Another Sunrise-to-Sunset


  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 15-20 knots NE, later E
  • Sky: mix of sun and cloud
  • Water: 1′ chop


  • 4 elephant seals on Great Race


  • Did some fence resetting
  • Had to reset the UPS in the tower at around 19:30
  • The wind speed display in the main house stopped working, it only shows 00.0
  • The one in the tower still works though so the problem is not with the tower instruments


  • A few eco-tours today

A Strong Breeze


  • Visibility: 15 miles with occasional fog interludes
  • Wind: 20-25 knots NE, later down to 15
  • Sky: showers
  • Water: choppy, especially in Middle Channel where waves and current collided.
  • The foghorn went off for a minute or so in the afternoon.



  • Still lots of sea lions on and around the jetty.
  • Lots of Canada Geese on the island.


  • Yesterday at 21:30 the windspeed display showed 00.0 despite clear wind.
  • It started working again sometime in the early morning.
  • The usual chores.


  • A few eco-tours came by in the afternoon.
  • One of them was here when the foghorn went off.


Back Online

Saturday evening as the storm was subsiding, the communication lines went dead out here at Race Rocks. After trying all the normal fixes on my side, I was informed via cellphone that the problem lay at Pearson College. The College had lost power from some internal breakdown, and so no internet or phone line was being sent my way over the air. Once things were up and running again this morning, I was able to reestablish connection to the internet and phone lines.

Rather than submitting a log entry for each missed day, I will simply provide a summary of each day’s main events. And pictures as always!

Saturday 15 October 2016-Fierce Storm

  • Day began at 7:00 with winds of 15-20 knots NE.
  • 9:45 30 knots East
  • 13:00 35 knots East
  • 13:30 45 knots East
  • 14:30 50~ knots East!
  • 15:20 45 knots East, communications down.
  • 16:50 communications returned.
  • 17:00 30 knots East
  • Around 18:30 communications down for good.
  • 19:00 15 knots West
  • 20:30 30 knots South-West
  • One month remaining in my shift.

Sunday 16 October 2016-Pelican

  • 7:00 Weather
  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 10-15 knots East
  • Sky: overcast
  • Water: 1′ chop
  • Saw a single brown pelican today!
  • Failed to get a picture though.
  • Branded California sea lion 8465.
  • 8 elephant seals on Great Race today.
  • A small group of California sea lions began sleeping on top of the e-seals.
  • To my surprise the elephant seals don’t seem to mind.

Monday 17 October 2016-Peregrine Falcon!

  • 7:00 Weather
  • Visibility: 5 miles
  • Wind: 0-5 knots East
  • Sky: overcast
  • Water: calm
  • In the early evening a pigeon flew into a window, presumably breaking its neck.
  • Immediately a Peregrine falcon swooped down to inspect its prey.
  • I assume the falcon was the reason the pigeon hit the window at such a speed.
  • The falcon then flew way up into the sky, before returning to make off with the meal.

Tuesday 18 October 2016-Bio-mimicry Visitors (and Alex!)

  • 7:00 Weather
  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 0 knots
  • Sky: clear
  • Water: calm
  • A rainstorm appeared from about 10:00-12:00.
  • A rather sunny afternoon!
  • Kyle came out with Alex Fletcher and a biology group.
  • The 6 visitors were studying bio-mimicry.
  • How can humans improve our technology by copying successful animals?
  • The organization that they are involved with is one of our donors.
  • They were very interested in the sea lions, seals, and birds.
  • 11 elephant seals on Great Race.
  • Saw 3 brown pelicans; this time got a photo!

Camera 5 back on line

After a period of being down, our IT specialist at Lester Pearson College,  Maxim  Wieser has been able to restore Camera 5 to operation.  Now the only problem is keeping it clean, and that is no easy task as seagulls like to hover above it…….cam5a


Please read carefully the directions to control the camera on that page :

“Please close this screen in your browser after watching. The bandwidth used is very high so more viewers will be able to use the site if it is not streaming to your computer when you are not watching. If no one else is waiting, you can renew your view after two minutes.  

Directions for Control: Press the lower right square cross icon to gain control for 2 minutes at a time .  (You can regain control if no one else is trying to control the camera by clicking on the bi-directional arrow icon at the top.) Click directly on the image to change positions or on the panorama image below.  Use the vertical bar to zoom. At the top middle click on 320×240 down arrow and select 640×480.  If you see a “camera is busy sign”, this is because the maximum number of users has been reached. Wait a few minutes and try again. When not in control by a viewer, the camera will automatically move to pause 30 seconds at the 20 different presets.”



Camera 2 Reconnected

The weather changed many times today. It started out foggy with no wind, then cleared with a light north wind. Then it clouded over and blew a little more from the southeast. By late after noon there was light rain, which continued into the evening while the wind shifted back to the northeast. The barometer remained fairly steady until this evening when it started to fall. The forecast for the weekend is cloudy with showers and a strong wind warning for central Juan de Fuca Strait.

Only one whale watching boat was noted in the Ecological Reserve today and it arrived in front of the jetty at the exact time that Second Nature arrived with students from Pearson. Second nature tied up to the jetty and conducted a working dive installing the underwater camera (Webcam #2). Half the team dealt with mounting and connecting the camera while the rest of the crew ran the cable out and secured it along the way. Everyone was well-briefed top-side and it was probably a thrilling dive with the many sea lions in the water all around the divers. Students Stuart, Alex and Sean were in the water with Chris and Courtney led Joliene, Sarah and Yam. Riikka was dive marshal and had a crew of three who made sure that everything went according to plan. The camera is installed and connected and we should be able to view it again shortly.

I didn’t spend much time on ecological observations today but as I was wheel barrowing gear around in the morning, I looked up and saw a big flock of Turkey Vultures. They seemed to be coming from Rocky Point and heading across the Strait to Washington State. They seemed to be using the light tower as a navigation aid. I counted and the group included 102 birds. Five of them turned around just after Race Rocks, maybe they had forgotten their passports.

Today was a clean-up and re-group day here. I tidied up after the electricians and moved and packaged up the waste and debris from the oil change on the Lister generator. The solar panels were washed, fresh water made and electricity generated. Just before the dive was over I launched the boat and went to pick up Alex.

Elephant seals more durable than internet networks

I  checked on the pup briefly this morning (so far unnamed as we will wait for a while to make sure he has a good chance of survival.)  I said “he” because Alex thinks it is probably a male because of a tell-tale opening midway from umbilical to tail.

Pup- 2014-01-15 at 11.10.50 AMThis picture taken at 11:15 AM from camera 1 shows all is well and the male Chunk (top) is not bothering the pup or the female. 



Hopefully you can take advantage of the documentation we have on the website of our observations of elephant seals at Race Rocks Ecological reserve.……more tomorrow…..

The Tidal Current Turbine Energy Project in the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve

Erika Lee Brown Memorial University of Newfoundland St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada


the full PDF can be linked here:tidalenergyreport
There is a predicted potential of 42 000MW stored in tidal energy off the coast of Canada which remains widely untapped by the energy industries.[1] Although there has been significant research and development done in the tidal energy sector, it has been a challenge to develop a cost efficient system which has a minimal environmental impact.
In 2006, the first tidal current generator to be built and installed in Canada was deployed north of the Middle Islands in the center of the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve off the coast of British Columbia. The current generator prototype was part of a six year joint research venture between Clean Current and the Race Rock project. The project aided to power Race Rocks using a combination of alternative energy technology to minimize the environmental impact of the facilities in the reserve while providing bases for testing of structural materials of the generator.
After numerous interruptions in power supply were experienced due to mechanical and electrical problems, the final phase of the project was completed in September 2011. The generator was retrieved from the seabed and transported to Vancouver for structural analysis.
The following paper will discuss the parameters of the study, as well as the challenges and problems encountered with the deployment, maintenance and retrieval of the tidal current system. A brief investigation of the outlook of tidal current generator systems as a means of power generation within Canada will also be completed.


See the full PDF:

History of Communications from Race Rocks

This list of signals was used for communication with Esquimalt and Fort Rod Hill prior to radio communications Link to communications file  I especially like the one for "Man-of-War" in sight !

Signals used for communication with Esquimalt and Fort Rodd Hill prior to radio communications

The microphone used in the radio room for weather and radio communications.

The microphone used in the radio room pre-1960 for weather and radio communications.

This keypad was used for the telegraphic communications in Morse Code over the radio in the early years.

This keypad was used for the telegraphic communications in Morse Code over the radio in the early years.See link to communications

n this picture, taken before 1976, the radio tower for communications, (VHF?) appears on the left hand side. On the right side are the guy-wires for the radio beacon.

In this picture, taken before 1976, the radio tower for communications, (VHF?) appears on the left hand side. On the right side are the guy-wires for the radio beacon.




Radio Beacon


GE Radio.. with label—->


Sinclair Radio Labs label

Some time in the 1980’s the Coastguard installed a Radio network which connected the lightstations. It wasn’t until the late1980s that VHF radios became the method of communication at Race Rocks. In 2000, with the millennium project, Lester Pearson College installed the V(oice) O(ver) I(nternet) P(rotocol) installed at Race Rocks. This provided, through a microwave link to the Lester Pearson College phone exchange, the first regular telephone service to Race Rocks. See the technology index.

In March 2010, I had a conversation with Trevor Anderson about the radio communications when he was at Race Rocks from 1966 to 1982.. Below are some of his thoughts about communications at that time.
The radio beacon at Race Rocks came under a different government department. They had installed a small generator for the beacon alone. The same applied for the radio equipment.
The Sequential radio beacon: Before the days of GPS, ships at sea along the Strait of Juan de Fuca had available in some areas a position fixing system which relied on a radio signal broadcast from a series of shore stations. There were 6 stations broadcasting from radio beacons in the Juan de Fuca /Georgia Strait area. Five were located at American sites and Race Rocks was the only one broadcasting from Canada on that frequency . Some of the other stations on the circuit with the radio beacons were at Port Angeles, Neah Bay, and Shelter Island. There was a non-directional wire antennae from the engine room where the radio was housed. The 6 stations were all on the same frequency. Each station sent out a Morse code letter ( From Race Rocks it was the letter J in Morse code) every 6 minutes, so each station had 1 minute per station when the code was broadcast in sequence. This relied of course on accurate timing, and Trev said that they had a wind-up clock which would occasionally go out. Then it wasn’t long until the Americans were phoning to alert him.
For Canadian Coastguard communications there was an AM radio network for the Lightstations all up and down the Coast. Weather reports were broadcast from Prince Rupert to Race Rocks on the 1850 frequency. I asked Trev if that network could be used for lightkeepers to talk to other stations, he said ” Only after midnight and then the Coastguard didn’t approve of that.”One of the problems with operating radio broadcasting equipment was that the radios operated by large tubes which would frequently need to be replaced, so Trev said his radio repair kit was always handy. He came with good radio skills however as he had been trained in communications when he was in the Second World War. He was the communications officer aboard a Lancaster Bomber which was shot down over the Mediterranean Sea when flying missions with the British Air force in North Africa. To this day he and his group from the Canadian Air Force who were assigned to work with the British in North Africa, have gone pretty well unrecognized for their heroic missions. He also has an incredible story of his miraculous escape through the window of his radio room of the bomber.Garry Fletcher, March, 2010

Race Rocks Tidal Turbine Generator

Connor Scheu and Wouter Zwart April 2, 2009 . Race Rocks Tidal Turbine GeneratorUWCpearsoncollegeicon


Ed note: Connor communicated with Russ Stothers of Clean Current for his project;

“Here is a simple synopsis of the project I will be doing this week. It is called a group four project (which pertains to the experimental science department here at the college), and the theme for everyones project is resource allocation/sustainability. Every student has to decide upon a project in which they will research something in this area. This usually involves the identification of a question, and then variables, presented in a lab format and accompanied by a presentation, but not overly formal. Continue reading

Tidal Energy ENCANA video

This video is a compressed version of the one produced by Brainstorm for the Tidal Current Power Project. It documents the partners and the process along the way in the establishment of the Turbine Project . (released January 19, 2007 to correspond with the visit of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Lester Pearson College and Race Rocks. )