Oct 12, 2017

DYC At The DocksLocated across the harbour from downtown Sydney the Dobson Yacht Club has an interesting history. 

The Dobson Yacht Club (DYC), like so many other good ideas, had a humble beginning. The year was 1953, a time of relative prosperity in Cape Breton. Sydney Steel was booming and coal was still King. It was a time of rebuilding and hard work following the war, but it was also a time when recreation was important as a diversion from the everyday realities of life.

One such diversion was Snipe racing. These small sailing vessels provided an inexpensive form of entertainment. Sydney Harbour’s only yacht club, the Royal Cape Breton was reaping the benefits of the increase in the number of Snipe racing enthusiasts. However, several members of the Royal Cape Breton’s Snipe Sailing Fleet had become disillusioned with some of the restrictive practices of that club. So, with nothing more than a dream, they began to consider starting their own yacht club.

 

Snipes Racing

These dreamers had absolutely no assets, but they were attracted to a piece of land directly across the harbour. A build-up of stone ballast dumped there over the years formed a crude breakwater filled in with sand and gravel. The resulting piece of property was called Shingle Point. There was safe anchorage on the southwest side of the property that would be ideal for the Snipe fleet. This property formed a part of the Dobson Estate, located across the Westmount Highway from Shingle Point. This estate was an early land grant from the Crown to the Dobson family and included all the rights to the water frontage bordering on the estate.

Dobson Yacht ClubIn 1953, the estate belonged to Mr. Sidney Dobson and several of his sisters. One of the sailors trying to establish this second Sydney Harbour yacht club was a young man named Roy MacKeen. His mother was Myrtle Mac Keen, née Dobson, and she was one of the sisters in control of the Dobson Estate. She was also very sympathetic to the cause that had captured her son’s attention.

Roy Mac Keen recalls:

“The name Shingle Point was based upon the ‘shingle beach’ created on the north side of the point. The land was like a Bras d’Or lakes ‘barrachois’, a rocky point enclosing, or almost enclosing a pond. The land was the Westmount southern ‘terminus’ for the ferry that shuttled passengers from Westmount to Sydney during the navigable season. The Sydney Terminus (wharf) was at the base of the steep hill on the water side of the Isle Royale Hotel. The northern Westmount terminus was further to the north at the end of Ingrahams Lane.

“The ferry was called the Mary and, as I recall, was probably about 40 feet in length; a two man, raised pilot house forward and an enclosed cabin for passengers. The cabin would hold about 12 people on each side on slatted full length benches; life jackets above on a rack. A potbelly stove kept the cabin warm in spring and summer. Of the two man crew—captain and mate—I can remember Captain Jackson, a very stern looking man, in my young eyes, with a bushy moustache and the young mate, Ashley Aitkens who took over on the death of Captain Jackson, and remained master until the ferry service was retired, the year that Westmount Road was paved. It was amazing to me how Mr. Aitkens could throw a large diameter coil of rope over the piling every time. The ferry ran annually until ice prevented further navigation. Then, the passengers who used the ferry to get to work in Sydney, had to stay home until the harbour either froze solid enough to hold their weight or until the spring melt permitted the Mary to run again. There was no dependable alternate route around the harbour at that time. Just a single lane, dirt road that turned into mud in the spring and a dust trail in the summer.

DYC Colourful Patio


“The Dobson Yacht Club land was owned by Job Dobson, marine contractor and farmer. The original land, approximately bounded by Corbett Street on the north, Pretoria Street on the south, the harbour on the east and the Murphy Road on the West, was a considerable tract of land. The estate consisted of only two homes and the farm barns, the rest was open fields. The bungalow to the north, lately owned by the Daleys was the summer home of Harvey O. Dobson, a New York criminal lawyer, son of Job Dobson. There was, in the 30s, a boathouse on the harbour side of the bungalow which I can recall housed a canoe, two lapstrake rowboats, a Hickman Sea Sled (one of the few manufactured), and the Ciboux, Sid Dobson’s fast, gaff-rigged sloop. The Dobsons were a sea-oriented family. The Aspinet, a 60′ schooner whose lines are stored at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, was usually berthed at the DYC ferry dock.

“The present land occupied by DYC was his (Job’s) shipyard, which supported the marine contracting business, complete with marine railway, building shed, etc. Wonderful odours of creosote, pine tar, and wood chips filled the air. Walter Pinaud was brought over from St Pierre to work at the yard by my grandfather Job Dobson.”

DYC Boat LaunchNegotiations began between the sailors and the Dobson family and a price of $3,000 was placed on the property known as Shingle Point. Now it was just a matter of raising the $3,000 and this dream could become a reality. Twelve original members paid $100 each, plus a membership fee of $20. Some of the members fronted a loan for the balance and, in 1954, adopting the name of its benefactor, The Dobson Yacht Club was born.

The original clubhouse was a shack from the construction site of the then-new Federal Building on Dorchester Street. In the spring of 1954, the water’s edge in the southwest cove was only 9–12 metres from the clubhouse itself. The next order of business was to purchase a new clubhouse.

At this time the old military barracks on Royal Avenue, near the Sydney City Hospital, were being sold for one dollar each with the condition that they be removed from the site. After purchasing one of these buildings the members hired Mr. W. Carson to move the building. This was done by separating the building in two and moving it through the streets of Sydney down to the Cape Breton Dairy on the waterfront. Total costs to the members was $1,440. Mr. Henry Bettens of Glace Bay installed a foundation on the Dobson property for $350 and the actual relocation took place by floating the structures across the harbour in September of 1955.

During the mid-fifties to mid-sixties, the Snipe Sailing Team from Dobson became a force to be reckoned with in Maritime racing circles. The team won the Provincial Snipe Championships three times, the Maritime Championship three times and the Dominion Championship once. Many other trophies, including the McCurdy Cup (emblematic of the Championship of the Bras d’Or Lakes) took their place at Dobson.

By 1965 Snipe Class racing was losing popularity, and the Club found itself $2,300 in debt. In an act of desperation, the membership turned to the very yacht club they had left twelve years earlier, the Royal Cape Breton, and offered the Dobson to them for the $2,300 debt. The Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club refused and, in hindsight, that was the best thing that could have happened. Shortly thereafter, a ‘saviour’ appeared in the form of the Maritime Foundation Company.

Maritime Foundation was drilling for bedrock around Sydney Harbour and they needed a suitable place to build cement cribs to be used in the construction of Steel Company loading piers. Dobson was the ideal location and a three-member committee consisting of Ray Kennedy, Frank Elman, and Harold Schwartz hammered out a deal with Maritime Foundation on September 1, 1965.

The deal meant Dobson would own outright the Maritime-built docking area known as ‘the camber’, which would be left behind when the job was finished. This project was like a blood transfusion to Dobson. The new camber meant bigger sailboats and power boats could now use the facilities, beginning a new era in the local yachting world.

Another bright spot in the Dobson history was the arrival of Captain Dennis Moore. Captain Moore was the head of navigation at the Canadian Coast Guard College and Commodore of Dobson in 1970–71. His mastery in teaching the art of navigation made it possible for the Dobson sailors to venture farther afield than other Cape Breton sailors, thereby producing some of the island’s most experienced skippers and crewmen.

In 1997 new marina facilities were opened at the Club. The members of the day took the decision to seek funding for protected berthing facilities for the Club’s boats. This support was found at Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation, a Crown Corporation. The Club acquired demolition rubble from the old City Hospital, St Rita’s Hospital, and the Cape Breton Hospital for construction of breakwaters, and installed floating docks with finger piers. There are now berths for 49 of our boats within the sheltered confines of the marina.

A need arose in 1999 to expand the clubhouse facilities. A committee was formed and funding was sought. The members came forward with personal funding and the remainder was secured from a mortgage company. The work included: a renovated bar that provides service in two different areas; a new lounge area; a fully equipped galley facility; a conference/reception room; a member’s lounge; a boardroom on the second floor; and decks, both up and down, for viewing the harbour and across to the downtown area.

www.dobsonyachtclub.com
All Photos courtesy of Dobson Yacht Club

Related Articles

Tuesday, 12 December 2017 03:05

While much is made of Cape Breton’s Celtic connections to Old Scotland there are also several vibrant Acadian communities on the island. 

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
Optimized sailing performance and comfortable living – a sweet ride. The expression that came to ...
This is such an exciting time in boating! While we feel very sorry for people whose health and ...
For many, the 2020 sailing year will be one to go down into the books as “different”. With delayed ...
What perfect timing! Beneteau is has just announced their new Antares 11 model for North America ...
Commodore’s Boats is a full-service shipyard with over 50 years of generational history and ...
The Oceanis Yacht 54, younger sister of the Oceanis 62, embodies the innovation that has always ...
Beneteau announces the launch of the latest addition to the Antares range! With a length overall of ...
I had been looking forward to a sea trial aboard the Greenline 33 because I was hoping it would ...
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 ...

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. 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....................

 

Hanse 418By Katherine Stone

Optimized sailing performance and comfortable living – a sweet ride

The expression that came to mind immediately was “Sweet Ride” – and I wasn’t referring to the latest ride at the CNE, a chairlift, or a new Mercedes – it was the new Hanse 418, as it cleanly cut through the water in a gusty 15-20 knot breeze averaging 6-8 knots on Lake Ontario. She was easy to steer and manoeuver even in the big gusts. The extra length over the 388 has made a big difference, with German architects Judel/Vrolijk focusing on updates to the deck layout, cockpit and stern.

Read More

Destinations

  • Prev
The approach to the Chemainus Municipal Dock from Stuart Channel is straightforward and is ...
I leaned my head back into the water and floated easily. Having spent my childhood playing in ...
History: right after gym and just before chemistry class. Fifty minutes of naming the prime ...
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 ...

ChemainusBy Marianne Scott

The approach to the Chemainus Municipal Dock from Stuart Channel is straightforward and is protected from all but strong northerly winds. The only obstacle may be some large log booms often anchored in the harbour. The Dock is immediately south of the B.C. ferry terminal; the ferry runs to Thetis- and Penelakut Islands.

Harbourmaster Harmen Bootsma, who has been the cheerful, welcoming presence here for a couple of decades, is ready to catch your lines. 

 

Read More

Discovery Harbour MarinaThe Association provides a forum for exchanging information, tips and access an advocate on behalf of the membership. Their Directors work with members to find solutions to issues in British Columbia. Members receive quarterly newsletter, with contributions by other members all along the BC coast.

The Association and its members continually update the list of marinas that allow little board moorings. This is a list of known and reported marinas that allow marine residents in British Columbia. We need your help to build and keep this list up-to-date. Please contact us with any additions or edits.

Read More

DIY & How to

  • Prev
There’s nothing worse than wondering how much fuel you have on board. You’re left wondering how ...
As the cold approaches, shrink-wrapping is a hot topic, and I’ve heard more than a few debates at ...
“They don’t make ‘em like they used to”, is a phrase that many of us are familiar with. Most of the ...
I’m on many different types of boats, with many configurations. Some have a single ...
I often get asked if regular care and maintenance is necessary for inflatable PFDs. Here is a ...
Labour Day weekend tends to be the ‘last hurrah’ on many fronts: the last long weekend of the ...
One of the Great Lakes’ best known tall ships, sail training vessel TS Playfair, will soon be ...
My Dad is not a mechanical guy. He is educated and well-read, and handy around the house – but not ...
I was cleaning up my workbench the other day. My eyes then scanned across my workbench and fell on ...
July and August  in Canada are the months of boating. People are on the water – exploring, ...

WinterizationBy Andrew McDonald, Lakeside Marine Services

“They don’t make ‘em like they used to”, is a phrase that many of us are familiar with. Most of the time it is in reference to a bygone era of better, and it’s used to lament the sorry state of what we have today. It is a phrase that can be applied to many areas of our lives: architecture, art, furniture, tools. Boats? I would argue that they don’t make them like they used to. But, is that lamentable, or is it progress?

Progress, I think. With this concept in mind, as we enter another season of putting boats to bed for the winter, why do we winterize as we always have?

Read More

 

  

Marine Products

  • Prev
Wait no longer, the 2021 Rideau Canal & Lower Ottawa River PORTS Guide has returned! Purchase ...
The Tundra 65 is Yeti's most versatile cooler, just as adept at keeping catches cold as it is ...
Fireball self Extinguisher. It's a revolutionary self-detonating device designed to extinguish a ...
The problem with driving any full-size Pickup Truck or Sport Utility Vehicle is that when you are ...
Wait no longer - the 2021 Rideau Canal & Lower Ottawa River PORTS Guide will be available for ...
Timed to help with those tough last-minute gift-giving ideas, we bring you the (almost) first-ever ...
With growing demand being placed on onboard electrical power supplies these days, it's an ideal ...
Timed to help with those tough last-minute gift-giving ideas, we bring you the (almost) first-ever ...
By Amptrup, Jon and Bob Shepton