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
We are down to the last few boxes of John’s book! How did that happen? I guess we have many good clients and friends who like the book and not only buy it for themselves, but also as gifts.
Just so you know the book is now half price – so $30.00 plus 5% tax. Please let us know how many you would like. At this price they are a very good item to buy as gifts for your nautical friends. Purchase them in our Reproductions section, please.
In December 2012 Mary and I travelled again to Venice. This time being winter, the lighting and atmosphere would be different (from our sunny, bright last visit) and there might even be some flooding. I had wanted to get inside the Arsenal on my last visit but it is a restricted naval area and without proper notice I was denied access.
Before leaving Canada our dear friend, Admiral Nigel Greenwood had kindly provided an introduction for me. On my arrival I made contact with the Italian Naval authorities and an appointment was made.
The Arsenal is the historic shipyard where the Venetian fleet was built. It covers a huge area. At one time ships were launched at the rate of one a day.
On arriving at the beautiful main entrance we were greeted by Admiral Bruno Marconi who took us on a short personal tour, making arrangements for a full guided tour the following day
I was amazed at the beauty, size and age of the buildings, some of which date back to the 1400’s. I could not believe the roof spans over many slipways that defied the simple structure within.
I am most grateful to all those who made my tour possible.
True to forecasts we did see some flooding, but it did not inconvenience us. High tides and fog made for some interesting scenes, the result of which I am sure will culminate in more paintings.
I was also able to visit several exhibitions of master artists, studying styles and techniques. Mary had fun photographing interesting scenes – one in particular is of Santas rowing under the Rialto Bridge – right beside a traditional gondola. The weather had brightened up at that point so we were lucky to see the mist and also the bright sunshine.