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Wilderness Adventures - Nov., Week Two/2011

This is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada called the West Chilcotin. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full of wildlife. Living here goes from no running water or electricity to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without the smog!
If you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes, exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read some great contributed stories and ongoing blogs, just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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13/11/2011 1:30 PM

The Retro Boat

We ended up with a pretty cool gift from our neighbours this summer and we've really been enjoying it. Particularly Andy.
Many years ago our neighbour and good friend, Lloyd Wilson, inherited his Dad's boat. As far as I know, Lloyd had it up here and used it from the time he moved here in the mid 70's but I don't think he used it at all in the past 20 years. Certainly not since I was here in 1988. Obviously, once Lloyd died, everything on the property was passed on to Ed and Marilyn.
For all of these years the boat was under a lean-to roof with its covers on and never moved. When the engine blew up on our big boat we were on the hunt for another motor and one day as we were walking the dogs we swung through the Wilsons' yard because Andy wanted to show me this old boat. He said, “Ed and Marilyn are thinking of just stripping this old boat down and using it for a dock. What do you think about us buying it from them and see if the motor is any good. It's kind of a neat old thing!”
I took a long look at the black mold on the body and covers and the healthy population of moss growing on the body of the boat. It was hard to see in that dark lean-to just what kind of shape the boat was in but it looked pretty rough to me. I said I just didn't think it would be worth it and if the boat was in that kind of shape, what were the chances of the motor working? And the last thing we needed was another boat without a motor cluttering up the yard, and Andy agreed with me.
Ed and Marilyn came back up from the Okanagan for the fall and one night around the campfire, I happened to make the mistake of mentioning that Andy had been pretty excited about the idea of buying the old boat from them but that I had put the kibosh on the idea.
“Really? Would you like the boat?” they said. "No, no, no, we do not need the boat, or any boat without a motor that works, the old boat looked pretty rough...." etc. etc.
Now Wilson minds work in weird and wondrous ways. Nothing more was said but I was pulling down into their driveway one day for one reason or another on my way back from Nimpo, and lo and behold, here's Marilyn on the four wheeler with this boat on a trailer with shiny new wheels, pointed up the driveway. In fact, had I not pulled in when I did, the boat was headed to our house.
Now I had to admit that once the boat was pulled out of its dark home in which it had lived for the past twenty-five or thirty-five years, it was a pretty cool looking boat. It was a tri-hull but the indentations were so deep that it almost had a Catamaran look and apparently was known as a gull wing in its day.
There was no pointed bow on the front like most boats have. Instead, it was flat across the front like the front of a car and even had a car rear view mirror inside. It sported a red and white paint job, the back vinyl cover was red and white striped, and the four seats inside were a cheery orange and white. This thing was a classic!
Ed and Marilyn wanted the lean-to for storage so I ran home to get Andy and told him he had better take a look at this boat because I thought it might be coming to our house, and yep, it did.
Now there's something about boat motors that seems to attract men. First of all, I was not keen on having another motorless boat sitting in our yard, no matter how cool it looked, because another yard ornament I don't need. So the first order of business was that a motor had to be made to run, or we were going to have to buy a motor for it if we were going to keep the boat. Andy had acquired another 135 horse motor, same vintage, same style, from yet another neighbour who had intended to throw it away because there was some unknown thing wrong with it.
Ed appeared with 'ear muffs', a contraption for keeping water in the motor I guess when they ran a hose to it. Our other neighbour appeared in the yard looking mightily pleased that such a grand classic wasn't going to be scrapped and used as a dock after all and he was eager to help make a motor work. I think they all had my dire warnings ringing in their ears. Motor no runnee, boaty no stay.
For the next day or so the guys were back and forth with pieces and tools and so on until suddenly I heard a great throaty growl out in our driveway. Wow, what a sound!
I used to be around back in the day of drag racing on the streets in the early 70's and there were some pretty hot motors around, but this sound beat all and I hadn't heard it in years! It made the hair go up on the back of your neck it was so beautiful!
It was decided that the boat would be taken for a test run out on the lake and while Marilyn and I grabbed lawn chairs and cameras and hightailed it down onto the lawn along the shoreline, our neighbours Alex and Iris brought their boat around. That way they could tow the retro in if the motor died. Now keep in mind that no one seemed to have checked the hull over all that closely for holes so I made Andy wear a heavier life jacket than he usually does and Ed bailed into the boat beside him for the virgin run.
Wow!!! Did it go! And it stayed as flat as could be on the turns which seemed really strange because I'm used to boats going up on their sides when turning. Not this thing. It looked like a car and appeared really stable. Everyone headed for open water between us and the island but it wasn't long before there was trouble. The motor died, everyone was trying to restart it out on the water and Marilyn and I could hear this high pitched sound from shore. They finally got the motor running again but it was overheating and the sound we heard was from the overheated engine indicator, so Andy brought the boat back in. Something needed work.
Still, I had seen enough of what that boat could do that I decided she deserved to be cleaned up. So while she sat in the driveway, motor in pieces, I started taking vim, bleach, brushes, soapy water and SOS pads to the vinyl finish. Ed had shown me a neat circle of white in the grubbiness of the bow that he had made with an SOS pad while the boat was out in his driveway, so I had hope for the old girl. A few hours later, the exterior of the boat was a bright, clean white again. I did the same to the seats but the orange vinyl had been exposed to the sun for so long that there was no way of restoring the original bright orange. One of the seats had obviously been removed and stored for a long period of time because you could tell from its bright color what it looked like when the boat was new.
All the seats could be removed by releasing two pins from each seat and then they could be configured in several different ways or left out of the boat altogether. The wood had rotted out from under a bracket holding one of the rear seats but Alex happened to be doing a fiberglass project of his own and was quick to bring his kit over and repair the hole. The brackets for that seat will have to be moved but that's certainly not a problem. There's lots of room. In fact the roominess of the boat is amazing and it's really easy to get in and out of because it sits so low in the water.
Andy had to wait for parts from Florida for the scavenged motor so after a few days of peering at the boat now proudly ensconced in my parking spot in the driveway, I decided to devote a little more time to her and cleaned up the topper that goes over the front seats and that poor mold blackened vinyl cleaned right up. It looked almost new.
A couple of weeks later the parts arrived and Andy, who to the best of my knowledge has never done major work on a large boat motor before, had parts changed out and back together within a day or so. He started it up and there was that lovely sexy growl again. The boat was taken back down to the boat launch and all hands were on deck to see the launching. Ed jumped in with Andy and a couple of oars just in case, while Marilyn and I again raced with chairs to the front of the house to enjoy the spectacle, and some show it was! Fast and low in the water, the boat gets up on plane and then doesn't sway an inch. She goes around in circles staying as flat as a car. In fact it feels like you're in a car when riding in it and Andy says it's like driving one. You can even cross your own waves and hardly know it, it's so smooth and stable.
Andy took me down to the other end of Nimpo one day and the speedometer read 31mph which seemed pretty impressive but we both figured that being so old ('64 or '65 Johnson/Evinrude Sweet 16') the speedometer was no doubt reading higher than the boat was really going. Not so. A few weeks later Andy took the boat out for a run with his GPS. It read between 34 and 35mph. We've been out fishing in the boat and it's actually much more comfortable for Andy to steer from the back while fishing than our other boat ever was. The only thing that had to be replaced was the transom that holds one of our smaller kickers that we use for trolling and the motor parts, which with shipping totaled $81.70. That's a pretty inexpensive boat!
Apparently Outboard Marine Company owned Johnson and Evinrude until the early 70's and produced several of these unusual boats under both names. Unlike now, the boats, trailers and propulsion system were all sold as a complete package from either Johnson or Evinrude, although in Canada, these boats were only sold under the Johnson name. From what research we've done on the Internet, they were a fast, deluxe boat for the day and actually came with a pretty hefty price tag.
I guess what's coolest of all is that Lloyd, who was very important to both me and Andy, owned and used this boat that carries his Mom's name, as did his Dad before him, and even Ed remembers riding in it when he was a kid. I think Lloyd is probably sitting up there in the Happy Hunting grounds grinning from ear to ear every time we take that boat out. I hope so, anyway.
So thank you Alex and Iris for your help with the boat and a huge thank you to our friends and neighbours, Ed and Marilyn for the help and for a very cool gift.
12/11/2011 9:30 PM

Winter is REALLY Trying to Arrive!

Welcome to last winter. It looks like it's shaping up to be that way already with little tiny skiffs of snow nearly every night that in January and February of last year, built up to well over five feet of snow.
Andy has been doing the deck shoveling which has actually only required a few minutes because it really is just a small amount of snow each time. I know, because I did the front deck today and it didn't take long to push the snow off. What takes longer is pushing the water left behind off the deck with an oversized squeegee to keep a thin layer of ice from forming on the Duradeck The surface is just deadly when water freezes on it so we go the extra mile that we never had to when the deck was wood. Going for a skate off several feet of deck or hitting the glass on the railing isn't my idea of fun but it does become a bit of a pain clearing it if you get snow after snow. Sure enough, we've gotten yet another skiff tonight so back to the squeegee tomorrow.
Our temperature today was surprisingly warmer than predicted by the weather forecasters. It was absolutely marvelous the last couple of days with temps ranging around 5 and 7C during the day and only a little below freezing at night. The warm front lasted longer than it was supposed to and the arctic front due down from the north yesterday still hasn't arrived, although it may tonight. It's cleared off now and there's a cold moon peering down on us now.
From the looks of the long range forecast, one big system after another out in the Pacific is spinning one nasty storm after another at the coast. Vancouver got hit with some huge winds that we were supposed to get but didn't, although there were some major whitecaps out on the Main Arm of Nimpo yesterday, we're fairly well protected from the west. Today we were supposed to get high winds from the Northwest and got warm wind from the south, hence, the higher temperatures. Which is all cool with me. The wind finally switched around tonight and we started getting cold air from the Northwest which is probably why the abundance of snowflakes.
The lake is going to be hard pressed to freeze up with all these fall winds. Every time the ice starts growing out from shore, the wind crushes it up again. There's still some ice in the back bay but only where it's really protected and even today the waves were lapping over top of it. If we get a north wind tonight it may be gone tomorrow. That will make Mister Beaver happy. We've had a beaver that's been building a feed bin just off our shore in the back bay. Andy has torn it out twice now so he seems to have found a new place to hide it. Probably over under the docks again. But at least once it freezes up solid in the back bay, we won't have to worry about him stealing aspens from our property. They've have certainly done a good job of devastating Rainbow Lodge's property down the shore line from us, knocking down huge, mature aspen over there.
There you go, it's 11:30 at night and the temperature just jumped up a degree from -2.4C to -1.5C or 29F. A little wind has come up again out of the Southwest so that must be bringing in warm air again.
We've wondered if there's been an inversion lately. We've noticed that some of the snow has melted off of the mountains and our temperatures have often been as warm or warmer than the central Cariboo which is very unusual, but similar to what we saw last year. Upper level temperature inversions seem to be becoming more and more common in the winter for the Chilcotin, and I would love to know what's causing it.
Halloween Party on Chilcotin time can be found at
November Week One.

The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip of the iceberg, so join me!

Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
Old style boat on Nimpo Lake with fall colors.
Underneath of gull wing hulled boat on Nimpo Lake.
1965 Sweet 16 boat on Nimpo Lake shows flat bow.
Retro style boat going by on Nimpo Lake.
Dreary day over Nimpo Lake.
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