Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Postscript to fire

Well I submitted my pics to the CBC news and was oh-so-momentarily on last night's evening news. They sent down a cameraman and filmed me for about ten seconds and on what I saw. They used a wee bit for last night's broadcast.

The link is here but it archives quickly so I don't know how long it will be active for. If you want to see it click under the Watch online and the latest 6pm broadcast. It's about 20 minutes in.

It was kinda fun all the same. At least my mother saw me on TV and really, that is all that matters.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Things to do in a snow storm

"Oh look!" Greig exclaimed, "The lights are all out over by the (Knight) bridge. And there's a funny glow in the sky. I bet it's a fire. Wanna go check it out?"

Not one to miss out at lolly-gagging at a building going up in flames, I was in like a dirty shirt. It started snowing around here tonight at 8pm and though it hadn't accumulated much, it made for rather greasy driving. Just off of Kent at 66th and Crompton, and next door to the Cambie Roofing Company was a big 70 year old warehouse engulfed in flames. As we were driving by we saw two people scrambling into their warehouse yard.

Not to miss out on the chance at being a hero, Greig jumped in to help move their trucks out of the line of fire. Your intrepid reporter here, had to break in her new camera, and get as much footage as I possibly could plus the neighbourhood gossip. I had to beat the news!

There had also been a kitchen in the place that until recently, made meals for the homeless. One of the people I talked to thought the explosion she heard was a car crash. It was only when the alarms started going off did they get up to investigate.
There another fire here only in the last few weeks and they surmised that it was intentional.

They couldn't find all the keys to move all the trucks, but managed to get all but three out of the way. We stayed a few more moments to watched the building collapse just a bit more and decided to high tail for home when it started to get really stinky from the smoke. About then too the news cameras finally arrived. Too bad I scooped them, muahhaaa!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Woot ! Woot! Here's our newest Captain!

Behold the very handsome Troy, (with trusty sidekick Sydney seated upon lap), defender of the galley space and top pooch here in the marina. Though he has lived with us for almost two years now, this is a rare sighting for he LOATHES having his picture taken. He's quite elusive and hard working.Sightings of him are somewhat less rare than sighting say, a Sasquatch.

Troy has been working very hard lately at work and in school toward getting his Captain's papers. Today, sat his final oral exams and PASSED!

Congratulations Troy. We'd knew you'd trounce the thing with flying colours.

Postscript to "How to stop on a dime."

I got a good giggle and was delighted to hear from fellow river rat and neighbour Mike at Shannon Buoys Marina just down the river from us. I see now I had made that post back in 2005 about flashing a tug from the hot tub. I had to go back through the posts to check when I had written that as it doesn't seem that long ago. Time flies!

"I also heard about your tugboat flashing in my water taxi shortly after that night. The story started with the tugboat skipper telling me he was heading back to the yard to order "airbags" for the tugs dashboard HAHAHAHA"

Thanks Mike. I know you and your guys work strange hours but if your ever by and see us buzzing about and have time, feel free to drop in for a cuppa. And no, I am not going to intentionally flash the girls again - that was a test, it was only a test.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Silty matters

One of the captains that we work with at Accent Cruises pilots this government survey vessel, the MV Profiler. I like picking his brain on things related to the river as I always learn something new.

And relative to the up and coming dredging that is supposed to happen in our little boat yard he's often a good source of information about the bigger picture and politics of all things Fraser.

It makes sense but I never visualized how the various sections along the river act like a seive or a series of sieves. The fine slit that builds up around our marina is a bit more prized than the material up around Mission. Some gravel sections on the river are useful for aggregate companies but in that section up there, "It is useless and nobody really wants it nor does there seem to be anyone who wants to take responsibility for it because there is no money in it," he told me. The fine silt on the lower Fraser is more sought after and apparently destined for the expansion at the Robert's Bank terminal. (see picture.)

"In fact, what they want to do is turn Mitchell Island into a centralized container storage facility," he told me.

That there are those who'd like to re-purpose the island into shipping container only facility is of no surprise. I can't help but wonder if they'll be able to keep the Condo King and other like him out of it as I am sure there is another faction out there that would love to turn that brownfield site into yet another exclusive condo-community. I suspect the environmental cleanup costs incurred to clean up the industrialized land of Mitchell Island far too costly for condominiums, and containers would win out.

In his daily sounds of the Sandheads, which are at the mouth of the south arm of the Fraser, that during last year's freshet, the silt readings from day to day would change as much as two meters and he'd be out there every day sending data for the river pilots. (Unlike the rest of the Fraser, this part of it from the Sandheads up to the Surrey Ports just west of the Port Mann Bridge is dreged regularly for the big container ships. It is the rest of it that gets "neglected".)

(For further reading about the pilots who navigate the south arm of the Fraser for the big ships, check out this article by Alan Haig-Brown in Professional Mariner April/May 2007).

Monday, January 07, 2008


Saturday was the final blitzing on at all the flotsam. Keeping this all clear is no easy task and by Sunday morning there must have been another dozen logs that had come in. Moving all the stray logs and debris in this marina alone could be a daily full time job.

On a similar note and, much further in up the river there's a debris trap that has been in place since 1979. The Fraser River Debris Trap and its' operations have been funded by various government groups. The last I had heard was that there was substantial funding issues as some major contributors had dropped out. Someone had recently tried to tell me that they had eliminated it but I suspected that to be somewhat erroneous. So I decided to do a little hunting on the subject.

Imagine a pile of wood debris as big as a football field and as high as a 13 story office tower. Now imagine the damage that amount of wood – 100,000 cubic metres – would cause if it were allowed to flow unfettered downstream from Hope to the Strait of Georgia. The Fraser River Debris Trap, a unique facility near Hope, captures up to this amount of debris each year as uprooted and fallen trees careen down the Fraser River from as far away as Mount Robson in the Rocky Mountains.
-- Fraser Basin Council, Press Release, June 2004

And then I found this link to this video. (Right click on it to download as it is a large file and quite interesting.)

I identified with that big log jam, although not to quite the same proportions. It would seem that the Fraser River debris trap is in fact, still in operation though on-going funding may continue to be at issue as things like this are. I also found this article from January of last year.
The study estimates that, even with the Fraser River debris trap in place, it now costs approximately $1.59 million per year to manage woody debris in the lower Fraser — that is, an estimated 5,000 m3 of debris generated primarily downstream of the trap from tributaries such as the Pitt and Harrison Rivers and other sources.
And we are downstream of the Pitt and Harrison Rivers. There is a lot of real estate all along the river devoted to the log booms and these break apart all the time. Regardless, it is shocking to see the amount of wood waste floating by all the time. You'd think there would be lots of opportunities to pursue more value added products with all this material.

It isn't hard for me too see the difficulty in managing it all and I am only looking at our wee section of this mighty river. I can see how onerous it could be for a government funded organization at the perpetual mercy of local politics and committees, in stumbling over its "management" too. Alas, they have a bit more power and authority behind them than we do. We can only react and make decisions in the moment that hopefully prevent and avoid damage to the vessels and docks in this part of the riparian zone that we live in.

In this last picture here, taken days after Saturday's clearing, you can see where the planks have popped up from something pushing at it all from beneath.