Dinghies of Deep Cove

Whether you own a houseboat, trawler or yacht, we want to get the scoop on watercrafts that call the Cove home. For June we feature a 1972, 49-foot Grand Banks Alaskan boat “Oceanaire 1” belonging to Penny and David Thompson, Deep Cove Yacht Club members of 39 years.

What kind of boat is it?  Grand Banks Alaskan (wood) built by American Marine in Hong Kong.

What’s the boat’s interesting backstory? She was involved in a fire in Tacoma, and we purchased it as a complete writeoff, burnt almost to the aft deck. Towed it back to Vancouver and spent two years restoring.She has won numerous awards at wood boat shows. One show took all awards, and was the last of the wood Grand Banks to be built. Its design was one of the first production yachts designed as a passage maker yacht, and is the culmination of a life experience of owning wood yachts for us.

What special features are on board? On display there are two (to scale) models: one Oceanaire, which is radio-controlled (twin screw), and the other of our most cherished yacht the “Willobee G” that cruised Indian Arm in 1927-28 with history.

What’s your favourite area to explore in the Oceanaire? North of Cape Caution (been to Alaska twice). For readers we have a blog site (furynorth.blog spot.ca) with lots of pictures and stories of adventures travelling along the B.C. coast.

Any cool stories about adventuring in the boat? Spending time watching a white Spirit Bear feasting on mussels; listening to whale songs on a foggy evening north of Cape Caution, and watching a dispute with an eagle whose salmon was on the end of my fishing line.

How did you get into boating? We have both been boating for over 65 years. Penny’s family owned the Deep Cove Motel and her job at the tender age of eight was to manage the paddle boards and boat rentals. I was 10 when I moved to Dollarton, built my first boat, sailed and hiked all of the Arm before 11. Penny’s dad had a beachfront building where the kayak rental is now. It had an outboard motor repair shop owned by Len Goldsmith. I worked for Len taking outboards apart and doing the repairs under his supervision. Penny was May Queen in Deep Cove in 1955. At 16 I ran the Deep Cove water taxi during the summer months. Penny and I both visited Granite Falls and Wigwam Inn when in operation as destination for Harbour Ferries. We were around when the last of the old wood gate was at the bottom of the Dollarton Highway at the parkway.

What wildlife have you spotted up Indian Arm from the boat? We have seen killer whales, swimming deer, bears, huge sea lions and eagles chasing seagulls, heron, salmon and Canadian geese for lunch. On the bluff above Iron Bay we saw a huge billy goat chowing down. Sent picture to game department, their comment was that even a cougar would leave that one alone.

When bike riding Indian River Road, we have seen black bear, lynx, and cougar, and watched the introduction of elk to the head of the Arm. Mink, marten and river otter in abundance. Snow Geese come in the spring at the head of the Arm, they are a blaze of white on the water but are too easily spooked to get near.

There were a pair of Mute Swans that were a favourite couple cruising from Port Moody to the head of the Arm weekly and loved by all that they visited. One was killed by a minx when nesting and her mate was forever looking for her. He too passed in time and we buried him on the Indian River bank along with our old black lab. We have witnessed the spawning of salmon on the Arm when it has been so crowded with them and more than once have had them leap into the boat.

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