Well that’s a wrap… literally, for the 2019 season. While our last guests departed over a month ago, along with almost all of our staff, a devoted group of lodge operations people form the Rigdown Crew. They work in small teams to carefully put the various parts of the lodge to bed for the winter. The hospitality and food services teams need about a week to complete the inventory, do a final cleanup and store everything away. The fishing ops group need a bit more time as they have to completely decommission their floating dock operation and move everything to safe storage on land – after all the counting and cleaning.
Once they’re done the property crew can finally start to make the big moves! Disconnecting all the services to the marina – water, power and communications lines – they all need to be pulled ashore. The four separate floats that comprise the marina have to be winterized, boarded and tarped from the weather before they are each towed across the harbour to their winter anchorage; a job that can only be accomplished when the weather and tides are just right.
And the boats! That’s a major project in itself. All of the smaller aluminum boats come ashore where the engines are removed, the rigging is checked and they’re lined up on land. All of the big boats, Gradys and Bridgeviews, are moved to an indoor storage facility down at Sandspit on Moresby Island. So that’s a run to Masset, and a trailer trip down island to the ferry at Skidegate, enroute to storage at Sandspit. It’s a big project but it allows us to work on all of those boats through the winter.
Back on land, most of the buildings have to winterized as they’ll be empty and cold until April. The exceptions are the log buildings which are all heated via central boilers and/or heat recovery systems running off the diesel power plants. Then there’s the exterior protection – the famous tarping of the lodges. Winter weather in Naden Harbour comes primarily from the southeast – that’s pretty much straight onshore for us! That’s a lot of rain and wind coming at the buildings, usually sideways! For protection we’ve developed a system of using tarps and strapping that covers the windward face of the lodges, preventing the driving rain from penetrating. Together with a little central heating we’re able to keep these facilities in really great shape.
So, the Rigdown Crew has been busy! But they’re all done now and all except two have returned south for a well-deserved break! Over the next few months there are always a crew of 2 or 3 onsite, watching over the property and attending to lists and lists of off-season tasks outlined by each manager before they left. There’s a shortlist of available crew who share a stint in Naden Harbour over the winter – an assignment that’s not for everyone but just great for a select few! And, before we know it, it’ll be time to unpack and start it all over again!
QCL and the rest of the Sport Fishing Industry were notified in mid-September that one of our major competitors were suspending operations. This was definitely a shock as they have hosted thousands of guests since opening their doors in 1994. West Coast Resorts operated two lodges on the west coast of Haida Gwaii, so we know that their customers will miss fishing at Englefield Bay and Hippa Island.
QCL estimates that 2000 or more avid WCR clients will be looking for a new home in Haida Gwaii. It would be an understatement to say that our phones and Sales Executives have been busy since this announcement. As the dust starts to settle and we review our 2020 bookings we see that we are just now over 70% booked for 2020. Another way to look at things is that we only closed our doors for the 2019 season 30 days ago and we are already almost three quarters full.
We are excited to be booked to this level as the 2020 season is still almost a year away. We are happy with this up-turn in business, however, we are also worried about our existing, loyal guests. We have made every attempt to reach out and let folks know about WCR and the effect this has had on our available space. We want to make sure our existing QCL clients have a chance to reserve their preferred space so we urge you to reach out to us and let us know what your thoughts and plans are for 2020. After a great 2019 fishing season we want to see you make it back up to QCL in Haida Gwaii for another amazing trip next year. Help us help you! We strongly suggest you call us soon at 1.800.688.8959