Work continues on restoration of the C.A. Kirkegaard (background) in the Machine Shop. (Mike Youds photo)

Ladysmith Maritime Society launches event-filled marina season

New dock manager joins marina staff, volunteers

Mike Youds Special to the Chronicle

All hands are on deck as Ladysmith Maritime Society gears up for a busy season at the community marina.

Volunteers have been out in force, working with the maritime society’s new executive director, Richard Wiefelspuett, to have the marina spruced up.

“That’s one of our strengths,” Wiefelspuett said, acknowledging the community contingent as they re-assembled a canopy damaged by the December storm that blasted the south coast with winds up to 85 km/h. Normally, the canopy is left standing through the winter, but that was no ordinary wind.

“The tent met its limit with structural damage,” he explained.

Wiefelspuett, who came on board as director only a month earlier, is overseeing a major maintenance overhaul of the marina along with new staff and a host of special events.

Maritime Festival Season is just over the horizon, starting with the Heritage Boat Festival on Saturday, May 25, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. In keeping with the society’s maritime heritage work and floating museum, vintage vessels from along the west coast will be tying up for public viewing.

Dine on the Dock, one of the marina’s most popular draws through the summer, begins Friday, May 31, with Feast of the Pirates. Buccaneer costumes are encouraged. The first of the dinner series sets the stage for family fun at Kids’ Pirate Day on Saturday, June 1, 10 a.m to 4 p.m. The third annual Sea Life Celebration is on Sunday, Aug. 11, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, more volunteers are busy at the Machine Shop with restoration projects in full swing, including C.A. Kirkegaard. Once complete, the former crew ferry rejoins the Harbour Heritage Centre fleet, running harbour tours.

The society has hired a new dock manager, who started work May 8. Roberta Bowman has a background in marine insurance and marina management, having spent the last seven years at Sewell’s in Horseshoe Bay. She’s an accomplished sailor as well and was interviewed for the job while sailing in the Caribbean.

“What decided in her favour was her ability to connect with the community,” Wiefelspuett said.

The society intends to live up to its reputation as one of the friendliest marinas on the coast.

“I’ve not seen anything like it anywhere else,” he added. “It’s a true community marina.”

Visitors will notice new steel pilings in place of the old wooden ones — four of which were damaged in the windstorm — marking the start of $300,000 worth of upgrades.

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