racerocks.com Project Update Feb 13, 2000

The week of February 6 through 13, 2000 has plotted more progress for the racerocks.com project.

With only 27 days remaining until the system is scheduled to go on line, daily progress is required so we will meet the project deadlines.

On Monday, Coast Guard officials granted permission for us to temporarily install a 24 inch radio antenna atop the historic Race Rocks lighthouse tower. Required for the transmission of our Race Rocks video
and data signal, the antenna will be fastened by Coast Guard technicians to the ladder structure above the main light room on the tower. We are very grateful to Coast Guard officials Fred Stepchuck and Noelani Taylor for reviewing our request so efficiently.

Wednesday morning Lyle Kosola, the radio engineer from Comlink caught the 7:00 am BC Ferry from the mainland to Vancouver Island along with Telus antenna and microwave specialists Al Mireau, Dave Farley and Rob Robinson. These top Telus staff members pulled together to make the radio link happen. While Chris Blondeau took Lyle and Dave to Race Rocks Al and Rob drove to the top of the hill near Pearson College’s observatory. As the island crew laboured up the spiral staircase in the 140 year old light tower Dave set about the tough task of hand climbing a 200 plus year old Douglas Fir tree. At the 60 foot mark Dave thankfully and somewhat breathlessly reported seeing the top two stripes of the black and white lighthouse. With a strobe light held just in front of a mirror Dave was finally seen in his tree by Chris Blondeau from atop the lighthouse. With two towering trees framing the radio path like goal posts on a ridge Lyle collected the information he would need to determine the tower height required to make all this work. The swell from Tuesday’s storm was still throwing waves at the Race Rocks jetty despite the pleasant day causing the Pearson College workboat Second Nature to plunge on her spring lines so it was decided to evacuate the island crew as quickly as possible. At the antenna location Al determined the best lay out for the tower and Lyle scouted locations for the radio equipment and wiring. A very good day filled with promise.

On Thursday Lyle completed his calculations and determined that the tower height could be reduced to 60′ provided we shot the radio right through the middle of the Douglas Fir “goalposts” on the Rocky Point ridge. Its worth a try. The shorter tower (as opposed to the 100′ considered) will have much less aesthetic impact at the college site, protect a clear sky view for the College’s telescope and, we hope, save Telus a bit of money. The antenna tower was a late addition to the Telus contribution.

Friday was a very positive day for the development of the project. Work on wiring Great Race Island for the network that system designer Ken Dunham has prescribed is 75% installed. Al Mireau from Telus reports that antenna installation will begin on Tuesday February 15. Our ever watchful professional worry specialist Aengus MacIntosh will review the critical time paths at this stage. Unlike the picture 10 days ago this looks like it can actually happen! We have a few wrinkles in our server delivery plans. We meet with Ian Scott our guardian angel at Telus to devise final plans for delivery of the signal to the internet. Ian as always has some creative solutions. We also have a good conversation with Richard Catinus our contact at Apple. We are very keen on using Apple’s remarkable QuickTime software to stream our video on the net. This will of course also commit us to Apple’s computer equipment. Garry Fletcher has lusted for Apple’s new G4 computer. We are very close to a decision. Mid afternoon we meet with John Nightingale, Director of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and his senior science and external relations staff. Their enthusiastic support backed by a significant financial contribution is greatly appreciated. At the end of a network planning discussion with Ken Dunham it suddenly dawns on me that we have spoken with every one of our sponsors and suppliers today and they are all doing their very best for us.

Saturday, members of the public and various interested groups joined DFO and BC Parks staff to review the status of the Race Rocks Marine Protected Area plans. Marc Pakenham the DFO coordinator has lead an exhaustive series of community consultations on the plan along with Jim Morris from BC Parks. Brian Smiley, a DFO scientist gave a compelling presentation about the ecological values of Race Rocks. There appears to be real enthusiasm for the protection of the Race Rocks area and many creative ideas of how the opportunities for public access and educational uses could be accommodated were suggested. The last public presentation on the MPA plan will be at the Olympic View Golf Club on Wednesday February 16, 2000 at 19:00 hrs.

Thank you for your interest.
Angus Matthews