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Accommodation In Port Campbell

accommodation in port campbell

Bristol Channel Shipping

Bristol Channel Shipping

Evocative memories of the ships that could once be seen in the Bristol Channel. The Bristol Channel outside the ports of Avonmouth and Portishead was a very different place in the years before the war.

A former Bristol tug-man and sailor, who likes to be known simply as Seven Bells, painted a wonderfully evocative picture of the time when the Channel was one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

The Bristol Channel down to Barry Roads was a panoramic feast for ship-lovers on a weekend summers-evening he reminisced. "Tramps" primarily British - outward bound with coal for the power and bunkering stations of the whole world." ... Flat irons so named for their appearance; Dandies, rust streaked deep sea trawlers out of Cardiff: French fruit schooners, elegant Fyffes- liners and four masted Bibby boats from Rangoon; New Zealand Shipping Company up to load steel at Newport or discharge meat at Avonmouth; the Paddy Henderson Line, Bristol City Line, Shire Line, Clan, Ellermans, Brocklebank, Osborne and Wahis, Campbell's White Funnel steamers, San tankers ( Eagle Oil ), BTC tankers;

"Most were sailing under the Red Duster" a never ending, changing scene.

Seven Bells, who came from Pill, started work as ship's boy with the Commonwealth Towing Company of Avonmouth on the steam tug Triton. - The Triton was a lovely craft, 129 ft long - a coal burner built by Cox & Co. of Falmouth,- he recalled.

The other tugs in the company were the Steelopolis, Falcon, Mercia, and Wolflhound. Triton had very grand accommodation - a forward saloon with a beautiful mahogany table, two separate cabins, ornate with red cushions and tooled brass chandelier-style lights, for the captain and chief engineer. But the accommodation was never used.

The lifting of the port and starboard lights into their boxes taxed my strength to the limit, and when the extra masthead light ( to denote towing ) had to go up in its cage, it was only just possible for me to manage. We did all our ablutions on the stoke-hold plates in the warm, each with our own bucket. But after a long tide, how snug and cosy the wood panelled fo'c'sle was with the bogie bright red, the double burning oil lamp casting its warm glow, the rain lashing down and wind howling outside:

Deep water sailing ships were still common and the Triton would go "seeking" as they reached Lundy and found themselves fighting adverse winds. There the masters were asked if they would "take steam" - and most were happy to do so in the treacherous Channel. Among them was the Viking, the last deep water square rigger into Sharpness; the Archibald Russell from Finland; and the five masted schooner Edna Hoyt. The Triton once met the Edna Hoyt by the English and Welsh Grounds lightship in thick fog, and was amazed to hear the sound of music.

A venerable old gentleman - the captain - was sitting in a whicker chair, playing the banjo surrounded by his crew, all negroes, in various attitudes of repose singing spirituals. It was an astounding sight: Sadly, the Edna Hoyt and her musical crew were later lost in a Bay of Biscay gale...

Seven Bells later transferred to R & J. H. Rca's Islegarth which towed coal barges to Newport and ships into the Channel ports. -It was a hard tough life, especially for a boy; he remembered. Paraffin dynamo, copper navigation lights, brass lights in two small cabins, compass lights - all had to be highly polished. -The routine was away on the morning tide with the barge, back in the evening to Avonmouth Old Dock and so on throughout the week, weather permitting:

The coal barges - Axe, Char, Kenn, Tenie, Lynn, and Usk - were strongly built two-masters with a crew of five, which were used to bunker ( refuel ) the famous Elders and Fyffes liners. The barges carried 500 tons of coal so it took four barge loads to refuel a ship with a floating steam grab crane called Avongarth.

Despite the hazardous nature of their calling, I don't think one barge was ever lost although a couple parted tows in bad weather said Seven Bells. They did yeoman work during the last war, carrying all sorts of cargoes to the Channel ports, but with the loss of Fyffes from Avonmouth, their calling came to an end. The Avongarth was towed back to Rotterdam where she originated, and a unique form of work for many people came to an end.

The Canadian Princess in Ucluelet

The Canadian Princess in Ucluelet

My room had a view of the small craft harbour in Ucluelet, BC. I could see the recreational fishing boats, and the commercial ones, sail boats, yachts and in the foreground, shining white in the morning sunshine there was the Canadian Princess.

The Canadian Princess, formerly the William J. Stewart, a hydrographic vessel, was built in 1932 in Collingwood Ontario. The ship was named after the first ever Canadian Hydrographer, William J. Stewart. The vessel worked up and down the entire British Columbia coast out of the port in Victoria, carrying a crew of 55 with 7 officers.

The Royal Canadian Navy gave her top-secret assignments during World War II, placed defence booms and made surroundings for suitable anchorages for other navy ships.

In 1944 she hit Ripple Rock in Seymour Narrows near Campbell River. She was breached in Plumber Bay, 3 miles away, to avoid sinking but the damage was done. With a major rip on the bottom of the ship she lay imbedded on her side in the mud until salvagers could restore her. When they finally got her to float, over a month later, she returned to work as a surveyor until 1975. Her last assignment was in Barkley Sound, outside of Ucluelet.

She stayed moored in Victoria until 1979 when she was purchased by Oak Bay Marine Group. The William J. Stewart was refurbished, towed to the Ucluelet Inner Boat Basin and transformed into floating hotel accommodation, a restaurant and lounge, and a sport fishing resort – renamed The Canadian Princess.

I had a tour of the inside of the Canadian Princess. I followed the pipes along the ceiling, ducking through doorways to have a look at the bunk-style rooms. The rooms were clean and cozy, loaded with natural character with neatly made beds and porthole windows looking into Ucluelet’s harbour. Guests were comfortable there, just as a crew would have been almost 70 years ago!

The bathrooms in the ship are shared, separate for men and women. Some had large bathtubs standing on bear claws, most likely the originals.

Guests can stay in the old Captains Quarters, located behind the Bridge of the ship. Inside is a small bedroom, a living area with kitchenette and a separate bathroom complete with what I would consider a historic bathtub!

Inside the Canadian Princess is a full service restaurant: The Stewart Room. That offers west coast cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including an incredibly early fisherman’s buffet breakfast that starts at 4:30AM for the guests departing on fishing charters each morning at 6:00AM.

Upstairs is the Chart Room, a bar and lounge with patio seating on the deck of the ship with a great view of the working harbour. From the deck I could see the Canadian Princess fishing charters lined up for the evening on the dock that surrounds the ship. The resort itself owns 10 cabin cruisers, each take out a morning fishing charter for salmon and halibut, and if the weather is cooperative, an afternoon and evening trip as well.

I stayed in an on-shore room. The Canadian Princess Resort has three hotel-style buildings, with most rooms offering a water view, and all with a walk out deck or patio.

During the summer season the ship is open for anyone to come and have a look. The staff will share the history of this iconic ship, and to give you a tour onboard. Next time you’re in Ucluelet look to the boat basin for the Canadian Princess, you can’t miss it.

The picture is the view from my onshore room.

accommodation in port campbell

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