Beachcomber Or

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					               Harlow Marine International Inc.
                                                        May 2003
Beachcomber or Log Salvor                                      If you work in Howe Sound or in the Fraser River much
                                                               of your work can be done before the rest of the world is
It's hard to imagine an occupation that better embodies        awake.
the mythologies of western society more than the Log
Salvage business. Many occupations available in today's        Log spills often happen in the kind of weather that has
ever more organized economy pay lip service to                 people sitting in front of their television. You're out there
enterprise, initiative and self reliance. The Log Salvor, to   in the middle of the night, your boat heaving beneath
be successful, needs all those qualities as well as the        you, peering for the sight of another log or log bundle
physical courage and/or a touch of insanity.                   and hoping you do not lose the ones you already have in
                                                               tow. A Salvor's work is done "out of sight and out of
To be successful, look to those who have made it in the        mind ". Very few people will give you the credit or even
business. Then you will know that at some point you will       understand the circumstances and conditions you work in
need to own a boat like theirs. So, buy yourself a boat        or the risks you take to get the job done. These are things
that is the best you can afford. To start you will have to     only another Salvor would know and understand.
be prepared to spend an inordinate amount of time with
your nose in the bilge and your boat in your backyard or       Some of the forest company people will ... and willingly
someone's shipyard for repairs. Do not expect the              pay solid recovery costs without a quibble. The
comfort of boat insurance as log salvage is perceived by       economics of this business are sometimes hard to take.
the insurance industry as just too risky to insure.            The fact that Salvors are recovering logs for little more
                                                               than they charged a decade ago, and despite the increases
Today, wooden boats are seldom ever used for log               in the value of the wood and a decline in the number of
salvage. Instead Salvors are advocates of fiberglass, steel    log spills, Salvors still have to be equipped and prepared.
and aluminum. Whichever type you choose, your goal             They must be ready to go to work in a minutes notice.
should be to spend more time working the boat than             When you are called to go to a log spill, you know that
repairing it. If you anticipate joining in on a log spill,     you are needed. You leave parties or drop the work you
your boat is going to have to be properly built and            were doing and sometimes you even have to crawl out of
maintained. It is not unusual for a boat engaged in the        a nice warm bed, with but one question, "Where?". After
recovering of log bundles or loose logs in high seas to        the work is done and all things calm down, you wait
drop repeatedly from the top of a six to eight foot swell      patiently to be compensated for the work you did, that
onto loose logs or bundles. Nor is it unusual to bump into     Christmas Eve or Thanksgiving day. Yes, there are
the boomsticks along side the log tow you are trying to        frustrations in this business, and they are mostly about
keep intact.                                                   the price of logs or some log salvage regulation.

There are as many facets to Log Salvage as there are           As long as logs are shipped or handled on the water there
seascapes. Differing wind exposures, proximity to the          will be a place for the Log Salvor. Acknowledged or not,
markets, shoreline characteristics as well as the currents     Salvors have always played a major role environmentally
conditions all have a bearing on the choices Salvors           and will continue to do so. The Forest Industry may take
make in their vessel, its power and the type of gear used.     a good deal of credit for the work done by the salvor, but
Boats with outboards pulling on the 3/8 inch doglines          credit should be given where it is due.
make all the economic sense in the world where you
have sheltered waters in Howe Sound or the Fraser              Thank you to all those men and women in the Log
River. However, they will not meet the requirements of         Salvage industry who give their all for what they live to
the Georgia Straits. As well a boat that can handle the        do. Yes, I said live to do, because this is not just a job but
Georgia Strait with assurance may be totally inadequate        a way of life, from the veterans with two digit Log
to deal with the massive tidal forces of the central coast     Salvage numbers, to the up-starts who's numbers are in
or the Queen Charlottes.                                       the thousands. Keep up the good work.

While the majority of Salvors work solo, in some remote        Credits
areas, teamwork is required. As well, they must pool
their working capital , so they can accumulate enough          My thanks to John Marian of Sechelt for his input to this
logs to hire a barge to move their wood to market.             article.

                                                               Written by K.E. Harlow

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