Monday, December 10, 2012

A Boating Safety Tip: Are you Dr. Hook?

Last summer while up at Port Alice, BC, I learned a very important lesson I want to share.  Sometimes is it the simplest of things that make the different between having a good day on the water and a very bad day.     I was stationed as the Captain on a boat that was about to pull up anchor and get underway.  Port Alice is situated inside a long narrow channel on the North West coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia and is largely dominated by the forestry industry.  

The area is not very forgiving when it comes to rough weather.  While the inlet itself is well protected, once you emerge into the West coast, the water can become very rough and unforgiving.  The entire west coast of Vancouver Island is littered with the remains of many ships.  Some call it the Graveyard of the Pacific.

So call it intuition or maybe just luck.   As we pulled anchor and were about to get under way, I had a niggling feeling something wasn't right.  It could have been a slightly different feel in the way the anchor came out of the water.  I felt compelled to check and found something that could have been a disaster for our boat and crew if left unchecked.  The anchor had hooked an old fish net and we had pulled it up to the surface.   The net probably would not have been an issue until we hit a certain speed.  At that time, if could have easily become wrapped into the propeller shaft or even the rudder rendering us powerless to steer or maneuver our ship.  

The lesson I want to share is that it pays to check your anchor anytime you pull it out of the water.  A couple of minutes to perform this simple safety check and haul the net in probably saved us.  Take the time to be safe out there, whether you're a pro or just boat for pleasure.  Things like this can save your skin.

Oh, and don't forget to download the newest of our mobile applications.  We have just launched a light version of Insta-Captain that contains the Morse Code and Phonetic Alphabet references all rolled into one.  You can get the application at 

Cheers!   The Captain~

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dolphins Playing in the Wild

One of the benefits of my work is that I get to see wildlife while working. This video was captured of one of my favorite creatures, the common dolphin [delphinus delphis].  It was filmed in Gordon Channel, near Port Hardy, British Columbia, Northbound to Port Alice off the West Coast of Northern Vancouver Island.  


These sea mammals usually grow up to a length if 2-2.6m ,weight up to 81.6kg.   Their beak is about 15 cm long.   These active fellas love to play around moving ships and will approach boats as they are very curious.  You can identify them with their back and flippers being mainly black, flanks yellowish in color and the belly is usually white.

Their natural range is the entire Pacific Coast.  They can be recognized by their habits as they commonly travel in schools and follows ships and boats up and down the coast with graceful leaps out of the water about the bow.   The  pacific white sided dolphin is very similar, a little bigger [2.1 to 2.7m] greenish black above, a white belly and blunter nose.  Dolphins are always a joy to watch.  I have seen the come from close to half a mile away to come an play about!

While Dolphins appear tame and eager to interact, it is always important to let them set the tone and pace.  Remember they are wild animals.  If you encounter them in the wild, consider yourself extremely lucky but never chase after them.

To help Dolphin's please consider donating money to The Dolphin Project, a project dedicated to helping end the hunting and captivity of this nobile animal and keep them playing in the wild where they belong.