been photographing anything that moves and does not move at his lighthouse with his new camera and posting them on Facebook. He now has quite a few followers admiring his photos.

OK, back to the refuelling. There are many ways that I have seen it done. From most to least expensive we have helicopter slinging in fuel drums or bladders, hovercraft carrying fuel in it’s tanks, and Coast Guard ships pumping it into a fuel barge and moving it to shore.

           CG253_Ivan_DubinskyRefuelling Entrance_Ivan_DubinskyCCGS Bartlett_Ivan_Dubinsky Continue reading

Mise Tales Forty-Three

For an update on what a Mise Tale is then please see Mise Tales One. As mentioned earlier on the front page of my website, any photos or cartoons, or short bits of information, when it is removed from the front page, will also be included again later in the next Misc Tales. That way you can keep track of it, search for it, or copy it.

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 CruiseFrom the Toronto Sun online for May 17, 2014 comes the article  See Canada from the sea on a boutique cruise

See Canada from the sea just as the explorers did and discover some of the country’s vast but relatively untouched wilderness.

Maple Leaf Adventures, a boutique expedition cruise company, explores Haida Gwaii (Islands of the People), formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. . . . more

For more information: mapleleafadventures.com and Holland America Line: hollandamerica.com.

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THquincentenary_1The history of Trinity House, UK On This Day in Trinity House History – 20 May 1514– The Big One! . . .

. . . and a Lighthouse Photography Competition also from Trinity House. Please check it out and vote. Excellent photos!

 

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Book – The Nauticapedia List of British Columbia’s Floating Heritage (Volume 1)

The Nauticapedia List of British Columbia’s Floating Heritage (Volume 1)

– A new book by John M. MacFarlane 2014

This is a must have for all BC boat lovers.

Click the photo for the webpage.

Nautipedia

Mise Tales Thirty-Seven

 

For an update on what a Mise Tale is then please see Mise Tales One.

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1538671_264486543725118_1632714509_n Continue reading

Once Upon a Foggy Night . . .

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There is a boat out there . . . click the button below . . .

Imagine you are a lighthouse keeper on the graveyard shift on a foggy night. All you hear are the diesel engines running, the foghorn blowing at intervals. As you stare out into the gloomy mist you hear this sound. It is a boat, but what kind of boat? What kind of motor?

Many old-timers will recognize it as the sound of a classic make and break Easthope 2-stroke marine gasoline engine on idle. It probably belonged to a fisherman waiting out the fog so he could see where he was going. It was a sound that carried through the fog just like the foghorn.

To hear it again brings back many memories. If you wish to see the fishboat that housed this engine take a look at this Youtube page.

EasthopeMarineSign

 

 

 

Animated Map of Global Wind Conditions

One of the duties of a lighthouse keeper is the reporting of the weather for the boats, aircraft and also for forecasting. One of the things reported is the wind speed. From all around the world the wind speed is recorded and reported from countless weather stations.

Below are two screenshots of a new webpage showing a:

Visualization of global weather conditions as forecast by supercomputers. Weather data, generated from numerical models at Earth.NullSchool.net,…

earth wind map_01

Earth wind map showing winds over the Atlantic Ocean

 

earth wind map_02

Earth wind map showing winds around the Philippines, with special consideration for the Tropical Depression in the lower right (the tight swirl)

The photos above are static screen shots – the website is live! Navigate around just like in Google Earth using your mouse and the scroll wheel. Zoom in, zoom out. Enjoy!

 

Lightkeepers to the Rescue – AGAIN!

 

This is a past and very notable lifesaving rescue by two BC lightkeepers, Lynn Hauer and assistant lightkeeper Wolfgang Luebke who were at Chatham Point lighthouse at the time.

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Chatham point lighthouse - photo from Margaret Lutz

We sleep with the radios always on, and ‘with one ear open’.

At 3 AM on April 30, 2012 I was awakened by the unmistakeable sound of a Mayday distress signal. Being able to copy both sides of the communication, I knew it was within our response area. I sprang out of bed. Comox Coast Guard Radio was responding to the call from a very concerned woman, “We don’t have a lifeboat; we are putting our life jackets on now. We are bailing but it isn’t helping!!”

I knew we could be there in 10 to 20 minutes; we were tasked by Rescue Coordination Center. Assistant lightkeeper Wolfgang Luebke and I responded in our 18 foot aluminum station boat. It was pitch black out, and raining. We made our way by compass bearing, across Johnstone Strait into Burgess Passage.

Arriving on scene, we found a man and woman frantically bailing water with ice cream pails! Their bilge pump was inoperative. Their efforts were futile. Their ‘kicker’ motor was under water, and the large outboard was next. Water was pouring in around the re-boarding gate and inches from flooding completely over the transom, which would have seen them go down in minutes. We began pumping the water out of their vessel, with the Honda pump that is always stored under the seat of our station boat. We were all very relieved to see the flood water level slowly subsiding.

Cape Palmerston

The Cape Palmerston (CG SAR vessel) arrived on scene approximately 40 minutes after us. We saved an $80K boat from going to the bottom, and we surely saved a man and his wife from drowning; they would have been in that frigid water with only PFDs, for more than a half hour, had two keepers from Chatham Point Light not been there…we wouldn’t have been there if not for your SEEING THE LIGHT!

Lynn Hauer

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This letter was from from Lynn Hauer, a lightkeeper at Chatham Point and it was addressed to Canadian senator Nancy Greene, hence the reference to Seeing the Light. Senator Greene and her friends were very important in fighting to keep BC lighthouses manned. If unmanned, these people would probably have died. Many instances happen daily where a BC lightkeeper helps a mariner. Many of them you will never read about as they go into station reports and are lost in the central Coast Guard office paperwork – well, not actually lost, just suppressed.

The only way for the lightkeepers to get attention is to report their rescues to the Press (forbidden) or have it written up by myself, or other people outside the arm of Coast Guard censorship.

As Lynn said in a preface to the email she passed around to the lighthouse keepers:

It is important to keep the Senators up to speed of things that are going on. They support lightkeepers (LKs), we should keep them in the loop. They and the public recognize and care about what LKs do.

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The following emails show how the email  was received by Senator Greene.

Dear Lynn,

First, thank you for your quick action!  You are so right.
Thanks also for passing this on to me. I will circulate it as best I can.
All the best!
Nancy
 

Thank you so much Nancy.
Your recognition means very much to Wolfgang and I. The thank you that we received from the couple that night, we extend to you.

Lynn, Ann, and Thyr

 

Columbia III – Another Mission Boat, Another Missionary

 

On October 14, 2011 I wrote the article Thomas Crosby V – One of the “Bookboats” which described the church mission boat from the United Church of Canada. Now, a good friend Carol Jeffrey found a reference to a new mission boat, the Columbia III which worked for the Columbia Coast Mission from the Anglican Church. Below is a bit of information on this service to isolated posts on the BC coast , including lighthouses.

Western Mariner Magazine December 2006

– text from Jeanette Taylor1

While the headlines of Campbell River newspapers fumed over the millions of public dollars recently allocated for a consolidated mid-Vancouver Island hospital, a small crowd gathered at the city’s Discovery Harbour Pier for a tea celebrating the 50th anniversary of the launch of the hospital ship Columbia III. She was one of the last in a long line of
vessels operated by the Anglican Church’s Columbia Coast Mission. The Mission provided medical, non-sectarian religious and social services to remote settlements, lighthouses, logging camps and First Nations villages along BC’s inside coast from 1905 to the late 1960s.

The launch of Columbia III on October 13, 1956, took place at Star Shipyards (Mercer’s) in New Westminster, just 100 feet from where the second Columbia had been built hy the Dawes Shipyard in 1910. Robert Allan and his son Robert F. (Bob) Allan were in partnership as Vancouver naval architects when Columbia III was designed. Propulsion was a 182-hp Gardner 8L3 (still powering the vessel). Diesel generating and heating units were installed, as well as a propane sterilizer in the hospital cabin, x-ray machine, propane range and refrigerator in the galley and a Spilsbury & Tindall radio-telephone.

The coast has changed radically in the half century since the Columbia III glided down the launch-ways at Star Shipyard (Mercer’s) in New Westminster on October 13, 1956. That year a new hospital was in the offing for Campbell River and there were small hospitals established in Alert Bay and Powell River, but there were still hundreds of people living on the isolated coast between Sechelt and Seymour Inlet with little or no access to medical care or regular social contacts. No matter what the religious convictions of these people, the arrival of the Columbia was a welcome sight.

Sea Kayaking Tours in BC Canada

The Columbia Coast Mission saved hundreds of lives when its vessels hastened to logging camp accidents. The mission also provided a cherished social outlet. “It was very exciting when the Columbia came because there was very little entertainment for us,” remarked one of the attendees at the 50th anniversary tea held onboard Columbia III. In
those days the Columbia’s staff brought books, showed movies and hosted Christmas pageants, complete with a portly Santa Claus. Mothership Adventures, which offers eco and cultural tours in inside waters with the Columbia III, has had new owners since 2005, Ross Campbell and Fern Kornelsen of Sonora Island, and they welcomed the idea of the 50th celebration. The vessel’s aft double doors, designed originally to provide access for stretchers, were opened wide to a crowd which filled the saloon and aft deck to reminisce about the Columbia Coast Mission. The Campbell River stop came at the end of a 50th
anniversary voyage which originated in Port McNeill and threaded its way south with an enthusiastic group on board, all the members of which had past associations with the coastal ‘mission ships’. Along the way they revisited many homesteads, settlements and villages which had been regular stops during the Columbia’s service.Well aware of the Mission’s historic service Campbell and Kornelsen were pleased to return Columbia III to this part of the coast. But they weren’t prepared for the depth of feeling many still hold for the Mission and its ships. Wherever they tie up people have memories to share. On the recent anniversary cruise a young man asked the Columbia’s skipper to give a blast on the ship’s distinctive whistle as they passed the Alert Bay home of his 90-year-old grandmother, “for old time’s sake.” At the Whaletown wharf on Cortes Island, once frequented by the Coast Mission vessels, a small crowd gathered to watch Columbia III pull alongside. “I got a call from a neighbour,” said Jan Boas. “She said, ‘The Columbia is coming!’

This summoning call was heard frequently on this coast in days gone by. Prior to the advent of the Columbia Coast Mission in 1905 there were more than 100 isolated logging camps and settlements scattered along the coast and accidents were alarmingly common. The only hope, in the case of serious injury, was to row out into one of the main passages in an often futile search for a passing freight or passenger steamer. A lucky few
survived under these circumstances. The arrival of four dead loggers in Vancouver on a steamer galvanized the Mission’s founder, Reverend John Antle, into action. He persuaded his church to launch the first Columbia and later raised funds for four hospitals throughout the region.

By the time the Columbia III was launched in 1956, the coast was undergoing rapid change. Timber licences were being awarded almost exclusively to large companies, cutting out the smaller operators. This, and greater utilization of float planes over sea-going vessels and the establishment of highways and ferry connections between coastal centres, began to depopulate the coast. By the early 1960s only a hardy few still lived in isolation. Even the chaplains from the Mission took to the air in a Cessna floatplane, a practice which continued through the 1970s.

A gathering on the foredeck of the Columbia III, Kingcome Inlet in the 1960s. Judging by the
finery and the babe in mother’s arms and the Columbia Coast Mission chaplain to right in photo, this was probably a christening ceremony

The last sea-going chaplain with the Columbia Coast Mission, Rev Ivan Putter, arrived in 1965. He had a Decca radar installed so, while the Columbia III was by then serving as mobile aviation fuel rendezvous and a base of operation for the plane which could branch out to isolated pockets of the coast, the vessel continued to help the sick and injured and save lives when the plane was fogbound. However in 1967 the Columbia III was put up for sale. By 1982 the Mission had ceased operation.

Columbia III then passed into the hands of a string of owners and was a liveaboard in False Creek in Vancouver and in a pretty run-down condition when acquired by Bill McKechnie of Victoria in 1990. He worked with shipwright Paul Heron and several Victoria craftspeople on a well-thought-out and classy refurbishment. Original areas such as the doctor’s office and galley were reconfigured and, below decks, the chapel, chaplain’s stateroom and infirmary were converted to cabins and accommodation for 10 berthed passengers and crew members. McKechnie also started Mothership Adventures, a successful ecotourism venture which enabled Columbia Ill’s guests to explore wilderness areas of the mainland around the Broughton Archipelago and the Central Coast through a combination of cruising and kayaking.

A group of people, all with an association with the mission ships, revisited some of the old
haunts between Port McNeill and Campbell River in early October, 2006. Here they are
seated in Columbia Ill’s main saloon, the former hospital cabin. The large bright windows
and mahogany cabinetry and furnishings were part of the extensive 1990s refurbishment
overseen by owner Bill McKechnie in Victoria.

The inset photos show the wheelhouse and the engine room with the 8L3 Gardner that was in Columbia when launched 50 years ago.

Mothership Adventures and Columbia III were sold in the early 2000s to a Seattle owner who intended continuing the business in BC waters. However, he couldn’t make his way around the Canadian 60-ton master’s ticket requirement for Columbia III. Meanwhile Ross Campbell and Fern Kornelsen, who had fallen short in their attempts to buy Mothership Adventures from Bill McKechnie, continued to make it abundantly clear to the US owner that, if he wanted to sell, they would buy. They became owners in early 2005.

The Columbia III in her role as a ‘sea kayaking mothership’.

“The Columbia is always welcome wherever we pull in,” says Ross Campbell. “We feel we are custodians of a significant vessel in BC’s maritime heritage and we try to live up to her good name.”

In that spirit Campbell and his family have agreed to make the ship available for weddings and memorial services for the many people who hold the Columbia’s memory dear. And, Ross adds, “We’ll be working to give her another 50 years on the coast.”

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Here is a story from The Evening Citizen, Ottawa, Friday November 27, 1953

Vancouver (CP)-A missionary of the sea plays a vital part in the lives of 4,000 persons along the lower British Columbia coast.

From inlet to inlet, the mission ship Columbia II skippered by Capt. George A. MacDonald, a friendly 70-year-old Vancouver man, brings spiritual and physical comfort to loggers, fishermen and settlers in some 225 isolated communities.

The sturdy 100-foot diesel-driven ship plies from Stuart Island and Cape Scott at the northern tip of Vancouver island.

Veteran Chaplain

The chaplain is Canon Heber Greene, a veteran missionary, and the ship’s medical facilities are directed by Dr. J. G. Kempff.

In the tiny chapel, there have been weddings, christenings, confirmations, and funeral services.

“We handle hatches, matches and dispatches,” says a crew member.

The ship is one of four operated by the Columbia Coast mission of the Church of England in Canada.

Many mercy missions are undertaken by the 48-year-old Columbia. Last year she logged 31 emergency calls for sickness and accident cases.

“Calling the Columbia” is a frequent call over the ship’s radio-telephone, coming from the coastal districts dotting the rocky island shoreline.

One Mishap

She takes nine six-week cruises a year, and only once has she suffered a mishap. In 1948 she piled onto a reef in Warner Bay and was laid up some six weeks for repairs.

Capt. MacDonald has been with the Columbia for 17 years. With him he has engineer Bob McCree, Jack Owens as cook, and Bob Anderson, deckhand.

Off the main deck is a two-bed hospital equipped with examination table, dental chair, drugs and surgical instruments. Only minor operations are performed. Serious cases are taken to hospital at Alert Bay, the Columbia’s home port, 225 miles northwest of Vancouver.

There are recreational comforts too. There is a reading room, much used by lonely settlers, and a movie theater, where various films are shown during visits to upcoast ports.

“We feel we cover the whole life of the people,” said Canon Alan Greene, superintendent of the mission and brother of the Columbia’s chaplain.

Better Than Planes

Talk of the mission ship being replaced by an airplane gets little sympathy from mission authorities.

Storms and fogs have been battled by the Columbia on mercy missions. Under similar bad weather, a plane would be grounded.

“The plane lacks the personal touch,” added Canon Alan Greene, and his views are shared by Captain MacDonald.

The first mission boat was launched by Rev. John Antle in 1905 when Columbia Coast Mission was founded. It voyaged for man years along the coast, was replaced by the Columbia II. The old and expensive Columbia II, too, may be replaced, this time by a smaller vessel.

Of the 13,259 miles covered by the Columbia in 1952, 1, 295 miles were logged on emergency calls. She made a total of 1,047 calls, during which 807 cases were treated. Her sister ship, the John Antle, the Rendezvous, and the Veracity, travelled 6,000 and 5,383 miles, respectively. Three vessels are confined to mission work only.

Such coverage entails an annual expenditure of $75,000, most of which is incurred by the Columbia. The Community Chest of greater Vancouver bears the major part of the ship’s operating expenses, with the provincial and federal governments contributing small grants. The balance is provided through church contributions and private donations.

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FOOTNOTE:

1 Jeanette Taylor is a Quadra Island-based writer and interpreter of BC coastal history and heritage. She has worked with the BC Archives aural history division and held curatorial and programming positions with the Campbell River Museum. She is the author of River City: A History of Campbell River and the Discovery Islands (1999, Harbour) and Exploring Quadra Island: Heritage Sites
and Hiking Trails (2001, Harbour) and is writing a history of the Discovery Islands and adjacent inlets.

Tides

photo Paul Kurbis

One of the reasons for the establishment of a lighthouse is to mark the dangers from the effect of extreme tides (low and high) on surrounding lands, islands, waterways, and beaches. 

Look at the photo on the left of my old lighthouse at McInnes Island at low tide (click for a larger version). We can tell it is low tide because the kelp is exposed on the rocks, and the high tide mark on the rocks is marked by a dirty black line. Here on the Pacific Coast of Canada, the tides come in and go out twice a day, and the range is between seventeen (17) and twenty-one (21) feet (6 to 7 meters)!

Note the small rock at dead center, bottom of the photo. At high tide that would be covered and become a menace to navigation. In this case this is not a marked shipping channel so no marker is necessary. The reason for the lighthouse (visible on the left of the large island) is that it was listed as a landfall light. A marker for ships coming in from the Pacific Ocean to the British Columbia coastline, and also a marker for the entrance to Milbanke Sound. It really doesn’t mark the island as dangerous; just an indicator of a mariner’s location on the ocean.

Example of a floating dock

To return to a docked boat on the BC coast after a few hours of sightseeing or shopping is sometimes a surprise for many tourists. The docks for the boats are built to float up and down on fixed pilings to accommodate the 21 foot tides (see photo left). To get onto the dock you walk up or down a ramp. A roller on the lower end rolls along the dock as the tide rises or falls. The top part of the ramp is hinged.

The tides change approximately every six hours, so if you left your boat and walked up the steep ramp to the topside dock at 10 AM (low tide) and came back at 2 PM (4 hours difference), the ramp would be almost horizontal (high tide). If you had lots of heavy groceries to move it was always a good idea to plan at what time of day you wanted to move them! Continue reading

A Lighthouse Novel for Young Adults by Nell Wise Wechter

Two children’s books by the same author came across my desk today. Both books are available in paperback and in an omnibus e-book collection. The author is Nell Wise Wechter,1 a native of the Carolina Coast. She wrote the young adult novel Taffy of Torpedo Junction and Teach’s Light. Click the links for book reviews from UNC.

The books and the e-books are available from Amazon worldwide. A special offer by the University of North Carolina Press (UNC) makes the e-book a better buy as it includes the two books for a special price.

I just ordered the e-book omnibus collection as a special present for my fiancé on my Kindle. It sure makes ordering books easy.

A quick note on each book:

Taffy of Torpedo Junction by Nell Wise Wechter

A longtime favorite of several generations of Tar Heels, Taffy of Torpedo Junction is the thrilling adventure story of thirteen-year-old Taffy Willis, who, with the help of her pony and dog, exposes a ring of Nazi spies operating from a secluded house on Hatteras Island, North Carolina, during World War II. – UNC

Teach’s Light – Tale of Blackbeard the Pirate by Nell Wise Wechter

The legend of Teach’s Light has been handed down by the people of Stumpy Point village in coastal North Carolina for nearly three centuries. – UNC

 

What is lighthouse about these books? The North Carolina coast is host to a raft of lighthouses!

Please let the readers know what you think of the books. I will also add a note later when I have finished them.

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FOOTNOTES:

1 About the Author

The late Nell Wise Wechter, an Outer Banks native, was a widely admired author, storyteller, historian, and journalist. As a schoolteacher near Cape Hatteras during World War II, she could look out her classroom window to see ships being sunk by the Germans. Her story of Taffy was inspired by these real events and the courage of the people who lived through them.