Coming back and setting down day

Sky: Overcast to rainy;Wind: 10-15 knots West wind;Sea:Calm

14 elephant seals and among them 2 big ones :On Great Race my friend Chunk and a new one for me , named Chuckles. The grassy field looks like a schoolyard with the playing young ones.
Surprise to see Gulls already so busy building nest and some on it. Pretty soon we saw our first egg …10 Californian Sea lions on Great Race Rocks
Seawater sampling around noon today: Salinity :32:01 and temperature :10:9 C
Checking around for priorities: A small leak from the gazoil filter needs attention.
Whaler battery put in charge.
Whaler diesel fuel tank filled up.
Different controls done
One whale watcher boat at 20:30 PM This is unusual ,looks like they were waiting for the lighthouse to light was not for a nice sunset!
We admire the beautiful bricks under the wheels .Thanks to Riley!
Intense activity at the DND: 4 strong blasts between 10:45 and 2:00 PM and a very surprising one at 10:30 PM  This one made the house shake ! WE were  kept in alert before by a flashing blue light ( a DND zodiac protecting the area).
We looked for a sailboat photo required by the boat owner and taken on Race Rocks . We found it and sent it to the college.

It’s good to be on Race Rocks ! Happy Eco – Guardians!


Lighthouse Garden Heritage

Weather and Sea Conditions

At Race Rocks today, winds were light and variable from the south and southeast, at first under overcast skies and eventually under brilliant sunshine. The barometric pressure was still high (1025hPa at 18:30), but dropping now and there is a strong wind warning in effect. Light winds are predicted to increase to east 15 knots early this evening, build to east 15 to 25 after midnight and drop again Thursday evening. Thursday will be sunny and warm with a moderate UV index of 5. Except for the usual races, tidal currents, rips, standing waves and over falls, sea conditions were calm today.

Vessel Observations

This may be a better position for viewing, although still very close and there are animals in the water, near the boat, which has propellors turning to maintain position.

This may be a better position for viewing animals on South Rocks, although still very close and there are animals in the water, near the boat, which has propellors turning to maintain position.

Only two whale watching vessels were observed working in the protected area today and neither of them passed between Great Race and South Rocks. Several sports fishing vessels passed through, and there was no fishing observed in the protected area. One small inflatable was observed speeding in the protected area. This vessel came to the jetty later and they were informed about the speed limits and restrictions on going ashore.

Ecological and General Observations

Nothing really new to report here other than two more female Northern Elephant Seals arrived ashore today and several more were visible on Middle Rock. These animals will be starting their moult soon and building bone density for important winter haul-out activities of giving birth, nursing and mating. Remembering last year’s elephant seal plant crushing activities, motivated me to take photos of some of the lighthouse heritage garden plants on the island.

There are photographs below of the river otter den mentioned yesterday. Tomorrow will be animal census day.

Most chores were routine today. There were no visitors.


One50Canada Photo Shoot


  • Visibility: 15+ miles
  • Wind: 0-10 knots N
  • Sky: sunny
  • Water: calm

The Sunset


  • Seagulls woke me up at 6:00, something that never happened in February.
  • Had an easier time shooing away the Canada Geese today.
  • The river otter was out exploring and rolling around. It delighted the visitors.

A pair of seagulls


  • I helped Chris and Kyle install the new wifi “distributor” at the top of the tower.
  • Later I tidied up the extra cord, searched for outdoor rated Cat5 (unsuccessfully) and measured out the distance required for the future permanent cord. Twenty-five feet if you’re interested!
  • Cleaned the solar panels.


  • Two eco-tours came by at around 11:00.
  • Second Nature docked on the jetty at 11:00 and departed at 13:00.


  • Chris came by in Second Nature with Kyle (a new dock hand) and a group of three from the One50Canada project.
  • Their names are Martin Gregus, Martin Gregus Jr. and Elena Gregusova.
  • The two Martin’s are trying to make the largest documented collection of photos and information about what Canada is like in the years around 2017, her 150th year of independence. The final project will include a massive coffee table book.
  • They were interested in all aspects of the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve.
  • They took photographs of and asked questions about the mammals, birds, lighthouse, other buildings, vintage Coast Guard equipment, First Nations rock formations, etc.
  • If you are interested in learning more about the One50Canada Society, check out their website at:

The One50Canada family

July 21th: Oil transfer from the big tank

We had a West wind at 23 knots in the morning with a gale warning expected in the afternoon. A very good thing when it’s windy like that the solar panels are staying cleaner than usual.Guy has been busy emptying the big tank. He filed up 3 barrels of 200liters each, he completed the new small tank for the generator (450l when full) and 1 barrel of 150l.I went to the top of the tower (training) and looking at the shadow from on the small window I realized that that tower was a perfect huge sundial! I never thought about that before.The elephant seals maybe because they are a lot thinner go down the railway at least 3 times a day. Right now they stay behind the boat shed most of the time.

April 10


Light airs from the southwest and a light overcast sky, dominated the first part of the day. At about 16:00, an abrupt directional switch to west by northwest saw winds rise to 20 to 30 knots within a few minutes. Those winds were accompanied by moderate rain and a darkened, overcast sky. The wind direction remained the same but velocity dropped to 5 – 10 knots after the storm passed through leaving sunshine and outrageous double rainbows in its wake. The barometer continued to fall slowly today and the forecast calls for west winds and a 40% chance of showers.

There were five whale-watching boats observed in the Ecological Reserve today all during the downpour. One sports fisher was observed speeding in the go-slow area.

A sea otter was spotted in the Ecological Reserve again today, after being either absent or well hidden for almost a month. Thanks go out to the operator of the Prince of Whales vessel in the area, for radioing the location and description to me.

On land, there are many flowers blooming on Great Race right now. Many of the flowers are heritage plants, part of the legacy left by light keepers from 155 years ago and on.


Flowers lined the original route to the tower and keeper's house.

Flowers lined the original route to the tower and keeper’s house.

More heritage flowers.

More heritage flowers.

An exception to the imported non-native plants, are the Mist Maidens blooming right now. There are several patches but the most vigorous one is in the scree above the Pigeon Guillemot nesting area, just uphill from the boat-house. Mist Maidens or Romanzoffia tracyi are considered to be a rare plant and I will take some photos to share with you tomorrow if the light is better.

A group of visitors were here today using the science house and Great Race for a retreat. Courtney brought them out on Second Nature and stayed to help trouble-shoot a few issues with the generator and aggressive geese. Alex left with Courtney in the afternoon.



Gorgeous Day.

What a gorgeous day. It started and ended on equally lovely notes and was nice in between. It was clear all day and light breezes from the east, eventually swung around to the west. The barometer was fairly steady, not doing much and the forecast is for those westerlies to come up tonight and tomorrow.

It is incredibly beautiful here right now with the flowers blooming everywhere, a legacy from light-keepers with gardens. Tulips, daffs, bluebells, grape hyacinth, snapdragon, phlox and calendula are everywhere, reminders the long history of the place going back to when light-keeping happened here at Race Rocks, before Canada was a country. The stone cairns bear witness to people using this place long before it was a light station and a worry today is that the Canada Geese are over-grazing and trampling these iconic and ancient cairns.

I was off-station today, my first trip since arriving twelve days ago. Everything worked well including the winch, marine railway, carriage and the Boston Whaler with its Yahama engine. Alex (my husband) came back with me and will spend a few days here.

Emil, one of the Pearson College students here over the weekend sent me this photo to include in the blog. You can see that they were enjoying being theatrical and generally had a great time on the rock.

whats the point

New archival image of Race Rocks tower.


This picture shows the tower (circa 1900) with the original light and tall cage installed . It also shows the stone residence attached at the base of the tower which the Coastguard “removed” in the 1960s.

The photo was taken by Major James Skitt Matthews,(1878-1970).
J.S. Matthews’ notes with print or negative are located in the Vancouver archives. Reference code AM54-S4-: SGN 1103.

Original untouched full size image: 8068153b-3849-4b94-9c9e-cfbe0ff55005-A07817(note stepladder in light room??)

Generating History

High clouds settled in today and there were even a few minute raindrops for a short time in the late morning and early evening. Hazy marine air was evident along the coast to Victoria while across on the American side, it looked like it might really be raining in the Elwha Valley, Olympic National Park. The barometer continues its slow slide, which started last Thursday. The westerly wind is forecast again for tomorrow and it has already started.

A Humpback Whale feeding and resting to the south of the rocks and Killer Whales to the west, continued to draw whale–watching boats from Victoria and a total of 22 were noted in the Ecological Reserve today, mostly observing pinnipeds (Steller’s and California Sea Lions, Harbour and Elephant Seals). One commercial, charter, fishing boat also stopped by to watch the sea lions.

One of the Brown Pelicans came back today and some members of the Victoria Historical Society group saw it on their way out to the island. Three groups of twelve people each had historical tours of Race Rocks today.

The historians were very interested in Garry Fletcher’s on-site presentations about the history of Great Race Island, the 500 year-old plus, indigenous rock cairns and the 154 year history of the Lighthouse. Race Rocks is designated as a heritage site but that only means it is registered in Ottawa, not offered any conservation protection. The Race Rocks Ecological Reserve protects Race Rocks’ biodiversity and natural history and is part of BC Parks, but it does not include human history.

Federal law passed specifically three years ago to protect historical lighthouses does not apply to the six original Imperial Lighthouses, of which this is one. Race Rocks  light-tower pre-dates the confederation of Canada and it is the only stone-constructed light tower and one of a handful of standing stone structures this old, in western Canada. It needs protection. You can learn more about its’ fascinating history through this web-site under history. There is even historical video footage of the demolition of the historic, granite, light-keeper’s house in the 1960s by bulldozer and explosives. Fisgard Light which was completed six weeks before Race Rocks is a much less impressive brick tower and is endowed with full heritage protection by Parks Canada.

With 37 visitors to attend to, I did not spend much time making ecological observations today. I did a few maintenance chores before they arrived, washing windows, sweeping the main walk-way with an historical broom and weed-eating around the fly wheels of an old Fairbanks-Morse engine from the turn of the last century, with an historical weed-eater from late in the last century. There are quite a few pieces of old Fairbanks-Morse machinery lying around that could be of historical interest. Here is a YouTube link to a similar 1906 Fairbanks-Morse engine, running. What a beast.

My last tasks of the day are to move deionized water, delivered with the guests by Courtney on MV Second Nature, up to the energy building, and to make fresh water with the desalinator, while the historic Lister generator tops up the batteries which are powered mostly by solar panels.

Fog and sunshine

There was a tiny bit of rain with fog early today and then it switched back to near gale westerlies with heavy fog interspersed with sunshine. It is a beautiful starlight evening and the westerly continues to drop. The barometer held fairly steady today with a slight increase this evening. Environment Canada says that a strong westerly wind warning stays in effect for Sunday with a chance of showers.

There were ten whale watching boats in the Reserve today and they were all well behaved. A dive charter boat with eleven divers aboard came through the reserve but I am not sure where they dove.

Two male kayakers , one in a green kayak and the other in a reddish-brown kayak came through the passage on the south side of Great Race in the early afternoon and caused a sea lion stampede. They then proceeded to fish right in the closed conservation area. There were also two recreational boats fishing in the marine protected area.

A few more sea lion brands were observed today including one seven year-old female Steller’s Sea Lion that was branded as a pup in 2007 at Rogue Reef , near Gold Beach in southern Oregon.

This was my first day to not see Elephant Seals and California Sea Lions have taken over the jetty and marine railway. Some of them are a bit scary looking and do not want to move so that I can do seawater data collection.

Three River Otters were out and about in daylight today. Usually you don’t see them and just guess that they are around in the evening as all the gulls lift off and call. There were two young, very healthy-looking animals with an adult. Maybe that it why there are so many Glaucous-winged gull chick mortalities here? (Just a guess.)

Alex was quite excited to see some of the old lighthouse artifacts including parts of an old Fairbanks-Morris engine. He also pointed out where the old granite light-keepers house had been removed from its attachment to the base of the light tower.

The tasks today were the basic, regular tasks of  cleaning the solar panels, running the generator, launching and bringing the boat back up in order to drop off Alex, repairing the jetty fence (twice) and taking the salinity measurement. Tomorrow is month-end report time.