Cortes Island’s Second Annual Gumboot Toss

By Roy L Hales

In the beginning, the Harbour Authority of Cortes Island (HACI) looked after three docks. Now there are five: Whaletown, Gorge Harbour, Mansons Landing, Cortes Bay and Squirrel Cove. While most of the traffic is pleasure craft during the summer, the docks are still home to Cortes Island’s flourishing aquaculture industry. From 11 AM to 2 PM on Sunday August 4th, HACI will celebrate 20 years of service with a nautical swap meet and second annual gumboot toss. 

“Over $300 in prizes donated by Canadian Tire, the Real Canadian Superstore and Ocean Pacific Marine Supply. The categories in the competition are men, women, 3 youth categories and a Team Challenge.  All winners get gift certificates to buy new gumboots.  The Cove Restaurant is also buying the winner of the Team Challenge their first round of drinks after the competition!” – from the news release.

Cortes Island’s Annual Gumboot Toss:

“When I became President, one of the mandates I wanted was to be more public with the Harbour Authority. It isn’t some kind of federal bureaucracy down at the docks, this is all local volunteers … A friend stopped over when I was talking about having some kind of event and she said, ‘Why not have a gumboot toss.’ I’d never heard of a gumboot toss, but it sounded perfect. They have them all over the world. Probably the biggest event is in New Zealand and that is where I got the image of the fellow tossing the boot. It was an artist from New Zealand who did that.” – Bob Katzko, President, Harbour Authority of Cortes Island. 

Site of Harbour Authority Cortes Island's second annual gumboot toss
The 2016 Nautical Swap meet – Courtesy HACI

In The Podcast: 

  • Andy Ellingsen describes HACI’s origins, what they do and why this organization is important to Cortes Island. 
  • How saves taxpayers $60,000 a year – which is the annual fee the Strathcona Regional District wantesd to take over the Whaletown dock.
  • Is HACI financially viable?
  • Cortes Island’s Commercial fishermen and shellfish producers.
  • Island Seafarms delivers between $5 million and $7 million of produce out of Gorge Harbour every year and employs 20 Cortesians.
  • How the docks operate, 
  • HACI’s policy regarding liveaboards, dock by dock.
  • Is HACI financially viable?
  • impending rebuild of Squirrel Cove dock, previous work at Mansons, Whaletown and Gorge Harbour.  
  • How HACI saves Cortes taxpayers $60,000 a year – the annual fee the Strathcona Regional District wanted to take over the Whaletown dock – and operates at a profit.
  • How Harbour Master Jenny Hartwick draws upon the experience of other Harbour Masters from  the Harbour Authority Association of British Columbia when necessary.
Site of Harbour Authority Cortes Island's second annual gumboot toss
The 2016 Swap Meet – Courtesy HACI

HACI Is “Absolutely Essential”

“I became a member and stood for election in 2003 … because this is an island and I understood it was an island and I understood that the proper operation of the docks is absolutely essential to the ability of people to live on an island.” – Andy Ellingsen, Director, Harbour Authority of Cortes Island.

Site of Harbour Authority Cortes Island's second annual gumboot toss
Low tide at the Squirrel Cove boat ramp, where the gumboot toss takes place – Roy L Hales photo

Not A Fund Raiser

“we are not raising any money. The tables are free and we’ve found some sponsors for the prizes. Bascially its a $25 prize for everyone who wins and that basically buys you a new pair of gumboots. No, this is not a fund raiser, it is a community event The Harbour Authority is putting on.”  – Bob Katzko