Paddlefest this weekend

Shipping News

For kayaking fans, there’s really only one place to be this weekend, May 14 and 15, and that’s Ladysmith for their annual Paddlefest event.

Held for the past 13 years at Transfer Beach, Paddlefest highlights some of the newest designs for kayaks and paddling gear, but it’s much more than that. 

Participants can attend this free event and enjoy a variety of activities including a vendor and trade show, workshops, demonstrations and fun activities.

The event includes on-land and on-water workshops offered both Saturday and Sunday to help paddlers hone their paddling strokes, pack their boat, practice rescue techniques and many other helpful tips.

The industry leading manufacturers, retailers and outfitters will have booths set up for participants to check out the latest gear and a full range of 100 boats of different makes and models will be on-hand for you to take a test-paddle of the latest technology and designs.


 • The International Sail and Power Academy in Parksville wants to make sure boaters have all the certification they need to have a great time on the water this summer — rather than in it.

The group is offering a course  which runs for two nights, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on May 24 and 26.

The course will include an exam, which is to be written at the end of the course on Thursday.  

Completion of a workbook is necessary prior the course so early registration is required. The cost is $80 and includes the workbook, all learning materials and the card.

Pre-registration is necessary and anyone who is interested can contact the ISPA office by phone at 250-954-0832 or e-mail to to get location details. 


• There’s nothing like a nice bellyful of dock chunk to send a dolphin to a watery grave — a fact of which members of the Schooner Cove Yacht Club are well aware. 

That’s why the group is once again heading out to a cluster of nearby islands on Saturday to conduct their annual shoreline cleanup. 

“We go out to the Aida Islands, when the tide is right and pick up stuff that has floated to shore during the year,” said vice-commodore Joe Straka. 

“We drop people off and they walk the shoreline. It takes between two and two and a half hours and we usually get two or three huge garbage bags full of trash.”

Most of what is collected, he said, is made up of plastic bags or styrofoam dock chunks.

“Those are really lethal to the wildlife,” he said.


• The rain held off just long enough on Saturday for a crowd of maritime enthusiasts at the marine swap meet at Independent Shipwrights in Coombs.

Organizers say it was a good thing they tented the event this year, as the rain came down in torrents by about 2 p.m.




Wreck of the week

When the Empress of Ireland set sail for Liverpool, England from Quebec City on May 28, 1914, she carried 1,477 passengers and a brand new skipper, Captain Henry Kendall.

For 1,024 of those passengers, the moment they stepped on the gangplank would be the last time they set foot on dry land again.

Heavy fog set in as the liner steamed down the St. Lawrence and, at 2 a.m. a Norwegian collier, SS Storstad, slammed into the ship’s side.

The Empress of Ireland quickly began taking on water, drowning passengers and crew on the lower decks. 

Many made it out onto the boat deck, but only four lifeboats were able to be launched before the ship listed so badly no more could be lowered. 

As many as 700 crawled out of portholes onto the side of the ship, but they were thrown into the icy St. Lawrence when, just 14 minutes after the collision, the ship slipped beneath the waves.