What I wake to every morning...
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
My view from here faces almost due east and this is the first morning in five weeks that I have had a almost cloudless sunrise and isn't beautiful?
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011
View The Night the Queen of the North Sank in a larger map
The marker on the right is where the Queen of the North sank and the marker on the left is where we were.
On the night of March 21, 2006 I was on board a 52' schooner called the "Anvil Cove" riding out a storm at an insecure anchorage just off Limestone Island on Haida Gwaii. I was part of a team of volunteers who were delivering supplies, building a cabin and setting up the 2006 Limestone Island research camp. We had travelled from Queen Charlotte City to Limestone Island earlier in the day towing a herring punt full of lumber and supplies. We had off loaded the supplies, anchored the boat and headed ashore to join the rest of the team to start opening camp, build a new cabin and make supper. As the day wore on the winds picked up and created some rough seas.
Photo: Anvil Cove Charters
The Anvil Cove is a steel hulled boat built on the Island and she is heavy. This night we also had a 25' aluminium herring punt tied up along side and her anchorage was not as secure as her captain would like. I offered to stay aboard with the captain the night of March 21/22, 2006.
When you work and live on the water your radio is your lifeline. It is on all the time and this night was no exception. I was sleeping in the midship bunk and Barb was in the aft bunk. It was a noisy night as the herring punt slammed up against the boat in the rolling sea and high winds. Around 11:30 p.m. the weather started to settle and we could begin to relax. There was chatter on the radio with captains talking between one another or to their loved ones at home. I had dozed off when I heard Barb say "did you hear that?". It was about 12:30 a.m. on March 22, 2006. I hadn't, but I was now awake when another call came over the radio. It was broken and full of static but we got bits of it...."Queen of........hard aground.........", "vessel calling in please repeat.." came a voice from Traffic(like air traffic controllers), a few minutes later we heard "Queen of the North hard aground and taking on water, standby for coordinates" from a calm but abrupt voice. "Are you calling in a mayday" came a voice from the Coast Guard listening in, there was no response that we heard. By this time Barb and I are bolt upright and listening to the conversations. On some radio channels you only get one side of the conversation and for much of this event that is what happened.
Photo: BC Ferries
The Queen of the North was built in Germany in 1969 and bought from her original owner in 1974. She serviced Vancouver and Vancouver Island until 1976, was decommissioned until 1980 where, after an extensive refit she began servicing the Inside Passenge and Queen Charlotte Islands in May of that year. She is/was 125 m(406 ft) long and could carry 700 passengers and 115 vehicles. She was stable in the water and handled the rough winter weather of the Hecate Strait with ease. She had just come back from her yearly refit only a couple of weeks earlier.
The chatter went back and forth on the radio but we only got bits and pieces of it. About 40 minutes after the first transmission we heard "109 all clear". Barb and I talked for a bit and then went to sleep. We had no idea she had sunk! In the morning all was calm and we headed to shore to have breakfast with the rest of our crew. When we asked if anyone else had heard the radio chatter, they said "no". There is no power on Limestone island but we did have a battery and a transit radio, so as we prepared breakfast the boys connected the radio. Most of us did not eat. What we heard over CBC Prince Rupert left us speechless. The stories coming over the radio were harrowing and heart breaking and had not been censored by BC Ferries yet. How in a country like Canada could a ferry sink, our ferry? It was just unbelievable.
I could not find a credit for this photo
Taken as the Queen of the North was sinking on March 22, 2006
There are all kinds of stories about what happened but the end result was "human error". There were 46 crew(crew do two weeks on and two weeks off and live aboard so there are two complete crew shifts on board) and 51 passengers when she ran into Gil Island at 17.5 knots. Two people were missing and have been declared dead. The ship sank in 427 m(1387 ft)of water and remains there to this day. It sank in less than an hour. We now know that that last transmission we heard was the time that all passengers and crew where clear of the Queen of the North(just over 40 mins).
The fifth anniversary of this terrible accident is today and it is one of those events that you know exactly where you were when it happened.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
I'd think Mt. Baker in Washington was getting a little restless! Click the photo for a better view.
(Taken from the deck of the house I'm looking after at 6 p.m. March 19, 2011. Mt Baker is approx. 150 km east of here and can be seen on a clear day!)
Thursday, March 17, 2011
It seems of late that our daytime skies have been grey and heavy
and then as dusk arrives the skies clear to expose a beautiful evening sky.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011
As some of you may know, I am a wanderer. I have lived on Haida Gwaii in British Columbia since 1999. One of the "rights of passage" when you are new to the islands is to be a housesitter while you decide whether you are going to stay(island living is not for everybody). This lifestyle turned out to be a good fit for me and I became a regular house/pet sitter on the island. One day in 2005 I "googled" housesitting and found Housecarers.com a great housesitting site orginating in Australia.
A homeowner can post a request for a housesitter for free and a housesitter creates an ad which costs them $50/year. As a housesitter you can check off the areas you are interested in visiting and when a housesit comes up in your area of choice you are sent an email. This is a worldwide housesitting site.
Homeowners are also able to contact you directly through the site. For those like me who enjoy travelling and spending time in areas this is such a great opportunity. Housesitting in it's true essence is looking after someone's home in the manner in which they would like in return for free accommodation. The site is full of great information for both the homeowner and the housesitter. As with everything, it is buyer beware. Do your homework and don't be afraid to ask questions and always follow your instinct. I have had nothing but great experiences(one housesit cancelled last minute but that's when your resourcefulness as a housesitter comes in!)
This is my most recent housesit located on southern Vancouver Island. Housesits can be just that, looking after the house or it can involve looking after pets, animals and plants.
These are two of my charges. Pets are not always a housesitters choice. They require schedules and looking after. For me I love to walk (8 to 15km/day) and I prefer to do it with a dog. In this case the cat is more willing to go for a walk than the dog!
These are some of my other charges. I have housesat chickens before but usually in small numbers, here I have about 100 of them. It has been an interesting experience and I am surprised how much personality these birds can have. The roosters like to take my ankles out but the chickens are actually quite friendly and enjoy talking to and stroking!
There are "ordinary chickens",
and stunning chickens!
The dog who is a Kuvasz which was originally bred as a Hungarian livestock guard dog prefers it's new role as a house pet! So this handsome group are the "watch" geese for the livestock who stand on guard and send up the alarm against raccoons and these....
eagles, who scope out the area several times a day for any stray birds.
One of the assets of this housesit was the proximity to walking trails. At the base of this property there is gate access to the wonderfully maintained Galloping Goose Trail that runs for 60 kms from Victoria, BC to Sooke BC.
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Friday, March 11, 2011
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
I am spending some time on southern Vancouver Island and made a trip to Port Renfrew, BC. This remote community on the southwest coast of the island is the starting place for the world renown West Coast Trail and some lesser known but no less stunning Provincial Parks.
Botanical Beach is one of the most stunning and diverse tidal areas along the west coast, formed by tides and wave action against sandstone, basalt and tumbling rocks.
This area has so much diversity that the University of Minnesota established a marine research station here in 1900. Researchers continue to travel here under special park permits.
Tidal pools formed by rocks tumbling over the soft sandstone by tide action are full of unique marine life which have to be capable of surviving the extreme conditions of tides, temperatures and predation. (Some of these tidal pools, which look like puddles are over six feet deep!)
There is a saying on the west coast..."when the tide is out the table is set!"
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