Monthly Archives: July 2013

Unearthing the stories in Dorothy’s planks

20130727-131702.jpgI’m sitting on the edge of Pilot Bay, my home on Gabriola island, watching the high tide and choppy water push and play with two sailboats anchored out in front of me. I marvel at the interplay of boats and water (even if they are only “plastic boats”) and am thankful as always for the joy Dorothy has brought to my life, personally and as a documentary subject.

I could say I’ve always loved sailing, but it wouldn’t quite be true because until 2003, when I took time out for a serendipitous 5-month cruise aboard the Afterblue in the Bahamas and Cuba and back to Toronto, I’d never sailed at all. But as an avid reader from my childhood, I loved stories of boats, particularly Dove and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in the Narnia series. There’s something about the unpredictability of adventure on the sea that makes every boat story a compelling one.

So I am thrilled every day that I get to work on the story of Dorothy, because every day is a true adventure with her. As Tony (the boatbuilder restoring Dorothy for the Maritime Museum of BC) was sanding down her port side hull last week, after tediously stripping the paint, we could see a potential story in every plank, and new questions arose about construction practices of the day: Her original planks are flat-sawn, not quarter-sawn like you would typically see today. Is that because of available wood at the time, or is there a technical reason for it? Those original planks were scarfed together – was that common practice rather than butting them end-to-end? There is a mix of materials used for paying the seams – lead putty, Portland cement, and even epoxy used for patches large and small – what’s the story here?

Tony likens this unearthing of stories hidden in Dorothy‘s planks to an archaeological dig, and I would add that it’s a dig motivated less by cold scientific investigation than by human curiosity and empathy. This is not some inert, long-deserted dinosaur bone site, but a cherished family boat restored over and over again through the years by men and women who loved her and sailed her. Some had the means to give her the best in boat-building craftsmanship and the finest materials available of the day. Some simply did what they could with the tools and understanding they had, incomplete though they might have been. But no matter what finesse has been applied, it’s largely because of the heart, diligence and sacrifice of every single one of her previous owners that loved and cared for her that Dorothy can stand in Tony’s shop today, 116 years old and still able to handle a refit that will put her back in the water.

Forgive my musings, I know you probably want more practical information on the restoration itself. But I promise you, I am capturing absolutely everything I can on film so you can see the wonderful process one day yourself!

Here are some images from the sanding and paint stripping process that Tony undertook last week on her port side. This week he ‘s stripping and sanding her starboard side but no photos as I am filming it in timelapse and don’t want to mess up the shots!!

Dorothy tees have arrived!

This beautifully designed, simple and elegant image of Dorothy has made its way onto T-shirts at last, and they are being snapped up by everyone who loves this beautiful boat. What do you think?

Dorothy T-shirts.jpg

I’m super excited and deeply grateful that so many people helped out with this first step in our campaign for production funding. Tony Grove, the restoration specialist working on Dorothy, is also a marine artist. He created an original illustration of Dorothy at sail that captures her gorgeous fantail (more of his distinctive artwork here: http://www.tonygrove.com/artwork/photo-gallery.php) Many thanks to Bryan McCrae of Filament Communications who rendered the image and added text, and Senini Graphics in Nanaimo who gave us a great rate and professionally silkscreened the tees.

Our new Tee-shirts have arrived! July 2013

Our new Tee-shirts have arrived! July 2013

There are about 20 women’s tees (soft, Gildan cotton V-necks), and 20 men’s (Gildan cotton crew necks) remaining, both in Navy. The suggested donation is $25, all of which goes directly to production costs for filming the documentary, Between Wood and Water, this summer and fall. For more info and shipping costs to a mailbox near you, email Tobi at dorothysails@gmail.com. We’ll be happy to send you one!

We are also pleased to announce that in mid-August we’ll be launching a brand-new, exciting campaign on Indiegogo – the world’s largest “crowd-sourcing” community for creative endeavours. Donations from ordinary people like you, in small and large amounts, will generate the support critical in the making of this documentary. Please encourage your friends, family, community, and everyone who loves boats and maritime history, to sign up on our website so we can update you on where the production is at: dorothysails.com

For the Indiegogo campaign, we are partnering with From the Heart Productions in California, a great company with an awesome track record of funding and supporting independent films, which gives us a fiscal sponsor in the U.S. That means donations from the U.S. get their donors a tax write-off. Bonus!

More than that, FTH President Carole Dean, who quite literally wrote the book on funding indie films, has been an invaluable mentor and asset in helping us reach our goal and get this documentary produced. More info on the campaign to follow, but for now, I encourage you to browse Indiegogo and check out the cool projects from around the world. There is so much creativity and heart out there!

Dorothy and her entourage are jumping aboard…

Love, Tobi