The history of any organization is only imperfectly told through formal records such as Board minutes. More of the history lives, and unfortunately dies, in the memories of those who were there.
For the Charlottetown Yacht Club there is another source halfway between record and memory and perhaps also halfway between fact and fiction. The Flapping Jib was a more or less weekly newsletter chronicling the events of the club. Under the skills of a series of editors it could either be a list of coming events or a scurrilous sheet of yellow journalism. The latter Jibs were the far more interesting. The editor was the person from whom no secrets were hid. Like the proverbial tree falling in the forest a grounding far from any observer or an early morning tumble into the harbour waters was sure to appear in the next week’s Jib. There were sly references to mooring lines being stored on propellers and anchors which didn’t quite reach the bottom.
But it was mostly a house organ for insiders. An elaborate structure of boat names, nicknames and identification of the flaws of individuals resulted in coded messages which would delight those who were not targeted in that issue but could be relied on to be victims in the next.
The CYC forty years ago was a different place. It was more than a place to park your boat. It was the centre of a busy social circle. And the activities were for the members not fund-raising events for the world at large. In 1975 there were 31 social events listed in the club calendar ranging from wine and cheese parties to corn-husking contests, dancing to Art Large’s Orchestra to a mackerel barbecue. The list doesn’t include the races and cruises to other clubs at Summerside, Shediac and to the now vanished Royal William Yacht Club in Pictou which was both a race to Point Prim and a cruise for the rest of the way. Dozens of crews, both power and sail were actively involved in these events and excursions and for all it was a family affair.
Although it could have been, the writing was never threatened by libel actions. Who could damage the reputations of club members whose flaws were known to all and sundry. Besides it was all in good fun. After forty years some of the characters are long gone but others are still a part of the Charlottetown Yacht Club and the stories continue to be handed down. The Flapping Jib will bring back memories, if not of the events, then of the people who made this a club..
For example here is the account of the harbour race in the last week of August
THE HARBOUR RACE last Wed. night planted a large smile on Art Love’s face and he can’t get it off. Yes, you guessed it dear reader, Art won the race! Interviewed in the winners circle, Mr. Love, with his customary diffidence, his generosity to vanquished opponents, commented: “They’re a bunch of turkeys.” 2nd place finisher John Rankin demonstrated the hour-glass spinnaker. 3rd over the line Ronnie Stewart showed us how you can scare the hell out of the opposition with your spinnaker out of control. David Hume finished last but he, being the race committee chairman, disqualified most of the boats and declared himself 3rd. Don M. & Biggie proved that rum doesn’t win races. Crewman Beanie Butler showed that its possible to get into a small boat with three life jackets on. It seems that since the Shediac trip Beanie won’t go below Richmond Street without his floater on. Wendell & Brud, determined not to come last again, deliberately broke their spreader and so were DNF. Nyanza and her pirate crew was headed for the bridge at the start. After cocktails poured by Buddy Lund, of the heavy hand, they started for the line. Roger however, had tied some really good knots in the jib sheet. By the time this problem was resolved the race was over — and by that time who gave a damn anyway.
Or perhaps this ditty which draws on the propensity of one sailor to successfully find the bottom on almost every outing.
The Ballad of Simmonds Shoals (or The Story of Viney’s Travail)
She’s aground the captain shouted / as he staggered down the stairs / The rocks and reefs of Pictou town / have caught us unawares
Be quiet dear his wifey cried / Let happiness abound / It shows the farmer lad in you / To plough the bottom ground.
You’ve done it once, you’ve done it twice / So many times I’ve spoken / Poor Arthur Love will blow his fuse / His record you have broken.
So Johnny dear let Lady Anne / Sit here so nice and even / She’ll never sink and you’ll not need / York Point as anchor haven.
With sea cows penned about the stern / We’ll live here nice and lazy / We’ll ship the milk to Charlottetown / and fill those cans like crazy
…. and so on for another five verses about the commodore of the York Point Yacht Club.
I have been fortunate to have been trusted with the loan of a complete run of the Jib for 1975 by someone whose name appears in the record itself. Thank you Kathy.
The Jibs themselves are scarce. The club itself seems to have left preservation of its history to the verandah gang, many of whom are now gone. There may be copies of the Jib in attics and filing cabinets – it was probably published for fifty years or more Perhaps some of the former Commodores or editors have them squirreled away. If so, I would be pleased to have access to any other copies of the Jib and will copy, share and return them.
If you are a CYC member and a re looking for your own name or someone with a purely sociological interest you can see the entire run of the Flapping Jib for 1975, as well as some additional documents such as financial statements and membership costs for that year,(senior membership $41.00 – no GST) by clicking on the link below. This will open a PDF file and you will need a PDF reader such as Adobe Reader to read it. The file is also quite large (6MB+) and may take some time to load but it is worth the wait. The originals are on legal size paper and do not scan on a smaller format easily so some pages appear in two parts. In other cases the pages have been scanned without the letterhead. The program has also clipped several pages – generally what is missing at the foot of the page is the sign-off of the Jib’s editor -“Summer Wine”