What a Nice Christmas Present

What a nice surprise! Today on Facebook the lighthouse keeper, Colin Toner, who is residing at my old workplace at McInnes Island posted a fantastic video of the lighthouse. Please watch in full screen to get the full effect.

Watch as the MBB105 helicopter approaches the island in the rain. You can see the rain striking the windscreen on the front of the helicopter.

Later get a tour of the light and a walk around the island in the stormy weather. Take note of the heavy seas. That is life in winter on the west coast of Canada.

Thanks Colin for the memories, and special thanks goes to Tineke Veenhoven for creating the film!

For a larger and higher quality version please go to Youtube. I had trouble getting it to embed here.

Oops! What Happened to the Water?

A few days ago I posted an article on the lightkeepers being the eyes and ears of the BC coast. While writing it an incident was brought to my mind of my early days in 1977 on McInnes Island. We arrived on McInnes in August 1977 so this had to have happened in Spring 1978.

Every year on the British Columbia coast the herring start their spawn in early spring. We, being curious lighthouse keepers are always interested in the goings on in the sea, from the arrival of the salmon to the arrival of winter storms. We always had our eyes out for something happening.

Well, one of the things we had been warned about was pollution. One morning I awoke and the ocean around the lighthouse as far away as Price Island, two kilometers away, was a milky white as though lime had been dumped in the ocean. Nowhere could I see blue sea except distantly in front of the lighthouse.

white water – photo Flickr by poecile05

I was astounded! What had happened? I had no idea. Last night everything was normal; today, total chaos!

I phoned Coast Guard Radio in Bull Harbour and reported this accident, not knowing what it was or how to describe it. The operator said he would pass it on to the Coast Guard. 

That was it? The ocean was polluted! I could not see a foot into the water! That was all they were going to do? Continue reading

The Storm of October 1984

The article I posted earlier about the storm at Cape Scott brought to mind a story I had written for the old website. This story (below) brought to the attention of the government one of the important attributes of BC lighthouse keepers – they are on-site!

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Helicopter pad at McInnes

On Thursday October 12, 1984 Roger Mogg (my assistant) and I were up at the helicopter pad at McInnes Island  lighthouse enjoying the clear Fall weather after lunch. We had been shooting clay pigeons with our shotguns and a newly acquired launcher. The wind was light, with very few clouds in the sky, so it made a perfect day for target practice in between weather reports. 

Just then Karen called up that Stan at Egg Island  had just notified the Coast Guard radio station in Bull Harbour  that he had unexpected high winds and seas. Roger and I looked at each other and joked that Stan must have been into his home-made wine again! Looking down towards Calvert Island  (between us and Egg Island) from our location on the helo (helicopter) pad we could see only clear sky with a trace of cirrus cloud. Calvert was over forty miles (64 kms) away and we could just see the top of it on the horizon. Egg Island was further south still.  Continue reading

The Wise Raven

The following video came in an email today and it brought back memories of the ravens that lived near my old lighthouse at McInnes Island. Ravens are very intelligent!

 

Orion constellation (south)

I was on the early morning shift for most of my time there. I loved it! Every morning very early (about 03:00) I walked from the house up through the trees in the dark with coffee cup in hand for the first weather report of the morning. It was such a delight if the sky was clear to see the constellations I recognized. One could almost tell the time by their position in the sky, especially with Orion, the hunter. Continue reading

Groceries and Mail on a Lighthouse

Groceries being loaded at Coast Guard Base - photo John Coldwell

Some of you may wonder why the number of stories about re-supplying the lighthouses exceeds the others on this site by a large margin (lots more coming!). Next to the family and job, the arrival of the mail and groceries was the most important event in the life of the lightkeeping family. 

Imagine no telephone, no television, no two-way radio, possibly no AM radio, and no contact with the outside world except what you saw going by your window. The post was and still is the most important contact to the real world.  Continue reading