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The Battle of Wasaga

Wasaga Huzzah! Photo by Gary McCluskie

Wasaga Huzzah! Photo by Gary McCluskie

NYC’s Sea Scouts bring history to life

By Oliver Bertin and John King

“Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!” yelled The National Yacht Club’s Sea Scouts at the end of their Georgian Bay voyage as they waved their hands in the air, beaming.

That old-fashioned cheer was the culmination of a trip that will be one of the happiest of their lives. In one short week, they camped for six days on Georgian Bay, sailed their whaler from Meaford to Thornbury, paddled a voyageur canoe 21 kilometres down the Nottawasaga River and took part in four epic War of 1812 re-enactment battles while experiencing 35-knot winds, near-record rainfall and miserable temperatures. It was the worst August weather since 1849, we were told, with surf so high on Wasaga Beach that the Nottawasaga River was flowing upstream. But the wind and rain didn’t stop the Scouts from having a wonderful time.

Who are The Sea Scouts?

The Sea Scouts, for those who haven’t met them, are a group of community-spirited boys and girls who have kept their whaler United at the NYC for the past two years. The Sea Scouts, aged 11 to 13, and Sea Venturer Scouts, aged 14 to 17, belong to the 65th Toronto Scout Group, which meets during the fall, winter and spring at Emmanuel-Howard Park United Church on Roncesvalles Avenue. Nautically oriented youngsters, they are members of Scouts Canada, part of the largest youth movement in the world.

They came knocking at the NYC’s door in the fall of 2012, hoping to find a place to keep their Montagu (correct, Montagu – no ‘e’) whaler, a 27-foot retired Royal Canadian Navy sea boat. They were kindly taken in by Vice-Commodore (Marine) Don Weston and General Manager Tal Wolf, given a mooring in the Outer Basin and a place to erect their work tent in the eastern end of the yard. In return, they have done their best to thank the club by waving the NYC burgee everywhere they go and by helping out at club regattas and at launch and haulout.

The Sea Scouts have worked hard to turn a surplus, 50-year-old, navy whaler once again into a fine, seaworthy vessel. The boat has been made to resemble a bateau longboat of the sort used by the Royal Navy during battles on the Great Lakes from 1812 through 1814, and the Scouts have participated in many historical re-enactment events during this bicentennial period.

The NYC Helps

With the help of many NYC members, the Sea Scouts and their adult leaders patched up a hole in the hull, attached new gunwales, fabricated and installed a 250-pound steel centreboard, built a new rudder and hooked up new tiller chains. They repaired and erected two wooden masts, a main and a mizzen, installed period hemp rigging, set up a clever bamboo spritsail rig and modified three donated sails to produce a boat that actually sails and rows very well. The crowning touch was the donation of six graphite oars that the late John Thomson acquired from his rowing club in Orangeville. Thank you, John. You are not forgotten.

A Historical Commemoration

Scout leader John King, an NYC member, has been preparing the boys and girls for the past three years for this year’s bicentennial Wasaga Under Siege, a historical commemoration held each year at Nancy Island in Wasaga Beach. The plan was to recreate the voyage of Lieut. Miller Worsley, an RN officer who sailed across Georgian Bay in 1814 in HMS Nancy and tried unsuccessfully to evade three pursuing U.S. warships by hiding his schooner in the Nottawasaga River.

Wasaga, arming United's swivel gun - John Chiuz photo

Wasaga, arming United’s swivel gun Photo by John Chiuz

The Scouts’ week-long adventure was to include a three-day, 50-kilometre cruise across the bay in United as part of a four-boat flotilla, a trip down the Nottawasaga River in a voyageur canoe, several battles on land and sea involving re-enactors in period dress, lots of rowing and sailing, and a history lesson that they would never forget.

Each year, Wasaga Under Siege celebrates the Battle of Nottawasaga in August 1814, when 500 U.S. troops with 24 cannons on the tall ships USS Niagara, Tigress and Scorpion managed to trap and burn the Nancy, a pesky British ship that was carrying supplies from the mouth of the Nottawasaga River to the isolated British outpost at Fort Mackinac, near the entrance to Lake Michigan. Without the Nancy, the Fort Mackinac garrison could have starved, and they almost did.

The crew of 22 Nancy seamen took off into the woods during the battle with nine voyageurs and 23 Ojibway allies. When the Americans left, they jumped into canoes and longboats and paddled, sailed and rowed the 600 kilometres to Fort Mackinac with the essential supplies. Along the way, they passed two of the U.S. ships that burned the Nancy, and the British later ambushed and captured both of them. Not a bad end to the battle.

Bicentennial Celebration

For this year’s bicentennial celebration, 500 re-enactors camped out in Wasaga Beach dressed in 1814 costumes. They banged off cannons, fired muskets, paraded to the sound of fife and drums, danced hornpipes, slept in canvas tents and cooked meals over campfires using period pots and utensils. It was quite an event and a great learning experience.

The seven Scouts and Venturers from NYC who took part, along with six adult leaders, had two roles. They were to sail their whaler with a flotilla from Meaford to Thornbury on the first day, then around the shoals off the Blue Mountains to Collingwood, and finally to Wasaga Beach. Along the way, they would practise sailing, rowing, log-taking and navigation, plus have a lovely voyage in a beautiful part of the Great Lakes. At each stop, they would play to local townspeople, wearing their period-dress uniforms of white trousers, gingham shirt, red waistcoat and straw hat, just like real 1814 sailors.

A Cold Trip

The first leg of the trip was great fun. The Scouts showed the boat off to 250 admiring visitors in Meaford and set sail the next morning, arriving in Thornbury about two hours later. That’s when the trip started to go awry. First were the howling winds, with gusts of 35 knots for the next two days, six-foot waves and a mass of breakers all along the Wasaga Beach. More than 15 millimetres of rain sent the Scouts scurrying into a local hotel foyer to stay dry while temperatures fell to 11 C, just above the 20-year record low for that day. It may have been miserable, but the Scouts were definitely impressed with the weather and they certainly enjoyed the drama.

Given the weather, the Scout leaders decided that safety was more important than adventure, so they loaded the whaler onto its trailer and trucked the boat to Wasaga Beach for the second half of their scheduled activities.

Wasaga Beach, Then and Now

Wasaga Beach is famous now for tacky swimsuit shops and pizza joints, but back in 1814 it was a waypoint on the main route from Toronto to the upper Great Lakes. Voyageurs paddled canoes up the Humber River, through Holland Marsh and into Lake Simcoe before undertaking the arduous Nine-Mile Portage from present-day Barrie to Fort Willow, near where Willow Creek enters the Nottawasaga River and flows into Georgian Bay. There was a blockhouse at the mouth of the Nottawasaga River, a supply warehouse and a trans-shipment point where voyageurs would transfer bales of beaver pelts heading east and supplies going west between canoes and bigger ships.

Wasaga longboats battle - Photo by Gary McCluskie

Wasaga longboats battle – Photo by Gary McCluskie

The blockhouse has gone, but over the past 200 years an island formed around the bones of HMS Nancy. There is still an old Georgian Bay lighthouse there and a fine museum that houses the burned-out remains of the ship. It’s definitely worth a visit, if only to see the one-piece, 80-foot-long oak keel. They had fine trees in those days!

The Sea Scouts were given a campsite close to the museum, where they stayed in 1814-style military tents, right beside a big red bell buoy on which they learned to ring naval watchkeeping bells every 30 minutes for 16 hours every day. That was their favourite activity. They cooked baked beans, sausages, bannock and hardtack bread on their campfire, augmenting a somewhat nutritious diet of marshmallows, instant porridge and Korean noodle soups. When they weren’t eating or sleeping, the Scouts cruised the local museum, the many period craft merchants and sutlers, the town library and the hot spots of Wasaga Beach.

Sea Scouts Role in Re-enactment

Fun aside, the Scouts had a key role to play in the re-enactment. They were to man their whaler for demonstration naval battles in the sheltered water at the mouth of the river. So twice a day, they shipped oars, raised sails, loaded their one-inch-bore swivel gun with blank charges and headed out into the river. It was very exciting. The six participating longboats rowed two and fro, firing cannons at each other, fought off marauding Ojibway armed with rubber hatchets and generally had a lot of fun.

But all too soon, the battles ended and the weekend came to an end. So the Scouts packed up, loaded their whaler onto its trailer and headed back to the NYC, a very happy and sleepy bunch of kids.

Posted in Adventures, Toronto History | Leave a comment

2014 Poker Run

Good times were had by all at this year’s 2nd Annual NYC Poker Run. Cheers, and thanks, to Silvio Conte for the conception of this great new The NYC event last year, and for another truly successful chapter this year. It’s gaining strength!

DSCF7106Silvio, and his first mate (and also wife) Debbie, spent countless hours planning and preparing for this year’s Poker Run and the “stakes were high” but it all paid off and was a “Full Hand”. Everyone was rewarded with fantastic weather – a bit of a hit-and-miss this year for sure. The many sponsors, volunteers, The NYC staff and members involved were also key ingredients to the growing success of this (hopefully) annual event. Let’s keep it a “Straight.”

There were 28 boats involved, with five separate stops to pick up cards in and around the Toronto Islands, and then a fun couple of “happy hour” hours on the water, rafted or only a short swim away. I know – brrrrrrrr!!!! After the return to The NYC around 1800, the fun continued with a superb dinner and lots of “Liquid Aces,” the actual Poker Tournament, and then some great boogying on the dance floor until the wee hours with DJ Don and his “Art of Music” at the DJ Dance Helm. It was a “Full House” all evening long.

The major sponsors were Redpath and Johnstone & Cowling – LLP. 

The winners were:

  • 1st place: 3 Aces – Andy Pollock  – Pier 4 Marina
  • 2nd place: 3 of 5 – Bruce & Lori Spragg – NYC
  • 3rd place: 3 of 4 – Neill & Mary Lou MacMillan – NYC

Major gift supporters:

  • Steam Whistle
  • Barefoot Wines
  • Warner Bros
  • + Over $6,000 retail value of donated items for silent auction.

Whoever thought Poker and Boats would be such a great mix?! It takes a lot of people and the right Captain at the helm to make an event of this scope happen. Fortunately The NYC has such people – too many to list – led by our Captain, Silvio Conte. He and Debbie made this event a “Straight Flush” for sure! Silvio hopes to “up the ante” for next year – so plan to “play your cards” when it’s “time to call!”

by Don Williams
Dock Committee Chair

Posted in Adventures, Fun Stuff, Social Events | Leave a comment

The NYC Online

NewSiteScreenNew Website – Delayed Launch

Many of you (I hope) anxiously await the new website. Our launch has been delayed so that our wonderful office staff can focus on the Shark Worlds – a major event here at The NYC. We hope to go live some time towards the end of September! Here’s a sneak preview.

Canadian Anti-Spam Law and The NYC

In the last few months, particularly in June you probably received dozens of emails from various companies asking for consent to keep emailing you. The basics of what’s happening is this: As of July 1 this year, individuals, companies and organizations can only send commercial electronic messages (CEMs) to people who’ve given explicit or implied consent. CEMs include The NYC’s Weekly Event Updates and monthly Newsletter. You all fall under implied consent because you’ve done business with The NYC in the last year being that anyone on this list is a current member.

However, by July 1, 2015 restrictions will become even tighter and implied consent will no longer be good enough. Before that date we will be sending requests for explicit consent. Once the new website is up we will send something that requires a single click.

We’ll send it several times to make sure we catch everyone. Don’t miss out on all the news and events next summer by not giving consent. Watch for that starting next month!

Online Crew Bank

This year marked a huge leap forward for the club with the advent of the online crew bank. Its fearless / genius inventor Jeff Schwartz – as all great application developers do – will keep improving his product. Jeff will be seeking further feedback from users and working on version 2.0 over the winter. We want to thank Jeff for all his efforts, plus his committee and their excellent communications. We also thank members for their patience and feedback, which will help Jeff make it even better for next year!

by Faith Seekings

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News from the Commodore – August 2014

Commodores Cruise to Ashbridges Bay

Wow, what a crazy busy weekend! We started with our annual Commodore’s Cruise to Ashbridges Bay Yacht Club with 18 boats from NYC. There were also a number of members who drove over for the party. Thanks so much to Karen Ford for her excellent work in organizing this event.

The folks at Ashbridges were so welcoming – staff and management went out of their way to make certain we had a seamless event. Some of our members took a little longer than other to sail over, other chose to motor-sail. The wind provided us with a few major shifts so the cruise-racers had to stay focused and tack a little more.

Commodore's Cruise 1

At 4:30 – cocktail hour – we hosted the entire group on the patio with pot-luck appetizers and of course. an open bar. Good fellowship was enjoyed by all, as you can see form the photographs. Soon we were all enjoying Calypso music and imagining that ABYC was on a Caribbean Island.

We had a contest for the Lady with the best striped navy and blue ensemble.

Commodore's Cruise 2

And of course then we included the guys that had the best Bermuda Short’s outfit. It was a tough competition between Chad, Dave, Ric and John. Who would you have chosen?

Commodore's Cruise 3

One of the ‘most popular’ prizes was to the two models shown in the following photograph:


We have many more photographs of people having fun and we all know a picture is worth a thousand words. I will make every effort to e-mail photo’s to all cruise participants, please be patient.

Please forgive me the indulgence of thanking my wife Anne Blais for her efforts in preparing the gift prizes and the most amazing dessert table – our Kitchen was a busy place for a few days. Anne has been a huge support to me in my capacity as Commodore. Thanks so much Anne.

Here you see Anne being congratulated at the gift table by Pat and Chad Humphries.

Commodore's Cruise 4

Thanks to everyone for participating, we all had a wonderful time.

Shark Worlds at The NYC

As soon as we returned from the Commodore’s Cruise we rushed home and changed into Blue and Whites to celebrate the opening of the Shark Worlds Regatta.

A race to the finishWe are so delighted to be hosting this world class sailing event at The National Yacht club.

As you all know, The NYC has one of the most active Shark sailing and racing programs on Lake Ontario. Thanks to an amazing group of volunteers chaired by Dave Thomas, it looks like once again we are going to enjoy a very successful regatta. The sailors are a great bunch, so come down and enjoy the fun, or get out on the water and see 47 boats all-striving for position on the start line.

This is really exciting and it makes me very proud to see our members in the thick of this world-class competition.

Wishing you all great sailing this next week and may the best crew win!

Denys Jones, Commodore The National Yacht Club

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Urgent Request: Dock Committee Volunteers Required

Next to the clubhouse itself, the largest asset we – as club members – have are the docks. These docks provide us with slips to keep our boats safe and sound and they provide access to and from these slips.

These docks are not getting any younger and in some areas they are really starting to show their age. To keep them in good working condition is no easy task. Your Dock Committee, chaired for over 10 years by Don Williams, continues to work away on the ever increasing list of outstanding issues, including many safety issues. But he can’t do it all by himself. He urgently needs to have some help.

Many of the tasks require some simple tools and no special training or experience, and can be completed in a couple of hours. Others can be done a bit at a time. If you can help clear some of the current backlog of issues, please give Don Williams a call, or send him an email. He would love to hear from you!

Cell: 416-545-7245 05
email: soundscape@lifescape.ca

The National continues to be one of the premiere boating venues on the entire North shore of Lake Ontario. This isn’t by accident as it takes a great deal of hard work, not only your Board and excellent staff, but by volunteers. Let’s keep this going by just doing a bit more for The National.

My thanks for responding to this plea for assistance.

Don Weston
Vice Commodore, Marine Operations


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In Florida for Hurricane Season

image008Five months have passed since we have updated our website with logs and photos. In February we sailed south into the Caribbean, arriving in the southern Bahamas in early March. Next year we will publish our logs and photos to fill this gap.

We loved our month in the Exumas in the Bahamas. The weather between cold fronts was great, the Bahamians gave us a great welcome, and we met 12 other Whitby 42’s or Brewer’s. The first of April we sailed back to Florida and up the coast to the St. John River just south of the border with Georgia to haul Pilgrim out of the water for hurricane season. We had sailed her from Nova Scotia (July 2013) down the US east coast and into the Caribbean for a delightful 11 months.

We are back in Toronto, but will be spending most of the summer in Michigan with children, grandchildren and working on a trawler/tug we plan to purchase. We will return to Florida in November and follow the thorn-less path to Trinidad (Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Virgin Islands, the Windward and Leeward Islands) next winter.

We have updated our website with logs and more photos from the Bahamas and Florida, March – May 2013.

Jane Witherspoon & Brian Stewart

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2014 Shark World Championship

2014 logoDuring the week of August 23rd–29th, National Yacht Club will host the 2014 Shark World Championship. This Championship is the high point of the Shark Class Regatta schedule and has been competed for since 1966. It was held in Canada for two consecutive years and then in Europe for one year, before returning to Canada for another two consecutive years. In addition to entries from Canadian Yacht clubs from Windsor to Montreal and around the Golden Horseshoe, this regatta will attract entries from Austria, Germany and the USA. It is anticipated that as many as 70 boats will compete in this prestigious event, and it is planned to make this the biggest and best Worlds ever.

How can NYC members contribute to the success of this event?

  1. Obviously an event of the magnitude cannot be hosted without the assistance of a substantial pool of volunteers. Although the NYC Shark fleet is providing an excellent volunteer pool, we are looking for members who are able to volunteer some time to help in the execution of this event
  2. In order to accommodate some of our European competitors, as well as the international judges required for this event and some of the out of town competitors we hope to find members who are willing make their boats available for crews to sleep on. A Shark has a crew of three so most boats at the club are suitable. We have approached a number of you directly but if you have not been contacted please contact us. Either way we appreciate your support in this regard.

If you are able to help with any of the above items, please contact sharkregattas@thenyc.com

The Schedule

Following registration and measurement of boats all day on Saturday as well as Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon will see the traditional Shark Worlds Practice race followed by the official opening ceremonies and a reception for competitors and officials. Additional boats will compete on the practice race as we attempt to assemble the largest Shark start ever. A maximum of 10 races, including 9 course races and a long distance race, are schedule for Monday to Friday, with a maximum of 3 races being schedule for each day. Racing will take place just south of Toronto Islands.
On-shore a busy social schedule is planned with daily post-race “Attitude Adjustment” sessions, daily awards ceremonies and other fun activities to keep competitors busy. An Awards Banquet is schedule for Friday evening following the completion of racing and haul out of boats.

Organizing a Major Event

NYC’s very active Shark Fleet has formed the Organizing committee for this event and is hard at work finalizing the planning process. As a dress rehearsal for this event, NYC hosted the very successful three-day Shark North American Championship in 2013. This event attracted an entry of 39 boats.

The influx of over 200 competitors to the club for will make NYC a very busy spot for the week of the regatta but the event is being organized such that there will be minimal impact on the activities of other members.

Key Event Locations

The focal point of the regatta will be the Chart Room and a 40’ x 100’ Marquee tent which will be located east of the clubhouse and used for dining and social activities. This will have some impact on parking capacity and, if you are planning an extended absence during the regatta, please do not park in this area.

Launching and measurement of boats will be done at HMCS YORK and boat trailers will be stored there for the duration of the regatta. Trailers from NYC boats that are competing in the regatta will also be stored at this site thereby freeing up space in the drysail area for competitors RVs and travel trailers. The white crane at the Drysail area will only be used in the event that emergency repairs are required to a boat or for spot check measurements. Please ensure that under these circumstances, competitors are given priority access to the crane.

Competitor’s boats will be rafted on the seawall of the east basin, and this will restrict access to the pumpout facilities when the fleet is ashore.

Give Our Guests a Big NYC Welcome

NYC will certainly be a fun place to be for the week of the regatta. Please do your utmost to make our guests feel welcome as they share our club and its facilities.

For more information on the 2014 Shark Worlds please visit www.sharkworlds2014.com.

Dave Thomas
Chair 2014 Shark World Championships

Posted in Committee News, Regattas | Leave a comment

Message from the Commodore, July 2014

Commodore Denys JonesThe summer boating season is well under way and NYC cruisers are spreading all over the lake on voyages of discovery. The Lake Ontario 300 participants are now mostly recovered from the 310 nautical mile marathon of sailing.

Lake Ontario 300 light windsTal on the Water

This year I know our General Manager Tal participated in the double-handed race and had a great time with some fast sailing and of course the inevitable drift in the doldrums at mid-lake. Fortunately everyone made it back to work in time. Tal came in second in his division. Well done Tal!

Member Tales

Yesterday I saw Jonathan and Diane Bamberger on our NYC dock and enjoyed a brief visit. As you may know, “Spitfire” participated in the Newport Bermuda race this year. It’s really exciting to see NYC boats participating in these international events. Well done Jonathan, you make us proud. Read their story here.

Exciting Weeknight Racing

Closer to home, our evening races are getting to be much more fun with occasional brisk winds keeping us on our toes. There is nothing more exciting than reaching towards the down wind mark with the spinnaker drawing full, then raising the jib with a perfect spinnaker douse and rounding the mark with just enough room. Last Wednesday was very exhilarating. Sailing up wind in to what felt like a failing breeze only to be almost knocked over and then lifted 10 degrees towards the windward mark. Whoever said that watching a sail boat race was like watching grass grow has obviously not participated in our Wednesday night racing.

Drain the Basin_MG_3927Drain the Basin – A Great Time!

The first” Drain the Basin “ Regatta was a great success. Thanks so much to Sandy Steffen, our VC Fleet and her crew of volunteers. Less than a week before this event, some of us were wondering if we would have a poorly attended event but thanks to stellar efforts by Sandy and her crew encouraging folks to participate we had a really fun regatta with over 40 participants. The pursuit race and the cruise was a really interesting way of encouraging folks who perhaps would normally not participate in a regatta. Sandy’s idea was to encourage all boaters at NYC to participate in this activity and it worked. I look forward to next year’s “Drain the Basin” and won’t be at all surprised if we double the numbers. Congratulations to the committee on a job well done.

Room at Racing School for August Sessions

NYC Sailing and Racing School is operating at full pace and last month I mentioned that we still had room available for students in the August sessions. I am happy to advise that the instructors did such a good job in the early sessions that many of our students signed up again for another session.

photo copyThere will very likely be spots available for Can-sail 1 and 2 so talk to your friends and encourage them to introduce their children to the wonderful sport of sailing. These young people are learning life-time skills

Upcoming Commodore’s Cruise

Please remember to book a place on the Commodore’s cruise scheulded for August 23rd.This event will take place at Ashbridges Bay Yacht Club. Last year was a blast with Calypso music and an open bar. This year we plan a pot luck dinner and Anne and myself will be delighted to host all participants at a complementary dessert table. See you there and don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes.

See you on the water!

Kind Regards
Denys Jones Commodore the National Yacht Club


Posted in Adventures, Cruising, Racing, Regattas | Leave a comment

Meet The NYC’s New Chair of Advertising and Marketing

ash_on_a_boatHi, my name is Ashley Curran and I’m excited to be the club’s new Chair of the Advertising and Marketing Committee.  I’ll be working closely with other committee members and Vice-Commodore Merilee Wright, to help promote NYC and keep our membership growing. I’ll be announcing the committee members in next month’s newsletter along with an update on the types of projects we will be working on over the next year. See you on the water!

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Where Did all the Green Stuff Come From?

DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPROWhile diving this week to do some further chain inspections and to retrieve a lost cell phone (only for the SIM card), I encountered large green masses of floating algae on the bottom of the basin.  And when it breaks off and floats to the surface, we see these large “islands”. About a month ago, on a previous dive, I took another photo (#4198) of one of the legs of the new dinghy ramp. Notice how little there is of the “green” stuff there was then.  And now, the second photo (#4201) shows how much larger these growths have become! That white object is a 1½” turnbuckle tube to provide some scale. And if one of these are touched, the just seem to explode and float away in bits and pieces. They did leave quite a green film on my gloves!

And we are starting to see the large grass-type vegetation starting to show up. When we were looking for a lost mooring, U1, the grass in the outer basin is much more advanced. I had to terminate the dive when my equipment, and me, became entangled in the grass. It is very thick and totally covers the entire floor of the basin.

Happy sailing!

Don Weston
Vice Commodore, Marine Operations

Posted in Environment | 3 Responses

NYC Support for the Easter Seal Regatta

The NYC work boat, Storm King, provides an excellent platform to families dealing with a disabled member. Following upon the success of last year, NYC was once again asked to participate in this event. Under the skilled driving of Malcolm Kirk, ably assisted by Lawrence Alexander, Storm King, and here are some of their comments.

Storm King at Easter SealsMalcolm: We had a very good day, as you say the weather co-operated and we managed to get our passengers around the inner harbour without incident, although from time to time we generated some spray. We finished the water borne part of the trip by going up the channel to the lighthouse before heading back to RCYC. We had two wheelchairs (an electric one operated by an engaging young girl) and a push chair. The children were accompanied by three adults.

Every body appeared to have a good time and they felt that Storm King was ideal for them although having a gang plank may have led to less man-handling of the chairs from the land onto the dock etc. (Editor: Note for next year’s event!)

Lawrence: I must admit that the day flew by and taking pictures rarely was front of mind. Wonderful people, both the guests and their families. Thanks for the opportunity to spend the day with and for such an appreciative group. We could all learn from those that not everything comes easily too.

My thanks for their active participation in this effort and for being such great ambassadors for The National.

Don Weston
Vice Commodore, Marine Operations

Also Participating and Sharing…

The Conte family participated with FireEscape in their 7th Easter Seals event hosted by the RCYC. As always, the event was first class and nothing but good comments from all the kids and parents.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

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Bringing Trophies Home for the Club

A National Yacht Club boat wins the EYC regatta in Oswego.

Corsair won in every category sailing under the National Yacht Club burgee, gaining four trophies.

  1. Division 1 winner
  2. Overall Regatta winner
  3. Lowest corrected time
  4. Lowest point score

It was a really fun regatta and well organized. Next year the regatta is going to be held in Belleville. It would be great to have others join us there!

Scott Blair


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From the Moorings – It’s Official!!

Storm King – the NYC’s new work boat – was officially named on Friday.

The fire engine red decals were applied by the very careful and well supervised work crew. It was a nice day and we even managed some cleanup work on the Steel Island.

This is the second season for Storm King. We are very pleased at how well she has met our needs. The Club has also received many compliments for her work in two Easter Seals regattas and the Tall Ships Festival.

With Storm King’s help:

  • We are continuing our mooring work over the summer.
  • We will be inspecting chains in the basin, and under the D docks.
  • And no doubt diving for sunglasses, cell phones and other bits lost over the side.

Wave if you see her go by.

Craig Lahmer
Moorings Committee

IMG_3899 IMG_3903 IMG_3911 IMG_3916

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How the New Website Will Work for Members

As many of you know we have been busily working on a brand new website for the club, which we hope to have live within the next couple of weeks. I thought I would give you a heads-up on what to expect as a member.

Members Only Section

Like on the current (soon to be old) site, you will have a member login. To increase privacy and security, the username and password will no longer be based on your name and member number. The username will be related to your name, but the password will be an automatically generated, random password.

How Do You Get This Info?

Once the site is live, you will be created as a ‘user’ receive an invitation email from the system with your username and automatically generated password. Unfortunately, you will not be able to change your password, so please be sure to record it somewhere handy. If you do lose it, you can click a ‘forgot’ or ‘reset password’ option that will cause it to be reset for you. You will then receive the new password by email.

Why Can’t I Change My Password?

You won’t be able to change your password or anything in your profile because the club manages our members’ information on a separate, unconnected system. It’s more important for the club’s system to be up-to-date, so if we allowed you to change anything on the website it would no longer match. Therefore, you must submit requests for changes to your information (i.e.: a new phone number for the roster) to the office.

Believe me, we explored all possibilities with a goal to make this easy and secure for members as well as the office, within the budget we had, and this was the best solution.

What Else Will Be in the Members’ Area?

We are excited about the new Volunteer section. Committee Chairs will be able to submit the jobs that need doing online. Members looking for volunteer opportunities will be able to see what is available online, with the ability to sort the list of jobs by committee and date needed, and contact the person responsible directly to volunteer their time. This could take a while to get fully populated, but the goal is to allow members to plan their volunteer hours in advance and avoid the last minute scramble.

More later!

Posted in Committee News | 2 Responses

Toronto Sewage Problem

Toronto has a sewage problem. It could affect your health, and you deserve to know about it.

Lake Ontario Waterkeeper first realized the seriousness of the sewage problem one year ago. The July 8 storm knocked out power at the Humber Wastewater Treatment Plant. The city dumped more than 1-billion litres of sewage into Lake Ontario in one day.

We started investigating and discovered that sewage bypasses happen year round – roughly three times a month. In 2013, the city dumped more than 4-billion litres of sewage into the lake. That’s shocking.

Our biggest concern right now is you. The City doesn’t notify the public when bypasses take place. This means people are unknowingly swimming, paddling, rowing, and boating in highly contaminated waters.

On the anniversary of the storm (that’s today), we filed a legal application with the Province of Ontario. In it, we argue that the city should issue alerts when it bypasses sewage into public waterways.

It’s a simple request. The City should issue a sewage bypass alert, just like it issues cold weather alerts and heat advisories. This informs residents when there is a risk to their health.

Learn more about what this means for you and how you can get involved.

Lake Ontario Waterkeeper

Posted in Around Lake Ontario | 1 Response

The NYC Goes to Bermuda

Two years ago I purchased Spitfire, a 48-foot J Boat in Long Island, NY. Having competed 7 times in the Lake Ontario 300 in 3 different boats, I decided it was time to try something different – maybe the Chicago-Mackinac. My ‘bucket list’ included doing some of the famous ocean races and an ocean crossing. After some deliberation I decided that I would just get on with the list rather than risk that either time or life’s vagaries would give me an excuse not to go. So began an 18 month project to compete in the 630 nm 2014 Newport to Bermuda race.

SpitfireThe Preparation Phase:

Last season we brought together a crew of nine, not only to practice, but to help with the immense task of preparing for the race. Including me, we had 5 NYC members – Brian McKay, Kevin Brown, Rommel Santos and Roger Wood whose time and skills made the adventure possible. If I had fully understood the amount of work involved I might have had second thoughts but luckily I made the commitment first. We spent time with skippers of previous Bermuda races (thanks to the RCYC), we ensured that most of the crew had either First Aid or Safety at Sea Course certificates and, as well, I attended a weekend race seminar in Connecticut. At first look a boat that has qualified for the LO300 should be well prepared for an ocean race but, in reality there was still a large list of items to be completed both to meet race requirements but also for the common sense preparation to take a small boat offshore. We stored the boat indoors last winter – fortunate given the severity of the weather as we would have never been ready otherwise. All on the team gave of their time to work on the ‘check list’. This included the required safety items such as liferaft, drogue, storm sails, AIS, satellite e-mail/phone and shortwave radio as well as the appropriate boat preparation. The bottom was stripped and offshore paint applied, rigging, rudder and keel checked, new rudder bearing installed, sail-drive rebuilt, new batteries, high output alternator, LED lighting, deck hardware re-bed, water maker installed and a new holding tank (ugh). I purchased some new sails to ensure we had the right wardrobe for the expected conditions. Our sail maker – Greg Bratkiw of Evolution Sails joined us as one of the crew. The last, but not least part was the large amount of on-line form filling and paperwork required by the race committee.

The Journey to Newport

On April 28, Spitfire was launched at Outer Harbour and set off on May 6, mast on deck across a very cold Lake Ontario to Oswego, the Erie Canal and Hudson River and Manhattan to the Long Island marina where I first purchased her. The delivery crew included our past commodore Henry Piersig and Brian McKay. The only glitch apart from a couple of minor groundings was an alternator failure that required me driving 900km with a replacement. In Glen Cove, NY Spitfire was rigged and hauled for one last rudder and keel check. Spitfire also passed the race required rigourous safety inspection carried out by a naval architect. At the end of May we had a full crew practice a 130 nm delivery in bitterly cold conditions to Newport, RI. This gave us the opportunity to do the final safety training with storm sails, drogue and MOB drills. The boat was moored at New England Boatworks where Spitfire appeared to have shrunk now she was surrounded by 60 foot Swans and other multi-million dollar boats.


In mid-June we reconvened in Newport based in a house we rented for the week. Newport is a pretty, historic town with substantial displays of immense wealth and ‘old’ money, fabulous houses and boats. We competed in the 160th running of the New York Yacht Cub Annual Regatta. I won’t dwell on the minor collision or results except to say that a visit to the club’s impressive protest room was interesting but not a highlight. We then spent a hectic four days preparing for the big race including hiring a diver to clean the hull and stowing our race gear and sails. Our blazers, change of clothes and cruising gear were loaded into a container to meet us in Bermuda. A special thanks goes to my wife Diane and Jenny Wood for the herculean effort to prepare frozen meals and enough supplies for 9 crew for up to 6 days. We also received weather and Gulf Stream routing guidance.

Spitfire crew ready to raceOn June 20 we motored 10 nm out to the start on Narragansett Bay and the impressive sight of 165 competitors along with crowds of spectator boats and people watching from the shore. We were off! The first two days were great, we had the reaching conditions that Spitfire likes and we successfully found a warm eddy that pulled us towards the Gulf Stream. The waters quickly changed from 18 deg to 24 deg as we reached the stream. Even on the first night where we had expected cold it was relatively mild. We were pleased to see a 60 foot all-out racing Swan behind us. We continued to follow our original plan, heading southwards to cross the GS at its narrowest. Wave conditions were relatively benign by GS standards but even so I was forced from my V berth bed after becoming airborne a few times as we fell of the square waves. We were accompanied by porpoises and saw a whale. A happy crew – racing well and well fed.

According to the routing advice we had received, we expected to meet a South East cold eddy to carry us at 2-3 knots towards Bermuda for the next 60 nm. However, from satellite maps received after the race, this eddy had moved NE and instead we found an unhelpful SW current in a light Easterly breeze. We could go SW or just about stand still if we tacked into the current. We had no choice but to go with the wind and current we had. We were swept perhaps 30 nm further off the rhumb line than we had intended. We received satellite reports of our fall from 4th to 80th position overall on the Yellowbrick tracker. A less happy, but still well fed crew.

We pulled ourselves together and spent the rest of the race pushing hard. Conditions had turned very light but our Lake Ontario in August (minus flies) experience helped. The nights were particularly tough with no moon or horizon as we optimised our speed through waves, hunted for wind under clouds and chased every puff. Our experienced helmsmen (Kevin and Brian) really made a difference. All of the competitors carried AIS transmitters and we gradually saw ourselves pull back the lost miles and positions. We were also in a good position for the expected wind shift from SE to SW. A happy crew again although the frozen food was gone and we now chose which crew member would be first on the menu. A flying fish that with one bounce off the deck dropped straight into the galley at 3.00 am proved insufficient for nine but did cause a scare for the crew member making coffee at the time.

The conditions were tough on the larger boats as every few hours the pack would fall into a wind hole, the smaller boats would catch up and the race would effectively restart. Although we only had one small period out of sight of other competitors, as we closed on Bermuda we converged on a fleet of boats approaching the finish. The conditions had compressed the fleet so that a record number of racers crossed the finish line within a 2 hour period. We crossed the line in 113 hours, averaging over 6 knots over the distance sailed.

Spitfire crossing finish lineA happy but rather pungent Spitfire crew motored the 2 hours to beautiful Hamilton and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club dock. We were met by our support team with a large tray of dark & stormy beverages – the combination of tiredness, sea-legs and alcohol apparently creating the most dangerous time in any Newport to Bermuda race.

We had a great four days in beautiful Bermuda, relaxing, then competing in the RBYC Annual Regatta and attending the formal award ceremonies and especially receiving a 4th place award in our Newport Bermuda division (3rd in IRC) and a 3rd in the RBYC regatta.

The Next Leg

I had decided that it would be a pity to return all the way to Toronto when the Caribbean was only 840 nm away. So we put Spitfire in BBQ mode with bimini and dodger. The race crew flew home and Brian McKay, myself along with 2 others (including Geoff Brown, another NYC member) exited Bermuda and turned south quickly losing sight of the flotilla of boats returning to the US North East. It was a very different experience – motoring when there was no wind, showers, fishing, frozen meals but this time with the appropriate and carefully chosen wine pairing. The roast chicken for four we had ordered turned into 4 roast chickens when we checked our provisions so we found several new ways to serve chicken. After 2.5 days with no wind and only 1/2 tank of diesel left we discovered why there was no wind – we had bananas aboard in the form of a delicious banana rum cake. An offering was made to the wind gods and a short while later the up came an east wind which gradually strengthened to 20-25 knots on the beam and we had two days with 200 nm each all the way into Tortola and the BVI ‘s.

In total we had motored 600 nm to New York and sailed 1600 nm to the Caribbean. Of the 10 days of sailing all but one was on port tack – my right leg is now longer than my left and I shall not eat chicken for some time! Spitfire is now safely ashore for hurricane season and will reappear for the winter season in the islands.

The whole 18 month project was a massive undertaking. It was also a wonderful life experience and I am truly grateful to all of team for allowing me to achieve a life dream.

Jonathan Bamberger

Posted in Adventures, Regattas | 4 Responses

Inaugural Toronto Sail for Burn Survivors

Lead by the efforts of Gerry Ramos, the NYC was proud to host this first annual event. Volunteer skippers and their crew (including the Commodore) took survivors of burn injuries on a lovely cruise Saturday, June 21. We hope to have a full story for you next month, but couldn’t wait to share these thank you letters sent to Gerry.


Thank you Thank you Thank you

I personally want to say a huge thank you to you and the  National Yacht Club for making this event possible. Not only was it a great day personally for my girls and I, but professionally the reward of seeing our burn survivors sail and DANCE was a real gift and joy. What a wonderful accomplishment.

Many thanks!

Nisha, Occupational Therapist, RTBC


Words can’t express how special this event was to the burn survivors and health professionals.

You said your goal was “just to sail” but it was so much more…

You seemed to know that an event, driven by someone who has “been there”, a peer, gives a social opportunity for survivors to have fun, in a safe and welcoming place, and to allow them to be comfortable being with people who know they’ve been burned, but be in a safe place so their burns don’t dominate who they are.  For staff, what a unique opportunity for us to see survivors and their families outside of the clinical setting, having fun and getting on with their lives…truly wonderful!  And such a bonus for us to “take a break” and just enjoy the moments of the day to join in on the fun.

So Gerry, the journey isn’t one you or other survivors would have chosen and it can be a difficult time getting through, but you are definitely to be commended for your strength in your survival, for finding meaning in your survival, for your resiliency and for your vision in making this day a success…you are indeed a very special man!

To Denys Jones, the Commodore (and his family & crew whose yacht I was lucky to be on and had such a wonderful extended tour!), the National Yacht Club Board of Directors and club members and numerous volunteers, donors and sponsors….thank you so much for supporting Gerry and his vision, thank you for making us all feel so accepted and welcomed and thank you so much for giving your time and allowing us the privilege to sail with you/making the event such a success.

I swear I can’t stop smiling!  So to us all, keep sailing, enjoy the magical healing powers of the water, live life to the fullest and remember to have fun!

Thanks again!

Anne Hayward, Social Worker, Ross Tilley Burn Centre.


Stellar job Gerry and all the volunteers! We’re all very proud of you.

by, Faith Seekings

Posted in Adventures, Cruising, Social Events | 1 Response

Sailpast 2014 – Too Hot?

Sailpast got off to a great start this year. Chris Murray, Sailpast’s morning OOD could hardly believe his eyes – sunshine and a light breeze. In recent years we’ve had high winds, rain, fog or a combination of all these. What a great start to the day.  Karen Ford, the prime organizer for Sailpast, had a good day planned.

The explanation for the proceedings for Sailpast was done outside of the clubhouse in the sunshine. The processional order of boats past the Commodore and Flag Officers was outlined and then Reverend Phillip Hobson from St. Martin in the Fields Anglican Church blessed the Fleet.  Reverend Hobson and Former Commodore Paul Bond provided a Memorial Service for NYC Members who have passed in the last year. Commodore Jones also wished all a good summer.

After the Fleet had been reviewed one of our Members had a complaint for our Manager – it was too hot out there! This was a brand new, never previously heard complaint. Usually it is ‘Too windy, too hard to control the boat’, ‘Got soaked in the rain’, ‘Too rough, my guests got seasick’, ‘Damned near froze’, etc. I assured the Manager that this was not a major problem.

The 65th Toronto Seascouts have added a new dimension to our Club. Their 30 foot vessels (rowing and sailing) took part in our Fleet Review.

The Reception Line, where members and guests have the opportunity to meet the Commodore and Flag Officers was another highlight.

A wonderful dinner was served to those who planned ahead.

A great time was had by ALL!

Thanks to O. Bertin and E. Jacob for their photos.

By William Cook

Posted in Social Events, Toronto History | Leave a comment

Message from the Commodore, June 2014

sailpast saluteThis year’s Sailpast was truly wonderful. Of course we could have had a little more wind however the sun was shining there were many smiling faces and a few unusual approaches to the review vessel. Thank you to Past Commodore Mullins who kept us company on the review vessel. You may not be aware that Janet on Grand National moved the line twice in order to provide a good wind angle. She is one of our experienced race officials and is used to setting a start line. Unfortunately the wind just kept moving around. Thank you Janet for being such a good sport. I did promise her a glass of wine for all her efforts and she collected on that promise. There was a rather difficult moment when we though the police boat was going to give Grand National a parking ticket but that didn’t happen.

Many of you went to extraordinary efforts to acknowledge the review vessel and, as you know, it is the duty of the Commodore to salute each vessel as she passes through the review area. Each vessel in turn either dips the ensign or luffs the jib. With the very light wind it was quite a challenge to luff the jib. One of our traditional sailors who always makes an effort to meet the challenge had a foredeck person “shaking”  the jib back and forth to reflect a true luffing of the foresail. The award for the best luffer goes to George Pettyan of Gaoh and to that person on your foredeck who did a great job.

Sail Past GeorgeOther members who will remain nameless introduced a new tradition; that is to leave the fenders hanging over the side of their boats during Sailpast. This of course is to avoid collisions during the close maneuvers. We thought this to be a good idea since some vessels do get a little close to the review vessel.

The reception and evening event continued to be a delightful affair. Thanks to our VC Fleet for hosting Sailpast and to the Fleet Captain-Cruise for making sure the day ran smoothly. Thanks also go out to our dining room staff and General Manager Tal for creating an environment that achieved success.
The following photo shows the crew of Carpe Ventus receiving the members of National Yacht Club. We wish you a wonderful sailing season.

sailpast carpeYesterday we participated in the new event organized by Gerry Ramos, Toronto Sail or Hope for Burn Survivors. This was an amazing success. Survivors, along with care givers, family members and staff from Sunnybrook Ross Tilley Burn Center sailed and powered along the pristine waters of Humber Bay. Once again the sun was shinning and the smiles of all participants proved that Gerry had a vision of achieving this synergy. Congratulations Gerry. We take what we have for granted sometimes and it’s only when you look at life through the experience of someone who has suffered and survived that you truly appreciate what we have.

Kind Regards
Denys Jones Commodore
The National Yacht Club

Posted in Social Events, Toronto History | Leave a comment

Being a New Crew Member

I joined the NYC in 2004 as a crew member and took the ‘Intro to Keelboat Sailing’ class. I was supposed to do it with a friend but she bailed so I really did it on my own. In class they explained all about the crew bank and they had arranged for friendly skippers to come in and speak to us. The skippers invited us out for casual Monday night racing (the program now on Thursdays) to get our feet wet. No matter how easy and welcoming they made it seem, it took a lot of courage to go that first night – some time in July for me – and use the crew bank.

Luckily a boat that really likes teaching grabbed me before my pencil hit the sign-up sheet and I ended up racing and cruising with them for three years and making some new friends. I didn’t know my winch from my ticklers but someone taught and encouraged me.

NYCT_Image2Ten Years Later…

After ten years, several boats and positions, I’ve learned so much. I can’t believe the nautical language that comes out of my mouth now or that last summer I skippered a boat to Youngstown and back (in a storm, while remaining completely calm) without the owner! I’ve also built many solid, lifelong friendships with whom I’ve had many adventures with.

Bringing in New People

When I talk about the NYC to friends, strangers or prospective members I’m very passionate about how easy we make it to get involved in sailing. It’s really difficult to convince them they can do it too. They worry about not knowing enough, thinking that they won’t get picked because they don’t look strong or young enough. They often still feel so after taking the intro class. I explained there is a job for everyone and with skippers who like to teach newbies and that you do your best learning in practice.

My Message to Skippers

There are a lot of new people just finishing this year’s intro class wandering around looking sheepish on race nights who could use a welcoming smile and some encouragement. Don’t take it for granted how friendly everyone is and reach out to them! The new online crew bank should definitely help! Even if you don’t really need someone but have the space, invite someone without a ride to come and watch from the rail. Give novices one thing to do and explain it thoroughly, pay extra attention and coach with patience. These positive early experiences are important to retaining crew members.

My Message to New Crew

I recommend trying a Tuesday, but just come out on whichever night you can. Thursday night tends have the fewest boats so you are less likely to get a ride. Wednesday night is the most competitive and boats fly spinnaker so it may be a tad overwhelming for your first time but you are completely welcome. Also, it’s polite to bring drinks or snacks for the boat, and if you are carrying a case of beer (cans please) that can only increase your chances of getting a ride.

You will never get picked if you don’t even try, so give yourself a chance.

Why does everyone ask me when we’re going to buy a boat?

The ‘we’ is me and the hubby and we met at the club. I get this question all the time now, like it’s an assumed evolution of learning to sail. I don’t see why I would buy a boat, this Crew deal is pretty sweet.

Happy 10th Anniversary to me and my darling NYC!

by Faith Seekings

Posted in Adventures, Membership, Racing | Leave a comment