Alberni sports fishing boat in television spotlight

Sportsfishing B.C. TV host Mark Pendlington has contracted Alberni boatbuilder Fiber Pro Boats to build him a boat to use on his show.

Fiber Pro Boats owner Mike Bouchard shows the first fiberglass Stinger boat he ever made in 1981. A resident of Alberni

Fiber Pro Boats owner Mike Bouchard shows the first fiberglass Stinger boat he ever made in 1981. A resident of Alberni

The host of a B.C. sportsfishing show needed a boat for his internationally syndicated program so he looked to an Alberni Valley boatbuilder to provide it.

Mark Pendlington is the host of Sportsfishing B.C., which airs on CHEK Television on Sundays.

Pendlington has ordered one of three 17-foot fibreglass boats made by Fiber Pro Boats owner Mike Bouchard.

“It’s built differently and I like it,” Pendlington said.

Pendlington needs the boat for use during the filming of his upcoming season, and plans to work with Bouchard’s company for another two years.

Pendlington says he is planning on shooting some shows in Tofino, Nootka Sound, as well as in the North Island using the boat.

In 1997, angler Chris Barker took him out fly fishing on one of Bouchard’s boats outside of Tofino. Pendlington says he was immediately impressed.

“Other boats were all geared up and using 300 horsepower motors,” he said. “We were using a 60 h.p. and handling just as well.”

Pendlington isn’t unfamiliar with Port Alberni or its fishing, he said. “I know David Murphy and his sister Marilyn quite well,” he said. “Dave and I have fished together several times.”

Pendlington’s phone call was long over due, said Bouchard, who has made boats for 30 years.

“I was semi-retired and wasn’t going to do this anymore,” he said. “But this is the one I’ve been waiting for.”

“Up to then those kind of boats didn’t exist in Canada,” Pendlington said.

Bouchard, 62, recently moved to Alberni from Campbell River. His wife is from the Valley and he has a better work facility on Second Avenue, he said.

Resorts in Alaska and Washington State use his boats. And the RCMP use them for sea rescue training.

Bouchard and his son Kevin build three different models of Stinger boats from Bouchard’s own design mould.

He also uses predominantly fibreglass as opposed to wood, he said.

“My boats are a big investment but they last,” he said. “I build them so they can be handed down.”

He started building boats 30 years ago, and began building his own line in 1988. “Everyone else was taking care of the commercial fleet so I started taking care of the little guys,” Bouchard said.

The business does both manufacturing and repairs. Business is bustling in the spring and summer and slows down in the winter, he said.

Depending on how the opportunity pans out he may eventually expand and hire a couple more employees, he said.

Originally from Timmins, Ont., Bouchard followed his father, who is a miner, and has lived in New Brunswick, PEI and California before moving to B.C. in 1975. “When disco was big,” he said.

He took woodwork extensively in school, and later earned master carpenter, journeyman cabinet maker and shipwright credentials.

He built his first boat in 1981.

“I love boats and trains — it’s in my blood,” Bouchard said. “I’ve got a train track and dock right  below my shop so I’m right at home here.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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