Tag Archives: Dorothy

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

Dorothy Documentary fundraiser is live!

The homepage for our fundraising campaign to raise $10,000 for production

The homepage for our fundraising campaign to raise $10,000 for production

We are just 5 days in to our online crowdfunding campaign for the documentary about Dorothy, and already we have 5 lovely donors! Thank you to all who have donated or spread the word – we couldn’t do this without you.

If you haven’t heard about the campaign yet, check it out here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dorothy-documentary/ and watch the video. (and watch Tobi + Dorothy as never seen before…)

We have done all we can to film up until now out of our own pockets and time. But a documentary of this depth – with archival images, the retelling of sailing stories from long-ago owners, and some real beauty shots to show the love of sailing on this coast – requires a serious treatment. And this is where YOU come in.

Crowdfunding means many people (a “crowd”) from around the world each chip in a little to help meet a big goal. We don’t need a lot from each person, but we do need you to spread the word so a lot of people get on board. And then we can easily meet our goal!

You can help us out with 4 really simple steps: 1. Watch the video; 2. Pick a perk (gift) at the level you want to donate, 3. “Contribute” and off you go! (You need only a credit card or Paypal account.) and then 5. SPREAD THE WORD.

All funds go directly to production, making sure we don’t miss a beat in shooting this amazing story of Dorothy’s restoration, happening now on Gabriola Island.

Thanks for your help.

Love, love, Tobi and Team

Tobi, as excited now as on the first day of shooting, almost 1 year ago! Photo credit: Klint Burton

Tobi, as excited now as on the first day of shooting, almost 1 year ago! Photo credit: Klint Burton

A surprise shoot for spring

Tobi Elliott: Producer and occasional shooter. May 17, 2013. Photo by Tony Grove

Tobi Elliott: Producer and occasional shooter. May 17, 2013. Photo by Tony Grove

On Thursday this week, Producer Tobi Elliott grabbed camera and gear for an impromptu filming adventure as Dorothy‘s restoration expert, Tony Grove, headed to Victoria B.C. to meet master caulker Ted Knowles. Knowles had worked with boatbuilder Brian Walker for years, eventually taking over his boatbuilding shop off the Gorge waterway in View Royal. Walker had built many of Frank Fredette’s boats, who had been in turn an apprentice to J.J. Robinson, one of Victoria’s first shipwrights and Dorothy‘s builder in 1896.

Ted Knowles' 80 year old boatshop. Photo by Tony Grove.

Ted Knowles’ 80 year old boatshop. Photo by Tony Grove.

The Walker/Knowles shop is a shipbuilding gem, having been built sometime in the 1940s, and it truly offers a fascinating glimpse into history. It’s also a bit of an anomaly since its the last remaining shop along the waterfront of that part of Victoria. There used to be a number of small boat yards on the harbour, and Ted’s is the last. More importantly, it is one of our last ties to the west coast tradition of the fisherman boatbuilder, who built and maintained his own boat in his own yard. There are a few of these guys left, but mostly they have turned to building.

Tony Grove & Ted Knowles outside his shop in View Royal. screenshot ©Arise Enterprises

Tony Grove & Ted Knowles outside his shop in View Royal. screenshot ©Arise Enterprises

Tony wanted to see this shop before it closes up forever:

As with many workshops, the way these spaces are set up, designed and the tools used in them tells a story. Some might even say these spaces reveal the soul of those who worked in them. This story means that much more when the shop is almost a century old and has gone through many hands and personalities. 

When these shops are dismantled they reveal their hidden secrets; when they are demolished forever, that time in histroy is also erased. In this case, perhaps only this film recording will be the hard evidence of its existence, while the people who lived their lives in these spaces eventually fade along with the memories.

For me I love seeing these old shops: they teach me new ideas – which are only past ideas rediscovered and developed in a different era, when things weren’t available on demand – and show me the resilience and ingenuity of the people from our not-so-distant past.

Ted graciously showed us around the maze of maze of tools, large equipment, wood he’s been collecting from around the world (Mahogany, Honey Locust, Pacific Yew, Douglas Fir), generators, saws, designs, glues, varnishes and every manner of paraphenalia related to boatbuilding that he had been unearthing and organizing for months. It is a beautiful, functional space, and it was a privilege to see it before it changes hands at the end of June.

After doing a good bit of exploring, Ted showed us the second gem we had come to see: a stack of beautiful 100-year old Teak from first growth Burmese forests (now Myanmar) that had been salvaged from the decks of the Union Steamship CardenaBuilt in 1922, the hardworking, reliable S.S. Cardena provided marine service up and down the British Columbia coast for 35 years, bringing supplies to the resource communities up the coast, and returning to Vancouver and Prince Rupert with canned salmon for export around the world.

She was decommissioned and sold for scrap in 1961, and Knowles rescued the precious teak from her decks for re-use. He felt some of the wood could be useful for Dorothy‘s restoration, because it’s the type of wood that would have been used to trim her in 1896 when she was built, and it was harvested in that era.

Ted is a very practical man, both when assessing the takedown of his historic shop, and the purposes and function of wood. He had this to say about using this wood on Dorothy:

“It’s not like,’Hey let’s throw a whole bunch of teak on Dorothy… because Dorothy isn’t a teak boat. It’s a boat that was built of native woods and built well and it’s lasted well, and it doesn’t need teak to be Dorothy. You don’t want to use teak as a pretentious geegaw or a flashy item, you want to use it for things that are really necessary, like maybe hatch slides. Or the top of a sliding hatch. Or companionway steps. Things where you touch, or you see, or you feel, and teak is appropriate for. It doesn’t have to be teak just because it’s teak.”

Thanks for the reminder, Ted: using the right wood for the right purpose is probably why Dorothy has lasted so long. I’m sure it’s a principle that Tony and the Maritime Museum will adhere to in her present restoration.

And thanks for the amazing tour of your historic shop. It’s one we won’t forget.

– Tobi Elliott

Dorothy Exploratory Part II: the Verdict

In early January, trustees John West and Eric Waal from the Maritime Museum of B.C. arrived on Gabriola to discuss Tony Grove’s discoveries regarding Dorothy. Tony had conducted an exploratory in late December which revealed the cause and extent of the century-old boat’s issues, and the trustees were about to hear the verdict, and to deliver their own about the next steps for the restoration.

John West and Eric Waal, trustees for the MMBC - photo by Tony Grove

As representatives of Dorothy‘s owner and ultimate caretaker, the Museum, and as those who know the most about her file, West and Waal will be significant voices in the documentary BETWEEN WOOD AND WATER. (I call them “the Bulldog” and “the Greyhound”.) It was Eric (above, at right) who first voiced concern over the fact that Dorothy‘s legacy fund was being depleted by storage fees, and doggedly set about bringing attention to her future. He convinced West (at left) to return to the board and between the two of them they have developed a strategy to get the old girl back into the water.

MMBC Trustees examine Dorothy with Tony G- photo by Emily Grove

That strategy happily led to her being trucked to Tony Grove’s Gabriola island shop, and allowed this documentary team to jump into the mix. (Dorothy‘s restoration – a compelling storyline that could be followed in real time – combined with her launch at the 2013 Victoria Classic Boat festival, which gives her story a suitably dramatic ending, proved an irresistible combination to this producer!)

Exploratory-Tony and Dorothy-Dec18-12-Tobi ElliottOn December 20th we documented Tony removing Dorothy‘s garboards, as written up in this previous post. So what conclusion did he draw about her condition? Is she doomed beyond repair or can she be saved without too much effort? You can read Tony’s summary in his own words at his blog post here. To keep this short I will quote his ultimate recommendation to the Museum:

“I basically had two suggestions: the first, and the cheapest, would be to put Dorothy back together with some new wood and floors and some deliberate caulking below the waterline; the second is to wood the hull, reef all the seams, repair any planking or damage, refasten where possible and re-caulk her whole hull.

The first option would allow her to sail away safely, but is not addressing her age-born ailments and she would have to be redone again possibly in a few years, or at least have ongoing heavy maintenance. The second option, which I feel is the best for her and which John and Eric prefer as well, is wood the hull (strip of all hull paint), reef all the seams, repair any planking or damage, refasten were possible and re-caulk her whole hull. At the same time we should strongly support the stem and stern to help minimize hogging, and in the end when all put back together possibly help correct any hogging which has occurred over time.” – Tony Grove

And so it was decided that the old girl will undergo an extensive restoration  – as extensive as the Museum can raise the funds for – this coming spring and summer. Tony estimates it will take approximately double the number work hours that was originally anticipated, but since it will have to be done at some point in her near future, both West and Waal decided that it might as well be done now. As the saying goes… no use putting off til tomorrow what can be done today.

For the purposes of the film, we continue to document critical points but won’t start principal photography until mid-March, when Tony actually begins her restoration. We continue to look for a broadcasting partner for the story and have some interesting possibilities, but no confirmed partners yet. Still, we believe that Dorothy is such an intriguing way to explore B.C.’s coastal history that her story will find a way to an audience, somehow. She has waited a long time for her moment to shine, and you can be sure we will be there to capture it!

Kate Bradford filming inside Dorothy Jan 2-13-photo by Emily Grove

Kate Bradford filming trustees John West and Eric Waal, along with Tony Grove, from Dorothy’s bow. Photo by Emily Grove.