the 2010 Western Wayfarer Rally
South Okanagan Sailing Association * August 27-29
report by Andrew Rigby, killer whale photos by Garry Sutton
about a dozen Rally candids have also been supplied by Andy
----- Original Message -----
From: Andrew Rigby
To: Uncle Al 
Sent: Sunday, October 10, 2010 7:51 PM
Subject: Wayfarer SOSA Weekend

Hi Al,

Further to you forwarding me Nick's details, please find below a report of the SOSA weekend.  You may find it interesting and others may enjoy reading it if you wish to put it on the Canadian Wayfarer association site.  I will send you photos as soon as I have gathered them together.  (Our guide from Wild Wales Vancouver sent me a fantastic shot of an orca and I'd like him to give the OK for it to be enjoyed by others.)

I hope your summer sailing went well.  I'm very happy as in addition to the great trip to Canada and sailing with Nick, I've just discovered a new sailing club in central London. Shadwell SC has six Wayfarers and sails during the evenings during the week - even when it's dark.  On my first trip out with them we set sail at 6:30pm when it was already dusk but the lights on the Thames meant that I could enjoy a fantastic two hours dodging the 30 knot catamaran ferries which ply the river.

Feel free to include one or more of these pictues with my report.  They were taken by our whale watching guide Garry Sutton who asks for his photos to be credited.  I'll send you some of my own Wayfarer photos soon.


So, here's the SOSA weekend report:

My first sight of the Vancouver area’s sailing waters was on a killer whale watching trip run by Wild Whales Vancouver.  Seventy of the huge animals were visible from the jet boat, breaching and swimming right under us, feasting on this year’s record salmon run.  Life was as abundant on the water as in it. Most of the ‘sailboats’ are keelboats, and the two Wayfarers I happened to see were unknown to Nick Parker, the class’s chief promoter on the west coast.  I had been put in contact with him by ‘Uncle’ Al Schonborn, North America’s Wayfarer guru, when I sent an e-mail enquiring about the possibility of enjoying a sail while visiting Canada this August.

Nick kindly invited me to attend the Wayfarer gathering planned for the last weekend of the month on Lake Okanagan at the South Okanagan Sailing Association.  A few days before the event, my girlfriend Fiona and I visited Nick at his workplace, the Flying Angels Mission to Seafarers, by Vancouver’s historic Gastown, where sailors visiting North America’s busiest port (by tonnage) can rest, socialise and contact home, making the most of the few hours allowed ashore.  Nick showed us round the heritage building, once a timber merchant’s showpiece and later used to store all the master marine charts of the west coast.  This was fascinating, but I was most interested in the wooden mast he had in the basement, the freshly applied varnish gleaming.  As for the forthcoming trip, the weekend was to be laid back, I was assured.  During last year’s windless weekend the Wayfarers were used as glorified bathing platforms, the water warmed by the near-desert climate at the lake 240 miles inland.  I hoped for a breeze this year but nevertheless wanted a more relaxing time than those who would be participating in the Ironman contest taking place nearby on the same weekend.

Accommodation was camping in the grounds of SOSA. This didn’t go down too well with Vanessa, Fiona’s sister, who lives in Vancouver.  She balked at this on account of the bears.  She’s scared of them. Bear experts, such as the one I spoke to who looks after two Grizzlies living on Grouse Mountain overlooking the city, say that there’s nothing to fear.  A twelve-year-old who’s camped by the lake we were heading for and told us the same thing.  The shop assistant who sold us a can of bear (pepper) spray said we probably would not need it.  “Tell Vanessa the club has a Bear Proof Enclosure”, I said.  I made this up.  There’s not even a fence, or even a GRIZZLIES – KEEP OUT notice pinned to the entrance. Luckily, when I ‘fessed up, our plans were too far advanced.  After the dust settled, Fiona agreed to camp on condition the bear spray was at hand, Vanessa and partner Graeme found an Ironman-free B&B in nearby Peachland.

Friday of the big weekend arrived, and after the seven-hour journey, the wind proved to be more of a problem than the wildlife.  Tent pegs safely in, we were invited into the cozy club house for a stir fry cooked by Lucille, wife of Gordon Beach, ‘Director at Large – Boats’.

After a calm night, the wind whipped up whitecaps next morning.  So, the first job undertaken was to secure blocks and fairleads to Nick’s wooden boom to allow him to reef his mainsail.  Gordon’s box of assorted bits made it achievable and no trip to the chandler was required.  Nick kindly invited me to crew for him for the first outing on the water; it was the first for the boat for 12 months.   The reefing held, along with the centreboard, hog, keel and ply bottom sheets replaced in all or part by Nick since he bought the woodie.

The other boats could not get out so easily.  A phone call informed us that a catamaran had capsized way up the lake and a lone crew member was seen on the drifting craft.  Gordon plus assistant lowered the rescue boat into the water and roared out of sight towards the appropriately named Squally Point.  They righted the cat and the crew and his equipment were accounted for OK, but not without difficulty as the partly righted boat at one point started to sail out of control towards the rescuers.

After lunch, I took Bryan and his wife, Loretta, out, one after the other, in their recently purchased CL 16.  This Wayfarer clone is Canadian built from GRP by Croce and Lofthouse, the hull moulded from a Wayfarer and with a clean looking interior, while keeping traditional wooden seats - unlike the newer Hartley Mk 4. We went out under reefed main alone as the couple are new to sailing. They enjoyed crashing over the waves; the 5km wide lake, though winding up a valley, has a long fetch when the wind’s northerly.  Bryan came out for a second trip, not having been put off by the soaking from spray he received up front.

Back in the clubhouse we were looking forward to the evening meal, when Nick’s son, Stephen, entered looking like a drowned rat. He’d been crewing for Gordon, who made up for time lost during the morning rescue by employing Stephen as crew on his CL 16 and planing through the breakers; we’d watched them earlier through binoculars inside the clubhouse - just about far enough away to avoid the spray. 

The last of the four boats was a GRP Mk I, owned by Lyle.  Its gelcoat still shone but delamination of ply sections supporting the chainplates looked dodgy given the conditions.  He assured us this would be fixed for next year; let’s hope so as the boat would then almost look like new.

Lucille and Deena’s evening meal was washed down with Gordon and Nick’s stories of their years in the military.  I hope the stories had more truth than the one that Mars would be brighter than the moon at midnight 30 that night.  I fell for the hoax and got up only to see that the only “Mars” I could see was not only much smaller than the moon, but it turned out to be Jupiter.

The next day started with pancakes with peaches, fruit syrup and whipped cream. To match this treat, Gordon took Fiona and me in the light winds out for a lesson in spinnaker flying, a first for both of us. We appreciated his experience as a flying instructor. In the afternoon, he very kindly allowed me to take Graeme out in his boat, and as the wind had risen to produce breaking waves, it was exhilarating for my crew, having only experienced light airs when we’d sailed together in my home club, Fishers Green SC, near London.  We made it to the other side but sadly didn’t have time to land and visit Naramanta’s vineyards. Three quarters of the way back the wind died. After wallowing for five minutes, I started the outboard ... which of course was the cue for the wind to return. I was glad the authorities did not demand to see my Pleasure Craft License, needed as boat was powered, and also the now equally mandatory waterproof torch.  Flashlightless club members were given fines of 100s of dollars only weeks before by a particularly zealous cop!  No doubt he was concerned for sailors’ welfare, as who knows when the Ogopogo could appear.  Gordon has seen the sea monster in the past but was luckily not troubled as the animal rose from the deep during the daytime. 

That afternoon the boats were hauled out and driven back to Vancouver (in Nick’s case) or packed away in the boat park. I got a chance to enjoy some of the other attractions of the region – vineyards and a steam railway. I didn’t make it to the footpath the non-sailors had visited the day before, on account of it being shared by bears, and so being vetoed by Vanessa.

It’s lucky I was not limited to 20kg of happy memories on the flight back to the UK.  A big thanks to Nick and all at SOSA.
Garry Sutton's fabulous whale photos

Rally Candids

the South Okanagan Sailing Association

Stephen's shorts - from behind and from ...

... the front

Nick Parker (l) and son, Stephen (shorts!) raise Tiddley's mast with assistance from ...

... Gordon Beach.

And after a year's major reconstructive surgery by Dr. Nick Parker, W982 is about to be in her element once more.
- click here for larger image

Launching Gordon's CL 16

Okanagan Sailing - click here for larger image

Cruising preparations for the coming generation

return to Rallies index page