Sisters of the Ice Book Launch

Tomorrow night (June 1, 2021, 7pm PDT), our Heritage Harbour wharfinger Bruce will be presenting his new book, Sisters of the Ice, stories from the Arctic involving his ship and the St Roch. If you haven’t read the book yet, DO!! It’s available at the Vancouver Maritime Museum, and gives a fascinating insight into life up north. Read more about the book in the link above.

The talk is free, via Zoom, but you do need to register for it in the link, and it gives you the chance to order the book as well if you can’t make it to the museum.

In the meantime…

Nick sent these photos of the work he’s been doing on his Davidson dinghy rebuild – he writes:

My latest boat project is very close to being finished. No name yet & sanding of the oars ongoing. It looks pretty good sitting in my shop on the “ Flintstone Roller”. I’ll be taking it out for relaunching soon
Cheers, Nick



Thanks for the update, Nick – looking great, and we hope you enjoy getting her back in the water!

Last week, a local writer and photographer stopped by the dock for a chat with Arnt and Dale, after one of their regular days on the water – take a look at the post on Facebook or Instagram:

Nice to get some exposure in different places!

I’ve been making (slow) progress on my model of Button Swan:

(Yes, I messed up on the thwarts – I went by the original drawings, not the revised version we built!)

We’d love to hear of any boat-related projects you’ve got going on while we wait for the opportunity to get back to the shop.

National Registry of Historic Vessels

There’s a very important and worthwhile effort underway to build recognition of historic vessels in B.C. and Canada, something that has been amazingly lacking so far. The effort has been started by Robert Allan and the SS Master Society. Please take a moment to read their proposal, and if you feel led, use their template to write a letter to the minister of Canadian Heritage in support of this idea (follow the link below).

Subject: National Registry of Historic Canadian Vessels

Hello Crew,

Recognition and awareness of the Master is fundamental to our fundraising
efforts. The establishment of a National Registry of Historic Canadian
Vessels is one way to ensure the Master is recognized as the historically
significant vessel that she is. To that end, Rob Allan has written to the
Honorable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, proposing the
creation of a National Registry of Historic Canadian Vessels.

We need every one’s help. Below is Rob’s note to members asking for your
support. Click on this link to see Rob’s note to members, Rob’s sample note
to the Minister and the article written by Rob and John MacFarlane.

*Dear Friends of Master,As we mount our Centenary campaign to raise the
funds for the restoration of Master, a large part of that overall effort is
to try to get the Federal Government to create a National Register of
Historic Canadian Vessels.  This recognition would be incredibly important
to Master but would also establish some ground rules for the preservation
of, or at the very least accurate detailed documentation of vessels of
significance across the country.*

*For a more extensive discussion of this topic, please see the attached
article which John Macfarlane and I wrote in 2019, although this was with a
Provincial focus. *

*I am asking every one of you to please take a moment to support this
initiative by writing to the Minister of Canadian Heritage endorsing this
concept. To make life a bit easier I have drafted the attached letter to
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, which you
can use “as is” or adapt to suit your own thoughts.*

*Please circulate this appeal to anyone you know who believes in the
importance of our nautical heritage.*

*“Steaming Ahead”*

*Rob Allan*


Barry A Martens
President – SS Master Society
Email:* <>*

Stormy night

Last weekend we had quite a blow down at the harbour – up to 55 kts of wind! Bruce and Kristyn were kept on their toes, watching the boats. Here’s some of their footage.

Under their watchful eyes, the boats fared pretty well, with some dock lines needing reinforcing, but North Star of Herschel Island sustained some damage – one of her dock lines ripped out part of her bulwarks!

Bruce already has a workday lined up, with Eric’s help. Bruce was planning to replace some rotten wood this summer, but this accelerates the timeline!

One of our boats had a bit of a run-in with a deadhead last week, thankfully caught before there was damage! Kristyn noticed that Ragna was looking a little skewed at her mooring, and got Bruce’s attention on it – he dislodged the log and got Ragna resting comfortably again. Big thanks to Kristyn and Bruce for that!!

When the wind isn’t blowing too hard, we’ve had some great sailing – here are a couple of videos, with Ragna, Enke, and Arnt & Valerie’s boat Anja.

Spring Sailing

Spring has come, and we’ll keep having even more sailing days! Not that winter has slowed us down too much – it’s been a good season, with decent weather coming very regularly! Here are a few videos – our club boats Ragna and Enke on Saturday, and a couple of our members on Anja today. Our club boats are always available for OSBUG members – please be sure to book the boats on our Google calendar.

I hope you got to see the presentation on Thursday, about the SS Master tugboat – it was fascinating! In case you didn’t see it, or if you want to see it again, you can get a bit of the story here. I would encourage you all to support the SS Master Society in preserving this important part of BC maritime history, the last known wooden steam-powered tugboat in the world!


We were absolutely shocked this week to receive word from our wharfinger Bruce:

I am writing to you with the very sad news that my wife and partner of 38 years, Sheila Macdonald, died suddenly yesterday evening aboard ship. Her death does not appear to be Covid related.

Sheila devoted her life to helping others. She worked at such places as the CNIB, March of Dimes, Group Homes for people with severe mental and physical disabilities, as well as our bookstore.

She was a caring and loving mother to our two daughters and two foster children.

We sailed thousands of miles together using the sails that she sewed. She was also very skilled at woodworking and her passion for cooking and baking was always appreciated. She was 62 years old.

As per her request there will be no service.

She will be sorely missed.


We , their Oarlock & Sail family, extend our condolences to Bruce at this time of painful loss. Many of our members have asked to pass along their thoughts, and want him to know that we care deeply.

Sheila was such a kind and caring presence at Heritage Harbour, and we will all miss her so terribly much.

SS Master presentation

Our friends at the Vancouver Maritime Museum have just announced a fascinating presentation about the SS Master, the wonderful wooden steam-powered tugboat, built in False Creek in 1922. If you’ve ever been aboard, and visited that awesome engine-room, you’ll want to hear more about it, and enjoy the virtual tour. Tickets are $25, or spend an extra $5 to join the SS Master Society, and support their efforts to preserve and restore this treasure.

Read more about the presentation and how to get your ticket here:

Worldwide Classic Boat Show

Starting tomorrow is the first Worldwide Classic Boat Show, a virtual celebration of boats and boating put on by the fine folks at Off Center Harbor. We’ve got two entries in it, for our club and for Button Swan, and our neighbours at the dock, Ern, Anja, and Querencia are also in it.

Tickets are only $5, so check it out, and support their um, support of all things classic boat! You’ll be able to read about all sorts of boats, as well as see a bunch of speakers on various topics.

links will be live Friday morning 


Little(r) Boats

Over the last months, some of our members have been busy making model boats instead of full-sized little boats, and the results are beautiful to look at!

Starting the trend was Leif, while he was on quarantine last year when he came back to Vancouver to celebrate his Mom’s birthday. He filled his time modeling his real boat, Polaris, a 41′ Concordia Sloop, which he sails from his home port in New York. He chose (or rather, was given) a chunk of black locust which challenged his tool edges, but resulted in a gorgeous model!

Leif’s model joins the rest of the wonderful collection he has made over the years, all of which represent boats in his life. Here’s his description:

Here’s some pictures of the models I carved over the years, in chronological order (as far as I can recall) and some info about them. Except for Polaris, where I used several flat chisels, I recall making the other three mostly using a jackknife, they’re all approx 6” long. I’m not a prolific carver, but do like to carve every once in awhile. These are the only boat models I made, being boats I owned. The first and oldest is Storm Petrel, I think from early 80’s. They were all gifts to my dad, and they’re in his bedroom shop in Victoria now. As a note, I don’t think Polaris would have been possible without a vice, being how hard black locust is. 
It’s a great pastime, and encourage anyone to give it a try. Doesn’t have to be a boat, could be anything you love. Thanks for your interest and good luck.

Sola – West coast troller 1935 – I owned & salmon fished the boat from about 1976 to 1990. – Original built by Ole Wick, Oona River (Rupert Area), entirely of hand tools (his grandson John just told me Ole used no power, all hand sawn timbers, planks etc). The red cedar planking was perfect stem to stern, seams 1/8”. I don’t ever remember the boat ever leaking in all the years I had her – Don’t remember what kind wood of I used for the carving, or when I carved it. I just know I used a jack knife, and some oil paint. Maybe late 70’s?
Storm Petrel – Gaff rigged pinky schooner – original built of steel by Lloyd Arntzen in Lynn Valley 60’s/70’s. I lived aboard for a few seasons, mostly in Pender Harbor while working on Ancestor V – Model carved also sometime in 80’s – wood: Ash I think.
Ancestor V – Gaff rigged cargo sloop – original built Bequia on the beach no power tools, early 60’s, sailed to Vancouver in the 70’s by Jon Van Tamelin. I had the boat for about 5 years in the 70’s and sailed around Vancouver Island in her – Model carved sometime in the 80’s I think – wood: Yew wood topsides, walnut bottom.
Polaris – 1959 Concordia 41 sloop – original built in Bremerhaven, Germany – I’ve had this boat in Long Island NY since 2014. I carved the model in West Vancouver during Covid 19 quarantine while waiting to visit family in the Fall 2020. wood: Black locust. Notes: All items are black locust, mostly carved with chisels, file, sandpaper, hand drill, small hammer, saw, and vice.

Thank you Leif for sharing your photos, your techniques, and your inspiration to the rest of us to get modeling!

Next up is Mattias – apparently he grabbed a chunk of wood, looked out the door of our cozy little shop, and started carving the first boat he saw. He modeled Ern, the 33′ boat belonging to Tom & Georgina and Rob & Sharon.

Coming in with this work of art is Arnt, with his incredibly detailed model of his and Valerie’s lovely 23′ (or 32′, depending on who’s measuring) gaff cutter Anja!

Spurred on by all this wonderful work, I’ve decided to see if there’s a boat in that chunk of yellow cedar that Brent offered a while back.

I didn’t look too far for inspiration either – I chose Button Swan.

I’m having fun carving away at this block, and finding the shape of the boat!

If you’re inspired to do some carving, we have the start of a half-hull model at the boat shed – when Dave Bradford was closing his shop on Granville Island, we picked up some wood from him, and he offered a partially completed project. Anyone who’s interested is welcome to take this on!

It’s a fun hobby, and helps to fill the time until we’re able to get back to the shop to continue work on our Auk project. And it’s a lot easier to find space in the living room to display one of these! We might have to do some small boats that will actually sail – it would solve our problem of limited dock space. Have fun!

‘Twas the night before Christmas

Big thanks to Ingrid, our intrepid sailor of the great seas for this painting!

Thanks to Bruce and Sheila for this entertaining tale of woe (or as Joost puts it, Of mice and Seamen) from Heritage Harbour:

T’was the night before Christmas
and all around the dock
not a creature was stirring
not even Schokkenbroek

When out on the dock there arose such a clatter
We sprang from our bunk to see what was the matter
Away to the deckhouse we flew like heck
Tore open the door and stepped out on deck

The rain beat down from the clouds oer’head
We wished then we had stayed in bed
When what to our bloodshot eyes did avail
But a lovely red dory drawn by a half-dozen whale
With a little old sailor so grumpy and mean
We recognised him then as Santa-Ratso O’Green

He looked round the harbour with a glint in his eye
Then dumped out his sea-bag which was somehow dry
All over the dock now his Christmas gifts scattered
“A hundred little mice,” the old salt nattered

“Get aboard North Star, Ella, and Querencia
On Moonbeam, on Winsome, and Fantasea”
“Stop now!” we cried, “these are not presents
we’ve already got otters, a beaver, and herons”

“On Sylvester, Mysterion, Milo, Legenda,
Poseidon, Ruggen, Molly, Ern and Anja”
“Vast heaving,” we cried, “this will not do”
But up on the boats his visitors flew

As halyards rattle when not made fast
His charges surged forward, some right up the masts
We called then, “You swine, Santa-Ratso O’Green
Your presence not wanted, you are very mean!”

We stood and we stared at each other afloat
Us in our nightclothes, he in his boat
His beady eyes tracked us up and down
And his face wrinkled into a deep frown

“These mice are the best
They make beautiful nests
They scurry, they scrabble and though they are small
they’re heritage mice – a treat for you all”

He called to his whales and tugged on their reins
Around us fell more Vancouver rain
But we heard him exclaim as he sailed out of sight

Merry Christmas to all, and hopes for a New Year that brings things back to normal eventually!