Award-winning fiberglass project in British Columbia

Scott Webb Headshot

Choice Logo120

0709 Choice

Most fiberglass pools are trucked to the site for installation. In a few cases, the shell arrives by boat. Rarer still is the shell that becomes a shallow-draft boat, like this one, and is floated up to the job site with the help of a makeshift tug. It turns out that a fiberglass pool is just as good at keeping water out as it is at keeping water in, and makes a fairly seaworthy craft.

The naval approach was necessary due to the extremely steep grade and severe access limitations of the property, says Benito Testini, Catalina Pool & Spa, Maple Ridge, British Columbia, winners of the Manufactured Pool category.

"The road to the home was at a level 50 feet above the height of the home," he says. "We couldn't even get a dump truck down the driveway because it was so steep. And from the driveway, the opening along the side of the home to the back yard was 3 feet wide.

"That's why we floated it around to the backyard. We had one of our employees sailing in the boat/pool, and the owner pulling it in a little fishing boat with an outboard motor."

The craft was launched from a local yacht club, where it was craned into the sea and then tugged into place. In terms of ship design, it had to be the lightest vessel on the water that day. "I was surprised," Testini notes, "there was only about a foot draft to the thing. It was barely in the water at all."

It all sounds perfectly plausible. Still, the stakes and the unorthodox approach of sailing a pool gave the crew some tense moments.

"The president of San Juan Pools was out there with us, and he said it could be done, so I said to myself, 'Son of a gun, at least I've got the president of the company out here if something goes wrong!'"

Of course, it's not enough to get your ship to harbor; you have to dock it.

"The only way to do that was wait for low tide and put it on the beach," says Testini. "Then we had to get it up over the sea wall. We had 12 to 14 guys there, and we pushed and pulled and tethered and yanked, and finally slid the pool up a couple of I-beam rails onto the dock. That was much tougher than I thought it was going to be."

The 3-foot access trail complicated everything, not just the shell delivery. Given the Everest-like steepness of the slope to the road, Testini originally figured to haul away the demolished cement using another waterborne scheme.

He had a barge all lined up, he says, "but we didn't think about the tides. Due to the tides, we were very limited on the time we could load before the tide went out again, so we decided to buck up and do it all by manual labor.

"We ended up using powered wheelbarrows, but that was still a lot of labor. You're going straight up the side of the house over a long series of ramps, and then into the back of a small container. We'll never do that again."

These extraordinary exertions made the project all the more satisfying for Catalina Pools, Testini says. "It was a great feeling when we finished it, because it's a beautiful backyard."

An understatement, to be sure. The pool itself basks in some of the most stunning residential scenery in North America, set amid towering spruce and the restless sea, its bark and black decking a fitting complement to it's forest home.

The 147-square-foot San Juan Crystal Reef pool, measuring 17 by 15 feet, fits perfectly in the confined space, with an adjacent 4-by-6-foot firepit for warding off the late-season Canadian chill. With its efficient Phoenix heat pump, Testini says the pool stays warm down to ambient temperatures of 23 degrees, allowing for almost 10 months of annual use.

The installation features a Zodiac Duoclear Saltwater Chlorine Generator, Pentair pumps and cartridge filters, a Calflame barbecue Island, an outdoor shower and storage room, and extensive lighting. It has separate pump filtration and heating systems for the spa and pool, plus a third pump that is used for flow over the vanishing edge.

To be sure, there are larger and more-elaborate installations, but few as comfortable in their context as this small pool - a pretty shell laid along the shoreline in the great Northwest.

Catalina Pool & Spa

Category: Manufactured Pool
Project Location: Maple Ridge, British Columbia

Each month we feature one of 11 annual AQUA Choice winners. The 2009 honorees are: Botanical Decorators, Olney, Md. • Catalina Pool & Spa, Maple Ridge, British Columbia • Da Vida Pools, Austin, Texas • Ocean Quest pools by Lew Akins, Belton, Texas • Pools By John Clarkson, Jacksonville, Fla. • Rosebrook Pools, Libertyville, Ill. • Royal Oasis Pools & Spas, Medford, Ore. • Southernwind Pools, Dallas, Texas • Tumber & Associates, Orangeville, Ontario • Wise Pool Company, Conroe, Texas. For more information about AQUA Choice or to enter the competition, visit

Page 1 of 107
Next Page
Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library
Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide