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Old 09-02-2015, 12:22 PM   #1
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Once upon a time in BC

I went looking for this picture to put up for Northern Spy.
In doing so, I realized all you folks who boat in BC waters would have little idea just how much junk there used to be in the water before logging became practically extinct.

This is Myrtle Point looking "north" to Grief Point with Harwood Island in the deep background.

The driftwood shown here depicts what, maybe a hundred feet of beach, max?

All of that wood would have been put there over the winter; washed up with the prevailing SE winds and large tides. That 100 feet of beach represents what most of the BC coast was like in the logging hay days.

Now, imagine the high June tides taking almost all of it back to sea and you get an idea of what we had to navigate.

How many pods you think would make it through that crap?

Also, seeing two or more booms going by at any given time was the norm. Forecasting was pretty much by eyeball and barometer so these guys got caught out in it all the time. When she blew they headed for any lee they could find and places like Blind Bay between Nelson and Hardy Islands would be jammed up with tugs and booms. Grief Point to Westview, same thing.

Keep in mind they travelled at just a couple of knots; slow enough for us kids to catch them in a rowboat, so shelter was often hours away. Many times booms would break up adding to the flotsam, creating big paydays for beachcombers and supplying us with winter wood.

Now...Spy...the tug on the right of the picture (also the B & W pic) was Hornblower which always approached Myrtle Point as close to shore as possible to take advantage of currents. Every once in a while it didn't work, the boom got hung up on the beach and they had to wait for the tide to float it again. Sometimes they would just tie alongside the boom, shut 'er down and walk ashore for a visit.
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Old 09-02-2015, 12:54 PM   #2
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That is the typical coastline I remember as a kid and in my early sailing days in B.C. Never short of fire wood. Hard on chainsaws though.
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:23 PM   #3
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Yes, I certainly recall the significant amounts of debris in the water - much of it the kind you did not want to hit. Completely different these days, which is a good thing.

I wonder how much of that is due to improved logging practices. With the regs requiring better cleanup of affected rivers and streams, and the use of log bundles rather than loose logs in booms, plus the widespread use of log barges (The self propelled log barge Haida Monarch was introduced in 1974), I would think containment has had a huge impact.

Whatever happened to the debris trap they used to have on the Fraser? I gather it was hugely successful although there was talk of it being shut down as one of the partners (Federal, provincial, or insurance) threatened to pull out. Never heard how that turned out.

A sign of the times: last week there were a number of warnings (Coast Guard & other mariners) on the VHF about logs in the tide rip near Cape Mudge; back in the day that would have business as usual.
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:56 PM   #4
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Thanks for the trip down memory lane. What time frame was that?


The last time I was in the SJ's I was headed from Friday Harbor to Anacortes in a very dense fog. We got out of Friday Harbor and were just south of Shaw Island and encountered about a half mile long stretch of treated timbers, about 10"x10"x10'. Thousands of them all floating merrily along in a fairly tight group.


We slowed to idle and bumped our way through them until we got to the other side of the bunch. I figured they must have fallen off a barge somewhere.
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Old 09-02-2015, 02:07 PM   #5
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Yes Hawgwash, dodging logs was standard practice when I was a kid. Here in the South Sound we would always see log booms going by us. Watching them was how I learned to navigate the currents. Those captains knew all the eddies and took advantage of them.

Dodging floating logs was one thing, spotting the deadheads was something else. At night it was impossible. To this day, I still am uncomfortable cruising at night because I can't see what I am about to hit, even though the floating logs are very rare anymore.
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Old 09-02-2015, 03:12 PM   #6
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We saw a bunch of logs break loose in Dod Narrows just a few years ago.
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Old 09-02-2015, 03:16 PM   #7
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Great stuff! Since most of the mills have gotten rid of their green chains and the fiber supply comes by scow now certainly decreases a lot of the free floating wood. I still see two or three rafts go by a day. But they are all bundles now. There is a big price difference between pulp logs and lumber logs.

There is still a huge pile of wood on the windward side of Harwood as everything still collects there (along with the occasional body part from the Fraser River).

When I'm back home, I'll go take a photo from Myrtle Point to compare.
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Old 09-02-2015, 03:34 PM   #8
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Great post!
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Old 09-02-2015, 04:38 PM   #9
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Great post!
Agree!
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Old 09-02-2015, 04:57 PM   #10
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I wonder how much of that is due to improved logging practices. With the regs requiring better cleanup of affected rivers and streams.


You would find a very wide difference of opinion on that one. Most would say streamlined not improved practices and the "regs", well a whole other hot topic.

Some of the biggest pulp, paper and lumber mills in the world existed on the BC coast and the wood for them came by water. Those three industries died and now raw logs go almost from trees directly to the decks of ships destined for China to be made into crib boards for your rainy days on the hook. Port Alberni, once the world's largest pulp or paper (I forget) producer is a sorry ass place now. People who once enjoyed one of the highest standards of living in Canada are poor and very conflicted. They hate that the logs are shipped without value added but endure because it keeps a few working.

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Whatever happened to the debris trap they used to have on the Fraser?


It's still there. Whenever you hear of it being shut down it's just jurisdictional infighting over cost sharing. Political news making. We have a Provincial Government that is 2 years late and $100,000,000 over budget on a simple bus pass system and they can't spring for a few grand on debris trap.

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What time frame was that?


The picture of the tugs would have been early 60s but the driftwood existed pretty much through the entire 1900s with the worst probably being from WWII through the 70s and 80s.


This pic is False Creek in Vancouver circa 1985.
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:12 PM   #11
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When I'm back home, I'll go take a photo from Myrtle Point to compare.
Don't know if I want to see that or not.

PM sent.
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:18 PM   #12
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Great post, stirred some memories of my youth commercial fishing. The joke among the crew was that when Social Credit came into power in the fifties with "Flying Phil" as highways minister he was going to place a light on every piece of driftwood and deadhead. Plenty of flotsam back in the day, but no lights.
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:30 PM   #13
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Great post, stirred some memories of my youth commercial fishing. The joke among the crew was that when Social Credit came into power in the fifties with "Flying Phil" as highways minister he was going to place a light on every piece of driftwood and deadhead. Plenty of flotsam back in the day, but no lights.
Thing is, you guys in your 30' gillnetters were smaller than a lot of the drift wood. Before flying Phil though, the pavement ended at Beach Gardens, was gravel to Black Point and that was the end. They punched it through, contracted Blackball Ferries and all hell broke loose.

No lie, we had beach fires with that stuff every night of the summer.Folks used to come back in the dark from fishing at Blubber Bay counting the fires to know where home was.
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:40 PM   #14
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Great post, stirred some memories of my youth commercial fishing.
You must also remember seeing 40 Blackfish at a time and how we hated them 'cause the fish disappeared. Now folks pay $100 a head to go out in a rubber boat hoping to see a couple. Sad.
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:54 PM   #15
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There is another source of debris in the water around here and that's the rivers. Particularly the big ones in BC--- Fraser, Skeena, and Stikine.

I took this shot last year at Hells Gate on the Fraser. The flow of branches, logs, sections of trees, giant root balls and entire trees was non-stop. Some of it ends up on the bank but most of it carries on down into the Georgia Strait at which point the winds and currents distribute it all over the place. We've ridden the Tsawwassan-Nanaimo ferry when for several miles it has been a non-stop plow through all this stuff. The ferries are unphased by slamming into a tree but our boat wouldn't be.

We've flown the Stikine more times than we can remember, and it, too, is full of this kind of stuff.

And with the rivers, the logs and trees that end up on the bank are very often floated off again at high water and down they come to lie in wait for your boat.
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Old 09-02-2015, 06:20 PM   #16
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There is another source of debris in the water around here and that's the rivers. Particularly the big ones in BC--- Fraser, Skeena, and Stikine.
Oh, for sure although greatly diminished due to reduced commercial log movement and saw mills on the Fraser. The attached even being 10 years old has some good photos of the debris trap and what escapes it. With the arid summer we had, it will be interesting to see how much timber comes down with the first big rains.

http://www.fraserbasin.bc.ca/_Librar..._trap_2006.pdf
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Old 09-02-2015, 06:21 PM   #17
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Came across the Strait yesterday to Sidney. A single hander on a 48 Tolly called the CG to report he had holed his vessel on a dead head near the Lion's Gate. Speed at time of impact was 12 knots. Pumps were keeping pace as he headed for the nearest haul out.

Back in the 70s we used to regularly go between the mainland and Vancouver Island in a Hourston IO. The debris then seems no more than now. The real difference we see is once into SE Alaska where shores and waters are much less debris strewn. But as Marin notes, the rivers wash out lots of stuff. Whether 50 years ago or today, a careful watch is required.

With more people pulling big fishing boats/dinghies a new scourge is fouled props from the tow lines. Quickly slowing and turning to avoid debris while keeping the tow line taut is an art I've heard: never tried it.
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Old 09-02-2015, 08:44 PM   #18
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...
With more people pulling big fishing boats/dinghies a new scourge is fouled props from the tow lines. Quickly slowing and turning to avoid debris while keeping the tow line taut is an art I've heard: never tried it.
Having a float or floats spaced along the two line might help.

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Old 09-05-2015, 02:15 PM   #19
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Relic

Just some pictures from a BC log salvager working the grounds of the North arm Fraser River. LS 4671 Small boat services. I be havin some fun on the water being Relic from the old TV show Beachcombers.

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Old 09-05-2015, 02:50 PM   #20
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Log salvage

A few more pics from the river.
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