Tag Archives: classic boat

Victoria Classic Boat Festival Memories

TEAL stern

It’s been a month since boat show season ended in the Pacific Northwest. Some of you are hopefully still on the water, while others are buttoning down for the winter.

Wait, did I say winter? It can’t be! Forget that – it’s still glorious fall in the PNW! You still time to get out on the water if, like me, your boat is waiting for you but you only put the sails up … once… and haven’t actually gone sailing yet. (My excuses are pitiful. Believe me, I know I do a disservice to anyone who lives in the prairies when I let a whole summer go by without sailing. If there’s one thing DOROTHY has taught me, it’s that experiencing life with a boat is better than without!)

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So let’s think of kinder, warmer things, like boat shows! We had a fantastic time at this year’s Victoria Classic Boat Festival, the 40th annual. While nothing could make up for the absence of John West, a key founder and integral, energetic part of the festival over its four decades, the sun shone bright on the docks full of beautiful boats and interested visitors.

It was the first year the Maritime Museum of B.C. took the helm and led the organization and programming, and they did an admirable job running the show. Congratulations!

DOROTHY was on hand in spirit, if not in physical form. As it was her 120th anniversary, we celebrated with cake in the hall of the MMBC, and a hearty Happy Birthday.

To make sure she was present “on the docks”, we hosted a table Saturday and Sunday with promotional materials, photographs and new 2018 calendars and anniversary T-shirts for sale. I was delighted that former owner Angus Matthews was able to join me on Sunday to chat with people on the docks.

It was interesting to hear the response when we asked people whether they had heard of “Canada’s oldest sailboat”. Most said, no, but were intrigued. Then we’d ask where they were from and roughly half the time, they were from Victoria! I realized there are two distinct groups in this small but passionate boat community: those who have been following the Dorothy adventure closely, and those who don’t know anything about her story at all.

I feel we have a lot of work to do in getting the Dorothy story out there. If you want to help with our mission of keeping her memory alive while the committee continues to raise funds for the rest of the restoration, you can help! We still have 2018 Anniversary Calendars for sale, with images ranging from the MMBC archives, her sailing in the 1920s-40s and 1980s, contemporary photos in Tony Grove’s shop, and even an exclusive shot of her from the Langley family that has never before been released to the public.

Or, get our NEW T-shirt (Maroon and Heather Grey) with her anniversary dates 1897-2017. Send one to your friends, family members, or enemies, and tell them the story of DOROTHY. Or get an art card for Christmas mailouts, we have 6 different beautiful art cards. Email me at dorothysails@gmail.com for prices and orders. Christmas is just around the corner!

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After costs, proceeds are split between the restoration fund and the documentary, Between Wood and Water.

For our Victoria boat show round up, the best thing from my perspective was the raft of forestry boats and workboats, most from British Columbia but a few from down south. I love their stories.

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I was intrigued to find out that restored B.C. forestry boats outnumber U.S. boats about three to one. One notable exception is the 90-year old TEAL (image up top) which has a rich history patrolling the Alaskan coast and is now docked at Friday Harbor, WA. She won Best Conversion.

It seemed like there were less sailboats than usual – perhaps because ORIOLE and MARTHA were missing (and perhaps it’s my biased eyes that want to see sailboats everywhere!) – but there were an amazing representation of all kinds of classic boats to grace the docks.

Here were some of the awards handed out:

  • Best Restored Power: the 1963 FLYING EAGLE, a Maine Lobsterboat that travelled to the west coast and was authentically restored by Rick Strollo;
  • Best Restored Sailboat: ISOBAR, with TEAKBIRD getting Honorable Mention (restored by our friends at Abernathy and Gaudin);
  • Oldest Powerboat: 1917 OCEAN BELLE;
  • Oldest Sailboat: 1922 LOON (which was also built by J.J. Robinson, DOROTHY’s builder);
  • Best Overall Powerboat: DEERLEAP;
  • Best Overall Sailboat: PACIFIC GRACE.

The second best thing about the festival was hanging out with our friends Eric and Steve from OFFCENTERHARBOR.com. They were doing double duty as boat oglers and storytellers, getting some juicy bits on their favourite boats in the PNW. We love OCH videos, and if you haven’t checked them out yet, you should definitely subscribe because they feature not only the hottest boats, but the best stories on people making and restoring them.

Look for them to feature PACIFIC, MESSENGER III and STITCH – all workboats of some kind – in the coming weeks.

So that’s it for our boat show season – how was yours? Did you participate? Drop us a line or write a comment if you have a story to tell. Because after all, next to an insane desire to drop 1000s of dollars on our beloved vessels, the stories we get to tell about them is the next best reason to own them, right?

If you have friends, neighbours or family members that don’t know about Canada’s oldest functioning, Canadian-made sailboat, consider giving them a Dorothy-related gift this year and helping us spread the word.

Thank you Friends! And happy sailing!

Tobi

 

Port Townsend Boat Show Photo Round Up

Hi Dorothy fans,

Having just got back from the 41st Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, I can’t wait to show you some of the beauty. I have to say: a weekend is not enough time to see and absorb all the wooden boatiness that was to be seen! And the weather was truly PNW style: everything from wet and drizzly to dazzlingly sunny.

Here are some of my favourite shots:

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Friday night at rest in Point Hudson Harbour

Saturday was mostly a grey day, but no one in the PNW would shy away from getting on the water just because of a lack of sun!

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Slim bow of the 1926 Ted Geary-built “Pirate”. Mouthwatering. Follow Dorothy on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dorothysails1897/

Saturday night we had a spectacular full rainbow…
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and Sunday morning dawned perfectly bright and glorious…

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Sunday morning we witnessed the tradition of the bell ringing for those who crossed the bar in 2017. It hit all of of us particularly hard this year, as Johnny West was named and remembered. Carol Hasse did a beautiful job simply naming those who are missing among our nautical community. (I’ll post a video of the ceremony as soon as I get my new website, with lots of room for video, up and running.

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This email is overly long already, but before I close I wanted to post some hearty thanks:

  • to our friends Capt Bill and Brother Jim (his official title) who helped and hosted the Canadian (transient) population aboard Messenger III:

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  • to Hasse (can’t get a picture of her, she moves too quick!) aboard her ever-classy folkboat Lorraine:

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  • to Don and Janet who let many stay in their “Fish Holdtel” aboard Pacific and are always great fun to be with:

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  • to Michael aboard Stitch
  • and finally a massive shout out and many thanks for the good times to the Off Center Harbor crew, Steve Stone (pictured below left) and Eric Blake, who came out from Maine to spend their days collecting stories about our west coast fishboats, forestry boats and mission boats – which will come out soon in some spectacular video series on their website. If you haven’t signed up for their videos, you should definitely check it out because they do have the BEST boat video website going.

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And finally, if you aren’t following Dorothy’s Instagram account @dorothysails1897, you’re missing out on some action!

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A 1945 Norwegian Langesund sailing skiff called Havhesten, 19 ft of beauty. Oh so lovely! #sailing #skiff #porttownsend #pnwunplugged #pnwlife #woodenboat #woodenboatfestival #smallboats #classicboat #norwegian #dorothysails #dorothyatfest

I will follow up on news from Victoria’s Classic Boat Festival in the next few days, as well as info about how to order our new Anniversary Tees (1897-2017 = 120 years old!) and 2018 Calendars and Art Cards.

Til then, may fair winds keep you in good spirits and bright heart!

Tobi, Tony and 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!

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

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

A Grecian Wooden Boat

Speaking of wooden boats here…

We were sent some amazing photos of a wooden boat under construction in… wait for it… Corfu, Greece! Here are some of Spiros Cheimarios‘ photos of a traditional wooden boat he is building. He says he’s passionate about wooden boats (we know a bit about that infectious disease, don’t we Tony?) and likes to learn everything he can about their construction. Us too!

Can any of our readers guess the type of wood being used, the vessel type and what kind of rigging it has? Answers in a post next week!

And if anyone else has a project they’re working on – especially a restoration project or you’re building a type of boat with a unique history – send them to dorothysails [at] gmail [dot] com and we’ll post them here.

Happy Thursday!

Unearthing the stories in Dorothy’s planks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanding Dorothy and Screening Tees

Tony Grove boathull painting

We have some exciting news to report: a lovely breakthough for your favourite indie filmmakers:

Between Wood and Water – the documentary about the restoration of Dorothy, B.C.’s oldest and most beloved sloop – has attracted support from the National Film Board in the form of a filmmaker’s assistance grant!!! I heard that competition for the grant was particularly stiff this year, so the news is extremely heartening and we are well chuffed (English term) that a jury of Canada’s internationally esteemed film institution believes the Dorothy story is important. We thought so too!

The amount of money is not huge, (about 5% of what we need to complete production), but every little bit helps, and we are extremely grateful to the NFB for selecting this project.

(if you’ve never had the chance to check out the NFB’s unparalleled library of documentaries, animations and ground-breaking Canadian films, you really should, they are free online within in Canada. If you don’t know where to start, go to their curated playlists here.)

So as we prepare for our first major shoot of the restoration phase of this story in June, some things are going down:

1. Tony begins wooding Dorothy’s hull next week, stripping and sanding off the paint, to  reveal what’s going on and how extensive his work will be;

2. I am practicing my pitches for major networks congregating at the Banff media festival next weekend. One of them is of course the Dorothy documentary,  another is a maritime history and adventure series called Waterway Queens that was inspired by the research I did for Dorothy. The story of my opportunity at Banff can be read here, in an article in the Gabriola Sounder (this is what happens when you live on a small island: you make the local paper way more often.)

T-shirts-Dot-photo3. We are working on a fundraising campaign to raise needed production funds this summer. It MAY involve silkscreening “I love the Dorothy” T-shirts to sell (at right). Would you be interested in one? The graphic design is being done by one of the best designers I know, and Tony Grove himself drew Dorothy’s lines (see his artwork at top.)

Sanding Dorothy’s hull will be an arduous, dirty, dusty job, but the end, will result in the revelation of her beautiful wood, those ancient cedar planks that have stood the test of time. This very wood is what inspired me to pursue this story: the enduring relationship between wood and water.

Asking for money and running a fundraiser is not going to be particularly easy, either. But I know we have a great team to produce a great film, and so in the current climate of my industry, I have to be brave and find people and organizations to contribute. And this will result in relationships and connections to will last a lifetime, and I will be only one of many who can say “I produced a film” – because we ALL produced this film! It’s in this spirit of collectivity that many of the successful films are being made today.

The usual administrative hurdles remain to be overcome. As a production company, I may not actually be able to receive “gifts”, so one workaround might be simply to sell goods of varied pricing. (Coming soon: Dorothy T-shirts ranging from $25 – $200!) Hopefully I’ll have things worked out by next week, so those of you who have expressed interest in donating, thanks for your patience.

But when I think of the end result, I know it’s going to be worth it. We will have a film that speaks for those who love British Columbia’s maritime history. It will convey the passion of those who sacrifice so much for the vessels they love – wooden or otherwise. It will highlight the work of a wonderful contemporary artist – Tony Grove, and the art of boat restoration. It will promote the work of the B.C. Maritime Museum in Victoria, which is home to Canada’s largest library of nautical archives and has been keeping the maritime flame lit for over 40 years.

And it will speak to and inspire a new generation of men and women who, like the Teacher in Proverbs, find:

“There are three things that are too amazing for me,

four that I do not understand:

the way of an eagle in the sky,

the way of a snake on a rock,

the way of a ship on the high seas,

and the way of a man with a maiden.”

(Proverbs 30 18-19)

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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

Engaging the power of community

Dorothy on water-sepia

So I told you last week I would reveal the “plan” I have up my sleeve for getting this doc produced. Well, ideally I would still love a broadcast partner to come on board. That’s the best case scenario because then we have a place to show the film once finished, and we could produce it under a more realistic budget. As I go to the Banff Media Festival next month, the Dorothy film will be one of the projects I bring to pitch, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

But my other plan – because dang it! we’re going to make a film about Dorothy, aren’t we??!! – involves partnering directly to our audience to make the film. In this day and age of indie filmmaking, the practice of crowdfunding through sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter has become immensely popular. Instead of relying on one or two big funders, we have potentially 1,000s of “little” funders who can contribute whatever they feel able towards the film. It all depends on outreach and building community, but thankfully that has become easier with the advent of social media.

PerksSome call this age the democratization of media because as slots for independent films on television become fewer, the cost of actually making films also continues to decrease. In some ways, filmmaking is actually getting a lot simpler: instead of going through 3rd party channels like expensive studios and distributors, we can partner directly with the people who want to see the film made. Producers are beginning to turn more and more to regular people to fund production in exchange for “perks” – everything from a merchandise and film-related swag, to an executive producer credit in the film.

Some big studios are even catching on to this. You might have heard in the news lately about the producers of The Veronica Mars movie, who aimed to raise $2 million and instead pulled in $5.7 million. The highest proportion of backers (23,227 people) put in just $50 to get a host of swag, including a DVD of the movie with a behind-the-scenes documentary and special bonus features. Another example: Zach Braff’s recent campaign for his indie feature “Wish I was Here” garnered $2.5 million with 36,000 backers. Now, these projects both have high profile actors and a cult following, so it’s easy to see how they could be successful.

But I would argue that Dorothy has an equally strong following – albeit local, and a relatively niche group – of passionate watercraft lovers who want to see her restored and celebrated as she should be. And it just takes a few of us – a few dedicated “super fans” who are willing to spread the word – to pull in a wider community of people. And before you know it, we have a collective force that can do a lot more together than a few of us can accomplish alone.

My approach to filmmaking is that I don’t have all the answers, and I like to work with a community to source out the answers I don’t have. I also have only limited resources. I work hard to do a good job telling the stories that come my way and honour them with my talents and a lot of energy. But if we go the unconventional indie route, we need more than just “Tobi and Kate”. We need a whole community to make this happen.

Our immediate need is to cover 3 essential shoots this summer and fall – one of which is coming up very soon in June when two of Dorothy’s previous owners (David Baker and Angus Matthews) visit her and go over her history with Tony. Another shoot will take place in Victoria as we catalogue the archives and conduct interviews with the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, as well as some interviews at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club where she was berthed for so long. And a 3rd this fall at the Victoria Classic Boat festival where we hope to capture the vibe of the classic boat community.

To cover these, I plan to launch a small fundraising campaign at the Ladysmith Maritime Festival on June 8th, to run through the summer and culminate with the Victoria Classic Boat festival Aug 30/31-Sept 1. We have a few ideas up our sleeves (silkscreened “I Love the Dorothy” T-shirts, anyone?) of merch to sell as fundraisers and gifts, and we welcome all suggestions. If you are associated with a company that produces something we’d be able to resell, please get in touch.

That’s all for now! Hope you’re all enjoying the beautiful west coast weather and getting out on the water as much as possible.

Happy Sailing!

Tobi Elliott, Producer BETWEEN WOOD AND WATER

classic boat fest race2011