Boat Makers With Their Boats

By Katherine Stone

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” 

― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Back to the days when most sailors made their boats in their garages, backyards, or basements, because that would have been the only way that they could procure a boat of any type. Boaters of yore were hardy folk who endured sleeping on floor boards in open boats with very little shelter, no boat cushions, cotton sails that never dried out and often succumbed to mildew, a hand compass and line of sight was used to navigate, no GPS or chart plotters, and their idea of a head was a bucket, if you were lucky.

This is how many of the first members of the Gulf Yacht Club recount their childhood and early adult years. Sadly, for many of them, they are wistful when recounting stories of the “good old days” when cruises weren’t planned… you got on the phone and called someone, who called someone else through the telephone chain and everyone magically arrived at the chosen destination. The bulk of the sailors that eventually formed the Gulf Yacht Club were from Kitsilano Sailing Club; a club organized for racing. Others wanted to spend their boating time exploring the British Columbia coast with its many inlets, bays, and islands, so decided to form another type of sailing club.

Canada Bday CelebrationUnofficial club historian, Doug Macleod, took it upon himself to interview eight long-time members who came up with some amazing stories, along with fabulous accounts of the club’s beginnings. According to long time members, Phill and Nancy Little, who are still very active members, their goal was to support affordable sailboat cruising. There would be no clubhouse or docks. On April 5, 1965, the inaugural meeting of the Gulf Yacht Club was held at Peter Bold’s Dance Studio. To qualify for membership an individual needed to skipper a cruising sailing yacht across the Gulf and back, with an overnight stop-over. With that one rule, the Gulf Yacht Club was born. Many of the club’s founders never actually qualified for membership. But, because they felt the concept was at the heart of the club, they voted for rules that disqualified themselves!

The GYC’s first cruise included seven boats in the spring of 1965 that sailed across the Strait of Georgia to Pirate’s Cove on De Courcy Island. Phill and Nancy weren’t on that cruise, as they didn’t have a sailboat at the time. So, what did Phill do? He built a Rover 22 in his backyard, of course! Born Free was launched in May 1968. Phill did his crossing shortly thereafter, becoming Gulf Sailor 81, with Nancy close behind becoming Gulf Sailor 98. In fact, women sailors have always had a strong presence in the club. Of the first 100 members, five were women who had skippered a boat across the strait and back to qualify.

Commox Appie GatheringBrian Sigsworth and his wife, Lenora, became members soon after this inaugural cruise. “Today, joining the club requires filling out a form and signing a cheque. It was not so simple in the early days, a sailor had to qualify to join. A hopeful member needed to keep a log and navigate across the Strait and back. A completed form was required with signatures, collected at several locations along the way, verifying the authenticity of the voyage,” recounted Brian, Gulf Yacht Club member 22.

Once people join the club they tend to stay involved for a very long time. Don and Laura McLeod loved the club but were faced with a tough decision. They decided to sell their sailboat and buy a powerboat, which would have made them ineligible for membership in the GYC. So many loyal friendships had been created with the couple that the constitution was changed at the Annual General Meeting to state that members who had joined as sailors could continue as associates if they moved over to the dark side and bought a powerboat.

From all this evolved Vancouver’s south coast build-and-sail fellowship of the 1960s. It wasn’t a hobby, it was a way of life, with friendships that were formed and have lasted decades. As recalled by Phill, “Everybody was helping everybody. Sailors often dropped in on a fellow boatbuilder to check on construction or lend a hand. We couldn’t wait to finish our boats, so we could join in with the gang.”

Phill spoke of, “Frequent raft-ups where we’d sing until the wee hours. The traditional GYC Labour Day Salmon Barbeque started at Pirate’s Cove. The cooks lit briquets in tiny caves on the east side of the spit giving the salmon a wonderful smoky flavour. Entertainment at cruises was elaborate including sing-a-longs, skits, and comedy routines. One time the women produced a fashion show using men as models on a makeshift catwalk.”

Hiking Group SmugglersThere was more than one mis-adventure for many of the members in those early days of “rafting up” when they arrived at a destination. “Tying up to docks was considered expensive so early Gulf sailors anchored, but now, club rendezvous are usually at marinas. Early cruises were always an adventure. Organization was spontaneous, boats just showed up and cruises were more like hippy happenings. You walked to shore along the log booms in West Bay. There were always people who fell in. It was lots of fun,” commented Phill.

Brian recounts a story that the club cruises used to tie up at the Anglican Church docks. After several misadventures that might have entailed too many adult beverages and the docks tearing away from their pilings, the church finally made the boats all set an anchor and stern tie to the docks.

Three other members - Cam Shields, Tom Shenton and Don McLeod - were adamant that socializing was at the heart of the club, coupled with “appy hours”, kayak and dinghy competitions, potluck dinners, paper boat and airplane building, Easter bonnet parades, goofy games like boot and fender tosses, egg tosses, and stumbling through the bushes on a scavenger hunt. The formal club schedule of 10 cruises a year and monthly meetings every third Monday of the month from September to June at the Vancouver Maritime Museum gives new members more confidence to expand their cruising experience and develop sailing skills.

In fact, the best part of the monthly meetings is the socializing! Everyone gets to the meetings early so that they have time to chat and catch up on the latest news. Of course, the business part of the meeting with reports and motions has to be accomplished, albeit quickly, so that they can get back to socializing and the presentations. Engaging topics such as marine mammals, nautical history, maintenance, sailing skills, nautical life, and exotic destinations just might be on the agenda. With speakers from UBC, Environment Canada, Vancouver Aquarium, Disabled Sailing and the marine industry there’s something for everyone.

Hippies Victoria DayClub members all agree that the pool of knowledge, experience, and skills is a huge benefit and sharing has always been another important part of the club since the beginning. Commodore John Dixon is quick to say that, “Our members can recommend an anchorage in some obscure place, help you rebuild the transmission in your boat, or share the best fishing spots.”

Any new sailor learns quickly that boats require maintenance, which is part and parcel of boat ownership. Gulf sailors are happy to help out and share their knowledge of mechanical or electrical workings, rigging, boatwright questions, and even varnishing problems. Cam Shields smiled and pointed out that there is one exception, “If you have a clogged head, you’re on your own. No one will help you with that!”

Kayak RaceWhy do Gulf Yacht Club members love their club so much? There is little doubt that the initiation fee of $50 and annual dues of $150 are bargains, but the value of membership is priceless. The members enjoy getting together with people who share a love of sailing and cruising. The activities have made it easier for couples to sail together and the whole family can take part in everything. You know that if you are anchored in some bay and you see another boat displaying the GYC burgee you will be invited for a cold drink and enjoyable conversation. As Don has put it so well, “Networking, stimulating presentations, helping hands, and exciting cruises make the Gulf Yacht Club special. Friendliness, ranging from a welcoming spirit to relationships lasting decades, has created a vibrant and loyal membership of over 100 boaters.”

Gulf Yacht Club
Vancouver Maritime Museum
1905 Ogden Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6J 1A2
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
https://www.gulfyachtclub-bc.ca/

DIY & How to

  • Prev
This bag does more than hold your anchor and rode in one tidy little pile. After you’ve anchored ...
Purchase your copy of the BRAND NEW Ports Georgian Bay 2020 Edition at the Toronto International ...
The boat was put on the hard for this winter and were going to follow along with Graham as he ...
In this part, we’ll delve deeper into the other parts of the boat found below the water line: the ...
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told my children to wash their hands. I remind them ...
The new editions of PORTS Cruising Guides, from the publishers of Canadian Yachting will be ...
As the seasons change and we move from warm summer into cooler fall, many fanatic boaters ...
On the Friday before a weekend with a gorgeous forecast, I heard on the news that a boat had ...
A reader suggested we take a look at anchors. Anchoring seems simple enough. A weighted hook with a ...
If you’ve spent any time in a boat yard during spring commissioning season, you won’t find it out ...

Tight FitA new shrink-wrap promises more environmentally conscious

In Nov 2019, I was fortunate enough to attend the Boating Ontario conference in Niagara Falls ON. This conference is geared to members and suppliers of the marine industry particularly marina operations. One of the suppliers was Layfield Geosynthetics, offering a new shrink-wrap film called ‘Bioflex MarineShrink’. The Layfield rep that I spoke with described the new product as a more environmentally conscious option (more on what this means, below).

Read more about Shrink Wrap........................

 

  

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
With a philosophy of quality and 'doing things right Ranger Tugs launches the all new R-25 at the ...
The new Beneteau Swift Trawler 41 renews the spirit of the practical seaworthy cruiser. The ...
The Canadian Yachting test crew last week had the opportunity to run the Bavaria S36 HT at St ...
ILCA is seeking new builders to complement its existing network of manufacturers, the International ...
Nelson Gilbert (1854-1921) began building canoes in Brockville in the 1890s, a time when the sport ...
I have heard a lot of talk lately about trends in yacht clubs where senior membership is getting ...
To get you in the mood for cruising the Boat Show then launching in spring, here’s a boat that ...
Quite simply, the styles of boats have changed. Where in past years a buyer might have been looking ...
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the ...

Pursuit DC 235A Great Boat for Canada and Mom Approved Too!

By Jill Snider and Andy Adams

Coming from two different directions, Jill Snider and I met up at Crates Lake Country Boats in Orillia, Ontario to run and review a new Pursuit DC 235, a deep vee dual console boat that is an offshore inspired bow rider with strong fishing overtones and a wide range of family features.

It’s what I would call a handsome, classically styled boat that I suspect will still look fresh many years into the future. Jill had a different take on it.

 

Read more about the Pursuit DC 235.....................

Destinations

  • Prev
Boom & Batten Restaurant is suspended over the water adjacent to the Songhees Walkway and ...
Provincial Boat Havens are those special places to drop anchor in British Columbia’s West Coast and ...
NW Explorations, a Bellingham, Washington-based yacht charter, brokerage, and marine services ...
If you haven’t cruised the Rideau Canal before, you have missed a special treat and even if you ...
At the 2019 Vancouver International Boat Show I had the pleasure of meeting up with Allyson and ...
Following the harsh impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, The British Virgin Islands is making an ...
For the adventurous boater Bunsby Marine Provincial Park is a special place, situated due south of ...
There is good anchoring in Cowichan Bay and nearby, and salt water enough to make any boater happy. ...
We’re gliding through green-blue waters, colours so vivid and bright they hurt your eyes. We’re set ...
The Halifax waterfront has been attracting more and more large yachts in recent years. However, a ...

Moorings In BrazilWith an increasing amount of interest in South America as a charter destination, The Moorings has responded with a new base in Paraty, Brazil. Surrounded by towering jungles plummeting into the waters of Baia Carioca, this charter cruising region features bays peppered with islands and world-famous beaches.

Centrally located between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Paraty (pronounced “Para-chee”) holds the key to many natural wonders you can only discover by boat.

Read more about Moorings' Brazil Charters......................

 

Marine Products

  • Prev
It is not often I get to drive the newer model of something I own. Most of the time the model I own ...
Good news cruisers, it’s coming in early Summer 2020 – PORTS Rideau Canal and Lower Ottawa River ...
Few things are as frustrating to a boat owner as being becalmed or running out of fuel—or both. If ...
Every cruiser in the region has used it for years, but now there’s a brand new edition of the ...
When you visit the Toronto Boat Show, come to the Canadian Yachting booth (#1741), trial a pair of ...
With the Davis Scrubbis Underwater Hull Cleaning Kit it's easy to rid a boat of algae, grass, and ...
There is nothing worse for me to have too many keys on your key chain. Even if I move a few to ...
One of the most important boat-ownership tasks is cleaning the bilge. Not only does it reduce ...
Most dock boxes aren't sturdy enough to sit on. Nor are they too comfortable. Finally! - the ...
Too hot to bake? No oven onboard anyway? Try these no-bake shipboard treats. (Yes, we know they’re ...