All aboard: Plover season under way

Published on Thu, May 29, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

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All aboard: Plover season under way

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

The Plover ferry season officially started last weekend, complete with new crew members, the presentation of a handmade rug and a small rescue mission.

Richard Sturgill, the manager of the Plover program and the founding director of Drayton Harbor Maritime, said the historic Plover is in for a great season. The ferry is being captained by Ryan Meyer, a guy who has been sailing for a long time.

�We�re just really, really happy to have Ryan,� said Sturgill. �We have plans to expand the Plover program and Ryan�s just a great guy to do it. He�s had a lot of experience on the water and we�re looking forward to this season.�

For several years, Meyer worked on the Lady Washington, a tall ship that stops in Blaine and Bellingham each year. �I spent the last five years sailing the Lady Washington, more on than off,� Meyer said. �Two of those years, I sailed into Blaine as the captain.�

It was during those visits that Meyer came to know the historic Plover. �Each time, the Plover greeted us in the harbor and that�s how I met the ferry and the folks involved with it,� he said. �It was always fun going into another boat, and when I got off the Lady Washington this last time, I had an opportunity to run the Plover.�

Meyer, who has significant sailing experience, has also provided his knowledge to the film industry. He, and his fiance Ann Kirsch, who also serves as the Plover�s first mate and deckhand, recently returned from a six-month stint in the Caribbean and California, where they worked on the Disney film Pirates of the Caribbean. The film will likely be released this summer and stars actors Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom.

�It was a great time. We spent months there, turning the boat into a movie set. It�s kind of interesting when you�re filming boats in a storm, and you�re filming right in downtown L.A.,� he said. �There were boat cannons that looked like they weighed 1,000 pounds, but really they were only 15 pounds. It was a great time, we had a lot of fun.�

Meyer and Kirsch currently live in Bellingham, but are fond of the opportunities and potential that Blaine offers. �Quite frankly, Blaine is at the front door of sailing,� he said, adding the closeness to the San Juan islands and other regional points. �It�s got a lot of potential and I really enjoy Blaine Harbor. This area has a lot of educational potential.�

And it�s that potential that Meyer and Kirsch wish to grow on. Together with Sturgill, and the rest of the Plover family, they would like to start local educational programs. �I�ve done a lot of historic stuff, but I�d like to get into the science stuff as well,� Meyer said. �I would love to find something of historic significance to Blaine and base the program on that and interact with as much of the local youth as possible.�

One idea, he said, is to start a longboat program. �A longboat is like a small rowboat and many of the larger boats, like the Lady Washington would have them. They were usually between 18 and 26 feet,� he said, adding that large boats were not able to get into certain areas, like small harbors, so the longboats were used.

The program, he said, is just an idea. But he would like to see a longboat in the area so local youth, and the community can learn about them. It�s possible, he said, that the longboat program would involve the buying of an old boat and refurbishing it, or possibly bringing in a newer boat and starting fresh. �Right now, it�s just an idea. I�m looking into it.�

Handmade rug, ferry rescue
Hours within the first day of the Plover season, the historic ferry came to the rescue of a skiff stuck in the sand in Drayton Harbor.

�They went in on the shoal and were floundering,� Sturgill said. �They had been out practicing and became stuck. The Plover came to the rescue.�

Interestingly enough, the Plover was able to connect to the stuck skiff with a piece of �equipment� that had been given to the Plover earlier that day. Richard Robertson, a merchant mariner who resides in Bellingham, but has a boat here in Blaine, presented the Plover crew with a monkey fist, a line that can be tossed to other vessels in order to connect them. He also made a handmade rug for Plover goers to wipe their feet on when boarding the ferry.

�It is very nice and handmade,� Sturgill said, adding the rope was donated from Samson Rope Company in Ferndale. �Richard has virtually sailed the seven seas. It was very nice of him to give us that.�

Hours, volunteers
The Plover, as in other years, will run on the weekends, Friday through Sunday. On Friday and Saturday the ferry will leave on the hour from Blaine Harbor and from Semiahmoo on the half hour, between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. On Sundays, the ferry will run from noon to 6 p.m.

Volunteers are needed to assist with Drayton Harbor Maritime Museum on Semiahmoo Parkway. Training is provided and museum hours are 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Anyone interested in volunteering should call Stephanie at 371-7507 or the Blaine VIC at 332-4544.