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Old 24-05-2011, 14:05   #1
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Tidal Flotsam In BC Waters

I was at the boat today and looked out into Gabriola Passage where I saw a gigantic log making its way through the passage. Up here on the Georgia Strait we just went a tidal cycle that saw some 12 foot tides; not the highest we get but still pretty good.

Anyone who has plied these waters is aware that the combination of big tides and lumber operations can produce some pretty good flotsam but I thought I would mention it for the benefit of anyone coming up here for the first time this summer. You need to keep your eyes open when cruising up here.

In amongst the gulf islands passing through a tide line after a high tide can feel like running a gauntlet. Make sure you've eyeballed the waters ahead and don't trust your autopilot to keep watch for you!
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Old 24-05-2011, 15:25   #2
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Re: Tidal Flotsam In BC Waters

I'll second that! We just came up Trincomali, Dodd Narrows, and across Whiskey Golf to Pender Harbour. I have never seen so many neatly organized tide lines full of wood and other miscellaneous items.

On the other hand, there are fewer deadheads than in past years.
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Old 24-05-2011, 15:36   #3
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Re: Tidal Flotsam In BC Waters

Quote:
In amongst the gulf islands passing through a tide line after a high tide can feel like running a gauntlet. Make sure you've eyeballed the waters ahead and don't trust your autopilot to keep watch for you!
I'll second that.
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Old 24-05-2011, 15:56   #4
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Re: Tidal Flotsam In BC Waters

Deadhead's Life Cycle

Does anyone know the progression of a deadhead?

I know that logs start out floating in a horizontal position until one end soaks up enough water to sink. Intially the vertical deadhead may have a foot or two showing above the surface, and that they sink further as more water is absorbed.

I would like to know how long they can be at an awash state before they go to the bottom. With little showing they can really sneak up on you.
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Old 24-05-2011, 16:16   #5
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Re: Tidal Flotsam In BC Waters

It's a good question and I imagine the answer would depend on the wood. Arbutus is pretty dense and I don't think it floats that well. I've seen what looked like arbutus where there's just a few branches high and dry and most of the tree is under water. I haven't gone close enough to make a positive ID though
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Old 24-05-2011, 16:31   #6
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Re: Tidal Flotsam In BC Waters

I am just back from a Barkley Sound trip. Lots of logs, including two really nasty deadheads, one between Pachena and Carmanah.
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Old 26-05-2011, 20:31   #7
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Re: Tidal Flotsam In BC Waters

My knowledge is a little dated but growing up I towed a few million board feet up and down the coast of varying species as well as did my share of beachcombing. Spruce was the wood most prone to slide under boomsticks and swifters and escape the boom enclosure due to the higher water content. Cedar was the most bouyant followed by fir. Once a log has been in the water for several months, unless it was either washed ashore or picked up by beachcombers off the beach or in the open water, it begins to take on water, usually through the larger butt end, but not necessarily. If the smaller butt end gets hung up underwater on a rock or reef it will become waterlogged and sink sooner. Once the process is complete and one end gets fully waterlogged, its value is severely decreased and of little or no value to the 'comber. The waterlogged butt then drops down leaving the lighter, less waterfilled end of the log up and usually above the surface. The process of water entering the log increases as the butt sinks lower until the top end is level with the surface or bobbing just above to just below. This is your classic PNW deadhead or 'widowmaker'.
Finally, the log will be so filled with water its floatation is gone and it sinks to the bottom. The PNW is littered with booming grounds and adjacent waters with the bottom covered in logs in various degrees of decay. Use caution anchoring around these areas.
As the value of timber increased, it became more economical to transport logs in bundle booms, a number of logs bundled together within the boomsticks. Cables rather than swifters were used for lateral stability of the boom.
The next iteration for log transport was the barge which became very popular, particular in the larger camps, and were used to transport logs as far away as Japan.
With the value of timber increasing, the logging, towing and mill industries all have had a vested interet in keeping the release of their product into the ocean.
Hope this helps explain where the PNW deadhead comes from... keep your spear flags handy and flag one wherever you find one... cheers, Capt Phil
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Old 26-05-2011, 21:21   #8
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Re: Tidal Flotsam In BC Waters

Nice, thanks Phil!
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Old 26-05-2011, 21:55   #9
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Re: Tidal Flotsam In BC Waters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Phil View Post
... keep your spear flags handy and flag one wherever you find one... cheers, Capt Phil
I can't remember who but someone was giving free spear flags away last year.

What's really amusing is watching a seagull bobbing up and down in the waves while standing up atop of a deadhead.

And that's one of the main reasons I don't like traveling thru the Sound at night. I got nailed by one a couple years ago that had a spike stinking out of it. It left a long deep scratch that started at the front of the keel and went up the side to the waterline just aft of the keel.

Some I've seen were just braking the surface, a power boaters nightmare.
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Old 26-05-2011, 22:07   #10
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Re: Tidal Flotsam In BC Waters

Capt. Phil you brought back many good memories. Worked quite a few hand log sales and A frame sales in the 80's on the North Coast. Our camp and boom was set up in Barnard Harbour. Were you working that part of the coast during that time? Anyway the worst species of floating logs is the Hemlock dense, heavy and barely floats. If that species spends any amount of time in the water it will sink just a couple of inches below the water. Oh my the damage that they cause when you run into one or back up on to one, still have visions of that as I am typing this.
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Old 26-05-2011, 22:33   #11
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Re: Tidal Flotsam In BC Waters

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What's really amusing is watching a seagull bobbing up and down in the waves while standing up atop of a deadhead.
I have a standing order that states "Never drive over a bird standing in the water."
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Old 27-05-2011, 09:28   #12
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Re: Tidal Flotsam In BC Waters

Hey, Spiritbaer... nice to hear from an old hand logger from the west coast. Yes, I recall Barnard Bay and may have even towed a few sections of flat booms out of your grounds back in the day. The coast was dotted with gyppo outfits both A frames and high line operations off the side of the mountains up the inlets. Spent much of my time on the west coast of the Island, also in Johnston Straits, Bute and Toba Inlets as well as around the Pender Harbor and Nelson Island area. McMillian Bloedel and CZ were the big operators then. Towed logs in the summer or commercial fished for Nelson Bros as far up as Rivers Inlet.
Started working on the water in 1957 and spent about 12-15 years either chasing salmon, beachcombing, towing logs, barges or delivering logging equipment and supplies to camps up and down the coast so got to know the area well.
About the time I got into the delivery business taking boats from the PNW to CA and Mexico, they were giving away those spear flags primarliy on the lower coast. There was a bad winter that took alot of the logs off the beach and there was a hugh number of them floating everywhere... great year for beachcombers! I recall a few years later they made a TV series based out of Gibsons Landing about that life and i had a small part driving a boat for the production during filming. I was the guy without the beard!
Trying to drag boom chains across a hemlock or spruce boom was always a wet adventure.
I like Jackdales' standing order... good advice!
Nice to recall those bad old days! Also spent a fair bit of time in the Alert Bay/Minstral Island area as well but won't discuss those times for fear that our esteemed Moderator will '86 me... cheers, Capt Phil
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Old 07-06-2011, 11:46   #13
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Re: Tidal Flotsam In BC Waters

Were on the Columbia River and the logs that are being brought down stream with this years flooding is the most I've seen since 1990 the Columbia's last big flood. I'm sure all the flooding rivers coming out of the Cascade Mt's will contribuite to lots of floatsome on the Salish Sea this seasion. The Columbia River is flowing above 500,000 cfs when normal spring flood flow is 300,000.
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Old 07-06-2011, 13:46   #14
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Re: Tidal Flotsam In BC Waters

I think your right. Lots of mud and who knows what else is flowing out of the Fraser.
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Old 08-06-2011, 10:03   #15
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Re: Tidal Flotsam In BC Waters

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I think your right. Lots of mud and who knows what else is flowing out of the Fraser.
Yeah! The Fraser dumps a lot out into the sound. Here is the color change 2 miles off the shore/mouth of the river looking North and South from the boat.

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