Tag Archives: Micmac

The Charlotte, the Rogers Cup and the first Charlottetown Yacht Club

Charlottetown Guardian 13 July 1908. P. 1

Even if the only image that seems to have survived is a grainy copy from the page of a newspaper almost a hundred and ten years old it is clear that the Charlotte was a fine-looking craft. She was described in glowing terms by the Guardian:

…a beautiful specimen of a serviceable cruising yacht, being a good sailer, with a comfortable cabin and equipped throughout with a luxuriousness that is calculated to make anyone think that yachting must be an enjoyable occupation.

At just under 40 feet, the Charlotte, with its gaff rig and long jibboom certainly had a striking appearance and was probably the pride of the small fleet in Charlottetown Harbour. It had sailed in Charlottetown since 1905 at least but it is not known when  the yacht was built.   In races the boat carried a crew of four, including a paid sailing master; Charles Moore of Dunedin. She was owned by George J. Rogers, at the time the vice-president of the Rogers Hardware Company. Rogers had also been elected commodore of the Charlottetown Yacht Club at the time of its founding and was still in the same position in 1908.

The first Charlottetown Yacht Club had been organized in August 1904, primarily for the purpose of mounting a challenge for the Coronation Cup. At the time of my blog posting on the Coronation Cup I stated I had been unable to find reference to the continuation of the club. However, further research shows that the previously informal club adopted a constitution and by-laws in June 1906 under the name Charlottetown Yacht Club.  The first Commodore was George J. Rogers. Other officers were A. Ellsworth – Vice-Commodore, J. Vanbuskirk – Rear Commodore and T.T. Black – Secretary-Treasurer.

To stimulate racing Commodore Rogers presented the club with the Rogers Cup which would be awarded to the winner of three races in the racing series.  The first of these races was held in mid-September 1908. Rogers had placed no restrictions on entry and so boats of all sizes and rigs participated; sloops, lobster boats and schooner rigs were seen on the starting line. The entries included the Micmac, Charlotte, Thelma, Onawa, Waterboat, Mayflower, Pigeon, Georgina, and Dreadnought.  According to the Guardian “The start was quite a pretty spectacle the boats getting away in a picturesque bunch and making a rare sight as they became strung out on the run to the first buoy.” The Mayflower led for the fist leg of the race until overtaken at the buoy by Micmac. Micmac held the lead until the finish followed by Charlotte, Mayflower and Pigeon.

HBC trophy. PEIMHF Collection The Rogers Cup does not appear to have survived.

The Rogers Cup was not the first sailing trophy in Charlottetown although it was the first to be under the management of the Charlottetown Yacht Club.  Only a week before the first Rogers Cup match the Hillsborough Boating Club trophy had been taken by the Micmac, which retained the trophy having won the annual race for the third time in four years. The Charlotte was one of only three entries in the final race for the HBC cup and she avoided last place only because Hiawatha had briefly gone aground on the last leg.

The 1908 Guardian feature which included the photo of the Charlotte seen above was not so much about the sloop or George Rogers as it is about the advantages of Charlottetown Harbour as a sailing locale.

There is probably no province in Canada where the people are so well provided with the means of indulging the pastime of yachting as Prince Edward Island. The advantages are general all over the province and here in the capital city of Charlottetown, built at the confluence of three broad rivers, which make its splendid harbor, with the ample Hillsborough Bay just outside the harbor entrance the situation is such as to compel the admiration of all who are interested in aquatic sport.

In no other city in Canada are such desirable yachting waters so conveniently at hand, and those who are fond of the sport and own yachts and sailing boats find means of indulging in the glorious pastime with very little trouble or expense.

Even with the passage of more than a century the sentiments expressed here remain true. Although fibreglass hulls and aluminum masts have replaced oak and fir and dacron has replaced sailcloth,  Charlottetown Harbour and Prince Edward Island waters continue to be fine sailing areas conveniently at hand.

 

 

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A Century of Spithead Racing

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Guardian 21 August 1907 p. 3

During the summer’s racing season at the Charlottetown Yacht Club there are usually a couple of evenings (especially early in the season with several hours before darkness) when the winds and tides are just right and the assembled skippers and crews waiting on the veranda for the course for the evening to be posted agree that “it would be a good evening for Spithead.”  It is a much favoured course – through the harbour mouth leaving Battery Point Buoy to port, past Blockhouse buoy and four miles out to Spithead Buoy and then back to the finish line at the Club.  It is a longer than usual course and calls for a stiff breeze and the race being dependant on the breeze, the course can never be called too far in advance. Often the conditions outside the harbour are very different from the wind and waves usually dealt with and as in the earlier race described below this difference in conditions can favour different boats.

Black buoy 1005

Detail from Chart of Hillsborough Bay 1886 edition

What few of the sailors of the CYC fleet realize is that the Spithead course for the yacht race was in use more than a hundred years ago. What we now call Spithead Buoy was placed at the end of the reef running east from St. Peter’s Island in the late 1830s. It was marked by a Black Buoy and for most of the 19th century the mark was simply known as “the Black Buoy.” The Buoy was part of a series of navigation marks which included a buoy marking Fitzroy Rock and another on Battery Point.  Conspicuously absent from early charts is a buoy marking Blockhouse point, Instead of a buoy the correct and safe line into the harbour through the narrow harbour entrance was identified by leading marks including the conspicuous Dockendorff’s Barn on York Point and church steeples in Charlottetown. For some of the evening racers it is as far as they will ever get from the security of the harbour and the longer course makes a pleasant change from the usual parade around the marks inside Charlottetown Harbour.

In 1907 the race was advertised well in advance. However on the appointed day it had to be be postponed for a week owing to light winds. It is clear from the advertisement (illustrated above) for the race that it had been held the previous year and the cup for the event had been won by the sloop Micmac, the cup having been put up again for the 1907 race.  The Guardian covered the competition.

A splendid breeze greeted the yachts entered for the race over a course inside and outside the harbor on Saturday afternoon.  The entries were  – Micmac, Capt. Gaudet; Charlotte, Capt. Rogers; Vinco, Capt. Prowse; Grace  Darling, Capt. Moore

The course was from Marine and Fisheries Wharf to Hillsborough Bridge, thence to entrance to, North River thence out the harbor to Black Buoy, thence back to North River, thence to Marine and Fisheries Wharf.

The struggle was between the Micmac and the Charlotte, the latter very nearly robbing the former of her laurels. In the rough water outside the Charlotte was more than her match but the smoother water the Micmac scored. The finish of the race was most exciting, the Charlotte and Micmac turning the last stake boat together. The Micmac then drew ahead, finishing by a short lead. Grace Darling was third.

A number of lobster boats accompanied the sloops and showed a lot of speed.  

The advertising suggests there was a bit of a rivalry on the waterfront between the Charlottetown Yacht Club and the older Hillsboro Boating Club. Because of weather postponements the latter organization had their annual race for the Hillsboro Cup on the same weekend with several of the same boats such as the Micmac (with Capt. Pineaud instead of Capt. Gaudet) and the Charlotte in competition.  For the Black Buoy race there was no entry fee but neither was there mention of prize money. The Hillsboro Boating Club race had a $2.00 entry fee but besides the Hillsboro Cup for the winner, second place would be awarded $10 and third garnered $5.00. Because of light winds the Hillsboro Cup race was not completed and had to be re-staged on the morning of the following Labour Day.