Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Seaplane takeover pending

Vancouver-based Harbour Air has confirmed its proposed takeover of competitor West Coast Air.

The announcement in today's Times Colonist says the deal is due to be closed on April 30th. 

Both companies have reported a downturn in business travel in recent times and since this forms a large part of their off-season business, the decision comes as no great surprise.

Founded in 1982, Harbour Air now operates more than 30 single-engine seaplanes, and recently won an award as one of Canada's Top 50 best managed companies. West Coast Air's fleet of 15 seaplanes includes six twin-engine Otters - which offer 18 seats, but are inevitably more expensive to operate.

Formerly known as Baxter Air, West Coast Air has been flying for more than 35 years.  

Both fleets will continue to operate under their separate business names for the time being - but with the two companies currently running separate terminals at most of their locations, it can only be a matter of time before some more visible changes start to be made. 

When competition decreases, it usually means that fares start to rise - let's hope this is not the case with Harbour Air..

Friday, 19 March 2010

Herring run

Whalebone beach has been a scene of feeding frenzy today as shoals of herring attracted thousands of seabirds, dozens of bald eagles and countless marine mammals to feed upon both the roe and the herring themselves.

Low tide revealed seaweed caked in herring roe - providing a veritable feast for the thousands of gulls that have been following this week's herring run. 

Among the gulls came the bald eagles - sometimes twenty or more could be seen perched on distant rocks.  A solitary sea otter sat patiently on the rocks for the herring to approach, then slipped silently into the water after its prey.

And then came the Stellar Sea Lions - dozens of them could be seen offshore among the seals, with a handful swimming close to shore where the waters were almost white with the roe.

Mostly the sealion swam and dived alone, but this playful pair clearly had the same unsuspecting fish in their sights. 
And all the time their barking echoed across the beach.
 Inquisitive seals are no strangers to Whalebone, but the stellar is normally to be found in the waters off Entrance Island - and while their calls can be heard around Sandwell Bay and Whalebone, it is rare for them to be seen in any number this close to Whalebone beach.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Back to the island

It's eight weeks since I left Gabriola to return to the UK.  The snows of December and January had gone by the time we arrived back, leaving a bitter coldness that has made it impractical to get out and repair the flat roof over our garage. "Not to be used at temperatures below 10 degrees" said the instructions on the roofing adhesive. So, the garage remained unrepaired and the rain continued to soak through. A job for next time I think.

After installing a brand new kitchen in our island home, it was inevitable that there would be a call for improvements in the kitchen back in England. 10 years ago we'd installed woodgrain-effect cabinets that were starting to look their age (so I was told) and it was time for a new look. Over the past few weeks there have been cabinet doors everywhere waiting for paint to dry - and in the last couple of days some semblence of normality has returned.

So I am now tasked with returning to the island to start the next stage of renovation. I predict regular visits to Arbutus Building Supplies (what would we do without them?) and a return to construction site living for the next two months. All closely supervised from afar thanks to the wonders of the internet.

At least I'm not flying with British Airways.......

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Bloganalysis : the meaning of life?

"A blog is usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability of readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs." (Wikipedia)
So what motivates a Blogger?  Amid the inevitable suggestions of "having too much time on your hands" and "because you're a geek" , the art of blogging takes many different directions, and can reveal much about the author - both good and bad. 

Unlike a conventional website, your Blog will immediately broadcast your writing to your select audience (your followers) with the potential to reach a much wider audience in the shape of those who follow other Blogs - especially those who have kindly provided links to your own blog. Your followers will start out as people you know - be they family or friends, work colleagues or business acquaintances. Then suddenly you find complete strangers declaring themselves as your followers - and when you take a look at their blog, you can sometimes (though not always...) make a connection.

Your generic Blogger probably subscribes to social networking sites too - but maybe started to realise that Facebook has been taken over by fantasy farmers and Twitter just doesn't allow you the space to say everything you need to say in 140 characters. Where Twitter excels, though, is the potential to entice a much wider group of followers (those of your choice and of theirs) to taste a morsel of your news before being drawn to a link taking them, wisely or unwisely, to the heart of your Blog. Twitter, in particular, has increasingly become a promotional medium for business - a quick hit on their customer base, and an efficient method of checking what other businesses are up to. Bakers to Bankers, they're all inviting us to follow them on Twitter - and then suddenly you realise that there aren't enough hours in the day to read everyone's tweets!

By comparison, Blogging remains much less pressurised. You can blog once a day (or more), once a week, once a month - or whenever. Half the joy of blogging is taking time out - just to read what others have been up to, marvel at their photographic prowess or catch up on their recent travels. No matter how long it's been since you last visited your Blog, your invitation into someone else's world is still there - minus the mystery eggs and lost black sheep - and uncluttered by several hundred retweets from people whom you neither know nor care about.

You may still come to the conclusion that your fellow bloggers have too much time on their hands, or that they are simply geeks. But you may also learn something new - and something of genuine interest to you. You find yourself waiting for their next blog - just to see what they've been up to, where they've been or who they've met.

Then you start to wonder what other people really think of your Blog? Are they really interested in what book you're reading, your latest DIY project, or what your kids are up to? In most cases the answer is probably not - but what the heck - you enjoyed writing about it; someone, somewhere, probably wanted to read it, and as for everyone else?  Do we really care?

A Blog is what you want it to be. Period.