Monthly Archives: May 2010

Tugging it up in Sidney

Who would have thought that the village of Sidney could provide me with so much heart beating action?  Sidney is a seaside town just north of Victoria situated pretty close to the Ferry terminal and Victoria airport.   It reminds me of an open sunny flatland prairie town.  It has a one-way main street that heads down towards the seaside.  On the side streets you can find second-hand bookstores and thrift shops. 

I was up there for a show in the Tulista art center a couple of weekends ago. It’s not a town I thought that would fuel me with artist inspiration, tugboat action or support for my Industrial folk art, but it did. It only took a few short hours for Sidney to put me in my place.   Let me explain …. but first the show.

The night before the opening ~ getting ready ~  notice I have my clothes inside out

Hanging the paintings for the show.

They’re pretty crammed in but it was a big jolt of color.

I took my painted bedframe and placed it outside on the walkway by the front entrance.   I hoped it would work to hook in the people walking by on the walkway.   It worked!   I snagged folks in plus, I sold it!

The star of the show Scotty and the painting “Scotty My Boy”.   Hat and all.  

Scotty is the skipper of the Seaspan tugs that I spend all my time chasing .   Him and his deckhand Glenn have supported me in more ways than they will every know.   Both of them have been gems in my life.    Scotty took me for a ride on the Rocket when I was sick and I’ve had invites for tea with the boys on the Foam.   They have been my fuel, my source, my inspiration, and my friends. The Seaspan guys have been more than patient with me as I have stalked and hounded them over the past two years.    Most times when I am chasing them around the harbour Scotty gives me a strong toot of the horn and Glenn waves his yellow gloves at me as they charging by.  Life can’t get better than that!

Our friends, Galen and Rebecca

Smiles all around, Rebecca and my always supportive husband Philip. 

I couldn’t have been more thrilled to have Scotty at my show.

I sold three painting that evening and more during the week of the show.  The folks that stopped in were tremendously supportive of my work plus, they fed me with tugboat stories of their own.

On the first morning of hanging out in the gallery I felt an urge to go look out the window at the back of the gallery by the seaside. The gallery is right on the waterfront by the Anacortes Ferry and the view from the back window is of mountains, sky, and water.  Close by there is a small boat launch that is in between the Ferry dock and the gallery. 

I walked over to the back of the gallery to peer out the little window and what do I see but a tug pushing a barge towards the boat launch.  All I can see is the high mast of the tug and its smoke stacks sticking out from the bum of the barge. It is pushing  into the back of the barge ploughing its way toward the shoreline.   My heart danced, my mouth flapped and I grabbed my camera and ran out the back door and into the rain to get a shot.

Afterwards when I was back in the gallery I kept thinking about that tug and what he was doing here in Sidney.   My guess was he is hauling equipment and freight back and forth to the smaller islands around that area. 

Then I started to notice some more action over by the boat launch.  There was a bunch of colourful guys standing around chewing the fat and having a smoke dressed in orange (my favourite)overalls with yellow stripes.  I thought this was odd and strange sight. 

Then I noticed the little push tug coming back again pushing a barge with what must have been  about 6  brown and orange striped cement trucks squished on.    It looked like an awkward load for a small tug to control but they had no problem ramming it up onto the boat launch for unloading.    The coverall guys walked on and jumped in the trucks and drove off.   The barge guy winched the ramp back up and the tugboat guy twirled the boat and barge around and off they went again. 

It turns out this is a local towing outfit is run by Mark Buckle of Island Towing.   Mark has two tugs the Persuader above and the Peggy Mackenize.  With strong names like that I figure they should be workhorses  off the coast of Scotland in the North Sea.    Mark dropped into the show and filled me in on the industry around Sidney. His tugs are mostly working  around Pat Bay and Sidney hauling freight over to the Islands in the area.   He  mentioned a tugboat ride but I haven’t had a chance yet to take him up on the offer yet    I am looking forward to doing a painting of the Persuader and those boys in the orange overalls.  

Then a short time later I see another barge coming but this time it has a smaller blue-green workboat lashed by rope to the left side of it.   The workboat is sliding the barge along the water towards the boat launch.  I am ready this time and I grab the camera and run full bore down to the water.    The first thing I see when I look up is a  big dog jumping and hopping from above the cabin, down to the deck, over to the barge and back onto the boat again.   Up down back and forth.   He was all excited and hopping around. No wonder he had a life jacket on.   Then if this wasn’t a inspiring image in itself the skipper of this working vessel was a young female who looked to be in her teens.  

Well I nearly died on the spot between her, the dog in the bright red jacket, the barge, the boat and the setting.   The tug boat girl rammed that barge up onto the launch and held it there while the boys loaded a truck on to it.  The dog lay at her feet while they were loading with its head hanging over the edge supervising the loading below.   Once the truck was on she fired the engines up and cranked that barge and boat around in a circle full throttle and headed out to open water.  

I was so taken with this image I’ve created a painting and entered it in Sidney’s “Gallery by the Sea contest”.  The painting is on a piece of plywood 4’ X 3’.  It will be hanging on the fish shack at the end of Main Street on the pier.  Folks can vote on whose paintings they like best and at the end of the summer whoever has the most votes wins 3oo smack-a-roos.   The paintings are also for sale for around $400.   I shall expect all of you to get out there over the summer and put in a few good votes for me. 

Tugboat Girl

For Sale:   $400  It’s a big sucker on plywood made for the outdoors but can hang inside too.

I know I am behind on my Blogs.   It has been a busy time.   I am off to Campbell River tomorrow for the weekend to check out the annual Paint In at Painters Lodge.   I think they need a Tug boat painter up there for next year.   The Red mountain and I will be going on a tugboat hunt while I am there.  So until next time ……..

Happy tugboating,



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