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/

Related Articles
Yacht Clubs
  • 11 February 2020
  • By Ethan

Gulf Yacht Club

Their monthly meetings (of which there are eight, plus two pub nights) generally include a short business meeting then a presenter.  They conduct the meetings at the Vancouver Maritime...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
New at the end of 2019, the 58 Salon Express design features large windows to flood the living ...
No wonder this is one of Regal’s best-selling boats; the Regal 33 Express offers amazing ...
The newest member of Beneteau’s Gran Turismo line is the GT 36 and this yacht brings the style and ...
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 ...

CY Virtual Video Boat Tours

Virtual Boat ToursWe all love boats and nothing can break us up! So, what better way to spend our time than looking at interesting boats and going aboard in a virtual ride or tour. We have asked our friends at various dealers and manufacturers to help us assemble a one-stop online resource to experience some of the most interesting boats on the market today. Where the CY Team has done a review, we connect you to that expert viewpoint. Our Virtual Show will continue to grow so visit frequently and check it out. If you can’t go boating, you can almost experience the thrill via your screen. Not quite the same, but we hope you enjoy our fine tour collection.

 

Read more about the CY Virtual Boat Tours....................

AXOPAR 37 XC

 

Axopar 37 XCWhole new ball game…

 

Set aside your assumptions and expectations for a few minutes while we try to describe the new Axopar 37 XC that made its American debut at the 2020 Miami International Boat Show. This boat represents a whole new ball game in terms of design, performance, seakeeping and functionality. In fact, I’d say it takes a ‘clean sheet of paper’ approach to boating – it’s that different.

Read More about the Axopar 37 XC..................

Destinations

  • Prev
On May 19, the New York State Canal Corporation today announced an updated opening schedule for the ...
If you have four hours to enjoy a fine tour of one of Canada’s most interesting waterways (let’s ...
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 ...

DolphinsBy the Canadian Yachting Editors


Canadians are blessed in many ways and especially when it comes to boating. We enjoy some the world’s most beautiful cruising waters and many places are as sheltered as they are scenic.

British Columbia and the Pacific North West plainly have the most breath-taking scenery with the combination of the majestic ocean views and the snow-capped mountains in the distance. It’s like no place on earth when you have a Killer Whale breach beside your little fishing boat.

Read more about Canadian Cruising...........

 

DIY & How to

  • Prev
I get a lot of calls for electrical repairs. Not upgrades or installations – the requests are to ...
Many boats are now on the water after a COVID-imposed hiatus – and with a shortened ‘prep’ period, ...
Wrapping your hull with marine vinyl wrap instead using traditional marine paint seems like a new ...
Boating safety is always—always—a critical consideration whenever you push off the dock, but with ...
Building on our last two editions (Sealants, and Fibreglass, respectively), Gelcoat is the next ...
After a successful R2Ak and regatta season in 2019, I felt that Pitoraq was due for a major ...
Pause for a moment and ponder this question. How much is your life and your safety at sea worth? ...
Last edition we talked about sealants to perform tasks like bedding and sealing. Other tasks like ...
Over the winter, a many-thousand pound fiberglass, wood or metal shell is held in position by only ...
Since the late 19th century, a debate has raged on the relative merits of diesel fuel over ...

Andrew AlbertiIn the past two issues we have been doing an overview of the right-of-way rules. In the first, we did a review of Section A of Part 2, in the second we did a review of the definitions. This issue, we will look at Section B of Part 2, General Limitations, which is essentially limitations applying to boats that have right of way according to Section A.

GENERAL LIMITATIONS

14 AVOIDING CONTACT

A boat shall avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible. However, a right-of-way boat or one entitled to room or mark-room

Read more about the right-of-way rules.......................

 

  

Marine Products

  • Prev
The HO Excel Waterskis are your classic compression molded skis that are durable, but also have a ...
We all know that plastic and plastic waste is a huge issue globally. Driven by innovation and ...
Don't leave your toys at the dock this season. Wouldn’t it be great to take them with you? ...
Calder’s indispensable and thorough manual gives you detailed instructions for maintaining, ...
With hundreds of thousands of nautical miles under his keel, Kretschmer’s adventures have taken him ...
The Ronix Marsh Mellow Thrasher is a lightweight, 3 fin wakesurf board ideal for those wanting a ...
Color & Fabric Safe! Removes mold, mildew, algae stain, bird droppings, spider droppings, ...
This tough fast acting cleaner removes heavy grease and oil, adhesives, glue, ink and marker, ...
Great for slippery trailer fenders, steps, and boat ladders SeaDek Step Kits are made from 5mm ...
FlexTred is a fast and easy way to prevent slip & fall accidents and is ideal for use on ...