Staff and Directors
Mel Robinson - Facility Supervisor/Cradle Operator
Born and raised in the Cowichan Valley. Mel brings a good woodworking background with her as well as a passion to learn more in the boat building field.
You can find Mel at the reception desk booking your haul outs, courses and answering your calls, in the workshop cutting out boats for the children's boat building booth, as well as out on the ways alongside Tony bringing boats up for maintenance.
Sharon McLeod, was raised in Cowichan Bay and, after graduating from Simon Fraser University, worked for 12 years in the non-profit sector in Vancouver. She returned to Cowichan Bay in 2011 to raise her family. She is married with four children.
Sharon brings lots of energy and knowledge with her - a great asset for the Maritime Centre.
Ion Barnes - President / Boat Acquisitions
Ion Barnes is from the third generation of a family of sailors, born and raised in Victoria BC. He was trained as a ship repair machinist for HMCS Dockyard and as a marine engineer with Fisheries and Oceans. He later became a stationary engineer and worked for Cowichan District Hospital for 29 years until he retired. He has been active in the Cowichan Power and Sail Squadron for the past fourteen years where he taught safe boating skills. He enjoys building or repairing most things and also has a love for photography, boating and cooking
Len Mayea - Secretary / Children's Boats
I’m a local. I was born in Duncan and have fond memories of fishing in Cowichan Bay with my Dad in his 12-foot clinker built dinghy. I’ve taught in Duncan, Britain and New Zealand but since 1971 I taught in Lake Cowichan Schools. I retired in 1999.
I’ve enjoyed building dinghies and sailed them in the lake in front on my home in Youbou. I even acquired a 34-foot cruiser, Edac, originally built in 1914 and hoped to restore her, but she had too much rot, so I reluctantly stripped her and cut her up. In 2004 I acquired Marcelle, a 32-foot pilothouse sailboat and have spent years restoring her to pristine condition.
I have been a member of the Cowichan Bay Wooden Boat Society since 1988 and served as Secretary/Treasurer from 1996 until 2010 but I want the Cowichan Maritime Centre to become a place for wooden boat enthusiasts, and an interpretive centre for our maritime history, so I once again became a Director.
I delight in procuring and preparing the wood for the Kids Boat building booth and love to watch the youngsters create their own model boats
Tony Owen - Director / Outboard Motor Wizard
Tony and his wife Alma live on their converted fish boat, Lasqueti Fisher, in Cowichan Bay. Tony could not be called an "old salt," but he loves the sea and he loves wooden boats. Tony has gained the reputation as the man with magic fingers. He has engineered a renaissance in The British Seagull by expertly and diligently turning non-running motors into reliable outboards. If you hear a Seagull in Cowichan Bay be assured Tony's magic finger's have worked on it.
Of course Tony doesn't confine his expertise only to Seagulls. He has worked his magic on a variety of small outboards, either as repairs or renovations. The donations he's earned for the Centre result from his work on outboards.
Tony says: "I always had a fascination for boats and the water but that had to wait till retirement from 30 odd years behind a camera shooting commercial photography. Now I find the time to play boats with my dear wife Alma. Any good weather will find us slipped from the moorings and in the Gulf Islands.
Once I became a member of CBMC I wanted to find a volunteer niche. A pile of old non-running outboard motors in the basement of the Maritime Centre could not be ignored. One of my diversions in life had been to help my brother in his auto garage prepare race car engines. Applying my knowledge of race engines to fixing up old 7hp outboards was a good fit and has made money for the Maritime Centre."
For information on Tony's small engine repairs at the Maritime Centre click here.
George Karras – Director / HR / Boat Acquisitions
As professional seafarer and Master Mariner, I have a lifetime of experience with boats and ships. I owned and operated commercial fishing vessels, skippered tugs on the BC coast and was captain of deep sea cargo ships around the world. In the last 15 years I was fortunate to cap my seagoing career by working for Transport Canada Marine Safety. It was my opportunity to give back to the marine industry that I love by helping mariners advance in their careers and boat builders to comply with the regulations, and by promoting good seamanship, safety and protection of our waters.
The one constant in my life has been my love for vessels of all types, their design and seaworthiness, no matter what type or size. I have been an amateur shipwright and have owned my present pleasure boat, the MV Falcon Rock, for 15 years during which I have kept her in good shape. It is with this passion and knowledge that I hope to help the Cowichan Wooden Boat Society as a Director.
Carmel Nelson – Director / HR
I grew up on the East Coast of Canada enjoying summers at my grandparents' cottage on the Northumberland Strait. Always happiest being on or near the ocean, I went from one coast to the other. My husband Dave introduced me to boating on this coast and of course insisted I take the Power Squadron course, which I gladly did. Our adventures included boating trips to Hot Springs Cove, Bamfield area, Pedwell Harbour, Pedder Bay to mention a few. Some of our ocean adventures also included some week long kayak treks in the Bamfield area. Recently we've been fortunate enough to purchase our latest "project" from the CWBS. It needs a bit of TLC and power, which when ready, will no doubt give us many years of enjoyment.
I've been an active member of the Cowichan Valley Dragon Divas for the past 2 years and know how much our group appreciates being able to call the Cowichan Maritime Museum "home".
I look forward to helping out wherever and whenever I can as well as act as liaison between our 2 groups. I can appreciate that there are exciting times ahead with the Pier Reconstruction Project!
Lew Penny – Director / Treasurer
I grew up on the East Coast of Canada working wooden boats in the fishing industry, other work boats and enjoying recreational boating. During the recreational years owned a classic wooden sailboat for over 14 years cruising the beauty of the Gulf Islands and beyond. I recently sold this cherished possession.
After retirement in 1999, moving to Cowichan Bay gave me the opportunity to join the Cowichan Wooden Boat Society and have been an active member ever since. During those years I have held many positions on the Board of Directors, helping to fulfill the vision to build a community based maritime museum and small boat shop.
Glen Gratton - Director
My background was in the consumer food industry, initially with General Mills in Ontario and then in British Columbia where I was with a natural foods company and prior to retiring, ownership of a wholesale coffee roastery.
I grew up in the late 40’s and 50’s in a small Ontario village on the shores of Lake Huron where fishing was a significant part of the town’s economy. But today, some 60 years later, it is all gone. There is nothing left in place to remember a century of important local history.
In contrast, on my first visit a few years ago to the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre, I was very impressed with what a good job was being done in preserving and presenting the local maritime history. Each subsequent visit, reinforces that first impression.
Although my experience in maritime issues is limited, I fully support the mandate of the Maritime Centre and am happy to help the ongoing efforts in whatever way I can.
Steve Taylor / Education
My name is Steve Taylor and I joined the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre two years ago. I am happy to be serving my 1st term on our board of directors.
I recently retired from a 35 year career as a teacher and administrator in the B.C Public School System. Throughout the years I was always able to mature my interest in working with wood. I taught woodwork and construction courses in a variety of different settings.
The first day I walked into the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre’s workshop, I knew I had found a place where I could spend some time. After familiarizing myself with the shop, I have taught two different courses and I look forward to being involved in others in the future.
As a 1st term director, I plan to listen and learn about the history of the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre. Moving forward, I will work to make sure our workshop is well used and well equipped. I also am very excited about our Pier Reconstruction Project. The new pier will be a huge undertaking. When completed, I believe it will be a jewel to Cowichan Bay and the entire Cowichan Valley.
Geoff Vale - Director
Geoff Vale, currently resides in Mill Bay. He has been interested in marine and nautical positions all his life. From 1976 – 1982 he was the senior Hull and Cargo Surveyor for Marine Design Associates Ltd, Victoria. In 1982, Geoff was Chief Officer of M/V “Mai”.
From 1984 – 1995 he was Marine Surveyor for Ship Safety Transport Canada. From 1995 to present he works for Lloyds Sub Agent for Central Vancouver Island. Geoff with his marine background brings many skills to our Cowichan Wooden Boat Society.
We are pleased to have him on our board of Directors and we appreciate his keenness to volunteer.