Tag Archives: Victoria

40th Annual Classic Boat Festival: Here we go!

We (as in, Tobi Elliott in her ’67 classic red Volkswagen bug, and Tony Grove and Dorothy-in-spirit) are on our way down to Victoria from Gabriola to celebrate the 40th annual CLASSIC BOAT FESTIVAL!!! Can you tell I’m a wee bit excited??!

I have a host of beautiful new swag to share, among them a special anniversary t-shirt, and a 2018 Calendar because, as you know, the grand dame of classic boats, our own Dorothy, is 120 years old!

The calendar includes some photos that have never been seen before, including this image held by the Langley family (above). I am so happy to be able to share this precious legacy of 120 years of (almost) continuous sailing on the BC Coast!

In 2014, Kate Bradford and I had the opportunity to shoot on the docks of the Classic Boat Festival, and since only a fraction of that footage will be used in the upcoming film about Dorothy’s restoration, I decided to put together a special anniversary video featuring some of my favourite shots from the docks and the water.

It also honours our dear friend John West, who was a champion of all things heritage, maritime and water-related. As one of the founders of the Classic Boat Festival, his presence this year will be deeply missed. You can view the video only on Facebook, so head over to the Dorothy Documentary page to watch it! And please like and share the ❤️

I’ll be posting to that page and to Instagram (follow Dorothysails1897 and tag me #dorothyatfest) as well throughout the Festival, so if you can’t physically make it down, you can participate vicariously and enjoy the sights and sounds along with me.

Hope to see you there!

Tobi, Rojo the bug and Dorothy-in-spirit

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!

Classic Boat Festival 2016

We made it! It’s that time of year again, and we couldn’t be happier. And after a pounding rain all night, the weather saw fit to cooperate with some glorious sun in time for the opening of the 39th Classic Boat Festival in Victoria. 

It’s such an honour to be here and to be mingling with people who are passionate about boats and, in many cases, have done so much to preserve and promote their own gorgeous vessels. I know from documenting Dorothy’s story that keeping a classic boat alive – especially a wooden boat – often calls for a sacrifice of time, energy and resources that people can only give if they’re in it for the love of their vessel. 

I’ll be here all weekend with materials and T-shirts promoting the documentary and Dorothy‘s restoration status. Tony Grove is judging boats in the festival, and everyone else is just enjoying walking the docks in the sunshine. 

Happy Labour Day weekend, everyone!

Ps I had to sneak in a shot of my second all-time favourite boat, Martha. She is looking just (sigh) as gorgeous as ever. I am holding on to hope that one day soon she and Dorothy will sail side by side. 

– Tobi 

    
 

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

 

Off to see the Boats… the beautiful, beautiful boats!

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So we’re on our way!! (Left: Kate Bradford, our director of photography, in a rare moment in front of the camera)

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We’re off to the Classic boat festival this long weekend with a truck full of gear (see right- the exposed blimp and box of tee-shirts? this is how movies are made…) to capture some magical boat shots and interviews with people CRAZY about wooden boats. This is the first shoot that isn’t totally Dorothy-focussed, and I think it’ll be nice to get some light touches and atmospheric colour for the film. Not everything has to be about Dorothy – does it?

If this afternoon’s brief time with Angus and Sandy Matthews is any indication, we’re in for a fantastic shoot. They were marvelous! I was so captivated by the conversation that I didn’t even remember to pull out my camera for a photo, so we’ll have to get them another time (they are very photogenic, by the way… )

Owners of Dorothy in the 70s until 1984, they actively sailed her as a young family and did much to keep her alive. Angus confessed a secret about what he did for Dorothy while she was under his care – which Tony Grove said did much to keep her in good condition – which we have sworn not to reveal. But something we can tell you… It was Angus who provided Dorothy with the gift of a full suit of Fogh sails, which are waiting for her return to the water even now (thanks to his brother, an Olympic sailor who worked for Fogh.) We learned during our time with them this afternoon that it was apparently the first suit of gaff-rigged sails Fogue had ever done!

Then, the photos came out. Oh my, there are some beautiful shots of Dorothy under sail like I’ve never seen before! They will for sure make the film. Can’t put them up yet as we left in such haste for the ferry that they will have to wait until after Victoria and Port Townsend boat shows.

I’m personally so stoked to meet the many people who have written us or talked about hearing the Dorothy and are looking forward to the film. And we have some amazing volunteers who stepped forward to help us sell T-shirts (which fly out of the box whenever they come out) and enlist people in our doc film community – thank you especially to Harry Martin, a volunteer for the MMBC who has come over to see Dorothy a number of times and already has done so much for us in organizing help and volunteers. Thank you Harry!

Thank you everyone who has stepped forward to help, or even give encouragement that they are eager to see the film. THIS is how films are made… as a team, for a community, with passion and diligence and no small amount of sweat and persistence. So thank you again. We can’t do this without you.

And now, if you want a moment of levity, go to the Dorothy Documentary Indiegogo Kickoff party event on Facebook and look up the ridiculous video I posted yesterday to reveal the party location! It’s going to be an amazing event, full of artists who are donating beautiful work for the fundraiser, tapas by some incredible local chefs, music and dancing and oysters and Dark n’ Stormys, oh my! Please join, even if you can’t come personally, join virtually! Sign in and you can see my new video pitch for the film, get some photos of the action and download the dance mix curated by Bryan. It’s going to be a blast, so come if you can!

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More to come from the amazing festival grounds, for now, off to the Sticky Wicket to meet our team and plan out the weekend…

Much love, Tobi

Off to mail some t-shirts, and back to watch some news coverage

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Heigh ho, heigh ho- it’s off to the ferry I go! I’m stepping off my beloved tiny island to the bigish town of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island to put some tees in the mail. They’re headed to New Westminster, Ottawa and Abbotsford. A big thank you to all the new supporters who asked for and bought a Dorothy Tee or three! Super happy to be able to send these off at last.

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It has been a busy week! Following a huge response to the Pacific Yachting story that came out last week, we (ok, I) spammed contacted conventional media outlets to see if any would be interested in covering the new developments in Dorothy‘s adventures, and indeed they are! Global TV News is sending a cameraman out of Victoria to interview Tony Grove this afternoon and get some shots of him working on the ol’ gal. So that’s nice! If I can just get him to shave now and stop using salty language…

And… drumroll please… I’ve set a date for our Indiegogo.com crowdsourcing production fundraiser to start!!! It begins in…

wait for it…

Less than a week! Aug 12 to be exact (my big sister’s birthday – <3 you Sis)

Yes, I'm going public with this story and need all the help I can get from Dorothy supporters worldwide. If you have an idea how you could help promote the campaign, do email me. And if you don’t know what crowd sourcing is, email me. Will write more about it in a few days and give you an idea of what you can do to help.

Check the blog later as I will post some pics of all the action this afternoon. Hope all goes well. Stay tuned!

– Tobi Elliott, Producer and Mail Queen