Anyone Recognize This? Ridden on One?

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Project by shipwright posted 09-09-2011 03:42 AM 5644 views 2 times favorited 53 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve held back on this one for a while but if I’m going to do the promised blog on stitch and glue boat construction, it will have to come out of the shadows.

I have hinted a couple of times in “Shipyard Memories” blogs that I had built boats that some of you had likely actually ridden on. Well these are they.

From 1990 until 2004 when my wife and I sold the venture and retired, “Victoria Harbour Ferries” was our business. I built the boats, did the maintenance and repairs and served as “front man” going to all the meetings and joining all the organizations. My wife served as office manager starting in 1993. When we sold, the company had eleven boats in service.

The second photo is of the very first ferry that I built in 1982 for False Creek Ferry in Vancouver. The second is in the background.

The third photo is one of the Aquabus fleet, also in Vancouver, for whom I built four in 1985 and 1986. All six of these were in service during Expo ‘86 which took place on the shores of False Creek in Vancouver.

The last two photos are of the Victoria Harbour Ferry Ballet, a weekly event in the summer season held in downtown Victoria in front of the legislative buildings. I choreographed it in 1994 as soon as we had enough boats to perform one. It has been on TV screens in several countries thanks to the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria.

The photo in the middle is a token construction shot of one of the first boats.

This is getting long but just a few facts:

Each of these boats has traveled a distance equal to at least once around the world at the equator, several probably twice or more.

Conservatively five million people have ridden on them, again, possibly twice that.

The Victoria boats average around ten thousand dockings a year. (five times an hour, twelve hours a day, 240 day season but not all boats used every day.)

I could go on and on but I will stop here.

See the construction blog here:

Thanks for looking.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

53 comments so far

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 4231 days

#1 posted 09-09-2011 04:08 AM

These are cool looking boats and looks like fun. My wife and I will be traveling next summer and will be going through Vancouver and will definitely try to get a ride in one of those to check out your fantastic work first hand! The craftsmanship looks better than first rate.

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View LittlePaw's profile


1572 posts in 4291 days

#2 posted 09-09-2011 04:16 AM

They are the cutest ferry I’ve even seen, Paul. With that much use for so long, they’ve got to be built extremely well, and seeing what you’ve done just in LJ, I know that is so. Congratulations, Paul. Wonderful memories!

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1130 posts in 4186 days

#3 posted 09-09-2011 04:36 AM

Oh, that is hilarious that you built these!!
My family has certainly had rides on these ferries between Granville Island on False Creek and around English Bay in Vancouver.
My wife didn’t even get sick on these little guys….. and she ‘feeds the fish’ regularly on boats

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View a1Jim's profile


118200 posts in 4790 days

#4 posted 09-09-2011 04:49 AM

Wow Paul
These are all very cool great work.


View mmh's profile


3697 posts in 4935 days

#5 posted 09-09-2011 05:55 AM

If you can call a ferry boat “cute”, these are past that! They are adorable! I especially like the ballet, as that must have drawn quite a crowd of spectators! I find that I can not help from smiling at and applauding your work!

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 5136 days

#6 posted 09-09-2011 05:56 AM

I love success stories and the back story brought it to reality.

View rance's profile


4279 posts in 4373 days

#7 posted 09-09-2011 05:59 AM

Cool story and facts behind these Paul. Thanks for sharing. The construction is intriguing. Even though I’ll never build a boat, I am interested in the construction techniques. ....waiting in anticipation.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View peteg's profile


4438 posts in 4035 days

#8 posted 09-09-2011 06:00 AM

Paul, remindes me of when the Mini Minors came out in the 1960’s, fabulous, would love to ride one of these little babies. Thanks for sharing
(you may fins a market on the Auckland Harbour with these) :::: )))))
Cheers Mate Rugby world cup kick of tonight, the town’s gone MAD

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4521 days

#9 posted 09-09-2011 06:04 AM

Excellent work and some great memories. These are definitely a classic.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


22096 posts in 4888 days

#10 posted 09-09-2011 06:33 AM

WoW!! That is a lot of traffic! How did you keep the decks for wearing through? have some kind of replaceable surface? Nice boats ;-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26643 posts in 4318 days

#11 posted 09-09-2011 06:40 AM

I remember those from Vancouver. They could have a Regatta!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Michael1's profile


403 posts in 3872 days

#12 posted 09-09-2011 07:54 AM

Wow these are really something. I have built allot of boats with stitch and glue construction as well. In fact, my profile photo is me working on the stern of a 16 ft center console bass boat. For a while I built small fishing boats from 12 ft to 22 ft but with the economy, people just couldn’t afford the things so first of this year i took up the cut throat business of casket making. (I haven’t decided which is a harder living, boats or caskets yet LOL) I didn’t realize there were other boat builders on Lumber Jocks. So this post really has brought back some memories for me. Thanks for posting. It gives me the itch to finish the three boats that have been sitting in my barn unfinished for quite some time now.

-- Michael Mills, North Carolina,

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 4263 days

#13 posted 09-09-2011 08:24 AM


I am continually amazed at the quality and range of talent on this site. You are right at the top of the list. I have heard of people who couldn’t buy what they needed to start a business and built it, but never to this extent. I have just two questions if you don’t mind: How long did it take you to build one from start to finish, and did you have help? (OK, three) And what did you use for power? Some sit and whine, others just do it. If I wore a hat, I’d doff it to you.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


22096 posts in 4888 days

#14 posted 09-09-2011 08:48 AM

Paul, Did you have to prove they were sea worthy before you could use them for public transport?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View cathyb's profile


859 posts in 4457 days

#15 posted 09-09-2011 09:15 AM

These are boats that I think I would actually enjoy. The last time I was at sea was on a fishing charter with my sister and two friends. We bounced our way to open water in extremely choppy seas, there was no sun, it was a dismal gray everywhere. After vomiting about three times, I feel asleep on a sofa that kept sliding across the deck. When the captain asked if I wanted to try to catch a fish, I shook my head, “no”. I just wanted to feel that land under my feet one more time before I died….....
I would actually take one of these ferries-certainly more my speed!

-- cathyb, Hawaii

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