Tag Archives: restoration

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!

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.

 

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

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

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!

20140703-134905.jpg

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

Replacing the first of Dorothy’s floors

From outside Dorothy

Dorothy has been patiently waiting for attention in Tony Grove’s magical woodshop for some time. At last, other work being cleared away, the boatbuilder could begin on her stem/keel and floors, cutting away the 117 year old wood and fastenings, and measuring new timbers and frames.

Filming this process was a bit difficult – or I’m frankly out of practice – because Tony works super fast (even with me slowing him down!) He moves from bow to bandsaw to sander to steambox to clamp station and back again while I’m still setting up my shot! Wonderfully challenging. So if you wonder why there’s a series of similar looking shots from the bow, it’s because I finally found a perch where he would keep coming back and I could observe him without getting in the way.

Dorothy's floor timbers from above

View from small hatch of the stem with keel bolt taken out. Her garboards were actually removed back in October 2012, a process we filmed on our first shoot for “Between Wood and Water”.

Here’s a series of images that hopefully will give you the “1000 words” behind the story. If anyone has any technical questions, Tony will do his best to answer, but as he’s still in the middle of researching, some answers will take a bit longer to get to. But please do write and comment! This is a great time to ask questions because it will inform us a bit on what you want to see in the documentary…

Total shock at how little is holding Dorothy together

Tony expresses his shock at how little is holding Dorothy together….. OK, not really. He was mostly trying to scare me, saying the bow would crack under my weight as he took out these frames! Yikes!

Tobi shooting from the bow

There is barely room for two of us in that bow – Dorothy is very narrow up forward, and this wide-angle lens makes her look beamier than her actual 10 feet.

 

Removing old epoxy from mast step

Tony has just ripped off the mast step, which was covered in epoxy, which made it suspect, but it was actually ok. At least it’s clean now.

Now we can see how the floor timbers fit together

Now we can see how the floor timbers fit together

This old bolt just popped out (which is not supposed to happen). Tony thinks it’s galvanized steel and is original to the boat. It’s been eaten away pretty badly as you can tell, it should be about twice as long.

This old bolt came off super easy, in fact the head broke off. Tony thinks it's a mixture of iron and galvenized steel and is original to the boat.

This is where the bolt was…

Unscrewing keel bolt

This bronze keel bolt is actually in pretty good shape, still has thread but the wood timber its supposed to be holding in place is completely gone.

This was the wood around the keel bolt, now obviously broken down due to electrochemical decay. Here with the new oak timber that will replace it.

This was the wood around the keel bolt, now obviously broken down due to electrochemical decay. Here with the new oak timber that will replace it.

So this is where it’s complicated – or can be. Building new frames and floors for Dorothy requires taking so many angles into consideration, Tony was scribing, measuring, considering, sawing, sanding for a good half hour for each. It was fascinating to watch/film, because he would spend all this time simply looking, analyzing, running the shape through his artistic/boatbuilder brain, and then fly into action and 20 minutes later… the pieces popped into place like they grew there – the first time! Amazing to watch him in action.

The old rotten frame coming out. There was almost nothing holding them to the stem/keel.

The old rotten frame coming out. There was almost nothing holding them to the stem/keel.

Here’s a measuring-to-bandsaw series:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And then it’s necessary to keep testing them in place. This back and forth could take all day, but was relatively short this time around. Thankfully for the filmmaker and hungry boatbuilder!

Fitting in new floors

The piece on the right (port) will sister the frame going across the floor, which was steamed and bent yesterday.

The piece on the right (port) will sister the frame going across the floor, which was steamed and bent yesterday. These two sister/side pieces popped in for an exact fit – nice when that happens!

And then who doesn’t know how clamps work? Not much to say except they are pretty essential to any boatshop, as I’m learning. As I posted yesterday, Tony has about 50 in his shop, but could always use more. And someone on Facebook responded by saying “there are never enough clamps”. I guess it’s a universal thing…

Clamping new oak for Dorothy's floor

That about wraps our little inside look at the floor timber/frame restoration process. Lots still to come. Tony will be working on Dorothy throughout the summer, aiming to get her back in Victoria for re-rigging by Fall. So there will be frequent updates here, watch this space!

On the weekend I will post more about the Tony Grove special… a steambox that is portable and won’t break your bank!

Cheers, happy sailing (and restoring and refinishing and varnishing and polishing… )

Tobi and Tony and Dorothy

Reefing the seams

Reefing the seams today on Dorothy’s port side. Bit by bit, inch by inch, the caulking is being pried out.

Tony Grove is working with David Baker today and tomorrow. David had owned Dorothy in the 1980s and is working in some areas around planks that he himself installed.

Together they are uncovering some surprising materials used to pay her seams over the years. In some cases, the caulking material hasn’t been touched at all, meaning it’s original, and 116 years old.

Quite something to see!

20131121-154331.jpg

 

Dorothy under garboards- seams reefed-T.Elliott Tobi Elliott filming Tony Grove reefing Dorothy's seams Tobi Elliott filming Tony Grove reefing Dorothy's seams2 Tony Grove and David Baker with Dorothy Tony Grove reefing seams on Dorothy Nov 2013

CBC-Radio and Global TV Coverage

20130806_GlobalTV shoot_1340

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. 

20130806_GlobalTV shoot_1304 20130806_GlobalTV shoot_1322

Have a great weekend everyone, Tobi

Dorothy tees have arrived!

This beautifully designed, simple and elegant image of Dorothy has made its way onto T-shirts at last, and they are being snapped up by everyone who loves this beautiful boat. What do you think?

Dorothy T-shirts.jpg

I’m super excited and deeply grateful that so many people helped out with this first step in our campaign for production funding. Tony Grove, the restoration specialist working on Dorothy, is also a marine artist. He created an original illustration of Dorothy at sail that captures her gorgeous fantail (more of his distinctive artwork here: http://www.tonygrove.com/artwork/photo-gallery.php) Many thanks to Bryan McCrae of Filament Communications who rendered the image and added text, and Senini Graphics in Nanaimo who gave us a great rate and professionally silkscreened the tees.

Our new Tee-shirts have arrived! July 2013

Our new Tee-shirts have arrived! July 2013

There are about 20 women’s tees (soft, Gildan cotton V-necks), and 20 men’s (Gildan cotton crew necks) remaining, both in Navy. The suggested donation is $25, all of which goes directly to production costs for filming the documentary, Between Wood and Water, this summer and fall. For more info and shipping costs to a mailbox near you, email Tobi at dorothysails@gmail.com. We’ll be happy to send you one!

We are also pleased to announce that in mid-August we’ll be launching a brand-new, exciting campaign on Indiegogo – the world’s largest “crowd-sourcing” community for creative endeavours. Donations from ordinary people like you, in small and large amounts, will generate the support critical in the making of this documentary. Please encourage your friends, family, community, and everyone who loves boats and maritime history, to sign up on our website so we can update you on where the production is at: dorothysails.com

For the Indiegogo campaign, we are partnering with From the Heart Productions in California, a great company with an awesome track record of funding and supporting independent films, which gives us a fiscal sponsor in the U.S. That means donations from the U.S. get their donors a tax write-off. Bonus!

More than that, FTH President Carole Dean, who quite literally wrote the book on funding indie films, has been an invaluable mentor and asset in helping us reach our goal and get this documentary produced. More info on the campaign to follow, but for now, I encourage you to browse Indiegogo and check out the cool projects from around the world. There is so much creativity and heart out there!

Dorothy and her entourage are jumping aboard…

Love, Tobi