Thursday, 16 May 2013

Wooden Boats at Maple Bay

Cowichan is perhaps, more than any other Vancouver Island community, defined by its farmland.  We are blessed with rich soil and wonderful growing conditions; a landscape that favours a wide variety of crops.  In travelling through the area, people are treated to gorgeous views across fields and vineyards.  Like every island community though, we are never far from water.  From the sandy beaches at Bamberton, to the tidal estuary of Cowichan Bay, to the deeper, sheltered waters of Genoa Bay, Bird's Eye Cove, and Maple Bay, to the fishing harbour at Ladysmith, salt water is an important part of our heritage.

At the Maple Bay Marina, they celebrate our marine heritage annually with a wooden boat festival.  Originally called The Classic Boat Rendezvous, The Maple Bay Marina Wooden Boat Festival began eighteen years ago with about forty boats in attendance.  It has continued annually ever since. This year the marina is expecting about twenty-five boats, and also a number of model boat builders who will sail their remote controlled scale models in a pool purpose-built for the festival.

Both work boats and recreational craft participate in the Maple Bay Marina Wooden Boat Festival.  Some of the vessels participating this year have been built quite recently; handcrafted with hours and hours of painstaking attention to detail.  Many are between fifty and eighty years old, and the oldest - the Walronda - is one hundred years old. 

Unlike the craft at many wooden boat festivals, the boats participating at Maple Bay are not just for display; they are regularly used by their owners.  The festival affords an opportunity for boaters and non-boaters alike to come and admire a form of boat building that - while not as common as it once was - provides a living, functional link to our history.

The Maple Bay Marina is expecting several hundred visitors to the festival, which takes place this weekend, over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (May 17, 18, and 19).  Click here for more information and a schedule of events.