Monthly Archives: October 2021

My Trip to Sable Island (Pt1)

Earlier this month a spent a week on Sable Island. I volunteered to assist with the construction of some fencing as part of a research project being undertaken by Parks Canada and the Sable island Institute. While i was on the Island i tweeted various photos and observations. This series of posts will rehash alot of that content, and hopefully provide some more context to it.

Sable island is located about 150nm off the Nova Scotia coast. it is made entirely of sand deposited by the leading edge of a glacier when it receded during the last ice age. There are no rocks on the island, but there is fresh water. Due to its position, the island is often windy, but even in winter seldom drops below -5C. My week on the island featured uncharacteristically good weather, with sun most days and temps in the high teens and low twenties. (there were some rain showers one afternoon, and we did have a day with 40knot winds)

The island is largely vegetated, with a combination of grasses and heath. There are introduced plants – Cranberry, roses, and a lone sad pine tree.

Aerial View of sable island, Main Station at the top Right, West light in the centre.

Currently you can visit sable island. the island is only open for day visits, and thee is no public accommodation on the island, and camping is not permitted. To Fly, Sable Aviation, Vision Air, and Breton Aviation all offer flights. Our ride to the island was via Vision Air’s S-76a. We landed at the main station helipad

vision air’s S-76A

Sable Aviation provided are ride home. They operate a Britten-Normander Islander Aircraft, and use the beach near main station as a runway. wind had blown loose sand drifts across the landing area which is why the helicopter was needed.

Main Station is the hub of habitation on the island. It was originally maintained by the Meteorological Service of Canada, but was taken over by parks Canada in 2013.

the long building is the Garage/maintenance shop/and generator building. There is also the Staff House (now known is the VQ, or Visitors Quarters), and the OIC House. the two distant buildings are the hydrogen building, used by MSC to launch weather balloons, and MSC’s lab. the dome contained instruments to track the balloons.

ex MSC Facilities, hydrogen shed, and lab building.

(above)Staff House (Below) my room. In non covid times, the house can sleep around 20 people. there are a couple of rooms outfitted for single use, others meant to be shared. due to covid, it was one to a room. there is a Large Kitchen, and a lounge space.

The front sunroom area was reserved for day use visitors.

Transportation on the island was primarily via Jeep Rubicon with balloon tires. Gators, a Polaris, and ATV’s were also in use. (the drive belt on the Polaris broke, and we needed to tow it back to main station.)

one last thing about sable. being a relatively flat bit of land in the middle of the ocean, tsunamis are a concern. Main Station features two 7 person lifeboats should a large wave be detected heading towards the island.

Cable Ship Ile D’aix

The Cable Ship Ile D’aix has been tied up at International Telecoms base at Pier 9 for the past week. the French vessel is operated by ASN, or Alcatel Submarine Networks. Its purpose built for cable maintenance and repair, and is based at ASN’s facility in Calais. the ship arrived from St. John’s Nfld.

ZIM Kingston on Fire off Victoria

The 4253TEU container ship ZIM Kingston is currently on fire, while at anchor at Constance Bank, off Victoria BC. The ship had sailed from Busan, South Korea for Vancouver.

On Friday Oct 22 the ship reported loosing 40 containers in 20′ seas just after midnight. the ship was 43 miles west of the entrance to the straight of Juan de Fuca when the containers were lost. The ship did some odd manoeuvring where the containers were lost.

ZIM Kingston then proceeded to anchorage in Constance bank. From photos it looks like lost containers are from two stacks, one forward and aft. Several of the lost containers were later spotted by USCG Aircrews, and noted to be moving north. A gale warning is in effect, with winds of 20 knots, increasing to 40 Monday.

On Saturday morning around 11am, the ship reported that damaged containers were on fire.

CGCS Photo via Twitter. Crews can be seen fighting the fire with two hose streams.

The crew was advised my MCTS to abandon ship. 10 members were removed by the coast guard and taken to Ogden Point. after a small explosion, an additional 6 crew were removed.

As of Saturday Night, 16 crew had been evacuated from the ship by CCGS Cape Calvert and CCGS Cape Naden, with 5 including the captain remain on board. The CCGS reported 10 containers were on fire. 2 of which are self combustible (Class 4.2) potassium amylxanthate — which is used in the mining industry.

The ships owner had contracted salvagers, and Maersk Tender and Maersk Trader have responded. these ships were in the area, and normally operate ocean cleanup equipment to remove plastics from the water.

Seaspan Raven has also on scene since Saturday. Due to the the chemicals on fire reactivity to water, water is being used to cool the surrounding areas of the ship but not directly attack the fire.

CCGS Via Twitter

As of this morning, the Atlantic Raven, which is under contract as an emergency towing vessel for the coastguard is on scene, and the fire is reportedly still burning.

Additional Updates as they become Available.

UPDATE: there is currently a news conference on Now. The fire is reported to be out, but there is alot of heat and smouldering. crews will attempt to extinguish the fire onboard the ship tommorow.