Thursday, 26 March 2009

Best kept secret?

Travelling back from Nanaimo to YVR was easy - if a little lonely! I was the only passenger from Nanaimo travelling to the airport - though there were a couple who realised once they were aboard the BC Ferry that they could pick up the bus in Tsawwassen.... though they had driven right past the terminal in Nanaimo! On my previous journey there were only 5 through passengers.

Pacific Coach Lines has been running a direct service between YVR and Nanaimo since last July - though average load factors are still woefully low. Great efforts by YVR and BC Ferries to promote the service fall down when it's not promoted in Nanaimo, and you have to search really hard on the Pacific Coach website to even find it! If it needs 20 passengers each way to cover its costs, there's a long way to go.

Rumour has it that the service is only guaranteed until October. It would be a shame to lose it through lack of effective marketing.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Hot tub nearly there.....

The hot tub is now connected to its power supply, panelled in and ready for filling!

From the garden, the hot tub is backed with woodstained inspection panels

Monday, 23 March 2009

Ferry worrying.....

BC Ferries' website announces that "On Sunday, March 29, 2009, the crew of the MV Quinsam will be conducting extensive safety drills, including the deployment of the vessel’s newly installed evacuation system. This will result in two cancelled sailings: The 1:20 p.m. departure from Descanso Bay and the 1:55 p.m. departure from Nanaimo Harbour. Service will resume with the 3:10 p.m. sailing from Descanso Bay".

You'd have thought they would have been drilled in using the evacuation system before Quinsam went back into service - not six weeks later!

BC Ferries has now rescinded the cancellations, saying that the safety drill has been postponed to a later date. So that's ok then...... it's business as usual!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Sunday is gardening day

...or time to mow the lawn, at least!

Snowdrops adorn the garden feature
Not so much lawn, as 2 inches of spongy moss with a little grass in between!
...... and a peek of the ocean. The mountains are there, somewhere.... honest!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

More hungry visitors....

The Jays are everywhere - and very noisy!
A visiting woodpecker clings on tight to reach the food

Friday, 20 March 2009

Now that the hot tub's gone.....

A start has been made on the dining room...... so that the view from the front door is a little more respectable!

The pantry awaits!

Looking back from the kitchen

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

MV Quinsam to get passenger accommodation upgrade?

Nanaimo Daily News reports that once the summer ferry season is over, B.C. Ferries plans to finish upgrading the MV Quinsam. David Hahn, B.C. Ferries CEO and president, said the ferry to Gabriola Island has received a mechanical refit. "We have finished the first stage of a two-stage refit," Hahn said of Quinsam, which was built in 1982. "The next stage will be refitting the passenger accommodation area of the ferry."

Quinsam is among many smaller ships B.C. Ferries will refit in the foreseeable future.
"Once it is complete, I'd say it will be like we will have a brand new ferry on the Gabriola route," said Hahn.

In the same item, BC Ferries reveals that the economic slump could speed vessel replacement, as depressed steel prices may alter their fleet replacement plans. The economic downturn may have lowered the price of building new ships enough that B.C. Ferries Services Inc. may rethink its plan to refit a number of older vessels and instead replace them with newer ships.

The ferry corporation had planned to replace its aging fleet in several stages. "Over the next 15 years, we will replace 26 of our vessels with new, state-of-the-art ships that will bring an exceptional new level of service to our local and international customers travelling onboard B.C. Ferries," the corporation's website states.

Aboard Northern Expedition on Monday, Hahn said before his company embarks on Phase 2 of its renewal plan, it must consider changing economic conditions. "We've got to weigh whether it will be more beneficial for us to complete mid-life refits for a number of our vessels or build new ones," Hahn said. "It's something we will be discussing at future board meetings."

So maybe they won't finish Quinsam's upgrade after all?

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Olympic obstacle hits local seaplanes

Sean McIntyre (Gulf Islands Driftwood) writes:

Security requirements will pose some major hurdles for seaplane companies serving the Gulf Islands during the 2010 Winter Olympics, local airline reps said Tuesday. Restrictions on the airspace in and around Vancouver mean all passengers will have to clear security before being allowed to land at any of the city’s airports or seaplane terminals. Since Salt Spring has no established security facilities, all passengers departing from Ganges Harbour will have to pass through a security check point in Nanaimo while en route to Vancouver. According to Philip Reece, director of marketing for Salt Spring Air, the detour will make the 24-minute one-way trip twice as long. Restrictions will be in place between January and March of 2010.

Reece said Salt Spring Air does not intend to increase prices on its routes to make up for the extra expenses.
Randy Wright, senior vice-president of marketing and communications for Harbour Air, said his company is considering its options. Seair owner Peter Clarke, on the other hand, said he anticipates no changes in the level or quality of service to his passengers. “It will be a big pain, but we are planning on digesting most of the costs to maintain uninterrupted service,” he said.
[Note from Island Blog - there's no news yet on how this will affect Tofino Air flights to and from Gabriola.]

Low passenger volume and increasing competition has forced Richmond-based Harbour Air to suspend all flights between the Gulf Islands and Vancouver International Airport. The airline continues to operate flights between the Gulf Islands and downtown Vancouver. Daily service from the Gulf Islands to the Vancouver International Airport’s seaplane terminal is available on Salt Spring Air and Seair flights.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Guest suite progresses!

With the temporary wall in place, the guest suite is almost ready!
Now all it needs is a door at the other end....

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Hot tub on the move - phase two

The hot tub gang have performed, and the tub is now in position under the arbour,
ready to be panelled in.....
..... just outside the sitting room window
leaving the best view in the house below..... !

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

British hybrid bus technology hits Victoria's streets

The first hybrid double-decker bus in North America - an English-built Alexander Dennis Enviro 500H - hit the streets of Greater Victoria this week. The $1.2-million vehicle will be used on several of the region's busy routes over the coming year as a pilot project to test performance and reliability, fuel savings and greenhouse gas reductions, B.C. Transit officials said during an unveiling ceremony. It will be added to a stable of 51 double-deckers now used by transit in Greater Victoria and the third hybrid vehicle in the region's fleet now at 268.

Victoria has long been used as a testing ground for new bus technology as B.C. Transit introduced the first double-decker in North America a decade ago and the first hybrid single-floor bus in 2005. That made it a no-brainer for English bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) to use the Garden City as a testing ground for a hybrid version of the double-decker.
The hybrid bus uses a smaller engine -- nine litres as opposed to its conventional 11-litre counterpart -- and saves the most fuel in the startup mode, from zero to 24 kilometres per hour, when the electric cells power the bus. Steve New, vice-president operations and chief operating officer for B.C. Transit, said the bus service is still "in the testing mode" with its hybrid buses -- which now number four in Victoria and three in Kelowna. Hybrid varieties are considerably more expensive to purchase, so increasing the numbers of this kind of bus isn't in any immediate future plans as transit is still crunching the environmental benefits with the fiscal bottom line. "We still haven't got to that sweet spot yet," said New, where ridership, fuel costs and emission data would cover costs for the new technology.

The unveiling came following public transportation professionals from Canada and the USA descending on San Diego for their tri-annual convention and exhibition, Expo 2008.

“With fuel prices, traffic congestion and greenhouse emissions at the top of the transport agenda, now is the time to take hybrid technology to a new level,” said Colin Robertson, ADL’s Chief Executive Officer, as he launched the Enviro500H, a revolutionary hybrid bus that is expected to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by over 25%. Robertson also revealed that his British-based company, which exports to over 20 countries, expects to be building double deck buses in the USA by the summer of next year.

He commented: “Over the past five years we have steadily increased our presence in Canada and the USA with double decks now running in cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Washington DC and Seattle, and we expect demand to remain strong as more and more transportation authorities recognize the benefits of two-tier buses.“In short, we have proved the point that double decks make sense. They have the same footprint as a standard single deck, are more fuel efficient, more maneuverable and can carry up to 100 passengers, almost twice as many as a conventional bus. It all adds up, particularly at a time when cities worldwide are facing increased traffic congestion and clean air issues.

ADL has now signed a collaboration deal with ElDorado National, which is part of Thor Industries. By the summer of 2009 ADL double decks will be coming off the production line at their state-of-the-art facility in Riverside, California. The deal will give us full Buy America Compliance and access to their 33 dealerships across the USA and Canada, broadening our sales and marketing opportunities in North America.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Guest suite takes shape....

Painted woodwork will be concealed behind new wall
Short stud wall is supporting the beam, but can be modified to fit within the new wall.
Very glamorous downpipe will need to be relocated!
A lick of paint before the guest moves in?

Monday, 9 March 2009

After the snow

Hungry visitors to the garden this afternoon

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Sundown at Berry Point

Hot tub on the move - phase one

Where once there was a wall...
.... there is no more!
ok, so maybe it will leave the downstairs loo a bit exposed?

Friday, 6 March 2009

Into Narnia?

No, just into the new (recycled) wardrobe!

While the coffee was brewing ......

....... I decided to take a short walk round the corner
into Hummingbird Park,
met the local wildlife,

sat at the picnic table.....

..... and watched the 7.45 ferry on it's way to Tsawwassen

before heading down to the beach...

to the best seat in the house!

then back home for coffee, all in just 10 minutes!