Tag Archives: Shediac Yacht Club

“The Prettiest Boat on the Straits”

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Sailing Yacht Goldfinch ca 1937. Photographer and location unknown. This print from the Mac Irwin album. A hand coloured edition of the same print is held by the Stright family.

On 4 August 1936 the Guardian carried a short article titled “Smart Racing Yacht Launched in Summerside.”  Mistakenly identified as the Goldfish in the article, the new boat was launched with a number of yachting enthusiasts in attendance as she slipped from her cradle. The Goldfinch was owned by Ray Tanton and Captain James Stright and she was to go on to be one of the fastest boats to sail out of Summerside.

The boat was Marconi rigged and carried 300 feet of canvas. She was 25 feet 6 inches in overall length but only 5 feet 10 inches in the beam. With her low freeboard and tiny cabin she had a sleek appearance. Finely finished with a white hull and natural wood deck and cabin she looked every inch a racing boat.  She fit within the Yacht Racing Association of Northumberland Strait measurements for class 4 boats and within days of her launch she was entered in races at the Shediac regatta.  This was the first regatta under the YRANS banner.

She arrived back in Summerside with the Commodore Morris Trophy for Class 4 yachts and the C.Y.C. trophy for placing second in the handicap races.  She had been scratch boat in all of her races. The Summerside correspondent for the Guardian said that she was said to be “the prettiest boat on the Straits and the fastest in her class.”

In 1937 the YRANS regatta was held in Pictou early in July and once again Goldfinch had an excellent showing.  She won the Class 4 races but in addition took the Commodore Weldon Cup for the highest aggregate point total in the two-day meet.  Later in the month she participated in a regatta held by the Borden Yacht Club coming first in one race and second in another. While sailing to an August regatta in Shediac she broke a chain plate and this resulted in a broken mast.

Goldfinch was featured on the cover of a 1940 tourism brochure

Goldfinch was featured on the cover of a 1940 tourism brochure

August of 1938 saw a closely contested series of races at the Summerside Yacht Club when Goldfinch was nosed out of first place by a Shediac boat, Cossack helmed by Bill Parsons. Goldfinch continued to win races placing first in her class in the Shediac Bay regatta in 1940 and coming in third behind Cossack and Dan Patch in the 1941 Shediac Bay Regatta.

With the hiatus during the Second World War it is hard to track Goldfinch. The account of the 1941 races has her sailing out of Shediac but this may be in error. At the 1946 YRANS regatta, again in Shediac and the first to be held after the end of the war, Goldfinch won her class but was listed as being sailed out of Pictou by George Hill. Few Class 4 boats were built after the introduction of the smaller Class 3  yachts and the Goldfinch may have simply run out of competitors after the war.

Besides being a designer and sailor Stright was also active in both the Summerside Yacht Club and the Yacht Racing Association of Northumberland Strait. He served for several years as Fleet Captain and Official Measurer of the Summerside Club in the late 1930s, and was Commodore of the Club in 1939. In 1946 he was elected Vice- President of the Yacht Racing Association.

Stright came by his knowledge of sailing vessels in the traditional manner. During and after the Great War he sailed the schooner Bonus (sometimes spelled Bowness) out of Victoria and Summerside, often carrying coal from Pictou to firms such as R.T. Holman.

The Goldfinch was one of a number of yachts designed by James Stright. In 1935 he was responsible for the Agatha owned by Lawrence Gerlevson which raced in Summerside and Borden. During the Summerside race Capt. Stright allowed the Bedeque ferry to be used as the committee boat so it is likely that he owned that vessel.

In 1936 Capt. Stright was noted as the designer of the Rainbow, a 35 foot cabin cruiser built by Paul Harding of Summerside. In 1937 Stright built a 22 footer to compete in Class 3 races, probably the Woodpecker, sailed by Ray Tanton.  Another Class 3 boat credited to Stright was Strimac which, along with Woodpecker,  was still being sailed in Baddeck , Cape Breton in the 1980s. In 1938 he was awarded the contract for a new tender for the C.G.S. Brant.

From 1935 to 1938 Capt. Stright had the contract to operate the ferry linking Summerside with Bedeque but there was controversy as to whether the service was needed except in the spring of the year when roads were impassable and the service was discontinued in 1938.

In 1945 Capt. Stright moved to Pictou and worked with his sons Trueman and Ivan in what would become Stright-MacKay, a company still serving marine industries and boating enthusiasts. Stright- MacKay has been a strong supporter of the Northumberland Challenge race series as well as local Pictou Yacht Club activities. Several of James Stright’s descendants have carried on the sailing tradition notably the late Trueman (Trap) Stright and his son Billy Stright who sails out of the Pictou Yacht Club as well as Ivan’s son, Rod Stright, sailing out of the Dartmouth Yacht Club.

This is one of a series of postings based on photos found in the Mac Irwin albums.

 

 

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Preview of a pre-war Yacht Club photo album

Close competition at the mark. 1938 Regatta

Close competition at the mark. 1938 Regatta

Some years ago when John Dennis, a much travelled and (now) a senior member of the Charlottetown Yacht Club was Commodore of the club he was presented with two albums of photos documenting activities of club members before World War Two.  The two albums, one with snapshots and the other with larger images constitute a collection of more than 140 photographs documenting many aspects of the activities of Charlottetown Yacht Club members.  These include excursions to the West River, activities at the club and in the clubhouse, regattas in Charlottetown and Shediac and waterfront scenes.   Collectively they offer a portrait of a busy club and a fully engaged membership spending time on and about Charlottetown Harbour.

The photos are without caption or identification and the owner of the albums is not known.  There were several members of the club in those years who had an interest in photography and these photos complement other collections including the Bourke family album at the Public Archives and Records Office and the Charlottetown Yacht Club collection at that institution.  Although the ownership of the albums is not known I have a high degree of confidence that they belonged to Mac Irwin. Because he was central to the club during the pre-war years (and for a long time afterwards) and does not appear in any of the pictures I believe he was on the other side of the camera pressing the shutter.  His boat, the Roamer, makes several appearances but usually when moored suggesting the skipper/cameraman was ashore.

I have been fortunate to be able to scan the collection and the photos will provide the basis for several more blog postings in the future. There are pictures which will add to stories already told and others which will be new areas for me to explore. Some photos will need more research so they can be better identified and observations are welcomed. The photos will eventually be added to the Yacht Club collection at the Public Archives and Records Office where they can be accessed by the public.  In the meantime here is a preview of a few of the images. Click on any of the pictures to begin the slide show. (Best when viewed on a desktop computer)

 

Commodore Morris Goes to Shediac

In the mid and late 1930’s Fred Morris was perhaps the Charlottetown Yacht Club’s biggest booster. He had been very much involved with breathing life back into the club which had been somewhat dormant in the first half of the decade and he was elected Commodore of the revived organization.  But his interests did not end at the mouth of the harbour and he, along with CYC secretary Mac Irwin, was also interested in ensuring the success of the Yacht Racing Association of Northumberland Strait.  In August 1936 the first of the YRANS regattas took place in Shediac and Morris took the Elizabeth up the Strait to the event. On his return from the New Brunswick port Morris shared his experiences with the readers of the Guardian.

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Elizabeth, owned by Commodore Morris, preparing to tow the Mic

The Trip Up the Strait

I have been asked to tell of our trip to Shediac so here goes. The Cruiser Elizabeth with her crew of three and the Commodore aboard left Charlottetown Wednesday at about 4 a.m. As passengers we carried Capt.Ken MacDonald, the Charlie Chaplin of the waterfront, Mr. Simon Paoli, skipper of the Mic, Mr, Gordon Coffin, skipper of the Onawa, Mr. Coffin Sr. a yachting enthusiast, and we had the two boats, the Mic and Onawa in tow. Fair weather greeted us for a while but after the bit the weatherman got somewhat fractious and decided we had had enough petting for a while. He therefore started up a good lively sea and the boats commenced to dance.

Off Crapaud the Onawa took to drinking more water than was good for her and commenced to settle down in the fluid. Gordon thinking to bail her out (not out of jail), started across the Mic to board her. We slowed down for the operation with the result she gently laid her mast on the water, then under the water and finally started to sink stern first. when she was through this operation all we could see of her was her nose above water. Things did not look too good. Her owner decided we’d better cut her adrift, as she was liable to damage the other boat. but our skipper says no, we will try a little speed on her. Soon we started going up faster and faster, and soon her mast began to rise and she rose till she was on an even keel. A breath of relief was given by all. We hot-footed it into Crapaud where when we slowed up at the wharf the Onawa promptly sunk again. But she was taken up to the wharf, her mast removed and then hauled to shallow water, bailed out, the pulled up high and dry and repaired as well as out limited shipyard equipment would admit.  Having got her in seaworthy shape again with the mast bound down along her decks, we started out from Crapaud in a much reduced sea, and drew into Tormentine about 7 p.m.  Here we greeted our friend Commodore McKeigan of the Pictou Yacht Club who had arrived with four boats from Pictou, having lost one on the way, the big Cantly Yawl, which, after breaking the tow rope two or three times elected to make her way to Shediac under sail. Commodore McKeigan reported quite a mix up down somewhere Wood Islands but he is too good an old salt to get into something he cannot finish.

Chasing a Deer

We pulled out of Tormentine at 3 a.m. and found a beautiful morning ahead of us. While off Cape Bauld we saw a familiar looking cruiser going round and round in circles close to land , and through our binoculars we recognized Jim Currie’s boat and decided he needed some supervision. So we moved in to see why the circles. It looked like steering trouble to us.  As we drew alongside we inquired just what was happening and were told that they were chasing a deer.  Well anyone telling you they were chasing a deer in Northumberland Straits you’re apt to look at with a certain degree of curiosity, and thinking I had got a clue to the situation I asked what sort of liquor he had on board. This insinuation was indignantly repudiated and the members of his crew loudly declared that there was a deer there all right and they all but got a noose over his head when their engine took pity on the deer and stopped. Well, we kind of believed them by this time, though we didn’t see any deer and told then to throw their anchors and wait for us until we left our tow in Shediac and we would come back for them which we did. Coming pout of Shediac Harbor on our errand of mercy the first thing we saw was the Mac sailing along under Skipper King and making for Shediac Harbor. The watchful secretary of the C.Y.C. [Mac Irwin] had spotted the Deerslayer and cast his tow, the Mac, adrift to shift for himself while he put on the larger tow line necessary for the bigger catch. Well, we took the deerslayer over and started back arriving all safely. And such a scene! Five or six big Charlottetown cruisers all anchored in a bunch shouting greetings of various sorts to each other, two Montague yachts, two Charlottetown yachts, innumerable motor boats, yachts etc. from Summerside, also yachts hailing from Borden and Tormentine presenting a scene long to be remembered.  

Shediac Hospitality

The hospitality of the Shediac Club was unlimited.  Its members laboured so that we might have everything we desired Their fine clubhouse was thrown open to us all and the whole affair was a gigantic success. Amazement was expressed by old salts by the sight of 42 boats racing on the harbour at once and the whole meet passed without the raising of a protest flag. Not a protest or dispute of any kind slowed the spirit that prevailed among these men, and I might add, women for the boat sailed by the Sumner sisters and Miss Wood aroused such excitement and admiration through their very apparent seamanship that a storm of applause echoed through the clubhouse on their receiving a lovely cup for just this quality.

Well, we were sorry it was over, but all good times must come to an end, so we proposed to sail at 12 o’clock Saturday night for home. But a few feet of tow rope in our propeller made us change our minds, and not before Jack Hearn played diver, mind you with his wrist-watch on, which later he dove into a cup of oil, not till then, did we get away. A glorious run right through to Charlottetown followed and the others came along as the spirit moved them, all to sit on the stringers of Pownal wharf and go mover it again, and when your memory slipped Charlie Chaplin would tell you all about it and slip no cogs. All we hope is that someday in the near future we can give Charlottetown the thrill that Shediac must have had over this regatta. and when we get this aggregation over here the citizens generally will help us to give them a real Island welcome.