From There And Back

A Journey by John and Phyllis Wrobel

On December 3, we embarked on our journey to South America aboard the Golden Princess leaving from Los Angeles (temp 64F).

Cabo San Lucas, Puntarenas and Peru all shared desert dunes, high humidity and throngs of people selling everything on the streets.  Alpaca clothing was popular in South America.  Four stops in Chile gave us time to enjoy the lush regions, historic sites, local markets and the Casablanca Valley wine region. Read more

Forest Fact: What’s in a Name?


Logger – usually refers to a number of workers whose job it is to harvest timber and bring it to a mill. The term “lumberjack” is similar to logger but is not used in BC. It is an eastern North American term.

Faller – Fallers are specialists who may have voluntarily become certified for this dangerous position. They are specifically trained to hand fall trees and are highly skilled.

Forester – usually refers to a Registered Professional Forester (RPF). Foresters have university degrees, or equivalent, specializing in forestry and have spent at least two years articling before passing a rigorous registration exam.

Tech or Technologist – usually refers to a Registered Forest Technologist (RFT). RFTs have a two-year college diploma, or equivalent, in forestry and have spent at least two years articling before passing a rigorous registration exam.

Accredited Timber Cruiser (ATC) – a cruiser is a specialist who is trained to accurately figure out how much and the quality of each tree species is available for harvesting. A cruiser has on-the-job training and must demonstrate competency before being allowed to use the title ATC. Note that RPFs & RFTs may also be ATCs.

Accredited Timber Evaluator (ATE) – a timber evaluator is a specialist similar to an ATC however, the timber evaluator has more experience and is able to supervise a team of cruisers. Like ATCs, ATEs must demonstrate their competency before being allowed to use the ATE designation. Note that RPFs & RFTs may also be ATEs.

My World of Wood

Wood is my world; the world that gives me an opportunity to exist; to raise a family; make my mark in life. The cycle of dependence is large and varied. It’s a world of relative grace and comfort thanks to that wood in those trees. Yet the term ‘wood’ is rather loosely used, and I often wonder what defines ‘wood’ in other people’s worlds.

How do we find wood useful? Could a rough board or an old stump qualify? Some suggest it would best be served in its original ‘tree’ state. Loved but untouched.

Culturally modified & will live to see another day.Culturally modified in a very utilitarian, one-time fashion.

(left) Culturally modified & will live to see another day. (right) Culturally modified in a very utilitarian, one-time fashion.

In a woodworker’s world is there an expectation that ‘wood’ needs to be re-manned; touched by human and/or machine ‘hands’ to be valued? Its form altered; enhanced? Or is wood……..trees…….best left alone; yet even mammals and birds; insects and amphibians do not leave trees unmarked. What is natural?

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Big Trees – Big Dreams

Ballet on Water – Pas de Poisson – Photos by Jan and Shelley Nielsen
Ballet on Water – Pas de Poisson – Photos by Jan and Shelley Nielsen

Jan and I have traveled north – beyond on the rapids – to The Broughton Archipelago on three occasions since 2004.  We have always been the smallest, oldest and most wooden boat up there.  It is a go-to destination for yachts, mega-yachts and super-mega yachts without a doubt.

Being ‘bookie’ people, we have quite a library aboard.  We collect books on natural and cultural history, on local stories – from then and now and of course, the various boating bibles on the go-to destinations.  If you read my articles, you’ll know we love to mix travel and timber-talk as much as possible…..and what better occasions to see the industry in action.  These books spin a tale of hard work and the pioneering spirit, industry growth and decline…..and reinvention.  Up in the Broughton’s, you can ‘live’ history.

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Pender Island, BC – A Hotbed for Wood Enthusiasts


This summer, Jan and I have spent a number of days boating our local waters on Dulwen.  We became reacquainted with Pender and Saturna Islands.  Pender offered a couple of interesting venues for the boaters and woodworkers alike.

Firstly there was the first ever Hope Bay Boat Fest in June. This event was a great opportunity for wooden boat aficionados.  Stay tuned for 2014, it will only be better and West Wind hopes to be involved.

Secondly, the Fall Fair in August offered a slice of old country style farm fun.  Congratulations to customers, David MacKenzie and Sergei Petrov for their winning entries in the Wood Working Division.


More From Micronesia

In our last issue (Volume 41) and post we had written about Noel Lynam and Kathy Hayes; currently living in Kolonia, Pohnpei, Micronesia. Who are in the process of making repairs to their sailboat. We asked to know more about them and their story, so here it is:

* photos taken in Canada, Hawaii, Marshall Islands, and working on the boat in Pohnpei.

Kathy and I worked for the British Antarctic Survey for 6 years, Kathy as a research scientist and myself as a navigation officer on the research ship RRS Ernest Shackleton. We met on this ship on our way to Antarctica for our first season south. We quickly discovered that we both had an interest in boats and after a number of years of saving decided to buy a yacht and go sailing.
We started looking and narrowing down what we wanted from the vast number of yachts available to the first time buyer. With my experiences on my family’s wooden boat, wood quickly became our preference. To this day we still believe this was the best thing we did despite the number of people who thought we were crazy! We found 2 custom build Masan yachts to look at, one in Seattle and the other in Nanaimo, British Columbia. We chose the latter, SV/Integrity II and officially moved onto her in July 2007. We remained in Nanaimo for the winter getting the boat ready for blue water cruising and finally left the marina in January 2008. We cruised around British Columbia visiting placed like Princess Lousia, Silva Bay, Montague Harbour and Secret Cove. This was a time of learning the intricacies of Integrity II and finally cutting “land-ties”. Princess Lousia still remains our favorite cruising location to this day. Somewhere we both look forward to re-visiting.

Integrity II is a custom built Mason 38 ketch. She is very heavily built, with strip plank construction of 1.5 inch cypress with Keyaki frames.

Keyaki is a Japanese hardwood which is used for building temples in Japan.

Integrity II was built in Taiwan in 1965 and upon completion shipped to California where she  was sold . The couple that built the Integrity II founded the company  Transpacific  Marine which is still in operation, but now based in China.

We finally left Canada in May 2008 and sailed to Hilo, Hawaii. This took us 5 weeks, a long first passage where we both learnt a lot. Frustrating at the time, but upon reflection a very enjoyable passage.

After 4 months in Hawaii both on the Big Island and our favorite in Molokai we left for Marjuro, marshall Islands. This time it was the perfect passage of trade winds, fishing, starry night’s and deep clue seas. We remained in Majuro for 4 months and debated our next move – Fiji or the more unknown Federated States of Micronesia.

We chose Micronesia and after a beautiful 10 day sail from Majuro we arrived in Kosrae, the eastern most island of Micronesia. Kosrae is a small, mountainous and very green island also known as “The Sleeping Lady” due to a mountain formation. Kosrae soon became our home for 15 months with Kathy getting a job teaching at the high school and the College of Micronesia. We enjoyed our time in Kosrae, but the need to haulout was pressing and so we left in June 2010 for the short 300 mile sail to Pohnpei, the capital island of Micronesia.

Pohnpei  has been very good to us these past 2 years, Kathy got a job teaching again at the college, we hauled the boat and embarked on a major re-fit. We stripped the boat back to bare wood, replaced al thru hulls, replaced 101 floor bolts and 48 of the chain plate bolts, made repairs on the hull and varnished above the water line, replaced all our rigging and stepped both masts where we discovered some sections that need replacing resulting in the discovery of Westwind Hardwoods.

We’re currently just waiting to go back in the water and completing the work on the masts.

After Pohnpei, we will head back to the Marshall Islands. Kathy has been offered a job there teaching and we are both looking forward to returning to place we enjoyed and being able to see far more of it this time round.

After that who knows,  the thought of the north coast of  BC is very alluring, we will just have to wait and see………

– By Noel Lynam

European Beech

Fagus sylvatica, the European beech or common beech, is a deciduous tree belonging to the beech family Fagacaea.  It has a natural range extending from southern Sweden though to central Italy, west to France, northern Portugal and central Spain.  Although oft regarded as a native in southern England, recent evidence suggests it did not reach here after until after the English Channel was formed in the ice ages.

It is a large tree, capable of reaching heights of up to 49 m and 3 m trunk diameter.  It has a typical lifespan of 150 to 200 years, though sometimes up to 300 years. The appearance varies according to its habitat and forest conditions; it tends to have a long, slender light-gray trunk with a narrow crown and erect branches; in isolation with good side light, the trunk is short with a large and widely spreading crown with very long branches.

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The Yellow Cedar

A Communal Resident

It’s a given that my mission, when on holidays, is to take tree and/or wood-related pictures for our newsletter…and what an opportunity Strathcona Park gave us. This past September, found us on our annual tenting holiday; just before the park closed its gates for the winter. We came prepared, both mentally and physically, for full-day hikes of 5-6 hours; weather permitting. And thus we made a 6-hour round trip trek to Bedwell Lake; bringing us into the sub-alpine; home to the yellow cedar tree.

Although comfortable at lower elevations especially in the mid or north coastal regions, the yellow cedar is most common at higher elevations.
As we walk along, I’m constantly asking what tree is this or that. Of course, I never remember and why should I? I have my handy-dandy walking reference………..better than an IPAD or smart phone; don’t have to worry Wi-Fi hot-spots!


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