Tag Archives: Interviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Eric Tony kneeling before Dot

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

 

New season, new start, new shoot!

Tony Grove sanding Dorothy with Festool RO 125sander

Welcome back, Dorothy fans!

We are long overdue for an update and I do apologize for having left you so long. I hope your holidays were merry, restful and gave you time to set your sights on the exciting times coming ahead.

There was actually a lot of downtime here at Dorothy HQ over the holidays. Some was planned, some was not…

The unplanned downtime was due to Tony Grove (our amazing shipwright), getting in a rather nasty car accident just before Christmas on Gabriola’s SINGLE night of snow – as vintage ’65 Dodge vans apparently aren’t known for skilled snow negotiation– resulting in 1 broken van, 1 broken shoulder and 7 broken ribs. Ouch!

Poor Tony! But fear not, he’s come through amazingly, and with no apparent lasting damage. Apart from lots of pain in the first few weeks (anyone who made him laugh was promptly banned from the house!) and having to spend far more hours propped up on the couch than he was used to, he’s weathered it just fine. I’m happy to report that Tony is back on his feet and able to do more each day. It might be a few weeks yet until work can begin again on Dorothy, but he’s managed to stay busy in the meantime.

And there’s lots in the pipeline for the coming few weeks, so we are actually glad for a nice rest. Here’s a look at what’s coming:

– Tony finished his painting of Dorothy (yay!) just before his accident, and he’s very happy with the results. I must say her fantail has never been so beautifully highlighted! He’s framing it today for shipping soon. It was a commission for the Vancouver Law Society. We shot still frames as the painting developed, which have turned out GREAT and will an amazing tool for the documentary. [Photo to come – just have to wait til the client sees it first]

– AND we look forward to making a canvas reproduction of the Dorothy painting to give away to the biggest donor in our fall Indiegogo fundraiser. So nice to give gifts! That’s been one of my favourite parts of fundraising.

the German yacht magazine, YACHT, is sending a team to photograph and write a feature on Dorothy‘s restoration in mid-February

Tony Grove sanding Dorothy with Festool sander

Festool (a German manufacturer of premium equipment) has asked Tony to participate in their “Sand, Finish, Pass” promotion, in which they give out a Rotex RO 125 Multi-Mode Sander to woodworking specialists around the continent to test in the unique conditions of their own workplace. Tony is the only boatbuilder participating in the promotion, and we think they’re pretty lucky to get their sander tested on our precious Dorothy! Check out their Facebook page for some recent photos (actually screengrabs from the video Tobi is shooting for the contest)

– Tony and I (Tobi) will be speaking about Dorothy‘s restoration on Gabriola, in an event put together by the Gabriola Historical and Museum SocietyThursday, January 30 | Phoenix Auditorium at The Haven Doors open at 6:30, presentation at 7:00 | Admission by donation.

– Tony Grove will be speaking again in Victoria at the Maritime Museum of B.C. during Maritime Heritage week, Feb 17-23. Check out the MMBC’s snazzy new website in the meantime for details.

– this month, Heritage BC is featuring an article on Dorothy in their quarterly magazine to celebrate their theme “Heritage Afloat”

– we are looking forward to an interview with Sheryl MacKay of CBC’s NXNW morning show, probably at the end of this month. We’ll post details on when it goes to air.

and… finally… some real work. Tobi gets to pick up the camera again tomorrow to meet a very special person in Dorothy‘s life. This amazing person learned to sail on Dorothy, as the lovely boat belonged to their family about 5 decades ago. We are very much looking forward to this and have waited a loonnng time for this piece of the Dorothy history to fall into place. More on that this weekend, with some photos for sure.

Dorothy under garboards- seams reefed-T.Elliott

Dorothy is still patiently waiting for visitors to come see her in this incredibly beautiful state: wood sanded down to the grain, planks exposed, her “stuffing” taken out. So if you have a hankering to see this beautiful little ship, send Tony or I a note and arrange a visit. Once Tony gets back to work she won’t be like this for long! This shipwright moves fast, so get here while you can!

And finally, I believe I have sent out most, if not all, the gifts and thank yous for the donations that came in. IF you’re missing yours and I overlooked you somehow, please PLEASE send an email to tobi [at] tobielliott [dot] com and gently remind me! It wasn’t on purpose. There’s just a lot of things to keep tabs on. Doin’ my best…

Thanks for all your support. Keep sharing your stories and telling us what you are up to!

Tobi & Tony

CBC-Radio and Global TV Coverage

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Happy Friday to all!

I don’t know how many in the Victoria area got a chance to hear this morning’s LIVE interview with CBC Radio’s “On the Island” Morning show with Kahlil Aktar about Dorothy and the documentary I’m producing. It’s been awhile since my live radio hits in Dawson Creek, BC, as an Astral-Media reporter and there was sooo much in my head to talk about, that I’ll have to listen again to actually hear what came out of my mouth!

Since the Dorothy story was featured in Pacific Yachting magazine and Western Mariner, there has been a bit more media interest in what I think should be a national story. (er… finally!)

Also, on Wednesday, a shooter for Global BC TV News showed up and the segment aired province-wide last night. Unfortunately, neither Tony Grove or I got to see it as neither of us has a TV hooked up to anything other than Netflix! So…. if anyone by incredible stroke of chance recorded the evening newscast, please let us know and we’ll get a courier to your doorstep ASAP! I’m eager to see what the videographer picked up as a storyline. The show producer might be able to send us the segment and I’ll post it here if that happens.

Meantime, I did manage to make a recording of my interview this morning with Kahlil. Sorry it cuts off at the end but the only way I could get it from my phone to computer was trimming and emailing – iTunes apparently having a bug when it comes to transferring voice memos.

Oh technology, how character-building it is when you fail us just when we need you….

Anyway, been nice chatting, meantime I have to get some work done – and so, probably, do you! Click here to listen to my CBC interview about ​Dorothy, the oldest sailboat in Canada, and my documentary Between Wood and Water on her restoration. 

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Have a great weekend everyone, Tobi