The Second Generation
Vince, Joseph’s second youngest son, showed a strong interest in the boat tour while in his teens. One summer he rebuilt the hull of the old tour boat, Sea Wolf. He also took his turns as first mate on the boat with his father. When he was 18, he passed the exam to qualify as a tour boat captain, as his older brother had. In 1983, he enrolled in the Coast Guard College, with a love of all things boat-related. After graduating in 1986, he worked on a variety of Coast Guard ships as a Navigation Officer, then later landed an office job with their Ice Operations Section in Dartmouth. The best advantage of that job was that he was off for the summers and could run the boat tours with his father.
In 1988 a second boat, the ‘Second Wind’ was purchased, and converted from a houseboat to a tour boat. Unlike the ‘Eastwind III’, the ‘Second Wind’ was not a good sea boat. Joe captained it and Vince captained the old one, the ‘Eastwind III’. It was used as a second tour boat for about 5 years. At one time, they ran up to five tours a day, the earliest at 7am. The wharf was upgraded from a deteriorating concrete wall to a reinforced wooden wharf. The business continued to expand as advertising reached more visitors to Cape Breton.
Vince bought the old boat from his father in the spring of 1989, and registered the name “Bird Island Tours” as a sole proprietorship. The two boats were used fairly constantly for the next 5 years. He married Sheila the next year and they worked together to make improvements to the business, which they incorporated in 1994.. They were able to buy the property from Vince’s parents in 1995 and move there permanently in 1997. Vince’s Dad was still on hand to captain one of the boats and aid Vince with the maintenance and marketing decisions.