SOS Save Our Shores, member Burtt Fidler plans to row an old wooden rowboat from Gabriola toMontague Harbour on Galiano Island for an Island Futures gathering on August 8.
Fidler hopes to achieve two things by rowing to this gathering of Gulf Islanders wishing to share and discuss community sustainability on Gulf Islands. First, he hopes to demonstrate that now, as in the past, getting around in the Gulf Islands, need not depend on the use of oil. Secondly, as a representative of Save Our Shores, he hopes to spread the word and rally support to oppose pipelines and oil tankers passing through BC lands and waters.
“We want to connect with other groups on other Gulf Islands that we can work with to oppose the pipelines and tankers on our local waters”, says Fidler. “There may very well be others in the Gulf Islands who wish to join with SOS in our opposition to oil pipelines, and tankers”.
The boat that Fidler plans to row, Luoma Loon, is a 13 foot wooden rowboat that was built by the Luoma boatbuilding family on the beach at Shack Island more than 60 years ago. It, like the well known Luoma built Bus Bailey handliner, was used in the row boat fishery, and is typical of the handliner boats, that proliferated the BC coast in the early part of the last century. The Luoma boats were considered to be some of the best of the handliner fish boats.
Fidler’s boat, Luoma Loon, was found on Protection Island in the 1980s. Because it was considered to be such a good row boat, it was used as plug to make a mould for the construction of many fibreglass double ended row boats.
Early Gulf Island pioneers used row boats as a means of getting around on the water. Stories abound of early Gulf Island pioneers rowing their produce to Vancouver Island markets from Gulf Island farms.
“It is amazing how many people don’t realise how pleasurable rowing really is in a boat designed for that purpose”, says Fidler. “Most people have never had the opportunity to row a proper row boat, but instead have tried to row boats made to have a gas motor attached to the transom. The result is often an unhappy experience because the wide transom designed to carry the weight of an outboard engine creates drag on the boat as it moves through the water. It is rather like trying to row with the brakes on”.
Fidler rows several times a week throughout the year for exercise. “People ask me if it isn’t cold rowing out there in the Georgia Strait in December”, says Fidler, “but you don’t get cold rowing”.
Once at the Montague Harbour Islands Future gathering, Burtt’s primary purpose will be to connect with other Gulf Islanders who share Save Our Shores opposition to Pipelines, and Tankers on our coastal waters. SOS hopes to spread the word about what they are doing to oppose proposed pipeline projects like the Enbridge Pipeline and Kinder Morgan.
The closer to home Kinder Morgan proposal would pump bitumen to Burrard Inlet and put more than 300 tankers every year in our local waters. “The threat of oil spills on our local waters is huge if this goes ahead”, says Fidler.