The weather in Victoria over the Thanksgiving weekend was not great for aviation photography with a fair bit of rain and definitely only one day when the sun showed up. That day was not going to be one on which I would suggest to Nancy I go photographing helicopters. That might not have been the smartest suggestion. However, when the morning was rainy and cloudy and we were planning on a relaxing day, things could be different.
I hopped in the car and drove around to the heliport which is used by Helijet for their shuttle service to Vancouver. The Sunday schedule is not the busiest so I had to plan accordingly so I got there in time for an arrival and they were scheduled to head back out again not long afterwards. I could fit all of this in before heading back for a spot of lunch.
The S-76 is a pretty elegant looking helicopter. The design has been around for a long time and has gone through a number of iterations but the basic airframe shape is good in my opinion. It is a lot larger than you might imagine with plenty of seating capacity which makes it good for this shuttle service. One of the airframes was parked at the heliport when I got there so I got some shots of that. Then it was a question of waiting for the inbound flight to arrive.
The problem with the heliport is the fencing. It has quite a tight mesh and it is possible to shoot through it but it requires some care in aligning the end of the lens with the holes. Sometimes I do better with this than other times. When the helicopter is coming in, I have to try hard to get it right. Stepping back away from the fence does provide a little elevation but not much so shooting through the fence is going to be required.
The sky was grey and dreary so approach shots were not going to be too good but I was going to try them anyway. Once it was close to touchdown, it was a sprint to the fence. They taxi off the pad to the space in front of the terminal (generous description, I know) and then shut down. It was too long before they were firing up again. Given that the wind was not too strong, they were able to lift and head straight out. As they got on to the pad, it was noticeable just how far aft the rotor was pitched. Once airborne, this resulting in a nose high altitude and then they were off.
Victoria residents like to make use of the water for their activities. While we were there – and despite the weather being far from friendly – there were plenty of people out on the water. Their choice of activities varied. We had some stand up paddle boarders, there were kayakers, canoes and what looked like dragon boat teams but maybe that isn’t the right term for this type of boat. Wherever I was wandering, there was always someone out on the water. They managed to avoid the ferries and floatplanes without too much trouble!
I may have complained a little about the weather being damp and windy during our trip to Victoria but there was one upside to this. Unfortunately, it took one missed opportunity before I realized. The wind was strong and from the west. The normal approach for Harbour Air is to come in through the opening to the harbor and then touch down in the outer area before taxiing into the Inner Harbour. With the wind coming from the opposite direction, they reversed the flow.
I had seen this once before on a previous visit to Victoria many years ago and had forgotten it could happen. Our hotel was located right on the corner of the shoreline around which the planes would approach and we had a view out of our (not huge) window as they came around to touch down. The first time I realized I could get the shot, I had to make so with shooting through the window. This does not do much for image quality but it was still okay and I got an Otter coming in.
The next time something was due, I planned ahead. The window of our room did open but it only opened a very small amount. Not enough to get a camera out of except when looking off to one side. However, the restriction on opening was the result of a small screw that was in the track for the window and it was not very securely fastened. With my fingertip, I was able to remove the screw and with that out of the way, the window could fully open. A Twin Otter was on the way so this time I was ready to get a clearer shot. There is plenty of warning of their arrival because the sound of the props reaches you long before the plane does. Besides, they are on final approach so hardly going too fast. The only downside to this shot is that the touchdown location is further around and out of sight of where we were. Bad weather can have its benefits.
The walk from our hotel in Victoria to a favorite breakfast spot took us alongside one of the local shipyards. This yard had plenty of decent sized vessels out of the water and being worked on. I was quite taken by their method of moving the boats around. They have a lift area in the water and then the ships get put on supports on rails. There is a turntable in the yard which allows each vessel to be moved to a different part of the yard. I had seen a hint of this on Google Maps before we went so was interested to check it out when we walked by.
I had a bit of time one morning during our Victoria stay to walk along the shoreline. The hotel that we were staying in was right on the shore so I only had to step outside and then I could walk around to the more open are of the harbor. This also meant I could get some shots of the Harbour Air operations. Their floatplane base is in the Inner Harbour area but the planes taxi out to the outer areas for departure.
I was able to get some shots of arrivals and departures as well as taxiing planes. Some of those I could shoot from our hotel window when I wanted to stay dry! I was happy to shoot the Otter movements but I was more interested in the Twin Otters. We have plenty of Otters around here with Kenmore but Twin Otters are not common down here so some variety was welcome. Besides, it is a bigger plane so a little easier to shoot at a distance!
One of our earlier visits to Victoria had involved staying close by a building that was being demolished. They were keeping the façade of the building intact and taking out the interior for rebuilding and development. Three years has gone by since that visit and I was interested to see how the building was looking. While some finishing and fit out still appears to be underway, the building appears to be complete.
They have retained the façade as anticipated and constructed a whole new building inside. In addition, one source of the building had been removed to allow the demolition process to get underway and that now has a new structure grafted on to the building. Consequently, there is a combination of the old and the modern in the way it is finished off. I assume by the next time we are in Victoria, it will be open for business. I don’t know when it was originally scheduled to be done but I assume the pandemic delayed things a little.
Continuing the theme of casting back into the past for shots of things that compensate for not going anywhere anymore, this one isn’t too long ago. Our visit to Victoria in the run up to Christmas involved staying in a hotel alongside the harbor. We had a view from our hotel room across to the legislative building which is nicely illuminated at night – not just for Christmas but all the time. Here is the shot from the hotel window!
Having traveled on the car ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight for all of my life, I have seen many generations of ferry come and go. The oldest ones I recall are Fishbourne and Camber Queen. These would amaze current travelers with their limited car capacity and very limited customer amenities. They were replaced by a bigger and better equipped fleet which were replaced in turn but the fleet of Saint named ferries. Their time has mainly come and gone and now most have been replaced again.
On this trip, I got to ride of two ferries from the newer generation. They have a significant increase in capacity that has required the introduction of two level loading to allow the schedule to be kept. While traveling on each, I got to see the other heading in the opposite direction along with one of the older Saint class. The latest ferry has again gone away from bi-directional operation and has also added a hybrid power drive of some sort. No idea how it works but the large logo on the side leaves you in no doubt that it is there.
The title gives this one away to be honest. I was walking back along the shoreline of Victoria Harbour and the sun was setting behind me. I looked back to see the view and the sky was looking rather appealing so I was hardly going to avoid taking a couple of shots.
I walked along the harbour shoreline in Victoria to go and see some of the floatplanes in operation. The planes have to take off and “land” in the outer area of the harbour so they are a bit away from the easiest spots to watch things from when they are most active. I saw a couple of planes making their approach. They came in through the entrance to the harbour before making the turn to line up for landing. A nice arc to final approach and then touching down to be at water taxi speed by the time the entered the restricted area of the harbour itself. Fun to watch and I could have spent plenty of time there on a sunny afternoon!