What the Teaching Building looked like at Tod Inlet last week, covered in snow. It is still capsized upside down. (Sarah Verstegen)

What the Teaching Building looked like at Tod Inlet last week, covered in snow. It is still capsized upside down. (Sarah Verstegen)

MacGyver-style rescue mission for capsized SeaChange building planned

The Teaching House at Tod Inlet in Gowlland Tod park is currently upside down in the water

  • Feb. 28, 2019 12:00 a.m.

Armed with ropes, the tide and some math, plans are afoot to flip the SeaChange Marine Conservation Society building at Tod Inlet that capsized during last month’s snowstorms.

Sarah Verstegen, SeaChange Operations Manager, travelled to Gowlland Tod park and inspected the building Tuesday morning. The building was upside down, with its pontoon floats, which it usually sits on, the only parts exposed above the water. The pontoons are covered in mussels, some of which have been gnawed on by local wildlife.

RELATED: Sea Change building in Gowlland Tod park tipped over and submerged

“A lot of love went into that building. We don’t know if it is still intact. The floor was bolted to the float but we need to see if anything has come loose,” she said.

The building had been scheduled for renovation at Goldstream Boathouse Marina, as it was decided the float was too small and a larger one was needed. Unfortunately the snowstorm and strong winds came just before it was due to be re-fitted.

“The good news is no one was hurt. It could have been worse,” Verstegen said.

READ MORE: West shore boathouse, with 100–year–old boat inside, partially breaks free during storm

Verstegen confirmed that the structure was empty when it capsized so there would be few items needing salvaging if the doors or windows are broken.

The challenge now is how does a charitable organization flip an entire building?

Verstegen is optimistic but warns it will need painstaking planning. As SeaChange can’t afford to hire a barge and crane to winch the building upright, Verstegen says they plan to “make do with what we’ve got.”

What they have are ropes, the tide and some math.

“If you install extra flotation, you can put strong lines on the structure and tow it to the pilings at low tide. You need to have done all your calculations so its safe. You secure one side [to the pilings] so it won’t get loose. As the tide comes up, the side that’s not secured rises and the tide pushes it over and the water drains out of the structure.”

READ MORE: Historic Saanich Peninsula landmark badly damaged in storm

SeaChange plan to enlist some help for the operation and hope to commence work in early April. Due to the capsized building they have had to suspend much of their field work.

Verstegen says that once the building is upright, they plan to make repairs, install a bigger flotation device and continue to use it for fieldwork and teaching.


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