Sea Foam Travel Log
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Seafoam is a TransPac Eagle - 40 ft long and 14 ˝ feet wide. It has only one motor and propeller but it does have a bow thruster to help us maneuver in Marinas.
The Sea Foam is Hull No. 4, built in Taipei, Taiwan. She was launched December 2, 1994 and arrived in Canada May 1995. She has all fiberglass decks with the exception of the stern deck which is teak. It has aluminum framed windows and wooden caps all around. That means less maintenance every year at varnishing time!
There is no helm station on the bridge but the auto pilot feature allows us to drive the boat from anywhere on board. If we feel like driving outside we set up the remote and sit out on the bow. The upper bridge has a large area for sitting out on while at anchor as well as a large area for stowage.
The Sea Foam has one stateroom in the bow with the head on the starboard side and a separate shower to port. Three large hatches light up the room. There’s plenty of storage under the queen island bed as well as one hanging closet, a chest of six drawers and a small cushioned seat with storage under. Two steps up takes you into the pilot house. The door to the stateroom can be closed and a sliding “lid” completely encloses the room if you need to go to sleep before the rest of the passengers on the boat might be ready to.
The head has an electric toilet, ample counter space and stainless sink as well as two large mirrored cabinet doors.
The pilot house is the Captain’s favorite room. There are windows all around for great visibility and a comfy bench seat/watch-bed and table top for sitting high while cruising on auto pilot. When we’re underway I have our lap top on the table and can either write or navigate with Nobeltec from this bench seat. In the evening, while at anchor, it’s nice to sit up high and enter into the log all the day’s events.
There are doors on each side of the pilot house and you can step off easily to dock from gates located directly across from the doors. When we’re at anchor we have our tender, Catch-Up, tied at either location and can easily climb in and out of the boats from these gates.
The saloon and galley are down two steps from the pilot house. On the starboard side we have a built in fridge with a remote compressor. The door has a heavy latch and inside there is tons of room. The counter top above houses our flat screen t.v. and surround sound equipment. Across on the port side is the U-shaped galley with hanging cabinets separating it from the saloon eating area. The three burner propane stove and microwave have served well to prepare delicious meals using many tasty treats from the sea. Oysters are my favorite with prawns running a close second.
In the saloon there is a bench seat along the starboard side and the nook and table are opposite. A leaf folds up and we have shared dinner with seven people sitting comfortably around our table. This same table can drop down and sleep two overnight on a double sized bed.
Up two steps and you’re on our stern deck. The boat sits low in the water because of this and that to us is what makes it so steady in the water. This low centre of gravity coupled with the wide beam makes for a very seaworthy vessel. This is the only deck that is teak. That suits us just fine. If ever it decides to leak it will only drop water down into the lazarette area. No damage there. Our small Danby freezer sits on this deck and there is still ample room for two deck chairs and a small table. At the time of this writing we are making plans for an aluminum structure to cover this deck. We want the extra outdoor storage as well as a covered area to dress and suit up for scuba diving.
From the stern deck you can go up one step on either side of the boat and walk completely around either side to the bow or off load from two gates that are just off the pilot house doors.
We love the boat’s low profile in the water, the “fat girl” beam and the efficient use of space inside. We didn’t want anything bigger so we can continue to enjoy cozy little anchorages that a bigger vessel couldn’t get into. There’s lots of room for two and a hundred and twenty-five pound dog too!
After looking at many different types of pilot house trawlers we hard targeted a Trans Pacific Eagle 40. We looked at several on the internet and even considered having one shipped here from Florida where most of them seem to be located. But instead, we traveled to Friday Harbour and looked at a 2000 model there with Captain Dan Fogle, a yacht broker at Friday Harbor Yachts. He took us out for a quick ride which further confirmed what we had hoped for.
The next obstacle for us was money. We knew the later models were outside our budget and we had to resign ourselves to the fact that we would probably have to wait two years to save up more loot. Captain Dan told us there was possibly a 1995 boat coming up for sale from Portland, Oregon. The only difference between the later model and the newer is the price – a one hundred thousand dollar difference! We also had a search alert on Yacht World. All we had to do now was wait. I don’t wait well so I decided to be pro-active and be at the ready to make a quick deal just in case an older boat became available.
I visited our bank and asked to be pre-approved for a loan should we get the chance to buy. That in itself is another story. Most banks aren’t comfortable putting a mortgage on a property that moves! The bank worked hard on our behalf and everything was ready if a boat became available. Now, with fingers drumming on the table we waited for an Eagle to pass under our nose. One of our good friends, Mark, who was also in the market for a pilot house, spotted an Eagle for sale from Portland while looking on Yacht World. It didn’t come through our search filter because we had the search under “Eagle” and it was listed as “Transpac” Eagle. If it hadn’t been for Mark stumbling upon it we probably would have missed it altogether.
I was on the phone immediately to the broker, “Sam”, wanting more information about the boat. The pictures on Yacht World were a good indication - six hundred hours on a 220 Cummins and in great shape.
Rick and I discussed it that night. I asked him if I could make an offer and he said, “Go for it!” I think the only reason he agreed was because he didn’t think the offer would be accepted. I wanted to offer thirty thousand dollars less than the asking price because that was what our budget would allow. Rick and Mark thought I would be turned down flat. I made the offer subject to financing, a physical inspection and an out of water survey. We faxed the offer to Sam in Portland and it was accepted. The Sea Foam had been on the market for all of three days. Now the fun started!
It was early June when the offer was accepted and I told Sam I needed the boat ready to go and on site Vancouver by June 30th – as soon as summer holidays started. He laughed and said together we would make it so. Rick hopped in the car and headed for Portland to inspect the boat and sign the papers. With Sam’s help we made arrangements for a pilot, Dave Thompson, to bring the Sea Foam up the coast from Portland and safely into our hands. We contemplated bringing it up ourselves and decided that an unfamiliar boat in unfamiliar waters was not a good combination. Let the experts handle it! Our Mexico-cruising sailboat friends, Andrew and Janet from the Maitala, thought we were wimps but we didn’t care. We later found out that we would not have been able to bring the boat up even if we wanted to. You have to have certain qualifications to show to the insurance company before they will cover you. Dave Thompson presented his credentials and resume for our insurance and the Sea Foam was covered and good to go!
We needed to register the boat so the bank could secure their interest in it. We went to our lawyer and asked him if he could handle the paper work. We were told by the Portland owner that the Sea Foam was originally imported from Taiwan by a Canadian who lived in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. We were successful in later locating and speaking to this owner. He and his wife provided us with documents that exempted us from paying duty once again on a boat that had already been imported into the country from Taiwan six years prior. That equated to an approximate saving of twenty four thousand dollars! No small potatoes when you’re already paying forty thousand dollars plus when exchanging Canadian dollars for American. As any Canadian boat owner knows, when buying a boat from the States you have to tack on an additional fifty percent just to cover the exchange, duty and taxes.
The Sea Foam left Portland July 1st. Two hours off the dock Dave Thompson noticed a leaking gear box and limped back to the dock. He lassoed a cleat as he docked as he was unable to take the boat out of gear without shutting off the engine. Transmission problems and a part coming from Italy stalled the delivery substantially!
While we waited for the Sea Foam to arrive we cruised around the Gulf Islands in the Fish-n-Chips. We had arranged with a broker in Richmond to sell the boat for us as soon as the Sea Foam arrived. We knew that as long as we were on it the likelihood of selling it was small but we didn’t want to wait on the curb for the Sea Foam to arrive so we waited close by for the delivery date to arrive. Once we got the word that the Sea Foam was in Canadian waters we would head back across the Strait of Georgia and meet her in the Fraser River at Steveston.
Friends of ours, Mark and April Weir (MV “XXIV VII”) were moored in Sydney, Vancouver Island when the Sea Foam arrived there to check into Canadian Customs. What a coincidence! Mark called us on his cell phone and said, “You’ll never guess what I’m standing next to!” He took several pictures of the boat with him standing beside it and told us he liked the look of her.
It wasn’t until August 8th and seven thousand dollars later that the Sea Foam nosed into the Fraser River at Sand Heads. After two days we had the Fish-n-Chips off-loaded and ready for drop off at a broker in Richmond. He was glad to finally have the boat in his hands. The Fish-n-Chips and the Sea Foam were rafted together and the change over in homes began.
We putted up the river to Captain’s Cove in Ladner, met several friends there that wanted to see the new boat. We talked it over and decided we would just lick our wounds and head on home back up the river to Mission. I was very disappointed that we weren’t going back out to sea again. We had three more weeks of holiday, but the Captain wanted to get comfortable with the boat and all its intricacies first and that was that. I didn’t want to push him past his comfort zone and the whole ordeal from start to finish had been stressful enough. We spent a couple of days anchored in Captain’s Cove and took friends for little scoots up and around in the river.
After a week of putting around in the river and getting familiar with the boat we were very happy with it. The Captain changed his mind and we headed back out to sea – destination - Desolation Sound.
We had one stop to make before we headed north – Nanaimo. We wanted to meet with the original owner of the Sea Foam and give him a chance to see his boat one more time. We also thought it would be a great opportunity to find out as much as we could from him about the boat and its workings.
We met with him one sunny morning and he was very please to see the boat again. He had a stroke several years prior and his memory was impaired – including all his boating knowledge. He was unable to remember some of the answers to our questions but when we showed him his original log that was still on the boat, memories of great times with friends and family happily came back to him. He told us about his career history as a tug boat captain. When I asked him why he chose the Eagle as his boat of choice he said because it reminded him of the tug he captained in the 1950’s – the Sea Foam!
We later had another friend of ours recognize the name of our boat as a tug from way back and he provided us with a picture from a book he had on the history of Tug Boating in British Columbia. We scanned the picture and sent one to the original owner and one hangs proudly in our pilot house.
When I first found out that our boat was named the Sea Foam I thought – YUCK! It sounds like the sludge you see at tide lines. After meeting the original owner and hearing all about the history behind the name we decided there was no way we were going to change the name.
We brought our new girl to home port, Fraser River, Mission, B.C. on September 4, 2005. We had a welcome home party and celebrated with many friends and a seafood feast for all! Our neighbor and friend Alec, from the Black Swan, toasted our new boat with a fine bottle of single malt scotch and many well wishers. The boat was much more than we had expected. It handled beautifully, everything worked well and it was so comfortable in every way. We congratulated each other on a great new acquisition and looked forward to the next time we would be underway.
Rick was born and raised in Winnipeg but the water has always drawn him. After completing his Engineering degree he went to deep sea diving school in New York and thought he wanted to be a commercial diver. He had trouble with visa’s and working in the States so he ended up not pursuing that. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because diving as a hobby is much more fun.
When Rick moved out to the coast he lived in Gold River and Campbell River on Vancouver Island while working for MacBlo as a project engineer. He bought his first boat, the Fish-n-Chips, and felt that in order to justify the expense of it he would take out dive charters with his friends. He and five other guys went to the Queen Charlottes to dive for one month. He didn’t have much boating experience at the time so it was quite the adventure for him.
Rick has had the Fish’n Chips since 1992. Before that he was bombing around in a 14 foot inflatable. “Now that was quite a jump” one would think. But he had the knack and made the transition without too much folly. “The trick with big boats,” said one boat broker, “is that you must take her out of gear and not get her going too fast – neutral is the best gear.” That’s how he got started and the rest came naturally.
He took the Fish’n Chips mainly to the Gulf Islands on the weekends but when spring and winter came, he tried to achieve his goal of becoming a Scuba Dive Charter by taking out friends. This is the time when he got the most experience. Deep in the winter months his guests would arrive on Friday and they wouldn’t depart until 700 PM when it was pitch black. His logic was that there was no use trying for daylight since it was non-existent by 500 PM when most of his passengers were just getting off work. What better way to get experience in night cruising.
Catch-up is our tender boat. It is a twelve and a half foot RIB – rigid inflatable boat. We had it built by a company in Langley, B.C. called Polaris Inflatable Boats. They have built several larger boats of the same type for the Canadian Coast Guard. It has a four stroke 50hp. Mercury outboard with tiller steering. It has an electric tilt which is very useful for motoring into shallow water. We need a large, stable, powerful boat for scuba diving and reconnaissance missions in remote areas.
When people first look at the boat they almost always say, “Wow, that’s a lot of motor on there! This thing must really move!” In fact, it only goes twenty-six knots and when it is loaded with the two of us, our scuba tanks and gear it is not overpowered. Because of its stability and power it allows us to navigate through tidal rapid areas.
When we first bought the boat we towed it behind our 34’ Californian - MV Fish-N-Chips. One sunny day, just after we launched our new girl, we took our friends Margot and Bob for a “putt” in the North Arm of the Fraser. I asked Margot and Bob to help us by putting their heads together to choose a name for our new boat. I added that it had to compliment the name of the Fish-N-Chips. In a blink Margot said, “Catch-Up! You tow it behind the boat so it’s “catching up” and it’s red!” We liked it so the name stuck.
We have equipped the Catch-Up with an Icom VHF radio, a portable Garmin GPS/Sounder, one hundred feet of road with a collapsible anchor and a bilge pump. For diving purposed we had Polaris, install extra handles to assist getting in and out of the water and to tie off equipment. We also had extra rubber pads installed for wear protection when hauling in scuba equipment and/or trap lines while prawning or crabbing. We can also attach a downrigger from off the bench seat/pontoon.
One long weekend we went for a trip down the river to meet with our friends, Mark and April, at Fort Langley. We tied up at the dock across from Fort Langley by the Billy Miner Pub. It’s a nice dock but at the time we didn’t know that it was also a high theft location. We had dinner in the pub, partied and danced in the boat until the early hours and retired. When we woke up the next morning the Catch-Up was gone! We immediately called the Fraser River patrol only to find there was only a recorded message. We next called the RCMP and they said they can’t help because they don’t have a boat to go on the river to look for the thief. The most hope came from talking to a man that works a side-winder at the mill next to the dock. He said there was a local thief who went by the name of “Frenchie” whose typical scheme was to take a boat, drag it up river to the Kanaka Creek park and hide it in the shallow slough until he could get a vehicle into the parking lot from the Lougheed Highway side and remove his “loot”. We moved our boat behind McMillan Island and anchored there by the paddle wheeler dock. We made several phone calls to the RCMP asking if they had heard anything. By the next day we had a call from the RCMP saying that the ranger from the Kanaka Creek Park had seen a red shape in the swampy area by the parking lot that might be our tender. Luckily, we had our friends’ small “rubber ducky” dinghy with a 5hp outboard to take us up the swallow creek to investigate. Alleluia, it was the Catch-Up! The thief had deflated the pontoons and stripped all the equipment off. Gone was the motor, the radio, the GPS/Sounder, antennae, bilge pump and various ropes and fenders. We were more concerned whether the boat had been damaged. We pumped it up and she was okay! We towed her back to the mother ship and celebrated! We had already been in touch with our insurance agent and the claim was handled well and the boat was restored to its original condition.
Contact Carol-Ann at:
Contact Rick at:
Phone: 604 854-0970
Phone: 604 855-2079
Last revised: March, 2013
Copyright © 2006 Carol-Ann Giroday and Rick LeBlanc