Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Brrrrrrrrrr !!

After such a beautiful fall, winter has now come on strong. We woke to a light snow the other morning. It is dipping below 0 degrees C here and strong 30-40 mph winds have been heading down the inlet from the north. That has created even colder wind chill temperatures and 4 ft. waves. These waves have washed over our boat's stearn and our bilge pump couldn't keep up. Fortunately Jim found out the boat cabin was holding water and we managed to get it pumped out before disaster struck. We ended up moving our boat around to the other side of the dock so it was more protected from the northern winds and waves. Not a fun job on a bobbing dock in strong cold winds! Had to retie bouys, ropes, etc. But the Expat seems to be doing fine now.

The winds have died down a bit and the temperature says 33 F this afternoon. But the weather report says colder and snow expected. We are keeping the propane heater going and the wood stove. And to think that we used to live in Oregon at 1400 ft. and dealt with this all the time!

Guess this should put us in the Christmas mode. We are going out for a Christmas tree today. I have my cards done and the US presents sent off. I got my Christmas shopping done in the US during the Thanksgiving holidays where we spent a week with our sons.

Egmont celebrates Christmas this week. Community Club members will meet at the community hall on Wednesday to decorate and the annual Christmas dinner for the community is on Friday. May not make that this year as it is so cold and I do not want to boat home in the dark.

Off to pick out a tree in the forest behind our place and maybe do some Christmas baking.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fish Stories at the Egmont Heritage Centre

We have a wonderful new museum in Egmont, the Egmont Heritage Centre. It features the history of the area focusing on the fishing, logging and Native history. One of the things I volunteer to do is organize a fall lecture series. Last week we had a panel discussion with local fishermen discussing commercial fishing on the coast over the past 70 years. So interesting.....here is the article I wrote for the local Coast Reporter newspaper.

Record catches, close calls, boat building and the dwindling fish runs were some of the subjects covered by Egmont commercial fishermen Leonard Silvey, Billy Griffith and John West at the Egmont Heritage Centre on Saturday, November 15. The men have been fishing the coastal waters for over 70 years and they brought their stories and pictures to share with a very appreciative audience.
Leonard Silvey, a fourth generation fisherman and a descendant of Portuguese Joe Silvey, was born in Egmont in 1933 and has lived in Egmont all his life. He began fishing on his grandfather Henry’s boat, the New Castle 4, as a deck hand at the age of 13. In 1950 he acquired his first boat which was powered by a 5 horsepower Easthope engine. He had a couple of more boats before buying the Silver Side around 1954 which he still fishes with to this day.
Billy Griffith, another life-long fisherman, was born in New Westminster in 1934 and has also lived in Egmont all his life. He started fishing for cod in 1953 with a boat with a 6 horsepower Easthope engine. Since the mid-1950’s he has fished with the Tzoonie River which has a 200 horsepower engine. Griffith remembers 20 cents per Imperial gallon fuel prices. He says with the current terrible fuel prices he can still come out okay compared to the modern “steel boxes” that are the new boats of today.
John West was born in Vancouver in 1913 and came home to Westmere on Nelson Island as a newborn baby. He grew up there and then worked in Vancouver where he learned woodworking. He returned to Nelson Island in 1933 and in 1941 purchased property in Egmont. West has built a number of boats from a 10 foot (3 meters) dugout canoe to his 43 foot (13.11 meters) troller the Mary Ann W named after his mother. He fished the coastal waters from Prince Rupert to the Columbia River for salmon and cod until 1973 when he retired.
All of the men had stories of record catches with their seine nets. As Griffith said, “You have to be smarter than the fish to troll, but with seining, you only have to be smarter than the net.”
Griffith told the story of a Frazer River fishery where many other boats set their nets before the opening. His boat came in at 7 a.m. and set in the one remaining open patch of water. With just his wife and daughter as crew, they hauled in over 3000 sockeye or around 20,000 pounds (9,071.85 kg.) of fish. They were paid $1.50 per pound that season.
A good sockeye run was the best catch related by Leonard Silvey. He remembers a catch in 1958 in the Straits where he caught around 2500 sockeye that loaded his boat to the stern.
John West remembered a record catch of spring salmon in the ‘60’s around Cape Flattery. Coho were reported at 10 to 50 fathoms. After about 2 hours out in the Mary Ann W they found them. He said they caught around 200 fish everyday with a total haul of 9000 pounds (4,082.33 kg.) for that season.
These large catches didn’t necessarily mean anyone was getting rich. West brought his fisherman’s log book which showed salmon prices in the years of 1940 and 1941. He received 14 cents per pound for red salmon and 7 cents a pound for whites.
The men have sold to any number of buyers over the years from the local Japanese fish buyers in old Egmont to the fishermen’s co-op. Some of the canneries such as the Queen Charlotte Cannery used to send scows to the area to buy the fish. There are fewer buyers now as the larger corporations take over the smaller companies.
While many of the commercial fishermen have worked for the large corporations, all of these men have remained independent fishermen through the years. They started small, built their own boats or purchased used ones for a good price. Griffith said that sadly many of the fishermen who are under contract to the large companies have to take the price they are offered because they owe them for their boats and gear. Unfortunately, many of these men have been unable to make their payments and have lost their boats.
The men also had stories of some close calls. West recalled a time about 100 miles out of Cape Flattery while fishing for tuna. After a poor drift and few tuna, it began blowing hard from the southwest. “Water was blowing over the stovepipe, the bilge was plugged up and the boat sprung a leak,” said West. “We had to go in. It was really rough, but we made it to Victoria. There the boat was hauled out and repaired.”
Griffith said he had hit everything from logs to rocks to sand bars. “It’s not the accident itself,” said Griffith, “but how you behave after that accident that’s important.”
The discussion turned to the present day situation for fishermen. Griffith said the south coast was in bad shape while the north coast was better. He said they got an increase this season in the sockeye quota.
When asked where are all the fish? The men agreed that everyone was to blame for the lack of fish from over fishing by the commercial fishery to sports fishermen to lack of good habitat from logging practices. But they sited the herring fishery as the main problem. “You can’t take all the food fish,” said West. He explained that without the food fish there is nothing to sustain the larger fish. All of them expressed concern that fish stocks were dwindling and the orcas were disappearing. They felt that a moratorium on the herring fishery was in order. This does not include the herring roe on kelp fishery which doesn’t kill the herring.
While West has retired, you can still see the Tzoonie River and the Silver Sides plying the waters, searching for that good day’s catch.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

US Elections & Fall

The long-awaited US elections are over and I am please that Barack Obama won. I am crossing my fingers that the campaign slogan "Change" will really mean something and not just be a slogan to get elected. The US is mired deeply in troubled waters and it is going to take a new view of things and the way they are done to get the country out of it.

I am already concerned as I keep hearing political appointees names that are associated with the old Clinton group. I am expecting some new people, hopefully unencumbered by past associations, lobby groups, etc. But for now, I am keeping an open mind and giving this guy a chance.

Meanwhile, I am very proud of the American voters, especially the young people. The spontaneous celebrations in the streets on election night really surprised me. There hasn't been that kind of positive political excitement since the '60's. Good for them, I hope he doesn't let them down.

Here on the inlet, we are getting ready for winter by cutting firewood, clearing the deck and putting away the outdoor furniture and moving in the tender plants. This is a beautiful fall. The colors on the trees are spectacular this year and since there haven't been any early wind storms, the leaves are remaining on the trees to enjoy for a good while.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Summer Recap

Well, here it is, full-on fall and I haven't written during the summer! So here is a re-cap of the summer happenings.
Summer itself was fleeting. Seemed it just didn't get here, then there was a brief hot few weeks, then rain and cooler weather again. I did manage to get some red tomatoes by August, but many of the other summer crops were disappointing. The Egmont blackberries, which are everywhere in town, seemed to not be as sweet as usual. Not enough warm sunshine?
We had our usual bbqs on the deck. Lots of prawns, salmon and burgers. Out of town guests love to sit on the deck, look out over the inlet, while enjoying some BC brew and delecacies. Pulling up the prawn traps are always fun for visitors. Unless the traps are empty or low!
We lost our adopted lab, Grizzley, at the end of the summer. Fortunately, his former owner, Matt was able to visit us this summer and they got to have a final walk down the beach. Grizzley was at least 15 years old and wasn't getting around too well. He just fell asleep on his pillow and didn't wake up. We will miss you old guy.
After losing Grizzley and our wonderful Sheltie, Sherlock, last year, we are now dogless. We have always had a dog and especially want one to keep the bears at bay here. So we are deciding which breed we want to get and mulling it over this winter.
We are also down to one cat, Dusty. Our other cat, Bubbles, also died this summer. She was 18+. We just seemed to get down to all older animals this year. We will be getting a couple of kittens when the opportunity presents itself.
Had a great overnight boat trip with friends this August. Took their lovely Bayliner around the inlet to Pender Harbour and checked out the vintage cars at their annual car show in Garden Bay. Met up with some other couples, enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the Painted Boat resort and a great bbq the next evening. Thanks, Heather and Kent! Check out Heather's blog www.boatinginbeautifulbritishcolumbia.com/
Spent a lot of time in the US this summer too. Jim and I took a road trip through north central Washington state in August and visited friends in Tonasket. We took in the annual Garlic Festival. Lots of food, music and (believe it!) belly dancers! We met up with our son Mason(left pic) and had a great birthday dinner for Jim with our friends, Allen and Cathy. Allen seems to have perfected the smoked burger and chicken on his grill. I had fun decorating a mug for Cathy to fire later with her very creative pottery pieces. She has a good eye and a whimsical outlook on life.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Whales, hummingbirds and spring

After some more time spent south, I am back on the inlet for a bit. I know spring is supposed to be here, but it sure is cold. I am getting tired of hauling firewood and starting a fire each day. But the hummingbirds are here and I am filling two feeders each day. And that is my limit. These little guys can really suck up the sugar water and will consume as much as you are willing to put out for them! So two feeders a day is my limit. There are plenty of flowers beginning to bloom and they should be utilizing what Mother Nature provides, right? It is fun to watch them all (must have a dozen now) argue over the feeders right outside the windows though.

Just as demanding are the Stellars jays. These bossy birds are right there each morning demanding their scoop of seeds. So that is my morning routine, running around filling bird feeders as I drink my first cup of coffee. Then I sit back and enjoy the inlet while I drink my second cup. As the weather gets warmer, it will be from the deck, but right now it is still inside next to the fire.

Everyone was talking about the Humpback whale that was feeding on the krill in the Sechelt, Agammemon and Jervis inlets the last couple of weeks. Got lots of reports from people on the Egmont shoreline that saw it, but it seems it didn't make it up my way. My hubby and I even boated around one afternoon hoping to spot it. Too bad, I would have loved to have gotten a good picture.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

NOT April Fools!

No, this isn't an April Fool's joke! I have re-entered the blogger world. What a long and cold winter this has been for us 'coasters'. A large part of this winter has been spent down in the US. Thanksgiving and Christmas through New Years was spent with family in Washington and Oregon. There was even a trip to Texas to visit friends and family. There we stayed at our friends cabin that overlooks a beautiful creek and waterfall. Meanwhile, back in BC, Little Egmont has had its share of winter storms. We even had to postpone our trip out of town for a day while they cleared the Egmont Rd. of downed trees and powerlines. Months later there is still tons of debris and downed trees all along the road. I don't think Egmonsters (that's what the locals call themselves) will have to worry about firewood for a few more winters!

This was one of many wind storms that took out the power for days. Thank goodness we have a generator and cell phone that works from where we are. People in town don't have cell phone service either, so when the power goes out they are really isolated.

We weren't without our problems with winter storms. It took me over an hour to boat home one afternoon because the snowfall left me in a complete white-out! It normally takes about 15-20 minutes to get to our place from Egmont. I just had to take it slow and hug the shoreline. Yes I also followed my compass, but it is so easy to get turned around out there. And no, I didn't have my GPS, I left it at home that day!!

While our 21 foot Parker boat was being worked on, we had the little 16 ft. runabout the Sea Sniper in use for our travels on the water. Another big wind storm and I woke to a boat hanging by its mooring lines on the dock! Tried to pump it out, but no luck. So there was a job for Putter and his land barge and crane. Everything was submerged, but luckily the top of the Yamaha outboard was still above water. We managed to get that flushed out and running again. Lost a lot of equipment and lifevests and other stuff. Just floated off into the inlet. As they say around here, "the 'chuck giveth and the 'chuck taketh away". Meanwhile, we have another project to restore the little Sea Sniper this summer.

Ah, summer, that will come around right?! Meanwhile, I would be happy with spring! It is still in the '30's here at night and there was snow and hail the other day. But the sun does come out occasionally and someone told me they saw their first hummingbird the other day. So I think I'll go look at a few gardening magazines and dream of warmer days to come.