Sailing season kicks off in Deep Bay this weekend with the launch of the annual spring race on Sunday, March 3.
Fleet captain Don Manness said the handicap race will see competitors on the longest boat — 32 feet — taking on others with craft as small as 24 feet in length.
The course of the race, he added, is still to be determined, and there’s a very good reason for that.
“It’s wise to start a race going to windward and there are all sorts of reasons for that,” he said. “So we don’t set the course until we all get down to the dock on race day.”
Usually however, the prevailing wind is a southeaster, meaning the boats will race around the Chrome Island lighthouse or up the channel between Denman and Hornby islands.
Participation varies, he said, with the usual seven or eight boats sometimes dwindling to just three or four. He’s concerned the floatila may more resemble the latter this time around.
“I’m not too excited about the weather this weekend,” he said. “It’s cool out there. We don’t mind getting caught in the rain, but setting out in the rain is not so good.”
• Want to learn to sail and be part of an exciting sailing race at the same time?
No, it’s not some crazy dream, it’s reality at the Deep Bay Yacht Club.
That’s because, said sailing fleet captain Don Manness, participants in the club’s sailing races are often on the lookout for a willing crew — as long as they’re willing to look alive while on deck.
“We always need crews,” he said. “You don’t have to phone anybody. If somebody wants to sail or learn how to sail, they just have to come on down to the clubhouse at 10 a.m. on race day and there will be people working around their boats and they just need to ask them.”
• Anger and concern continue to be expressed about not only the closure of the Coast Guard station in Kitsilano, but also the planned mothballing of facilities in Comox and Ucluelet.
The Canada Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Centre in Ucluelet will close in 2015, a victim of recent budget cuts. The coast guard stations in Bamfield and Tofino will remain operational.
• Although she went to the bottom more than 50 years ago, you can still see the remains of the USS South Dakota. It’s right across the straight near Powell River.
The armored cruiser was launched in July of 1904 and was assigned to patrol the South Pacific and later South America.
She was transferred to the Atlantic when the First World War broke out, and escorted convoys from the east coast to the mid-Atlantic.
After the war she served in the Philippines until she was decomissioned in 1926. In 1931 the ship, now named Huron, was stripped to the waterline and sold to a company in Powell River, which used the ship as a floating breakwater for the local pulp mill.
A violent storm on Feb. 18, 1961 flooded the hull and she went to the bottom, where she remains to this day.