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Galley Guys at Rawley Resort - Stavebank IIBy Andy Adams

Port Severn’s New Boater’s Paradise

Imagine our surprise when we saw Stavebank II tied at the docks in Port Severn! This historic Canadian yacht had been the “slipmate” to John Armstrong’s boat at the Port Credit Yacht Club for over two decades and its owners, Edel and Paul Schmidt, had become close friends, but they sold Stavebank a few years ago.

The Port Severn area is magic for boaters with deep but sheltered waters, a special location at the west end of the Trent-Severn Waterway and the gateway to southern Georgian Bay; plus it enjoys convenient highway access.

And, one more thing – it now has the new Rawley Resort, Spa & Marina. There are several restaurants in Port Severn … Starport Landing Marina, the Trent-Severn Lock Number 45, the Dam Grill, The Inn at Christie’s Mill, School House Fish and Chips and public dock areas, so this is a great destination spot to go to by boat.

Galley Guys at Rawley Resort - Resort entranceFor almost a century, Rawley Resort had operated on a waterfront property right in the centre of the area, but the buildings had become very tired and this perfectly situated property was being ignored by all the boaters and vacationing families. About five years ago, the previous owners decided to breathe new life into this great location and built beautiful new buildings, kitchens, a pool, a marina and they installed excellent new docks. Then they offered it for sale, and Mario Ribeiro and his wife Anna became the new owners of Rawley Resort, Spa & Marina.

The Galley Guys were attracted to Rawley Resort, Spa & Marina because of the obvious boating connection and also the reputation of the kitchens!

Adding to the connection, Galley Guy Greg Nicoll had met Mario previously, at the Port Credit Yacht Club and that was when he learned of the “new” Rawley Resort. He decided we needed to visit and that was how we came to be there this past July. Then, as we walked out to the waterfront, John Armstrong spotted Stavebank II.

Galley Guys at Rawley Resort - Mario RibeiroTo our delight, it turned out that Mario Ribeiro and his wife Anna were the new owners of Stavebank as well as the new owners of Rawley Resort and, to cap it off, former owners Edel and Paul Schmidt had become friends and were literally arriving at Rawley Resort an hour or so after the Galley Guys!

Naturally, after touring the property, we all sat down on the new waterfront patio to watch the boats go by and to discover how Mario and Anna had come to be the owners of both the resort and Stavebank II.

It turns out that in his homeland of Portugal, Mario’s mother ran a pub and his family lived upstairs so the hospitality industry was a sort of home to him. In Portugal, historically a seafaring nation, at that time there was a real boat culture but back then he could not afford his own boat.

His family came to Canada when he was a young man and, as a teenager, he remembers going to the Toronto boat show and thinking how wonderful the boats were. He thought about how great it would be to actually live onboard a boat. He said he didn't need a house, just a boat!

Galley Guys at Rawley Resort - dining roomIt’s been a dream of his ever since. Along the way, Mario married Anna and they had a family. He became a very successful businessman and yet the boat dream had not yet been realized.

In an amusing twist, Mario told us that while he was still looking for a boat to fulfill his dream, he wound up buying a resort!

It looked like a great investment that would get them to the water, but they quickly discovered that it was so popular in the summer all the rooms were booked and they had no place to stay!

Then, the boat idea came back again and he realized that there was a great opportunity. They could get a boat that was large enough to live aboard and they could keep it at the dock in front of Rawley Resort, Spa & Marina.

Galley Guys at Rawley Resort - on 'Darling'In his boat quest, he met Edel and Paul Schmidt who had decided to sell Stavebank II after so many years of ownership. Paul is an engineer who had kept this unique heritage Canadian boat in marvelous condition.

Stavebank could not go to just any owner. Mario told us that basically, Paul interviewed him to ensure that he would be a suitable owner! Well, Mario was a novice boater and Stavebank is a 50 foot wooden classic. What a way to start boating.

He told Mario that before he could sell him the boat, he wanted to come up to Rawley Resort to know that the boat would be going to the right kind of owner and that it would be kept in the right kind of place.

After Mario purchased the boat, Paul taught him about how it runs and how to handle it by accompanying him on a trip all the way through the Trent Severn system from Stavebank’s home at the Port Credit Yacht club in Toronto, out to Georgian Bay. It was a fabulous experience.

Now the boat is at its new home on the waterfront at Rawley Resort and it makes quite an impression to see such a big classic vessel.

Galley Guys at Rawley Resort - Anna and Mario Ribeiro with Edel and Paul Schmidt.Over the years, Paul Schmidt had done a lot of research and had discovered that Stavebank II had been built by Kenneth MacAlpine & Son, Shelburne Shipbuilders Ltd., in Nova Scotia in 1953. Originally an express commuter-style yacht, a new main salon and flying bridge had been added over the years and it appears that the yacht has always enjoyed careful ownership and operation.

It’s a fitting thing to see a Canadian built wooden classic in front of Rawley Resort because it is located on an historically significant property, where Christie’s lumber mill operated during the 19th Century. This mill created white pine lumber from the vast forests up the river. In 1922, Edgar Otto Rawson, a civil engineer, along with his wife Mabel, and her brother James (Dave) Gawley built a three story fishing lodge on the property. The name was created by combining Rawson and Gawley.

Galley Guys at Rawley Resort - Great foodThe original building was worn out but in 2005 it was reincarnated into the magnificent new Rawley Resort, Spa and Marina, offering more in services, options and luxury than Otto and Mabel could ever have imagined.

The restaurant at Rawley is known for the best dining experience in the region. Whether it’s a lunch meeting or a special evening occasion, and Chef Kay Bonsu orchestrates a symphony of flavours from locally-sourced produce to tempt the most sophisticated palate. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served in the dining room and piano bar, or out on the patio by the water where we enjoyed a delicious lunch.

Mario told us that because of the water flow, it rarely freezes here so the views of the Trent-Severn waterway can be enjoyed all year round. Rawley is a very popular winter destination for snowmobilers just as it is for summer boaters and vacationers.

Guests love to watch the sunset from the beautifully decorated dining room and on the weekends the piano bar has live entertainment.

For our boating readers, Rawley Resort, Spa & Marina is an ideal place to join friends for cocktails, craft beer or a glass of wine. The full service, 16 slip marina, located adjacent to Lock 45 at Port Severn in the Trent-Severn Canal and the resort offers day and overnight dockage. They monitor VHF Channel 68 and for spa appointments and general inquiries, you can call 705-538-2272 or 1-800-263-7538.

Galley Guys at Rawley Resort - extraordinary club sandwichAlso golf is available nearby and there’s a liquor store literally across the street.

Who knows who you might meet on your visit to Rawley Resort, Spa & Marina!

Photo Captions:
Photo 1 – Stavebank II was at the docks as a surprise welcome for John Armstrong and the Galley Guys.
Photo 2 - Arriving by road is an easy option.
Photo 3 - Mario Ribeiro, owner of both Stavebank II and Rawley Resort joined the Galley Guys for a delicious patio lunch and a toast to good friends!
Photo 4 - Imagine how their regular live entertainment lights up this room!
Photo 5 - The Galley Guys on the flying bridge of Darling as we leave Midland for Port Severn and Rawley Resort, Spa and Marina. (From the left: Andy Adams, Greg Nicoll and John Armstrong)
Photo 6 – From the left, Anna and Mario Ribeiro join hands with Edel and Paul Schmidt. Stavebank II is in the background.
Photo 7 – The kitchen at Rawley Resort is held in high regard
Photo 8 - My club sandwich was anything but ordinary!
All photos Andy Adams