Category Archives: Between Wood and Water

New Video Trailer Featuring Dorothy’s Previous Owners

We have put together a new trailer for Between Wood and Water that features the voices of some of Dorothy’s previous owners and people close to her story. As I re-listen to those powerful interviews we recorded back in 2013, it brings it all back to me why people are so passionately attached to this lovely, speedy little yacht.

For them, she is as alive today as she ever was. Have a look: vimeo.com/244140539

Also, don’t miss out on the chance to get the special Dorothy 120th Anniversary Edition T-shirts, Art Cards and 2018 Calendars. Purchase info through this page: https://dorothysails.com/merchandise. If you can’t figure out how to work the Paypal (lots of people have had issues with it), contact me at dorothysails@gmail.com and we’ll work something out.

I’m particularly pleased with how the calendars turned out. This limited-edition run features an image from the Langley family that’s never been released to the public before, archival images from the Maritime Museum of B.C., and shots from the restoration in Tony’s shop on Gabriola. It’ll be a treasure for years to come!

T-shirts: $25  – Art Cards $5 – Calendars $20 (+ shipping)

If you’re on Gabriola, contact me directly and we can arrange for pickup or a drop off. After costs, proceeds go toward the restoration fund and editing costs for the documentary Between Wood and Water. But mainly, we just want people to be able to see and appreciate Dorothy’s story every month of the year!

Thank you for your support, and have a wonderful holiday season!

Cheers from the Grove Woodworking Shop,

Tobi & Tony & Dorothy

Happy Birthday Dorothy!!!

Celebration cake – Dorothy’s 100th anniversary in 1997. Courtesy of the Maritime Museum of B.C.

On a hot July evening in 1897, a sleek wooden yacht was launched in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, an event the Times Colonist noted the next day:

Last evening witnessed the launching of the yacht Dorothy, belonging to Mr. W. H. Langley, captain of the Victoria Yacht Club. There was quite a large number of interested spectators who cheered lustily as, after having been very gracefully christened by Mrs. A.J. Weaver-Bridgman, the little yacht took to the water in a series of lively and pretty leaps. Every credit for the success of the launch is due to her builder, Mr. J. Robinson. The Dorothy is a single-handed cruiser designed by Linton Hope of the Thames Yacht Building Company…Times Colonist, July 27th, 1897.

As part of Victoria’s rising middle class that began to have time for leisure activities like sailing, Langley was eager to make his mark with a boat that was fast. He wrote to the designer of two yachts he liked the look of, and, after two years and many, many letters back and forth, Dorothy was born. Little did he know that his “little yacht” would survive to be the oldest registered sailboat in Canada.

The Victoria Yacht Club, Dorothy anchored at the far right. From A Century of Sailing.

The reasons Dorothy outlasted all of her peers are many – sheer luck among them – but chiefly, it’s believed she’s still alive because she was actively sailed. A wooden boat needs time, care and a life on the water, and Dorothy had heaps of that during her 12 decades on the coast.

But she had many near-failures too, surviving both World Wars, amateur repairs and periods of neglect, but somehow always seemed to pull through. Somehow, a champion always found her, fell in love with her lovely lines, and spent more time and energy than they had intended to keep her alive.

Her list of owners is surprisingly short, beginning with Langley and ending with the Maritime Museum of B.C. Langley sold her in 1944 to Linton Saver of New Westminister, where she was entered into the Ship’s Registrar, and she remained in Vancouver under a quick succession of six owners, from Robert Minty, who renamed her “JimboJack”, to the brothers G.W. and Kirby Burnett, who sailed her with the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. During this period she had an alcohol fire in her cockpit that nearly destroyed her. Finally, Phillip Harrison sold her in 1964 to a young pair of Victoria architects, Chuck and Pam Charlesworth, who brought the yacht back to her birthplace.

With the Charlesworths, Dorothy began perhaps the best years of her life as the couple sank what little resources and time they had into a boat they could hardly take out to sail, she had so many structural issues. Charlesworth almost gave up, but on the advice of experienced boat surveyor Tom Hood, he became convinced the boat was worth saving. “He advised me to continue my endeavours,” wrote Charlesworth. “He went on to explain that the boat had originally been well built and was of a superior design well in advance of its time, [and] even if it took me ten years, I would have saved a very special boat.”

Charlesworth’s daughter Jennifer remembers one particular sail when she and her father took Dorothy out alone, and he experienced such joy at the helm that she knew it had made all the years of repair and struggle worthwhile. Sandy and Angus Matthews, who courted Charlesworth in order to get first dibs should he ever decide to sell Dorothy, were her next custodians and they did work on her interior, re-did her decks and hatches, and got her a new suit of sails. David Baker and Su Russell completely reworked her rigging, parcelling and serving in the traditional way, and showed her at Expo ’86.

Dorothy’s luck held, even after being sold to the owner of a private marina in Sidney who left her out in all weather and let freshwater get in her cockpit. She was restored again to sailing condition by Hugh Campbell of Winward Woods, and finally donated to the Maritime Museum of B.C. in 1995, sailing proudly as the flagship vessel for her 100th anniversary.

Dorothy’s current “mid-life refit” is undoubtedly the most intensive restoration she has ever undergone. Still, Tony Grove, the shipwright tasked with the job, has only had to replace two garboard planks and a short aft plank. Dorothy is still 90% original wood – the same red cedar planks that were pulled from trees in the surrounding area have endured to this day, still soft and containing the magic malleability that good wood can still have after 120 years.

It’s miraculous, in a way, that Dorothy has survived all these years, and yet not. She survived so long precisely because good, ordinary men and women offered their time and energy to preserve and lengthen the life of a beautiful, functional work of art. She is here because they were there for her.

Her beauty also contributed to her longevity. As John West put it, “because she’s pretty, she’s lasted and been looked after. Not only was she pretty, but she was structurally extremely well-engineered, and she was built by first-rate craftsmen. And it’s incumbent on us to pass her on to the next generations. And she should leave our generation in better shape than she arrived in.”

Matthews, who currently heads up Dorothy’s restoration committee, is full of confidence she will find her way. “Dorothy has been here before. Somehow always finding herself in the hands or people who give the love she needs for rebirth and renewal.”

September 1982 off Brotchie Ledge at the entrance to Victoria Harbour. Alec (age 4) and Angus Matthews were sailing her to the Victoria Classic Boat Festival. Courtesy of Angus Matthews.

Join us in underwriting Dorothy’s next chapter by making a tax-deductible charitable donation. Please contact Angus Matthews angus@angusmatthews.com to learn how you can make certain Dorothy will sail on into her next 120 years. 

Long may she continue to find her champions, to be stewarded with love, and to inspire people to head out to the sea.

Happy Birthday Dorothy!

What got her out of the shed and into the light: the story of two tenacious trustees

There is a story within Dorothy’s story that I’ve been waiting a very long time to tell, but you’re going to have to wait just a wee bit longer to get the whole shebang because… well, there’s a documentary in the works.

But I’ll give you a preview: it involves one of those critical points in Dorothy’s history – and there were many – when her future hung on the fine point of a balance that could have tipped either way.

At every juncture there was a person who had to decide either to continue investing in this boat, or to let the inevitable decline that was ever nipping at the heels of a wooden boat take over. We wouldn’t be having this conversation, and we probably wouldn’t even have any remnants of Dorothy today, if just one of those critical junctures had tipped with someone walking away from her. Dorothy would not exist today if it weren’t for the courageous men and women who stood between her and decay.

That’s what my documentary is about, after all. The men and women who stood between wood and water.

The most recent of those junctures happened in 2011. (And we’re at another juncture at this very moment, but I’ll get to that in the next edition.) And the particular heroes at this point of her story were John West and Eric Waal, who became trustees for the Maritime Museum of B.C. for the sole purpose of looking after Dorothy and the two other boats in their fleet, Trekka and Tilikum.

But as Kermit would say, it ain’t easy being green. And it’s even harder being a trustee for a very underfunded institution that was on the cusp of the fight for its life. However, as it always turns out in the story of Dorthy, luck was with her and it turned out that these two heroes had some things going for them.

Eric has the tenacity of a bulldog. And when he saw the Dorothy’s legacy fund being drained for storage and insurance fees instead of being put toward her repair, he wouldn’t let of the idea that the waste had to stop, and that Dorothy either had to be fixed and get back in the water, or be turned into a land-based display. His tenacity was the first domino that led to Dorothy being trucked to Tony Grove’s shop on Gabriola island.

Dorothy lucked out again when John came aboard, with his encyclopaedic knowledge of historical and classic boats, and copious amounts of charm and bonhomie. Beloved and well known in the boating community, John was one of the key founders of Victoria’s Classic Boat Festival, now entering its 40th year. Once he dug through the archives and logbooks and read the extensive documentation on Dorothy, he knew that this was a maritime treasure that had to be preserved for future generations.

And that’s why we’re having this discussion at all. When an elegant, beautiful example of turn-of-the-century craftsmanship was mouldering in a shed, these two men stuck their necks out and said that something had to be done. That she needed – no, deserved to be invested in, and they became her most recent champions and an indelible part of her story.

The men who appreciate ancient planks of cedar and fir and oak, and who understand the relationship of ships, wood, salt and water, are few and hard to find. So the fact that two of them found Dorothy when she needed them, well, that’s just another testament to the luck and loveliness of this little boat.

Here’s a quick snippet of discussion I cut from back in 2013 (when we were fundraising for production funds) of John and Eric discussing what tack should be taken in restoring Dorothy, with Tony Grove: Three Men and a Dorothy Baby.

John Eric Tony kneeling before Dot

Dorothy – and we – thank you, John and Eric.

 

Dorothy presentation Jan 30 at the Haven

Just a reminder, we’re doing a presentation on Dorothy – her restoration and the documentary – tomorrow night (Thursday, Jan 30) at The Haven on Gabriola. The event is put together by the Gabriola Historical and Museum Society and they’ve done a fantastic job of promoting this local project. 

The talk will be about an hour, with time for a Q & A after. Expect lots of visuals – stills and short video excerpts from what’s been filmed so far for the documentary. Shipwright Tony Grove will update us on the restoration process and what he’s discovered this winter since sanding Dorothy down to her planks. While there will be some technical talk about planks, fastenings and construction methods of the era, Tony is a great teacher and will unveil some surprising facts that even non-boaty people will find intriguing.

I (Producer Tobi Elliott) will cover some of Dorothy‘s history and also reveal tidbits of the new information that we’ve gleaned from the most recent interviewees. I just came back from a few days on the mainland where I got to meet up with Bridget Brand, one of W.H. Langley’s granddaughters, and was privileged to hear her tell some amazing stories of her times aboard the Dorothy. She is the only surviving member of the Langley clan on this continent (her sister lives in France) who sailed on Dorothy, and it was so neat to hear her talk about her Grandfather’s love for his boat.

Bridget also loaned me her grandmother’s daily diaries – what a treasure! Every day for decades, she wrote something – usually very dry and short, and containing some variation of “Lovely day. Billy spent part of day working on Dorothy. I worked in garden.” Very Victorian. I’m still looking for the entry where she writes about seeing the famous “Cadborosaurus” from Dorothy‘s decks in 1933.

I’ll bring the diaries tomorrow and you can see for yourself…

Hope to see you there! Happy sailing, Tobi

 

Last call for Tees, “Sniffer Sisters” and…Merry Christmas everyone!

Hello!

It’s that crazy and wonderful time of year again! Like you, I’ve been busy!! – happily sending off perks and gifts since the campaign ended, organizing finances, sorting presents, zipping around Gabriola visiting my talented artist friends… but I also got to do some more filming as Tony Grove and a few good friends reefed Dorothy‘s seams & removed chainplates in late November, which was satisfying. Good to get back to work!

And last week I was able shoot something I’ve never done: an artist at work. Oh it was fun, but I tell you, I thought keeping up with “Tony the boatbuilder” was a challenge, but “Tony the painter” is equally an experience!

Tony has to work fast to avoid paint drying before he can blend it, and he was quite often finished a section just as I was finally set up, framed right and focussed. So… now I’m set, ready to shoot him painting. But THEN he would stand back for 5 minutes and contemplate. Sigh. Re-frame, capture and… he’s moving again. Ahhhhhh….. Seriously hard work. But it’s worth it because this wonderful painting he’s working on will figure in our film (“Between Wood and Water”) as we discover Dorothy in a new way – through the eyes of a marine artist. Isn’t it beautiful?

Tony painting Dorothy-background complete

Tony painting Dorothy background2    Tony painting Dorothy-background 1

Next week I’ll post some updated shots of his Dorothy painting, once Tony’s satisfied with it and happy to release it into the world.  (Special thanks to the donor from Cowichan Bay who contributed $1,000 to the film for a print of this lovely painting – we are sure you’re going to love it!)

10 days left til Christmas Eve… are you feeling as unprepared as I am? Or are you one of those who is eagerly ready by Dec 1, with that contented feeling that your Christmas Cake is well soaked in rum, your presents are wrapped, and you have already picked out the Gift Crackers to put on everyone’s plate? Wait – I don’t know anyone like that, so don’t feel bad if you are still running around. It’s that crazy, wonderful time of year!

However, if you’re strapped for time and still need some gifts, Dorothy and I are here to the rescue! We have some wonderful perks left over from the campaign, and if you get your order in before Dec 16 I can get it to you in time for Christmas:

Dorothy Tee-shirts – a bargain at $30 ea. (incl. shipping within Canada), or $25 each locally (Gabriola Island)

Dot tees-4 colours2

Sizes available:
Sapphire (top left) in kids sizes, and Men’s Sm and Med
Indigo (top right): Men’s Sm and Med, an XL or 2
Blue Dusk (bottom left): Men’s Med and XL
Navy (bottom right) – LOTS of Men’s sizes: Sm, Med, L and XL
and some Women’s Sm, Med and XL (sorry no Large left)


hand-screenprinted “Dorothy and the Grey Whale” Tees by local artist Kate Wood: $35 (incl shipping) or $30 locally. (Note, Men’s coral not available, I believe we have a pale Blue instead)

Kate's Dorothy and Grey Whale tees

a wonderful kids book “The Sniffer Sisters and the Mystery of the Magic Collars” donated by Gabriolan Jeffrey James (based on his real-life Labradors Oli and Madi)

This is a GREAT book for readers age 7-9, or adults! Anyone who loves dogs will love this… I laughed aloud reading it, and the illustrations (by Kerry Bell) are simply beautiful. 2 available: $20 each (incl shipping within Canada)

If you need more, you can order from Jeffrey’s website www.sniffersisters.com and support a local artist!

Sniffer Sisters Cover-Jeffrey James  Sniffer Sisters Illustration1-Jeffrey James

Sniffer Sisters Text-by Jeffrey James

And finally, one big-ticket item left that was not claimed during the campaign: a framed archivally framed giclee print, by renowned nature photographer John Poirier“Gabriola Island Forest Details No. 20” (11 x 16 inches in a 16 x 20 frame). 1 available for $150 (plus shipping)

Gabriola Island Forest Details Number 20

Thank you so much for your support everyone, and happy shopping, sailing, or cozying up by the fire!

Reefing Images Part 2

Happy Friday everyone!

For the boat-geeks and Dorothy lovers out there, some images from last week’s reefing session. Thanks to Liz Salls for her meticulous help reefing the delicate seams, and David Baker, who developed a new method of cutting out the old material so the soft cedar plank edges wouldn’t be damaged.

And of course, always big thanks to Tony Grove, boat restoration expert, who carefully explains all he’s doing for the camera even as he’s guiding Dorothy’s care every step of the way. More news coming soon. And possibly a video.

If you ask nicely…

Have a great weekend, Tobi

 

IMG_8616  IMG_8590     Stern hard to get at-T.Grove Tony reefing seams1-Nov 2013-TElliottTobi Elliott filming as Liz Salls reefs seams-Tony GrovePort side finishing up Dorothy seams-T.Grove

Reefing the seams

Reefing the seams today on Dorothy’s port side. Bit by bit, inch by inch, the caulking is being pried out.

Tony Grove is working with David Baker today and tomorrow. David had owned Dorothy in the 1980s and is working in some areas around planks that he himself installed.

Together they are uncovering some surprising materials used to pay her seams over the years. In some cases, the caulking material hasn’t been touched at all, meaning it’s original, and 116 years old.

Quite something to see!

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Dorothy under garboards- seams reefed-T.Elliott Tobi Elliott filming Tony Grove reefing Dorothy's seams Tobi Elliott filming Tony Grove reefing Dorothy's seams2 Tony Grove and David Baker with Dorothy Tony Grove reefing seams on Dorothy Nov 2013

Off to the Post I go!

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It’s always so fun to send Dorothy swag in the mail, and I never get tired of writing to those who have supported us around the world.

Today we’re sending off 6 Dorothysails Tees, a package of Panacea Herbs organic goodness, and some lovely art cards from Gabriola. All part of the perks we get to give away to those who donated!

Giving back is fun. Almost as much fun as… say… Making documentaries! Almost.

Thanks again for supporting us everyone, we raised over $8,000 for the film, which is incredible!

More news to come. Love, Tobi

More gold!

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For those of you not on Facebook – and I know there are more than a few – I’m adding some of the images I took recently from my time at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. I was so delighted to discover that one of the club’s archivists had carefully searched every reference to “yachting” in the Victoria Times Colonist, and printed them out from microfiche records… Right back to the inception of the club in the 1890s! So it wasn’t too difficult to read through the 1896-1900 years and find references to WH Langley, Dorothy’s first owner, and his dealings with the Club. He was Club Commodore in 1904-06. He also served as the lawyer for the plaintiff when the Club sued the builder of its first clubhouse after it sank! And I got to read of the tragedy that befell the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations in Victoria when a train carrying merrymakers to the waterfront so they could watch the yacht races and mock battles, crashed into the water, killing some 50 souls. The news accounts are so compelling I must admit I got sidetracked a bit from my Dorothy research.

Fascinating stuff. But what’s more, there was a whole binder full of Dorothy material that I hadn’t seen before: letters from Langley to Linton Hope in England, Dorothy’s designer, lists of Langley’s expenditures on his new boat, bills of sale on everything from the anchor to ropes and lead for her keel! This man was meticulous, and somehow these precious records have been preserved for over a century. The copies I saw were photocopies to be true, but it must mean that the originals aren’t far.

Thank you to Ken Reksten and Gord Nickells for letting me in and giving me so much time with these precious documents. More gold!

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Keep in mind the campaign to support the documentary about Dorothy’s life “Between Wood and Water” is online for only one more week! Donate now and get a choice of some amazing perks and gifts (in time for Christmas!) Share with your friends and family and be part of making this doc an important film in the canon of BC maritime history. Campaign ends Nov 15. Thank you!

Love, Tobi

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Digging down to gold

Date: 1910 "Dorothy wins international race." Courtesy MMBC archives

Date: 1910 “Dorothy wins international race.” Courtesy MMBC archives

When I first learned that Tony Grove would be restoring Dorothy for the Maritime Museum of B.C., my immediate thought was, “Someone must document this!” But when I actually visited the MMBC and scanned through the treasure chest of supporting material chronicling her life on this coast – the photos, the wealth of logbook entries and letters of correspondence between her first owner, W.H. Langley, and her designer, Linton Hope – I realized this story could be much more than a documentary about the restoration process, it could be a wonderfully rich and substantial love story about sailing on this coast. 

Now, to those of you who love watching how-to videos of wooden boat restorations, (forgive me if I’m wrong here) but if we only focused on the restoration drama that’s happening in Tony Grove’s shop, the rest of the world would quickly bored. There’s only so much sanding, scraping and plank replacing that one can watch! Although a “restoration documentary” would have its own narrative arc, we need to see why people are going to such lengths to save this boat. What is so compelling about Dorothy? Why has she survived this long? 

Truth is, a wooden boat doesn’t survive for over a century, with 80-90% of her original planking intact, by chance. She had to have had an extraordinary level of care throughout her life. Someone, at every point of her life, was either sailing her, saving her, restoring her or searching for a better steward for her care than they could presently give. That is what I love about the Dorothy story: the drama lies in those who sacrificed over the years to keep her alive and sailing. 

Even if you don’t have a sailboat, have never sailed, or don’t like boats or the water, you likely have something in your life that gives it added meaning and depth. Not only can we grow in character from learning attention and care, responsibility and stewardship from loving humans, but beautiful objects, too, can make us grow. We all need something to love.

And the more you care for your lovely thing, whether it be a home, a guitar, a bike, or a VW Doc Bus! as my friend Mandy Leith can attest to, the more you learn how to keep your lovely thing in the best possibly condition, and the more your heart expands.

By focussing on the romance and relationship between a beautiful, functional object (or being) that brings you joy, and you, as the human stewarding its care, I hope to make this story universally appealing.

Here are some photos I recently discovered on my recent “dig” through the Museum’s archives:

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Dorothy Archives

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Campaign is still on for another 11 days! http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dorothy-documentary/x/1371948

Don’t delay, if you have thought about contributing to the documentary but haven’t yet, we could use your help now! We are at $5,560 and need to raise $10,000 for vital shoots this summer and fall.

Please spread the word and help make this campaign a success. Thank you!

Love, Tobi