Feb 13-14 toilet and traffic

composting toilet with steamy septic soup.

composting toilet with steamy septic soup.

Feb 13: Wind light becoming west 20 knots.  2 eco tour, 2 pleasure craft. Went off island in the morning to pick up guests.  Toilet in guest house has been running steady but liquid evaporation is going slowly.

Feb 14: Wind west 20 knots becoming calm and clear in the afternoon.  Male elephant seal was up in the jetty area in the morning. Took guest back to campus and ran some errands in town.  With the nice weather there was a lot more traffic in the reserve then ther has been lately.  I was gone for a good part of the day but still saw 6 whale watching boats and 3 pleasure craft in the reserve when I returned.  There was some disturbance of the sealions, which exited into the water, caused by a few of the boats that were within the 100 meter marine mammal setback.

Feb 11-12, derrick and toilet

Feb 11:  Cloudy, NE 10 knot wind.  In the morning Courtney came out on Second Nature with Tristan (Pearson volunteer) and scaffolding.  We had already put up two sections (5′ tall each) of scaffold with what we have on station so we added two more sections of rented scaffold to build a tower around 22′ tall below the derrick.  We secured all four sides with lines tied to various anchor points on the ground.  Standing on the top of the tower, the top of the derrick was just above my head height.  I greased the pulley and pried the cable out from its lodging on the side of the pulley to get it back in its track. We led the derrick cable down through the centre of the scaffolding and Tristan and Courtney re-attached the weighted hook which keeps tension on the line. We took down the scaffolding and sent the rented parts back to the college.  Derrick is finally back in action after months of being out of service and we now have a better and safer method for fixing and servicing the unit.  Thanks Courtney, Tristan and Chris.

On another topic, my dislike for the new composting toilet is increasing proportionately with the rising smell of stagnant septic in the basement of the assistant house…

Feb 12: Cloudy, wind light, periods of rain. 1 Pedder Bay Marina rental boat in the reserve that left the reserve going over the speed limit. I called the marina and they were to follow up with the operator.speeding feb 12

After venting the guest house basement as much as possible, it still stank in there.  I took apart the vent pipe and re-installed it with a bypass drain for rain water and excess moisture.  The pipe size on the toilet is non conventional (it says its 2″ PVC but of course it is not and it does not union with standard size pipe) so I installed a rubber union with clamps in order to transition to the ABS vent pipe already installed through the roof.  I installed a transparent pipe on the bypass so that it will be visible when there is liquid accumulation.  With the new vent pipe installed I plugged in the toilet to start heating up the septic soup again so that it will hopefully actually evaporate this time.

Feb 9-10, off island and pup

Feb 9: Cloudy, wind light.  Went off island in the morning to run errands and get groceries. Since it was a holiday and I didnt know it several of the stores I intended to go to were closed. Passed by West rock en route and was able to see elephant seal pup.  Besides Chunk there were 4 good sized females and a pup bellow them on a rock ledge.  The pup was calling for its mother, it looked like it was unable to get back up to where she was.

Feb 10: Cloudy, wind west 30 knots in the morning dropping to 20 knots in the afternoon. Went off island in the afternoon.  Took one chainsaw chain in for mechanical sharpening. Went to plumbing store to get replacement valve for desalinator and to get parts for adding a bypass drain in the vent pipe on the toilet in the guest house.

Race Rocks Sea Otter pictures via England

Our regular viewer on the remote cameras from England,  Pam Birley sent this set of images she had taken today on camera 1 of a Sea Otter at Race Rocks.

Click the sea otter tag below for other observations of sea otters here.

Feb 6-8, weekend with students


Michael, Isaac B., Alex, Dom, Zoe, Isaac D., Peyton and Connor

Feb 6: Fog overnight set off fog horn, rain, wind light throughout day.  Worked on finishing clean up from basement renovations in guest house and tidying upstairs, which hadnt been used for several months, in preparation for students coming.

Courtney brought a group of 8 students– from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland– out to Race Rocks in the afternoon to stay the weekend.  They brought a few fire extinguishers to replace ones that were condemned during annual testing in January. We did an orientation and went over safety guidelines and then went for a tour up the tower.

Feb 7:  Rain in the morning and intermittent throughout the day, wind variable increasing to around 30 knots in the evening. 1 pleasure craft in the reserve.

Alex and Peyton dove off the jetty on the slack tide just after noon.  I was on watch with Isaac B. and had the station boat launched and ready in case of any problems.  Isaac operated the dive link unit which allowed us to communicate through the water with the divers. They cleaned the underwater camera and changed the camera orientation.  We watched the image on my cell phone via wi-fi and were able to communicate to them how the image looked.

In the afternoon the students helped with some service projects including moving driftwood for cutting, setting up scaffolding under the crane, moving and stacking firewood, and sorting garbage that had been picked up in the jetty bay.  Peyton prepared soup, pizza and home made cinnamon rolls which we all ate together in the ecoguardian’s house for dinner.


setting up scaffolding on the crane deck


even sorting garbage can be fun

Feb 8: Partly sunny, wind around 10 knots N in the morning picking up to 30 knots N in the evening.  2 whale watching boats, 1 pleasure craft in the reserve.

Chris came out on Second Nature mid-morning to pick up students and bring them back to campus.  They helped offload cardboard and construction waste from the composting toilet installation. The new composting toilet had some issues so Chris helped with trouble shooting while he was out, rainwater was getting down the vent pipe causing excess liquid buildup in the evaporation chamber.

The group was a pleasure to have on the island; fun, helpful and appreciative of the unique opportunity to be out on Race Rocks.

Feb 1-5

Feb 1: Cloudy with rain, wind N 10-15 knots.  1 dive boat and 2 kayaks in the reserve. The dive boat was observed with an anchor in use in the reserve which is not allowed except for in emergencies.  Cut and chopped fire wood.

Feb 2: Rain, wind NE 10-15 knots in morning switching to West in afternoon, up to 30 knots.  I went off island in the morning and attended the Pearson College staff meeting. Picked up Virginie at airport and groceries along the way back.  Returned to island late afternoon as wind was starting to pick up.

Feb 3: Wind light, low visibility in the morning. Worked on month end report and DFO seawater data entry.

Feb 4: Cloudy, wind NE 15-20 knots.  A coast guard helicopter landed on the pad before noon to do maintenance on the tower light.  The pilot, Mike, and technician, Derrick, were on their way back from the Carmanah station.  While waiting on the maintenance work I invited the pilot in for tea and heard some stories from his nearly 40 years of service including his experience piloting a helicopter out to the drilling rig the Ocean Ranger the night it sank in 1982 on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. They flew out knowing they didnt have enough fuel to make the return trip and would have to land on another drilling rig, in the storm, in order to re-fuel.  By the time they arrived there were only bodies floating in the sea, all 84 crew members on the rig died.

Feb 5: Rain, wind NE becoming variable, 4 foot swells coming in from the NE in the morning, low visibility. Worked on finishing month end report and preparing guest house for visitors.  At night, on my way to check the generator, I could hear elephant seal pup vocalizations coming from West rock.  I hadn’t seen or heard any sign of the pup for several days, since last reported in the log.



Jan 30-31

Jan 30: Clear sky, no wind. 1 ecotour 1 pleasure craft. Cut and chopped wood. Worked on finishing toilet install in assist house: drain line, vent pipe.

Jan 31:  Fog horn went off throughout the night. Cloudy in the morning, wind 10-15 knots NE. Moved firewood and measured station fuel and water levels for month end report. 3 ecotour boats, 1 sailboat. The sailboat came around the South side of the main island and passed through the small channel between the South Islands, it came very close to the sealions hauled out on the closer South Island.  I called Pedder Bay Marina, gave them the boat’s serial number and asked them to talk to the operator about the 100m marine mammal setback rule.


California Sea lions: 14

Northern Sea Lions: 15

Harbour Seals: 28

Elephant Seals: 7 female, 2 male

Cormorants: 22

Canada Geese: 10

Gulls: 6

Bald Eagle: 5

Harlequin Ducks: 10

Black Turnstone: 5

Black Oyster Catcher: 7

Surfbird: 2

Sparrow: 2

Killdeer: 2 (night only)



Seawater Temperature and Salinity January, 2015

Station: Race Rocks Lightstation, Observer Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific

Date Time Sea Jar Hydro- meter No. Observed Density YSI Salinity YSI Temp °C
Temp. Temp.
°C °C
1 10:40 8 8 10802 232 30.3 8.5
2 11:00         30.0 8.7
3 11:30         30.1 8.7
4 11:45         30.0 8.9
5 11:00         30.2 8.9
6 12:45         30.2 9.0
7 14:00         28.4 8.9
8 14:00         29.9 8.9
9 8:00         30.1 8.9
10 8:00         30.3 8.9
11 8:00            
12 8:00         30.3 8.8
13 9:00         30.0 8.8
14 8:50         30.2 8.6
15 9:10         29.8 8.5
16 10:00         29.7 8.8
17 10:00         29.8 8.8
18 10:30         30.0 8.7
19 11:20         30.3 8.8
20 13:00  8.6   8.75   238    
21 13:00         30.4 8.7
22 14:30         30.4 8.9
23 17:20         30.6 8.9
24 17:00         30.4 9.0
25 17:30 9.1 9.5   242    
26 7:30         29.8 8.9
27 10:00         28.5 8.8
28 9:00         29.8 9.0
29 9:30         30.4 8.8
30 10:00         30.4 8.7
31 11:00         30.6 8.8
mail to: Inst. Ocean Science, P.O. Box 6000, Sidney, B.C. V8L4B2    
Recorded by Race Rocks Ecological Reserve Guardian for Lester B. Pearson College

Continue reading

Jan 27-29

Jan 27:  NE wind 5-15 knots switching to west in the afternoon, 20 to 30 knots. Courtney brought Max out in the morning to check on connections for camera 5 and the underwater camera.  I went off island in the afternoon to pick up Jeff and bring him out for a visit.

Jan 28: Cloudy in morning, cleared up in the afternoon.  Wind East 10 to 15 knots. Brought Jeff back to college in the morning. On the way we went by West rock to look for the elephant seal pup but couldn’t see or hear it.  Picked up deionized water, a UPS for the underwater camera, laser measurer for measuring crane height.  Cleared a large piece of red cedar out of the jetty bay and roped a long piece of hemlock.  Cut and chopped firewood in the sun.  Latter that afternoon I could hear and see the pup again.

Jan 29: mostly clear sky, wind NE 10 to 15 knots.  Two pleasure craft in reserve.  Worked on guest house toilet renovation: shortening platform, adding insulation, fitting, fastening and sealing poop chute. 


Jan 22-26: fog, eagles, orcas


juvenile bald eagle on the tope of the crane boom

Jan 22: Misty, low visibility. Wind N 10-15 knots. 1 private pleasure craft in the reserve. Cut and chopped firewood.

Jan 23: Rain, wind N 10-15 knots.  1 ecotour vessel in the reserve.  Followed up with eco tour company I spoke to a couple days ago about one of their boats, distance to mammals and avoiding disturbance. Also called a different eco tour charter company, that I hadn’t seen here before, about distance from mammals and speed in the vicinity of the rocks.  Cut and chopped firewood. Could hear elephant seal pup again today.


juvenile bald eagle on one of the anemometers on top of the tower


Jan 24:  A blanket of fog rolled in from the North in the morning reducing visibility and triggering fog horn including in the middle of the night. Periods of rain too.  Two ecotour vessels in the reserve. Went off island around noon in the fog, navigated by GPS on boat with cell phone as back up.  Picked up supplies in Colwood including extra chains, files and lube for the station chainsaw.  Brought three guests back out with me in the afternoon to stay overnight.  Sea was very calm on the way over and the fog had lifted enough to see to Port Angeles. The fog came back before dusk but lifted overnight.

Jan 25:  Cloudy, light rain, light wind.  10-15 orcas passed through race passage going with the current, heading SW. I brought guests back to college around noon. On the way over we passed by elephant seal rock and were able to see the pup with its mother.  It was on the West side of the mother, out of sight from the main island or tower cam. Came back out before dark.

Jan 26: Foggy in the morning, fog horn went off during the night. Cloudy throughout day, wind light.  1 ecotour vessel.  Cut and chopped wood. Foggy again in the evening.