Tuesday, June 10, 2008


In light of Steve's comments from the previous post, I will translate some of the terms. I've made mention of some of these things is much older posts but the newbies need some clarification. I realized after I started writing it was a whole post of its own. So no, Steve, you aren't ignorant.

'mercury went into retrograde'
Astrological phenomenon that happens usually signifying things breaking down and chaos running amok. Flaky as it sounds, it seems to run true for us. So 'when it leaves" retrograde again I will celebrate. Probably margaritas will be in order. Full moons are also cause for us to be on Red Alert too.

The 'freshet' refers to the spring run off from the mountains. Click the link for the Wikipedia translation.

When the freshet is running and the tide is ripping out it is really difficult to move anything. Over the years when we have to do something, we wait until the tide comes back in. We have that small window of time where the river is slack between the incoming tide and the river's outflow and it doesn't take as much energy to complete the task.

This usually occurs always at the optimum time when you would just as soon be in bed sleeping as it is dark and you can't see anything and there are hurricane force winds. Also, Greig will often decide to move something and not think ahead to have the necessary tools and fasteners and has me scrambling around over hell's half acre looking for them. He will usually does it in his bathrobe too. Usually when I find that specific requested object, he has "made do" and I've wasted my time in the mad dash to find it. Fun times.

'The horrible dust from Allied.'
Our neighbour is a concrete plant, approximately 200 feet away. I think is one of the filthiest in the city. In fact I think it IS the filthiest in the GVRD (Greater Vancouver Regional District). The clouds of dust that waft over us is a bit relentless. Though we are all whining here about the very cold and damp spring we've been having, it does tend to keep the dust down just a little bit. I only have to vacuum every other day, versus every day on a hot sunny day. I anticipate only having to vacuum once a week at the new location.

'logs...from the booms on the north channel' and 'where is Mitchell Island'
Here is a picture of Vancouver, Richmond, New Westminster, Surrey and other communities that make up part of the GVRD. The little 'A' on the map is where Mitchell Island is and it "belongs" to Richmond. This island is industrial with a couple of sawmills, concrete facilities, auto wreckers, large shipping containers and metal recyclers. Many people here have never heard of Mitchell Island nor do they know where it is even though they drive over it on the way to Ikea. The body of water splitting through is the Fraser River which empties into the Straight of Georgia (Pacific).
From its headwaters on the Pacific slope of the continental divide within Mount Robson Provincial Park, it flows along a remarkable 1375 km course to the ocean in the southwest corner of the province. The entire basin drains one third of the area of the province and is home to 2.4 million people – 63% of British Columbia’s population.
We will buzz down the North arm of the river out to UBC/Wreck Beach and around the tip into English Bay. We've got the sailboat anchored out in English Bay on the off chance we have a moment and the planets align just so as to actually use it.

Much of the river bank along the Fraser river is 'littered' with log booms. If you were to pull up Google earth and look at the satellite imagery you'd easily see great rafts of logs tied together. These are also called Davis rafts though much more commonly know as a log boom. Several can be lashed together and pulled on the river via tugs. Some of the booms can be a great length and have half a dozen tugs on either side of the boom at intervals to assist in navigating it up the channel.

You can see some of these booms along River Road here. Although this is a very old satellite image here, you can see where the Bowie is tied up on the river just near the orange A marker here on the map.

This post from last July shows where there where there was one log boom coming up Mitchell Slough (where we are) and almost colliding with another boom coming up the river on the other side of the Island. It is dangerous work as these are all lashed together with steel cables and often come apart. Smallish but curiously strong men scramble along the moving rafts of logs with a pike pole, life jacket wearing caulk boots (pronounced corks) with little spiky things to keep them from slipping into the very cold water. You can't be a tall burly guy to do that kind of work.

It is from the booms that we have so much logs and detritus coming down the river at us. We try too keep up with shoving it all through our wee marina to prevent stray logs from punching through boats or docks which they do from time to time. It is relentless and I spend more time pushing logs out than I do fixing any of the boats. Often it is all the little bits of stuff of twigs and bark that is the most difficult to deal with. Sometimes, the logs get so water logged they are semi-submerged beneath the surface. It is a real pain if that other end actually has a root on it and is dragging along the mud at the bottom. It isn't unusual for us to pull one of these suckers out, only to have it come back around and in again on another tide.

We have really noticed a big decline in the amount of log booms traveling up and down the river. Sawmills are closing all over the place, much in part due to the US housing market decline. All along the river are large depositories for these booms. No shortage of crap still coming at us however. Where we are going (marked by the 'B') is in between a couple of bridges and though there have been booms there in the past it is a bit off the main channel and there isn't the same volume of material to contend with. It is really quite staggering to see the amount of waste wood that comes down that river at us, and that is with a huge debris trap in place up the river near Hope.

Sandheads is the mouth of the main arm of the Fraser River. During this time of year there are regular soundings of the bottom for the river pilots taking the ships out the river. The freshet brings down so much silt the reading can change by 6-10 feet a day I have been told which is staggering to my imagination. They do regularly dredge this part of the channel to the Surrey port just across the river from New Westminster . By in large, they have done an abysmal job of maintaining the river overall for over 20 years. It is a very contentious issue and always becomes talked about during spring run off and then they ignore it until the next year. Bottom line argument is fish over people and it seems neither fish or people are winning that fight. The bureaucrats howver get paid regardless of whether they do their job or not.


Jamie said...

OMG, really??? You're moving? How? When? Must go read the post again more thoroughly, as I'm all atwitter at the prospect of you moving the Bowie and all of her companions. Maybe you're not moving them all? Like I said, must go read again ~ damn, that's exciting stuff, lady! I'll try to settle down now...

steve said...

Thankyou! That's fascinating stuff, even though we all live on boats the environment around the boat can be so different!
I read a book about a guy travelling up the coast past vancouver and he would encounter huge 60ft long logs that had become waterlogged so that they were sitting vertically in the water and only sticking up half an inch above the surface. If you ran into one you would be sinking before you even reallised what had happened. Scary! Even down in central london i think about the worst you're likely to come across is a floating railway sleeper.

bowiechick said...

Jamie, yes some of the boats are leaving their present local. Again, the where, when, how and why is a whole other post.

Steve, yes I believe it. You have to be constantly on alert for deadheads all up and down the coast.