Article in the October 2020 Magazine of the Naval Association of Canada – Startshell. Read more at: https://www.navalassoc.ca/naval-affairs/starshell/ page 68
I have been working at the Shelter Island Marina in Richmond, BC, Canada for over a year since my boat was in an accident in December 2014. The Steveston Lifeboat (previously known as the Artists Life) was on a training accident for the Canadian Lifeboat Institute (CLI) when it ran aground. Fortunately only one person was slightly injured and we all got off safely.
The boat was taken to Shelter Island Marina and work was started immediately. She is an historic wooden boat (see my previous story in “News” dated October 22, 2013) and so it was going to be a big effort to get her back to her original state. Fortunately the engine was not damaged and that was a huge savings.
Many companies in the yard have assisted with her repair and given us special rates. We are very thankful for this as since we volunteer the boat into lifeboat service and she is not owned by the CLI they technically cannot assist us financially with the rebuild.
So – I have been working hard painting commissions and new paintings to sell as that is the only way we can get her repaired. This painting of Shelter Island Marina was inspired by the beautiful boats and great people who work here. This story about the painting is now going in the news file (not in Original Art for sale) as I have just sold the painting to the owner of the Marina.
I will have reproductions available for sale.
Bo and his crew at Commodore Boats in Richmond, BC, Canada are so helpful with our Steveston Lifeboat, previously known at Artists Life, rebuild.
See the link below for a video featuring me – talking about the rebuild and pictures.
The boat has been my research platform since 1988. I miss being on her but hopefully soon I will have her back in the water and ready to go.
What a successful evening for our community of Delta, BC, Canada. Over 300 of us gathered on November 7th at the newly completed Tsawwassen Spring Golf Clubhouse to raise funds for the Delta Hospital Foundation. To quote the foundation, “Through tonight’s proceeds we hope to raise the final funds needed to complete the biggest expansion project in Delta Hospital history – the redevelopment of the backbone of our hospital, Diagnostic Services.”
And the attendees did it, and we helped! We made a contribution of an original Venice oil painting for the silent auction and saw it raise a good amount towards the project.
Costumes and whimsical headdresses caught our eye from the minute we walked in the door as the theme was “Whimsical Wonderland”.
We are lucky to live in such a beautiful, friendly, supportive community.
Please support the sponsors and auction donors – see names in the images following.
My historic research boat was damaged in an accident almost a year ago and I have been supporting and working with the professional shipwrights to rebuild her, ever since. I have been at the shipyard almost every day, when I am not at home in the studio painting, to bring in money to repair her!. It has been a hard slog and she is still a ways away from being finished, but we are getting there.
I have missed having her to do research for my Fraser River, BC and local paintings, but I have received requests from patrons and friends for commissions and they luckily have been supplying research material for me to capture their ship. It will be great to get back out on the water regularly to refresh my feel of the sea. Every time I am on a boat I photograph or sketch and so have valuable material in my library for reference. Catching the magnificent clouds and skies, but especially the waves and how they act when a boat passes is what I miss most.
I have had reviews that state ” you can tell the season and the time of day from John’s skies and seas – he captures the feel so well”
Currently I have a commission on the easel for a dear friend whose grandfather was a barge captain in Sweden – this vessel carried coal and wood on canals to the Baltic and so it is very interesting to paint. Having just returned from the UK where we spent a few days on a “narrow boat” (we call them canal boats in Canada) with friends Lyn and Tom Lewis who own “Moonstone”, it has given me a much better feel – especially when we went through the locks! See picture of Moonstone and Lyn and Tom following – I’m there too – helping get Moonstone through a lock. I am planning to create some paintings from the trip – I was really inspired by the light and relaxed atmosphere of canal cruising.
Take two minutes to read this story of a ship with a secret life – it is now going to the scrap yard.
A British expedition led by Captain Sir John Franklin departed England in 1845 to explore and chart the last unnavigated part of the North West Passage and was last seen in Victoria Strait. In 1848 the Admiralty launched a search for the two ships but nothing was found. Later searches found only graves and artifacts left by Franklin’s men.
In 2014 HMS Erebus was finally found by a team made up of people from Parks Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard and other groups. Prime Minister Steven Harper was very pleased to make the announcement to the world.
I just completed this painting and it is now available to be viewed. Please contact us for location as we will be displaying it soon in a new public exhibition at the Petley Jones Gallery.
It was with very great pleasure that I accepted an invitation to give my Captain Vancouver talk on the 17th and 18th January to the Maple Bay Yacht Club and the Ladysmith Maritime Society.
On the 17th we were guests of the Maple Bay Yacht Club, (just outside Duncan, BC) and were given a warm welcome by approximately 60 members and friends. Mary and I enjoyed an excellent dinner with the club members in their dining area and then moved to the lounge area to present my talk to a very attentive audience. The talk was well received and gave rise to some excellent questions. It is always interesting to receive questions from mariners who have cruised the area which Captain Vancouver charted.
Thanks to Donna Wakefield for making all the arrangements and promoting the talk so well.
The following day we were welcomed at the very new Ladysmith Maritime Society Welcome Centre which is on a float and located in the centre of their marina. If you have not visited them recently you must – the marina welcomes visitors needing guest moorage, and the welcome centre is a great place to meet the locals and refresh yourself. They also have a small floating exhibition building; a number of restored vessels in float houses and a larger exhibition just up the hill.
We had an exceptionally lively crowd of approximately 93 people at the presentation and they enjoyed the stories about Captain Vancouver’s voyage to our coast in the late 1700s. We presented the Society with a number of Captain Vancouver booklets to display at the exhibition sites and in the welcome area. The welcome building has 2 supports that were taken from a broken and discarded HMCS Oriole mast – so we donated an HMCS Oriole print to be displayed in the building. Our very hospitable hosts in return presented us with an honourary membership and vests.
Just prior to the presentation we had a brief tour of the 2 exhibition sites and the boat house. We were very surprised to see a small rescued skiff from the historic HMCS Rainbow. The skiff is in the yard in the process of being restored, along with some other very interesting wooden vessels. The society has a huge number of volunteers. Well done – Bravo Zulu!!
We also toured the Ladysmith Arts Centre which is located up the hill beside the Maritime Society exhibition space. This is a very active group and has a great exhibition and work space donated by the municipality.
Well done Ladysmith for supporting both of these worthwhile nonprofit volunteer organizations which work hard to bring visitors to, and enhance the cultural environment of the area.
Thanks to Sherry Bezanson for making the arrangements for us to visit and Debbie Cameron, Paul Notte and Tom Irwin for making our visit so pleasant.
This is a small painting that was inspired by a special commission I had painted for my friend and great yacht designer, Ron Holland. He had always been intrigued by the tea clippers that raced to England in the 1800’s and this one depicts two clippers racing through the trade winds on their way to England. Many, many days after their start in China they would sometimes arrive in London on the same tide. A great era of sail.
This painting is now at the Petley Jones Gallery in an exhibition of small works especially commissioned for the last minute Christmas purchase. Go in and see it, please.
We have a very special boat on which we travel the coast to do research for my paintings. The vessel is an historic wooden boat built by the US Navy in Pearl Harbor in 1944, and was brought to the mainland in the 50’s and converted to be used as a pleasure craft. When in service in the US Navy it was used as a launch or barge by Admirals for transportation between their ship and the shore when they were not along side a dock. We have been told it was used by Admiral Nimitz as his launch at one time.
I bought the boat in 1988 and it has been used as my research platform, and also used for search and rescue on the Fraser River, out of my home port, Steveston, which is just south of the Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, BC.
As well as cruising the coast to do research, we volunteer our boat, the Steveston Lifeboat, into the Canadian Lifeboat Institution service. This non profit organization is similar to the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in England in that it is run by volunteers and supported by donations and receives no federal government funding. We run patrols on the Fraser River during August, September, October and sometimes November when the salmon are running and our assistance is required to patrol and offer preventative service to the shipping companies and to the commercial fishermen and women.
We are closely connected to the Navy as I am a naval war artist and we often work with the local Naval and Army reserves in Vancouver during their exercises. One exercise in particular stands out as a very interesting example of co-operation. We were in a waterway close to Vancouver, Burrard Inlet, and were requested to deliver a landing party of 35 armed Princess Patricia reservists at the Buntzen Power station at midnight, then wait for them and return them to the main group after their exercise.
We loaded the group on the way to the exercise and I requested my crew ensure the heavily armed reservists were positioned to balance our craft, which is only 52 feet long. They were scattered appropriately around the ship on the outbound trip. However, on the return trip I was quite curious as I could not see any of them on the outer decks. I was told to look below in the mess. There, standing and wedged together in a solid mass, were all of the party – most of them sound asleep as they had been on their feet for many hours and the pleasant motion of the ship rocked them gently to sleep!
If you ever travel the west coast of British Columbia, please watch for us as we work on the Fraser River. We also visit the Gulf Islands, the Central coast and next year will go south to the San Juan Islands and Seattle looking for more ideas to add to my over 50 paintings about Captain Vancouver and to complete research for a book about the good Captain.
Details about the ship
LOA 53’ 0”; LWL 51’ 0”; Beam 12’ 8”; Draught 5’ 0”
Construction: Mahogany and fir on oak frames
Engine Specifications: Single Detroit 671 diesel, 157 S.H.P.; economical cruising speed 9 knots; maximum speed 10 knots; range 1,000 nautical miles.
Builder: US Navy, Pearl Harbor 1944
Naval use: Admiral’s barge aboard flagships