Mar 8, 2018

Millard Being Repaired Gremman Millard with engine being repaired, 1962

This past January at the Vancouver International Boat Show. I met up with Phil Richter. Phil talked about how Annemarie and Edgar Richter, his parents came to British Colombia, got into boating and the adventures that led them to the Blind Channel Resort.

Here in Phil’s own words is the story of the Richter family:

Blind Channel Resort“My family’s uprooting began with the construction of a boat. In the 1960’s, my father Edgar worked as a mechanic at the Vancouver Airport seaplane base for now-defunct BC Air Lines, which at the time had a string of bases on the BC coast. He was sometimes called out to repair a Grumman Mallard or a deHavilland Beaver at whatever remote camp it broke down, working under a tarp for shelter from the weather, and then staying on board for the “ferry flight” back to Vancouver just in case the engine quit again. “

“This challenging work led him to discover the incredible archipelago of islands and inlets that begin just beyond the edge of the city. Edgar knew that he just had to get down there and explore.

Annemarie, and AlfredWhile trained as an aircraft mechanic in Germany, his first job in Vancouver was as a carpenter, building houses around the Lower Mainland - including the first subdivision to be built in Richmond. Carpentry and boatbuilding are two different things though, and after much study of library books he got to work building a 17’ boat from 18’ long sheets of marine grade plywood. It had a v-berth forward and two 1954 25 hp Evinrude outboards on the stern. It was good to have two of them. Usually one would keep working long enough to get us back to the launch ramp.

What was really needed, though, was a boat that a family of six could sleep on board so that we could venture further afield.

Edgar took some measurements and decided he could just squeeze a 30’ boat diagonally into our small East Vancouver backyard, and in the spring of 1965 a Frank Carius designed center pilot-house cruiser began to take shape. The ribs were steam-bent oak, and hundreds of red cedar strips were screwed to them from the inside. The strips were convex on top and concave on the bottom and bonded to each other with resin glue to create a strong, tight hull with beautiful curves.

Then the cabins took shape, built with the same cedar strips. The aft cabin was widened to eliminate the wide deck, creating a roomy sun deck above it.

Squeezing out of the DrivewayMoney was tight, so everything that went into the boat had to be hand-made. Edgar spent lunch hours and evenings at the BC Air Lines machine shop bending brass for the steering wheel, creating the brass supports for the brass curtain rods and cutting out the stainless steel rudder. The mechanical steering system used parts from a 1952 Chevrolet. As it turned out, it steered very easily, and since the rudder was a bit over-sized it was a poor idea to let go of the wheel while under way. The boat would immediately turn and head for the nearest shore.

After over two years and hundreds of hours of labour the Pamar (Pa and Ma Richter) was finally ready to launch. A crowd of onlookers gathered when a flatbed truck with a crane pulled into our quiet neighbourhood, and the crane rolled into the short driveway past the neighbour’s garage. It soon became obvious that the boat couldn’t be swung past the corner of the building, and the neighbour graciously agreed to the temporary removal of his fence.

Finally, the boat was secure on the truck, and Edgar, my mother Annemarie, my siblings and I jumped into the car and followed the boat down to False Creek. There it was gently lowered on slings into the water with Edgar on board as well as Victor Klassen from a young company called Klassen Diesel Sales Ltd. Victor’s presence was vital, as the shift on the Isuzu engine was not yet connected. He crawled down into the engine compartment and operated the lever as Edgar called down “forward” and “reverse” and steered the boat into its berth under the Burrard Street bridge.

False Creek the Pamar (Pa and Ma Richter)

“After that, we headed out onto the water at every opportunity, exploring Indian Arm, Howe Sound, and heading across to the Gulf Islands. It was always with a feeling of regret that we tied up again under the bridge and headed back home. Then in the summer of 1969 we ventured further, swimming in the warm waters of Desolation Sound, bobbing quietly at anchor in hidden bays, and sliding through the emerald green waters of Kingcome Inlet. “

The Richter families’ story continues in the next issue of ONBOARD

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The Marina at Blind ChannelOne of my favourite places

By Marianne Scott

Sailing north of Desolation Sound, the Discovery Islands and the Broughton Archipelago offer cruisers a bevy islands with ample anchorages. Tides cause swift currents to run through the islands’ waterways. Few marinas are found in this large, sparsely populated region but one that provides all the services boaters need and especially enjoy is Blind Channel, a marina and resort operated by the Richter family located on Mayne Passage on the east side of West Thurlow Island (50 24. 82N, 125 30. 00).

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“This transition from our previous International Yacht Training (IYT) certification to RYA is a huge benefit to our students as it provides them certification that is known globally as the gold standard for yacht training.  The RYA requires training centres to undergo annual inspections of their vessels, business practices and training delivery in order to maintain a strong standard and guarantee a high quality experience for students. 

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