Category Archives: Dorothy

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!

Our gal is 119 years, and counting

First, some background:

In about one month, it will be 119 years since Dorothy was launched into Victoria’s harbour waters for the first time, July 26, 1897. The news made the papers, of course:

July 26 1897 Dot launched

Imagine the scene: with one month to go, her owner, barrister William H. Langley, was doubtless doing what every owner would be doing right before a beloved boat is about to launch – frantically buying everything needed to outfit his little yacht. How do we know this? Because Langley saved every receipt for every single purchase he made for Dorothy, perhaps knowing his boat was something special. (Or maybe because he had O.C.D.)

Example of a receipt Langley

June 25 1897 Violas placingAs meticulous Langley was in preparing his boat for the water, he was still obsessed with sailing, and was racing his first yacht, Viola. Viola wasn’t fast enough for Langley though – he wanted a winning yacht. So he bought a design from Linton Hope, himself a successful Olympic yachtsman and the owner of the Thames Yacht Company in England. Langley intended to name his next racing yacht “Viola II”, but when he acquired the plans from Hope, they were named “Dorothy”, so he stuck with that.

Evidently, she was fast. The stories of her successful races and regattas up and down the Northwest coast, I’ll save for another post. Below is a picture from Dorothy‘s 100th birthday celebration, in 1997.

Dorothy birthday cake 100th

And now, the hard news…

You may remember that our last post over a year ago lamented the tragic situation of the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. News broke in the community that the government had condemned the historic building that the Museum had occupied for 49 years, and they were forced to find a new home. The hope was that they could get a lease for the CPR Steamship Terminal building, unoccupied and in a central, waterfront location, but it was not to be.

(A full backgrounder of the MMBC tenancy timeline is here for anyone interested in the history: http://mmbc.bc.ca/flymetothemoon/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/MMBC-Tenancy-Time-Line-and-Backgrounder-FINAL.pdf)

Packing up, moving everything into storage, and archiving the four floors of displays was painful. The staff was whittled down to three, then two, plus volunteers. Locations had to be secured for the large artefacts, of which there were many, including two entire boats, the Tilikum and Trekka. Over 40,000 items had to be cleaned, examined, meticulously catalogued, wrapped and packed away. The task was enormous, but the staff and volunteers heroically went at it for 6 months straight. I’ll just share some photos of the time, which say more than I can put into words:

It was devastating for many of the countless volunteers, maritime experts and lovers of historical research to see practically all of the collections packed up and stored away. The unknown loomed: where would they be housed? How could they organize and store such a huge collection? Would anything be available to the public again? Was maritime history doomed to be relegated to a back alley storefront, a shelf in a library?

And now, the happy news:

Thankfully, the history of an entire province’s coastline is bigger than any single location, and, true to form, maritime history seems to have survived. Incredible as it seems, the forced move seems to have breathed new life into the organization, which had long struggled with the aging building and other issues.

A new board, staff, website and vision have been birthed from the ashes, and in May 2016, they opened the doors to the Society’s modest location in Nootka Court, with a selection of the collection’s very best on display, featuring an interactive journey into the Franklin Discovery, the Captains Cook and Vancouver Journals, as well as many original works by marine artist John Horton featuring the “HMS Discovery”. Check out their featured exhibits here: http://mmbc.bc.ca/exhibits/featured-exhibits-2 We salute you in your new start!

Also, because of the move, we finally found Dorothy‘s suit of sails! They were made in the 80s by Fogh sails, commissioned by her owner at the time, Angus Matthews. Here’s Tony Grove hanging on tight to the valuable find:IMG_2136_2

Onward ho!

MMBC & Dorothy‘s Future

Dorothy‘s fate has always been tied to the people who care for her. She has survived longer than any other yacht in Canadian history because she was loved, appreciated and restored again and again.

And now it appears that those at the Museum who have so enthusiastically revived the institution itself are embracing the chance to influence Dorothy‘s future as well. Tony Grove (who is charged with Dorothy‘s restoration for the MMBC) and I have been talking with new leaders and shapers at the MMBC, and we are extremely heartened by their avid interest and desire to make this little yacht’s story central to the province’s maritime future.

There will huge news forthcoming as talks deepen and as we prepare for Dorothy’s 120th anniversary next year! Look for another significant update in one month’s time.

There is so much to look forward to, and we thank you for joining us on this exciting journey.

All the best, now get out there and get sailing! Tobi & Tony

MMBC squeezed out of Bastion Square historic building- must leave before Sept 30

Two weeks ago, the provincial government shut down negotiations between the B.C. Maritime Museum (the custodian of the Dorothy) and other parties to secure a new space for the Museum, leaving the venerable institution essentially homeless as of Sept 30th this year. The news release from the government is terse and only hints at the larger story: 

“Nine months of negotiation between Shared Services BC and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) to secure a lease for the Maritime Museum of BC in Victoria’s old steamship terminal are at an impasse. As a result, Shared Services BC has informed both the museum and the GVHA today that it is not able to provide any ongoing financial support or fund capital improvements at the steamship terminal. The ministry has also asked the museum to vacate 28 Bastion Square by Sept. 30, 2015, to avoid risk to staff and to assess the state of the building, which is in disrepair.” Read the full release here.

Today, the Museum trustees are calling the B.C. government’s bluff. They say that when the City of Victoria signed over the historic Bastion Square location to house the MMBC in 1977, “That agreement came with ‘the obligation to house the museum in perpetuity — either in the courthouse or another mutually agreeable location,’ trustees said in a statement. The agreement was signed by then Victoria mayor Mike Young and provincial secretary Grace McCarthy, according to stories published in the Victoria Daily Times. – See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/b-c-should-honour-1977-maritime-museum-promise-trustees-1.1973910#sthash.PyproUEp.dpuf

Museum trustees will hold a news conference at some point today, “to lay out why they say the province has an obligation to find a mutually agreeable home for the museum as well as maintain 28 Bastion Square in public hands.”

Courtesy of MMBC.CA

The end of more than nine months of negotiations “essentially scuppers all of our additional fundraising efforts based around obtaining a successful long-term lease,” said museum board chairman Clay Evans.

Last year, the B.C. Maritime Museum – the custodian and owner of the Dorothy – was asked by its landlord (the provincial government) to leave its home on Bastion Square, a beautiful heritage building that had served since 1889 as Victoria’s first permanent courthouse, with its famous birdcage elevator, installed in 1899, still the oldest working lift of its kind in North America. The government claimed it was unsafe for the public and would be too costly to repair to make it earthquake-safe, but some suspect the forced move also had something to do with freeing up the space for higher-paying commercial tenants. Others, like Victoria Councillor Pam Madoff, say that moving the MMBC out of the historic building endangers the future of the building itself, since any business would have to go through costly renovations and a rezoning process:

Madoff said her biggest concern is the fate of the old building, which is owned by the provincial government. So far, a provincial official has said only that the building requires significant upgrades and a business case will have to be developed for any new use. – See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/maritime-museum-s-move-leaves-hole-in-bastion-square-1.1432273#sthash.wuuybMsX.dpuf

The Museum board had, in the process of negotiations, been led to believe that the government would be working with them to secure a new waterfront space. After shutting their doors to the public (and losing much-needed revenue) over the last 9 months, they worked in good faith to come to terms with the provincial government, Harbour authority and Shared Services to be able to move into a new space in the old CP Railway terminal, which would have been a perfect fit for a maritime institution: close to a tourist terminus, and including waterfront access, a very important consideration for our Dorothy. Here’s what plans for the new space looked like:

Part of CPR terminal concept rendering (Merrick Architecture/ Project Belleville). Courtesy of CBC-Radio On the Island

But, instead of investment and support, what they got was delays and dodging. Finally, after negotiations “reached an impasse” in bureaucrat-speak, we heard that the province had no such intentions of support or investment. Hear the response from the province’s minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services CBC On the island interview with Amrick Virk. The government claims it was simply asking too much to supply the $1 million to refurbish the new space.

Evans said the move, in the timeframe the government has determined, is impossible given the size of the collection. “It’s actually British Columbia’s collection, and the Society looks after it for the public.”

Museum consultant Tim Willis spoke out very strongly about the loss of a visible, high-profile location for B.C.’s Maritime Museum, saying that cities all over the world are doing the opposite of B.C.: investing in maritime museums, because they tell “a crucial part of our story, and they’re wonderful economic generators as well.” Willis says he is angered at the position the Museum has been placed in, and is very worried about the larger implications for Victoria and the province if it loses this space. Hear the full interview: https://soundcloud.com/cbcvictoria/museum-consultant-tim-willis-on-the-bc-maritime-museum

Like Willis, this is more than a passing concern for me. The provincial government’s failure to support a viable, prominent location for the more than 10,000 artifacts of maritime heritage on this coast makes me very angry. At present, the massive collection is being catalogued and moved for storage in another government-owned archival facility. (Note the use of the word “storage”, not “display”.) This move means more than the loss of a public storefront for visitors. It also means wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars because dismantling this museum and rehousing it in a much smaller facility is akin to taking apart a boat or a complicated engine: it takes no time to take apart, but about 1,000 times longer to put it back together again.

Also, there is the loss of community and shared knowledge: without a common location that gathers together the archival materials, research libraries, physical artifacts AND a display place for visitors to come learn about our history, you risk losing the dozens of volunteers who currently come to contribute their shared knowledge that makes up a rich body of cultural understanding. Without a place to come to, to research, to cross-link stories and artifacts, you will lose not only the past, but the present remembered collection, as well.

And third, we are losing focus and vision as a province. If the MMBC is forced to come up with its own funds to get a small storefront space, with the majority of its collection “out of sight, out of mind”, what does that say about the priorities of this province? Does B.C. even recognize that we are a maritime province, built by boats and waterways, and that this maritime heritage is a valuable economic and cultural resource that should be invested in, rather than hidden away?

Personally, I’m appalled at how this entire process has devolved. I’m even more discouraged than ever at our government’s lack of foresight, vision, and its misguided priorities. And professionally, as a documentary filmmaker, I’m going to keep a close eye on whether this government will continue to shutter our province’s maritime and cultural assets, rather than promoting them to the world, and what that means for the future of our Dorothy.

Move ‘er on out!

Anyone know what to do with 100+ year-old caulking? It's got to go somewhere...

Anyone know what to do with 100+ year-old caulking? It’s got to go somewhere… Maybe in this box for now.

Big things afoot – or rather – atrailer, this week. Dorothy is getting ready to be moved out of Tony’s shop and into the yard for two reasons: a) the boatbuilder needs his shop back for a course beginning this Saturday, and b) the boat needs to get re-hydrated in preparation for re-caulking.

(Side note about “the yard”: there is an unwritten rule that a boatbuilder’s yard is to have no less than 3 inactive vessels at any one time. At this moment, Tony’s tiny acre is bristling with a 26-ft Folkboat, a 32-ft replanked but uncaulked West coast fishboat, 15-ft wooden sailboat, a ’65 Dodge van, a silver Avion “toaster” under repair, 2 working Subarus, and several hulls of varying condition and degradation. It’s not a mess, really, but a comfortable raft of boaty sculptures that Dorothy will be joining.)

Tony and Dorothy with the little 8-foot plywood pram Families will be building next week.

Tony and Dorothy with the little 8-foot plywood pram that 4 families will be building next week.

The first reason Dorothy has to move from her cozy and dry berth is that Tony’s shop will be full due to a Family Boatbuilding course, when 4 teams will each make an 8-foot Sabot pram in 4 days (sounds like a reality show!) Who knew you could build a boat in 4 days? We’re on Day 881 of restoring Dorothy (not even the entire restoration – that is just the time Tony has had her) and that’s the sum total of my (Tobi’s) experience building boats. So now we’ll see the reverse and how fast it can go!

As for the reason b) for getting her out of the shop, the basic premise is this: a wooden boat that hasn’t touched water for 10 years is likely to have wood with drastically lower-than-ideal moisture levels. In Dorothy’s case, her wood moisture content is around 8%, when it should ideally be about 16-20%. If she were to be re-caulked (cotton stuffed between her planks) with her wood so dry, and then put in the water, that thirsty wood will soak up so much water her seams would clamp shut much tighter than you would wish. 

So Tony’s challenge is to figure out how to wet her down in his yard and re-hydrate her to the point that she can be gently re-caulked, before returning to the sea to soak up more salt water (which, if you remember your Grade 10 chemistry, is a preservative for wood and one of the reasons for the name for this documentary “Between Wood and Water”).

How he’s going to hydrate her? Well I’ll have to save some details for the documentary…

Til next time,
Tobi and Tony, Dorothy and various wee boats

Forward floors and keel – done!

Drilling-to-fix-floors-to-the-keel

A major watershed in Dorothy‘s restoration was reached today as Tony drilled 4 silicon bronze bolts into the new floor straps, fixing them firmly to the keel. (see above. Below are the forward floors as viewed from the hatch last May, with mast step removed.)

Forward-floors-before-restoration

This structural repair up forward has been a long-thought through process that began last April (see photos in this news update) as Tony ripped out the floor and straps, pried up the mast step, knocked out the galvanized bolts that were loosely knocking about in half inch holes because the metals had corroded the wood, and began seriously contemplating how to pull together lap joint that had become separated by about 3/8th” from the keel and stem – if it were even possible…

Tony-looks-at-the-floors-and-keelThis last piece of business is quite serious, because all of Dorothy’s spot repairs over the years have been done around this separated lap joint, like muscle tissue building up around an arthritic joint. In fact, Tony expressed his doubts on video last April, saying, “This gap had probably been here a very long time. And someone’s done repair planking, and everything’s been built around that gap, so there’s no way I can actually even cinch that together, to get it back in place. Which is… unfortunate. But I really wish I could cinch this – so these two gaps close together.”

Tony-points-out-gaps-in-lapjointSo the question last May was, if he succeeded in pulling together this lap joint, would that adversely affect the structure built around it? And how could one go about pulling together such a massive gap?

Well, if you know anything about Tony Grove, you should know that he’s incredibly innovative and not afraid to try something he’s never seen work before. So here is the story in pictures, with comments by Tony as he tackled this particularly interesting challenge:

1. The keel bolts and floor/straps holding the lap joint (which connects the keel and stem) were holding no more, and a gap incurred over time with the other repairs around it serving to maintain the gap.

Showing space between keel and stem-Tony Grove

Comealong-and-temporary-bolts

2. The lap joint had spread apart over time and I wasn’t sure it could be pulled back into place. However, I came up with a plan to use two 3/4 in. bolts and a shackle threaded on the outside on either end of the lap joint, this allowed the use of a comealong to pull the 3/8 gap into place. Once this was accomplished I was pleased to see that all the pieces in that area fell nicely back into their original positions.

3. The floor timbers and floor straps all had various form of rot in the forward area around the lap joint. I replaced them with new white oak and that was steamed or cut into shape. The orange colour is just a red lead primer.

4. I then replaced the lap joint keel bolts up forward by first drilling bigger holes in where the original 1/2 in. iron bolts had been. The holes in the wood had enlarged from the old bolts and electrochemical decay. The new bolts are 5/8 in. silicon bronze.

The 3/4 in. bronze bolt holding the forward end of the lead ballast was in good shape so was set back into the boat through a new floor timber.

5. The front end of the lead ballast used to have a wedge in to help fair it, and it must have been banged off at some point. That has been replaced with a new piece of white oak.

So there you have it! One comealong, a few shackles and some bronze bolts later, Dorothy‘s forward area is coming together beautifully. You should come by and see her before she’s all sewn up. It’s going to go fast from this point forward as Tony dedicates himself to getting Dorothy finished this winter.

After all, he’s going to need his shop back for the courses he’s teaching next spring and summer. If you haven’t read up about the new adventures in “The Grove Woodworking School”, head on over to his website to find out what’s happening.

Til next time, T n’ T

Tony-imitates-cinching-comealong

Hooked on Wooden Boats Podcast

Hooked on Wooden boats

… is live! “Wooden Boat Dan” interviewed Tony and I at this year’s Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, and he put together a great podcast featuring Dorothy‘s story.

Here it is: HookedOnWoodenBoats.com/148

If you ever wanted to hear a semi-complete (and rather meandering) history on Dorothy‘s previous owners and life on the west coast, this is your opportunity. And I must say, Tony did a great job describing Dorothy‘s current state and the boatbuilding techniques he’s employing to bring her back to life.

Thank you, Dan, for giving our Dorothy such a thoughtful treatment! It was a great experience to be interviewed by you and we really enjoyed your relaxed, “down-home” attitude.

Y’all should check out his website and catch up with his wealth of podcasts. Dan is doing great work.

Coming next week: an update with lots of photos showing the latest steps in her restoration. Tony has made significant changes in Dorothy’s bow section, and I’ll get him to describe how he used a “comealong” to pull together some big pieces that have separated over the years.

Have a wonderful Sunday, everyone.

Tobi and Tony

Sailing out of boat show season

Boat show season is finally – and sadly – over for us on the West Coast. With the trio of shows in Vancouver, Victoria and then Port Townsend lining up classic boats like wooden ducks in a row, it’s hard to get back to regular life.

AJA at Vancouver WB fest 2014At the Vancouver Wooden Boat Festival, Tony Grove got to show his newly acquired Atkins schooner, AJA (above). The following weekend in Victoria (Dorothy‘s home port), the Maritime Museum of BC hosted the opening of their Classic Boat Fest. In all likelihood, that was the last time they will host festivalgoers at their Bastion Square location as the Museum just announced plans to move to the former CPR Steamship building – which is on the waterfront, hurrah!

And finally, Port Townsend and the Northwest Maritime Center hosted their 38th gosh-darned wonderful Wooden Boat Show, a chance for us Canadians to immerse ourselves in the rich maritime heritage pride that is so honoured by our friends to the south. It was just… so good! (Big shout out to the ever-ebullient Carol Hasse for hosting the Great Canadian Sleepover!)

To cap it off, Tony and I made fast friends with some fellow video- and boat-lovers, Steve Stone, Eric Blake and Erik Sayce of the wunder-video site Off-Center Harbor (based in Brooklin, Maine.) If you haven’t already signed up for their wildly popular wealth of videos, you should – because they are the fastest growing video site out there, featuring beautiful boats, tricks of the trade, restoration stories and just plain good storytelling. Thanks for featuring our story on your “Flotsam” section, guys!

I (Tobi) even got to do some filming for/with them, and just to give you a taste of some stories that might be coming down the pipe from OCH, here’s some screenshots from my footage (Schooner Race, ADVENTURESS, SPARKLE, TEAL):

My favourite so far is this shot of Harbourmaster Daniel Evans scrubbing down his ship’s hull while ADVENTURESS was underway in the schooner race so she’d look nice and purdy for the shot! Daniel, who also co-captains the education schooner ADVENTURESS, does a fantastic job year after year fitting all the beautiful boats into Port Townsend harbour, kindly zipped me around in his festival boat so I could get my shots. Have you ever met a better group than the Port Townsend festival organizers? They are sweethearts, all of them!

Cap'n Dan scrubbing ADVENTURESSIf anyone has any great photos from the trio of boat shows, we’d love to see them! We’ll post some of ours on our Facebook page in the coming days, so LIKE us to see what caught our eyes, and and free to share any of yours there. What were your favourite boats in the shows?

In other news…

IMG_1542We’ve been delighted to welcome some visitors to Tony Grove’s shop the last few days – well, visitors to Dorothy, to be more precise. Yesterday a group from Colorado (Mary Ann and Bernie), and New Hampshire (Barbara and Tom Bolko) dropped in. They had made their way from Victoria all the way to wee Gabriola island just to get a look at Dorothy and meet Tony. It was wonderful! Such fun to recount some of Dorothy‘s history, and talk a bit about where our old gal is at now with the restoration.

IMG_1545IMG_1541-1
Barbara (2nd from right, above) also happens to be an academic coordinator at The Landing School of Wooden Boat Building and Yacht design in Arundel, Maine. She’s pictured below with Cy Hamelin, a legend in the field of yacht design.

So please, please do come visit! We love taking the time to talk a bit about Dorothy and her history and restoration. It sure fires me up again when I’m tempted to get tired of the (s)logging process, which I’m in the middle of now. (Logging: watching and taking notations on every shot so we can begin assembling a script, which is the most arduous process of filmmaking.) So much footage! Hours of restoration,  interviews, and the shooting we did last year at the Victoria Classic Boat Festival (where Dorothy will hopefully relaunch next summer, fingers crossed)…

But it’s all good. The more I watch the more I’m convinced this is going to be one amazing, beautiful wooden loveboat story, so stay tuned.

Logging Dorothy footageCheers, Tobi Elliott

 

 

 

 

Dorothy through your eyes

Photography by Byron Robb

Dorothy is not only a fast-sailing little yacht, she also happens to be very pretty boat with a striking design, both structurally and sculpturally beautiful. Many of you have said in interviews about Dorothy that they believe her beauty is part of the reason she has survived so long.

Dorothy-41-John Poirier

photo: John Poirier

So Tony and I have not been entirely surprised by the number of photographers passing through these shop doors over the past year – both professional and amateur – eager to capture the essence of Dorothy. Most of them start by walking around her in slight awe, eyes alight as they slowly pull out their cameras and begin to frame some of the hundreds of images that have by now been taken of her.

Dorothy is the ultimate photography subject – both for boat aficionados, and for those who simply love beautiful shapes. Even though her insides are bared, and the light around her ranges from soft daylight from the upper windows of Tony’s shop, to harsh fluorescents to neutral spotlights, she takes it all in with grace.

The challenge of “shooting Dorothy” lies not so much in which angle to capture, but which image best expresses her. Is it her magnificent, 6-foot fan-tailed stern, as Calgary-based photographer Byron Robb captured in the image at the top of this post?

Or her slender bow with sanded cedar planks on display, as noted Gabriola photographer John Poirier captured below?

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Or is it the grain and wear of her old-growth Pacific forest timbers, which captivated David Andrews?

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Another Gabriolan photographer, Bill Pope, stunned us with his generous series of HDR photographs, which can be seen on his Flickr set “Dorothy restoration”. There are too many images to post here so I encourage you to take a look. Here are two of my favourites:

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Some of the very best photographs from our visiting artists will be on display at Victoria’s 37th Classic Boat Festival, which runs next weekend, August 29th through the 31st. A few images that were donated by the artist will be available for purchase at the silent auction on Friday night, proceeds from which go toward the Maritime Museum of B.C. (which is undertaking Dorothy’s restoration).

In other news, what has been holding up Dorothy‘s restoration? Well, as most of you likely know by now know, the MMBC had decided last spring not to re-launch Dorothy this year as originally planned. They are dedicated to doing the job right – which necessitates raising more money than they have right now, which is only enough to make her structurally sound – by having her topsides and cabin restored as well.

They are also coming up with a strategic plan as to what should be done with Dorothy once she’s back in the water. It will require more than simply moorage at a location where she can be seen and appreciated to advantage. She will also need a team of dedicated volunteers who know and understand the care required of wooden boats, and people who will take her out sailing!

So if you are interested in speaking to someone about the legacy fund for Dorothy’s continued care and restoration, or to be numbered on the team of volunteers as a “Friend of Dorothy”, please contact either John West (director and trustee for the MMBC) at john <at> johnwest <dot> ca or Angus Matthews (former owner) at angus <at> angusmatthews <dot> com.

Tony Grove has not been idle when not working on Dorothy. He recently completed a lovely 15-foot Passagemaker “take-apart” sailing dinghy for a client, from Chesapeake Light Craft plans. He left just yesterday for the Vancouver Wooden Boat Festival in Aja, his newly acquired strip-plank 34-foot Atkins schooner, towing the brand new little sailboat. They made it safely across, and both Aja and the Passagemaker will be in the festival.

So, here’s to festivals and photographers, beautiful wooden boats, and to all with eyes for lovely lines and beautiful shapes!

We look forward to seeing you at the Festival next weekend.

Cheers, Tobi and Tony

Steamboxes, oak bending and baked potatoes

The Grove Woodworking School, located on lovely Gabriola Island off the east coast of Vancouver Island, B.C., is a marvel of order and efficiency. Tony Grove’s shop is beautifully organized – partly because that’s how he works, and partly because he needs every bit of space available, especially with a 30 foot sloop taking up most of the room in his shop, her bowsprit touching the bay doors, AND a painting studio up on the mezzanine.

Passagemaker below Dorothy-T.Grove

The man has worked in enough places (read: other company shops) over his 30 year career in boat building to learn what works and what doesn’t, and he knows exactly what he wants to see in his own shop. So, as I’ve learned over the past months of filming Dorothy’s restoration, when Tony works up a head of steam about efficiency, organization and putting everything in its place, I keep my mouth shut and just let it roll.

In terms of steamboxes, what apparently works for Tony is a humble design, built from recycled plywood, built as small as possible – pretty much the exact opposite of complicated and expensive. What doesn’t work is a clunky, permanent structure that takes up more precious room than it needs.

I had been so anticipating seeing this amazing steambox in action – picturing some long, elegant box that could fit a plank at least – that when he actually brought out his box to begin steaming some oak pieces to replace Dorothy’s forward straps, I have to admit to a little disappointment.

It looked just a little too humble.

Steambox set up outside Tony's shop

But really, I’ve learned, it’s about whatever works. (See previous post for more on the results from this box and photos of Dorothy’s new straps.)

Tony’s steamboxes are portable, so they can be taken apart easily and transported anywhere, and he makes them on the fly, to fit the piece of furniture or boat piece he’s working with. He makes them just large enough to fit the piece of wood he’s working with, so as to not waste a ton of energy heating up steam to fill a big box when it’s not needed.

And the heating agency is … shall we say … less than imposing. The box Tony set up outside his shop for this job uses a simple electric kettle recycled from the local depot, and a piece of rubber radiator hose.

Simple, efficient, economical, and it works.

Tony grove steambox special

And it makes lunch, too!

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At 1.5 hours per inch of wood thickness, (Tony was steaming and bending 1.5 inch oak straps) was just the right amount of time to cook some potatoes for lunch.

Potatoes steam box

What does your ideal steambox – or workspace – look like? Email us a photo at dorothysails@gmail.com and we could feature it in the next newsletter. Stay in touch.

Happy sailing!

Love from Dorothy HQ – Tobi and Tony