- Berth Pains
- Gold Braid and …
- … Red Tape
- Days of Wine and Roses
- The Great Leap forward
- Haul out and refit
- A Safe Harbour
- Ship’s Company
- Some Details…
The first part of the history is organized chronologically with the events as they happened from before the birth of the club and follows along year by year so that the various happenings can be identified with their year and the order in which they happened. The second part is thematic certain themes are followed through from 1976 until the present so that the whole story can be found in one location for a particular theme. The information was taken from official documents where available but other events are reported as remembered by us and the other people we talked to. We would like to thank Doug Milne for reviewing an early draft for accuracy and for providing additional text which we have included. We hope we did not forget to mention important events, but this is always possible. If we did, we apologize to those involved. We tried to mention names of the main players involved in the activities and events but it is impossible to mention everybody. If we forgot to mention an important role you played, again we apologize. Perhaps such gaps can be filled in future updates of this document.
The boards of directors of the club have always done more than their share of the work and the people on them have been very important to the club. We have listed the names of the Commodores for the various years but in the interest of brevity have not mentioned specifically each board member. There are also many other people who have worked really hard for the club and who have not been mentioned for the same reasons.
There are some tables at the end of the document for “Membership” and “The Fleet” which make it easier to see trends in membership and to follow the growth of the club and the fleet over the years. There is also a table listing all the commodores.
This document is intended to be a basis for future histories of the club and hopefully it will be updated to include significant events which happen in the future.
Ken Eaves & Harry Adderley, 2 November 1995
The Kanata Sailing Club was born on 29 January 1975. It all happened because Doug Milne, who had sailed his Tanzer 16 upriver from Lac des Deux Montagnes, was asked to write an article about the joys of sailing for the Kanata Standard. Doug’s article invited like-minded residents of March Township to discuss the formation of a sailing club. The first meeting was held on Monday, September 25th, 1974.
The record shows that the enthusiasts who gathered on 29 January 1975, around Doug and the Beaverbrook Community Centre fireplace, included Bob Wilkinson, Ian Mueller, Peter Kourtz, B. Hastings, Rolf Brusse, A. Brown, Wayne Bisaillion and Harry Adderley, who shortly found themselves knocking on the doors of Kanata residents, soliciting members at a provisional fee of two dollars. Armed with a membership list of some 100 names and backed by the Kanata Beaverbrook Community Association, the newly-launched March Sailing Club approached Reeve John Mlacak and the March Township Council for support in gaining an access route to the river and a loan from the Capital Levy fund. That fund, administered by the Township, had been established by Kanata’s wise inventors so that Kanata residents could start new community clubs without having to incur personal debt.
The summer of 1975 passed without the discovery of a suitable site that the newly launched Club could afford. One large waterfront property was ruled out when the price escalated from $50,000 to an astronomical $100,000. (Astronomical came cheaper in 1975.) The winter of 1975-76 found Doug, Rolf and Harry on lac Déschenes, but on snowmobile and cross-country skis — still searching. (The skier insisted on a very long tow-rope: the ice didn’t look any too sound.)
By Spring 1976, someone came up with a “temporary” solution, which turned out to be as “temporary” as certain wartime buildings in Ottawa. March Township agreed that the Club could locate itself on the easement for the Riddell Drive extension, which runs straight to the river. Shortly thereafter, a fortuitous landslide created a natural ramp, which is still in use today. By early June 1976, the March Sailing Club had a borrowed site; an unpaved ramp; Albacores 6137, 6138 and 6139 on the beach; and sails, tillers, paddles and PFD’s in Keith Hooey’s garage. Training (and interest accrual) began.
Fall found us with additional equipment: a crash boat, a floating dock that didn’t, a sail shed, a $30,000 line of credit and accrued debt of $10,829.37.
When KSC was first conceived, older clubs contributed advice and copies of their by-laws. Our first draft laid down a no-nonsense “San Francisco Bay” structure; two officers only — a purser to look after funds and other matters ashore and a harbourmaster to look after matters afloat. By the spring of 1976, that structure had evolved to a three-member board; Harbourmaster Doug Milne, Purser Keith Hooey and Secretary-Treasurer John Koros. That structure and those incumbents endured through 1977.
Board structure then began to evolve to reflect new ideas, growth in membership and increased scope of operations. For example, the post of Commodore was added in 1978–followed shortly by a rule that no-one could be Commodore for more than two years in a row!
Successive lists of directors read like a history of Kanata. There is no room to name them all, but this is a good place to remember the Commodores who have imposed their personalities on the Club, badgered the directors (“for heavens sake, decide, so that we can go sailing!”), and acted as lightening rods for every bright idea and every complaint. The culprits were Hans Gugger and Gerry Holt (1978), Harry Holdsworth (1979), Doug Milne (1980), Neil Potgieter (1981), Bob Wilkinson (1982-1983), Doug Milne (1984-1985), Jim Thompson (1986-1987), Harry Adderley (1988-1989), Ken Eaves (1990-1991), Andy Carran (1992), Mike Roper (1993-1994), and Phil Locker (1995). They are remembered for their dedication and their innovations, some of which survived and some of which, like Albacore football, moonlight cruises and sailboat rides on Heritage Day, have died, (or at least withdrawn to deeper water).
Surviving ideas include the sailpast, inaugurated by Doug Milne in 1977. Exotic have been the costumes of the Commodores at sailpasts since. Exotic have been the objects lovingly tossed from boat to boat. (Beer tosses, alas, are no longer politically correct.) Equally varied have been the reviewing stands and the weather conditions, which have ranged from dead calm “paddle – pasts” to the memorable year (1980?) when, under the influence of a dark little cloud which suddenly popped over the escarpment, the whole fleet capsized in front of the reviewing stand, the Commodore and the reporter from the Kanata Standard.
Another surviving idea was the Commodore’s cocktail party, inaugurated by Bob Wilkinson, who donated some thirty cases of wine, all drunken up in a single afternoon (just kidding — only twelve cases, really). The Directors quickly rejected one-party rule and set up a second party for the Vice- Commodore, then another for the new members, then one for the…….
On occasion, our Directors have demonstrated considerable insight. Establishing by a few experiments that most KSC members could not breathe underwater, the Board was quick to respond–with repeated (and so far–successful) broadsides of safety reminders, (to protect the members from themselves), a responsibility release (to protect the Club from its members) and just in case, a very expensive liability insurance policy to protect the members from the Club.
It soon became apparent that the Club should incorporate, to insulate its hard-working officers from the financial consequences of a possible accident, and to put other matters on a more business-like basis. Thanks to intensive work by Paul Niebergall and others, the March Sailing Club received Ontario Letters Patent on 9 November, 1976 as a corporation “not-for-profit”. (How prophetic that was!) The responsible Minister was our own MPP, Sid Handleman, and the first KSC directors were Doug Milne, Keith Hooey, John Koros, Phil Zerr, Bob Wilkinson, Wayne Bisaillion, John Combs, Gerry Holt, Charles Alan Law, and Kenneth William Thompson. Our Charter defined the business of the Club in three simple objects:
- Encourage sailing
- Provide instruction
- Promote a high standard of safety and skill.
Throughout the incorporation process and the many complications that followed, the Club also enjoyed free legal support from a Gowling Henderson lawyer, thanks to active member and Olympic Tornado racing enthusiast, Kent Plumley. And we needed that help: all was not smooth sailing. Among other things, our voyage of incorporation almost ended when we ran aground on the sail shed which we had built during the summer of 1976.
To digress–why not, eh–we honoured a Club custom which continues to the present day, by finishing the roof of that shed three times. First we shingled the roof. Then we re-shingled the roof to get rid of the leaks that occurred because we had neatly lined up the joins in all the shingles. Then–in 1978–we cut a hole in the shed roof to accommodate the masts of our newly-acquired Lasers.
But let us return to 1976 and the eve of our incorporation. Provincial authorities threatened to withhold our charter because they feared that we were a front for naughty people and that our modest sail shed might be used as a “common gaming house”. (Obviously they had never seen the building and also didn’t realize that dinghy sailors are too busy — and too poor–to gamble.) To soothe those official fears, we accepted letters patent which specified that the March Sailing Club would not maintain a club house.
We lived to regret that decision.
In those early years, Club facilities were really opulent. No shelter but the sail shed if it rained — and no Johnny on the Spot. (No wonder the trees grew so tall.) Boats were put away in late November, by mud-coated die-hards, thrashing up the slippery slopes amidst falling snowflakes. Winter storage was a sagging old barn loaned by the YMCA, which had become resigned to the presence of a sailing club at the edge of its woodland retreat. (DND was less subtle. When Albacore parking first spread from the Riddell Drive easement to the foreshore of the DND/Communications preserve, we were welcomed by a brand-new fence with “No Trespassing” signs every ten feet.)
The Club had already taken on its special flavour; it was definitely not a “yacht club”. Facilities–and the sailing costumes of some members–served as a constant reminder that “dinghy” is only one letter away from “dingy”. Afloat: training, safety and self-sufficiency. Ashore: voluntary effort: no paid employees. Bare as it was, Kanata’s young families and not-so-young families flocked to the site, to swim, sail, eat, drink and water the trees.
In those days we strongly suggested that all family members who sailed obtained a minimum accreditation of “trained crew”: by 1978 almost all spouses were fully trained in boat handling. While security required communications with the outside world, we were too poor at first to afford a telephone: so we established a CB radio link with the volunteer fire department. Later, various levels of party-line telephone services were implemented, with our first telephone installed in–you guessed it–the notorious sail shed.
By 1979 membership was showing a downward trend. It was happening to sailing clubs all over. We recovered quickly because Gary Caple knew the magic word — Wintario.
From the beginning, KSC had employed only two principles of financial management; hand-to-mouth and back-to-wall. By 1979, those principles, coupled with declining membership, had brought us to a financial impasse. In 1977, we had drawn on our line of credit for another $3453.19. By 1979, current income barely covered current expenses and our periodic payments of interest and principal. The City of Kanata, which had signed the cheques, had title to all our equipment. We thought that better facilities might attract more members but neither we nor the City were keen on increasing our debt.
Wintario looked like a way out of this whirlpool, but there was a catch. To earn our grant we had to invest an equivalent amount of our own money in improvements. The club had to raise that money from its own resources – money borrowed from outsiders wouldn’t count. When timing became desperate some members bailed out the club by depositing $5000 of their own money in the Club’s account. The longer-term answer was multi-year memberships sold at a discount to members who had the ready cash and the confidence to invest it. Prices ranged from $300 for three years to $600 for 8 years, a bargain at that or any other time. One of the first to man the pumps that kept the Club from foundering was cat- sailor John Clifford.
Thanks to uncounted hours of work by Gary Caple and others, Wintario did provide a Capital grant of $4343 and a non-capital grant of $9571. We had enough money to build a clubhouse, pay off our loan from the Capital Levy and buy some new aquatic toys. On 16 December 1980, the City of Kanata sent us a nice letter certifying that we had clear title to all our toys and no further financial obligations to the City.
Now we had to deal with that awkward clause in our letters patent which barred us from having a clubhouse. The KSC lawyers went to work and our revised letters patent, issued in November 1979, solved the problem by specifying that we would not have a clubhouse except at Dunrobin. They also solidified our identification with Kanata, by changing our name to Kanata Sailing Club. Directors’ minutes of that era recall fierce resistance to a proposal that we become the “Kanata Yacht Club” and record final consensus that the label of “yacht club” was “not in keeping with the nature of the club’s operations”. (We never forget, however, that a 16-foot Albacore is a yacht whereas a 70-foot power cruiser is only a boat).
The shell of our “boathouse” was constructed in 1980, with Gerry Holt as project leader. It was designated a “boathouse” because we would not have been allowed to build a clubhouse so close to the water. The clubhouse was formally opened on Midsummer Day 1981, honouring the Druidic holiday without the customary sacrifice. Our first sundeck was completed in 1982. (Don’t ask how it was christened.)
The unwonted luxury of a real clubhouse was the first step on the slippery slope to decadence. Photos of the 1982 and 1983 sailpasts feature a Commodore in summer whites that would not have looked out of place in the 1890’s, when yachtsmen did wear uniforms. In those sailpast photos of 1983, elegantly- garbed members cluster on the deck or stroll along the beach, sipping wine thoughtfully provided by the Commodore–a custom which, since that time, has been more honoured in the breach than the observance.
We wallowed in luxury; a larger parking lot with real gravel, a Johnny on the Spot, and electricity — laid on in 1987 and tinkered with for the next five years before we could count on lights all evening. (Why did you think those party lanterns were equipped with candles?). We should have known that such indulgence would bring down Divine wrath: the clubhouse was struck by lightening–twice. You can still see the burns in the change room.
A junior program, started in 1981 to give members’ growing children their own place in the Club, faded in 1985 when it became apparent that the club boats could no longer stand the strain and that KSC could not subsidize day-care for the whole community.
New boats joined the fleet — appropriately-named Optimist prams, which came and went, and sailboards and catamarans, which came to stay. By the late 80’s, however, the old boats, the old sundeck and the old board (of Directors) were showing their age. It was time for renewal.
The years 1988 to 1990 were a period of reconstruction, replacement and consolidation. Members voted to accept a new set of by-laws, which established the present ten-member Board: Commodore, Vice-Commodore, Harbourmaster, Purser, Wharfinger, Communications Officer, Sailing Director, Training Director, Site Director and Membership Director. The new Directors, in turn, balanced the club budget by allocating it to a structured set of programs; training and sailing, boats and moorings, site, social and communications. A long-term planning committee was set up and members were presented with a variety of alternative directions for KSC. The members’ response: “if it’s not broken, why fix it?”
During this period KSC acquired a new patrol boat, a new dock, new and replacement Albacores and Lasers and a used Hobie 16. We retired the ailing Mystère, to be restored to her original glory by her dedicated rescuers. We also retired the last of our original Albacores–still seaworthy after 14 years of vigorous use–and two lasers (no comment on their seaworthiness!) With new marks and a modest budget, racing began to thrive. Extensive redevelopment gave our training program a new bite.
We painted the clubhouse deckhead and added lamps and a ship model, which became the Director’s mailbox. We planted flowers and we also planted the Hagus. The present Hagus, a fibreglass Albacore which the directors condemned for sail or sale because of leaky flotation tanks, is a replacement for an abandoned wooden skiff, which Club members rescued from a gravel bank and set up as a planter in 1989. The name was copied, letter for letter, from the original transom: if it was misspelled, blame the original (unknown) builder. We did find time, during those long, busy days, for moonlight cruises, complete with jumbo shrimp and real wineglasses and exciting aquatic sports played with soccer balls.
Directors’ long hours at the debating table were lightened somewhat with the introduction of Saturday morning breakfast meetings on the sundeck. (Directors provided the food and the sunlit river provided the incentive to make decisions so that we could go sailing.) It was on one of those occasions that ten directors, with about 300 years of combined sailing experience, watched one of our Albacores, which is now a flowerpot, sink during capsize drill near the clubhouse.
The last five years have given us the leisure for those little luxuries we had to forego in tougher times. Thanks to the efforts of Wayne Blue, we have a non-permeable sundeck. Andrew Kendrick, now sailing wilder waters, devoted his last summer at KSC to the construction of our new workshop/sail locker complex. (Its roof doesn’t leak.) We have added the flag mast, identified at our 1978 Annual General Meeting as something we needed as soon as possible “so that this place will look more like a sailing club.”
We have also added kitchen cupboards, a sink that doesn’t work, a refrigerator that does, (for the baby bottles), and an indoor change room, so KSC mosquitoes can dine in comfort. And we have had time for fun things, like looking for Cyril Pinkbeard’s treasure, on Skull island. We are well into our gastronomic era, with super post-regatta meals and enough wine to make one forget the results.
The job of the Commodore must be a breeze these days–right, Phil?
One feature of membership which seems to be constant over the years is high annual turnover. In recent years this has varied from 20 to 30 percent of the membership. It was much higher than that in the years prior to 1979.
In those early years, membership was a particular concern because of its impact on funding. It was imperative to have members in order to repay the loans and to qualify for Wintario grants. Directors minutes record at least one major door-to-door recruiting drive, in 1979, and many occasions on which a booth was set up at Mayfair.
Family memberships grew steadily, from 39 in 1976 to 67 in 1978. Annual membership fees grew too: from $85 to $90 over the same years. Membership dropped to 62 in 1979 and hit a low of 41 in 1980, the year we qualified for our Wintario grant and began construction of our clubhouse. With new facilities in place, membership jumped to 74 in 1981, in spite of a fee increase to $115. Membership levels, which are managed by the Directors to control the load on the boats and the site, have followed a slightly unsteady upward trend ever since. In 1995, total membership (family and other) stood at 164.
The number of directors has increased in approximate proportion to the membership: three directors and 39 families in 1976: ten directors and 130 families in 1995. As a result, seven percent of family memberships have a member on the Board, during any sailing year. This helps to ensure that the direction of club development has closely reflected members’ wishes.
It is worth noting that in 1995 there were three female directors, which is a high water mark for the club.
My final observation is that there really are baby bottles in the KSC fridge. The increasing visibility of young families around the Club reminds this original member of the early 70’s, when things were much the same. It bodes well for KSC’s next twenty years.
- Site and Harbour
- Setting the Course
- The Junior Punt
- Training the Recruits
- Rounding the Mark
- En Bateaux
- Fleeting Glances
- The Great Cabin
- Club Socials
- Forces of Nature
- Ensigns and Signals
- Landlord! Landlord!
Among the many challenges was site selection. The Mississippi Conservation Authority had just brought to light that the Pinhey property was available for Kanata use. This was an ideal spot for a dinghy sailing club with its protected, deep harbour, a grassy launch area, a built up road and the possibility of a historic club house which also housed a most beautiful model of a 1800′ sailing ship.
To support a Pinhey solution it was determined that an active successful club with a membership of at least 200 people would be required to finance and win support from local authorities. Interestingly, another group who personally used the harbour as their weekend retreat began an action to prevent the sailing club from obtaining rights to the site.
The second ideal site known as the site next to Mrs Campeau was located just down river from the Pinhey site. There was only a three foot cliff to contend with so launching dinghy’s would be feasible, however it had to be purchased for and asking price around $50k. When the club approached the owner with a serious offer the property was re-evaluated and the price doubled and became beyond our reach. Another property above Pinhey know as Charlie Sweeny’s camp was also considered but the proposal was stalled by family members..
A Most challenging option was the current “road allowance site” which stands some twenty feet off the riverbed. The YMCA had laid claim to this property, which is the continuance of a country road since they had fenced off the area for many years.
The YMCA was hesitant to allow public access to the area as they thought it might result in security concerns. The YMCA was attempting to run at the time a cooperative program through the Canadian Yachting Association. The CYA was providing sailing lessons from the mobile school which travelled the province. Negotiations with YMCA manger Don Noble, who was a great supporter of making the best use of the site, finally proved to be for our mutual benefit. The arrangement of entering through the YMCA camp was a solution which suited all our needs. The current site was to be an interim site until we had the “200” to make a pitch for the Pinhey site.
Keith Hooey and Joe Clark had the challenging task of determining the ideal placement of the cut and called in the giant bulldozer. A number of proposals were on the table as to how we would move the boats from the water to a suitable resting place in what is now the parking lot. This as necessary because the property down river from he ramp cut is on what is know as Rifle Range property and was strictly out of bounds.
Among the options was a block an tackle boom lift arrangement, a railroad with a winch and a tractor with a trailer. Fortunately, we have never been approached by our neighbour about the use of their secure land. When we made the cut we were surprised and pleased to find a 6 foot depth an the end of the ramp.
It is interesting to note there was no sand on the beach rock at that time and the sand has been deposited there because of the change in the rivers flow at high water and the ramp acting as a break water. We also had many discussions with environment and water study groups.
The objectives of the Kanata Sailing Club from the start were:
- to preserve a water access in March township
- to provide sailing and safety instruction
- provide a forum where our children could learn and develop sailing skills
One of the programs put in place to accomplish this was a formal Junior sailing program first run in 1977 “under the auspices of the March Township recreation activities”, to provide sailing training to local children. The first program was run by the CYA, then we hired our own senior and junior trainers. In 1979 the club made representation to the City of Kanata for funding for capital improvements to the facilities. One of the main arguments was that the club needed these improvements, including other types of boats more suitable to children, in order to run a junior program. The club was concerned that Albacores were too heavy for most children. In 1980 the club was considering a proposal to have the Ontario Sailing Association run a program for a 1 week period where they would provide the boats and instructors but it did not come to pass. In 1981 the KSC finally put in place a summer long Learn-to- Sail program to provide instruction at all levels to children and teenagers in the 9-16 year old range. Amy Holt was instrumental in setting this up. It was successfully run for 5 years using the Albacores as the main training vessel.
Professional Canadian Yachting Association (CYA) certified instructors were hired. These were young people in their late teens and there are several interesting stories concerning the goings-on at the club. Like the morning the instructor was nowhere to be found. The patrol boat was missing and as she was living on the site there was some concern about her safety. The O.P.P. was alerted that there was a potential problem but eventually she was located. She had apparently spent the night on her father’s boat at Britannia. Another of our female instructors apparently rode a motorcycle in a black bikini and liked to smoke cigars. I wonder what the parents thought about this!
The program was offered to members children and to the general public, following CYA guidelines for the Learn-to-Sail program. It was very popular with area youth and over a five year period it introduced many to the sport and some continued on to become very proficient. Our first reward came when trainee Robin Williams returned to run the training program. Bruce Milne, another early graduate of the program, sailed with the Ontario Windsurfing Team at the Canadian Youth Championships in 1985. Claude Lalonde was an instructor for several years with the adult program after taking the junior training.
In 1985 a fleet of four pre-owned Optimist dinghies was purchased for use in the LTS program to try to ease the demand on the Albacores. They did not have as much impact as was hoped as they could not be kept in serviceable condition for long enough periods. After that year, with similar training being offered at Sail Nepean and Britannia, the fact that most of those taking the training were not members of the club, and considering the strain it placed on the club Albacores, it was decided to discontinue the program. 1985 was the last year that it was offered.
The second part of the training thrust at the KSC, and one which indicates clearly what can be accomplished in a family cooperative club, is the training of the new adult members each year. The original plan intended that experienced sailors would train new sailors who would then purchase their own boats. The program soon changed so that club members could either bring their own boats to the site or use club boats. All were requested to meet or pass our standards.
Safety was always a major concern as the fear was that any major accident would be the end of the club. From the start the idea was that those who learned to sail this year would train the new members in the following year. Teaching others to sail also increases ones own proficiency as it forces one to review those areas where one is unsure and to make certain one uses the proper terminology and teaches correct club procedures. The number the club can train is limited by the number of available Albacores and the number of experienced and willing instructors. Each year between 40 and 60 novice sailors are trained to a level roughly equivalent to White Sail level III. Some of these remain at the club and do help to train new sailors in future years while others come for the training and go on to larger boats at other clubs. The training started on a small scale in 1976 with those members who had experience training those who were complete novices, using the three original Albacores. Joyce Ross was one of the experienced sailors involved in organizing the training in the early years. Over the years the training program has become more organized, texts have gotten better, and has gradually improved year by year by building on previous years experiences. Donna Neff was the training director in 1987 and, using her prior teaching experience and knowledge of sailing, completely revamped the syllabus of the training program. This is basically still in use today. Donna also donated a new trophy, the Training Directors award, to be given each year to the most improved sailor. This is usually awarded to a new member.
The first year of operation the training lasted all summer, naturally, as the club was just starting up. Now training takes place in April, May and June allowing the rest of the summer for the novices to practice, and to race if desired, and to become thoroughly hooked on the sport.
Training of the catamaran sailors started in 1986 with the acquisition of our first catamaran, the Mystère. The original course was developed by Hans Gugger and Donna Neff. This has continued largely due to the efforts of Pierre Lalonde. There have been varying results mainly due to the difficulty in roping experienced instructors into helping after they have put in six weeks with the basic training.
The club has also offered sailboard training when willing and experienced instructors were available.
Racing has had its ups and downs in terms of popularity at the club. Judging from accounts in the newsletter it was popular in the early years. In 1983 there was some mention of it in the newsletter but by 1984 it had disappeared completely from the list of activities at the club. The first race marks were donated by Britannia. The rest of the early ones were home made. Three early designs were styrofoam blocks with plastic whips with flag attached, styrofoam blocks with ABS pipes with flag attached, and large plastic pails with a plastic pipe fitted through the lid with a flag on top. Due to the short anchor ropes that were attached to the latter type they sometimes filled with water and sank if the waves got too high. I am told that once one of these submersibles suddenly reappeared on the course during a race causing some confusion amongst the competitors as they now had four marks to sail around.
There was a racing revival of sorts in 1988, thanks to the efforts of Andy Carran, with the organization of regular races on Sundays but as it became more popular it was decided to move it to a slot where it would not interfere with the social sailing. It was changed to Monday nights in 1989 and has continued to grow and prosper helped along by some of the clubs more avid racers like Andy Wahl and John Maxwell. Andy Wahl convinced the executive to invest in some inflatable racing marks in 1990 which eased the race committee’s task when setting up the course and made the marks more visible to the racers as they were a fluorescent orange in colour. I guess he figured that if we were going to do it, we should do it right. (Although, after several seasons of use it became a challenge for the race committee to get in two races before one of them deflated). The old black oil barrels we had been using since ’88 were heavy and bulky and usually the tops were covered with sea gull droppings from being left anchored out on the river. Nobody was too keen on moving them and in stormy weather they had a habit of disappearing to who-knows-where down the river. We usually got them back again; I guess nobody else wanted them.
Club regattas were also re-introduced in 1988 with the Commodore’s Cup being presented as the trophy for the July Regatta. It is now presented each year at this event. It was given to the club by Doug Milne in 1980 during his first stint as Commodore to be used to reward the clubs most promising sailor, and was later used for racing. In 1989 a new trophy was given to the club by Ken Eaves for the overall winner of the summer race series at the club. That same year saw several club members entered in the Albacore Area 10 regatta at Nepean, including the Carrans in the Red Baron (6029), which had just been purchased by the club from a Nepean member and still had all the go-fast stuff on it. The Monday night activities have become fairly competitive and have had a profound effect on improving sailing competencies at the club. As all racers can tell you, racing can become very addictive, and in 1991, for those who hadn’t had enough by the end of August, a September series was inaugurated. Some of the younger members, such as Geoff Carran and Graham Eaves, have also been attracted to the racing in recent times. Graham takes great delight in regularly beating the old man, and has even won some club trophies.
By 1995, club boats were being entered in various regattas in the region, specifically at Nepean and the RA, including the Albacore Area 10s at Nepean, and boats from the RA competed in the KSC Fall Regatta. 1995 also saw the first time a female skipper, Nickie Rhodes, won one of the summer race series. In fact, female participation has reached a level where we were able to inaugurate the Women’s Fun Challenge Regatta for female skippers in August. This was won by Deborah Shadbolt.
Fireballs are starting to make more regular appearances in club races and regattas now that there is a small core of privately owned boats. This trend was started by Mike Roper. When the Lockers got one the Carrans couldn’t resist the urge to make it a threesome.
Club catamarans were also involved in racing but never in races at the KSC – no competition. John and Laura Lunn, avid Hobie 16 sailors, were taking club boats down to Lac Déschenes Sailing Club in the early 90s and represented the club in some of their regattas.
The original fleet consisted of three Albacores, 6137, 6138, and 6139 purchased in 1976, the first year of operation, from Skene Boats of Ottawa. The price – $6200 for the three. What a deal! Also bought that year was the first crash boat (promptly dubbed the Aluminum Coffin). An experienced boater and boat racer, Jim Hamilton, selected and prepared the “tin boat” with an 18 HP motor. Albacore 6616 was added in 1977, at a cost, new, of $2,431.55. It has grown over the years and other types of craft have been added. It now consists, in 1995, of 10 Albacores, 6 Lasers, 3 Sailboards, and 3 Catamarans. The first catamaran was acquired by the club in 1986 from former member Kent Plumley. It was a 17 ft. Mystère which is a junior version of the Olympic class Tornado. Since that time cats have been added and retired so the cat fleet now (1995) stands at 2 Hobie 16s and a Hobie 18.
In 1981 the fleet consisted of 4 Albacores and 2 Lasers. Two of the original Albacores, 6137 and 6138, and the first two Lasers purchased in 1978, 55447 and 61544, were still part of the fleet in 1989. That year the fleet included Albacores 5695, 6137, 6138, 6616, 7463, 7485 and 6029; Lasers 55447, 61544, 117826, 92150, 131005; the Mystère (482) and the yellow Hobie 16; 4 sailboards and the patrol boat. At the end of the 1989 season the Mystère was privatized to a consortium of three members and is still sailing in 1995. The first sailboards were acquired in 1984 and 1985 and consisted of 3 Bic 250s and a smaller Mirage 90 used by junior members. These are now mainly used for paddling around in the swimming area and 3 newer sailboards with mylar sails, purchased in 92, provide the sailboarding platforms. The Laser fleet has grown steadily and usually there is a big demand for them on race night. The Albacores, also, are very popular on race night but a few of the older ones are not considered as serious contenders although they are fine for social sailing where it is not noticed that they are not as fast as the newer boats.
The current patrol boat was purchased in 1989 thanks to the efforts of Robert Muise (Harbourmaster) and the committee set up to determine requirements and evaluate what was available on the market. Today it continues to provide a virtually unsinkable craft for rescue operations.
As a co-op club, one of the main areas requiring cooperation is the maintenance of the boats. This was made more difficult when some Commodores (and others) failed to maintain the appropriate distance between their boat and others and the resulting crunch heard across the water raised the hackles of the Harbourmaster. Various schemes have been developed over the years to entice the membership to provide adequate boat maintenance with varying degrees of success. No scheme is perfect and perfection will never be achieved in this area. In the second year one person, Gary Caple, maintained all the boats and I am told used only the best of parts, but as the fleet grew this became a task too onerous for one person and some form of cooperative effort was required. Another area which has been the source of discussion over the years is the best design and materials for the production of dollies to easily propel the boats in an out of the water. Several members have contributed their welding skills to construct dollies for the club for the cost of materials. Two names which come to mind are Harry Adderley and Jim Trach. One thing the Kanata Sailing Club does do well is use the skills of its members to the best possible advantage to the club. Flat tires on the dollies has also been mentioned as a challenge to maintenance crews over the years. No solution has been found to date as we are still struggling with this situation on some of the Laser dollies.
As membership levels have increased, the fleet has gradually increased in step to provide boats for those members to sail. Improvements have also been made to the site such as the enlarging of the lower parking lot in 1984. In the years prior to 1979 as the club had hardly any facilities to make it attractive for the new members to return after their training year was completed. The construction of the clubhouse changed this by providing a place where people could seek shelter from inclement weather and socialize. It also provided a more permanent looking home base than the old storage shed. It was built mainly thanks to the efforts of Gerry Holt who spearheaded the effort. The original furniture in the clubhouse was donated by the members, as it is today.
Over the years various improvements have been made to make it more livable and functional. It was completely wired for electricity in 1981 even though there was no source of power. The wiring was done in such a way that there was an outlet into which a generator could be plugged and this was the main source of light at the club for many years. Those who attended social functions during that time can recall the steady drone of the generator in the background, followed by silence and darkness as the gas tank ran dry. The idea of hooking up to an external source of electricity was being discussed in newsletters and meetings in 1984. Further work on the wiring was done in 1986 to make sure everything was in order in preparation for the hook-up. We were finally connected to the Y’s hydro lines in 1987 after considering other options such as solar panels and installing our own line up to the hydro transformer on Riddell. During the next five years various problems were experienced with the power from the dimming of the lights, to very bright lights, to no power at all. Anyone who brought electrical equipment to the club was taking a chance of having it damaged by power fluctuations. There were several occasions where we would go over to the switch at the base of the ski hill, where our line was coming from, to try to restore power to the clubhouse, not realizing what was actually causing our problems. In the spring of ’91 the year was started without power as a tree had fallen on the line during the winter. It was restored in June but problems persisted to the end of the year. There was no power for the Vice Commodore’s party in September. Finally, in the spring of ’92 a short was located in the line further up on the “Y” property, after the club arranged for the YMCA lines to be tested, and since being repaired the power has been trouble free. This allowed the addition of a fridge to the clubhouse in the same year. There are still limitations to the amount of power that can be drawn as can be seen by difference in the intensity of the lighting when a coffee perk is plugged in, but for the price, it suits our needs quite well.
In 1988 a second Johnny on the Spot was added specifically for ladies which was modified to remove the trough used by the male members. Originally it was suggested by one of the board members that this would be a handy place for the ladies to put their purse. These modified potties seem to have disappeared in more recent years and the toilets have again become unisex.
The deck on the front of the clubhouse was built in 1982 and provided ample room for parties and after race gatherings for beer and burgers. In the years leading up to 1991 it was noticed that some of the boards were rotting (wooden boards, not the boards of directors) and they were replaced. Semi- annual inspections of the underside of the deck were instituted and early spring would usually find Harry Adderley and Jim Thompson banging around under there trying to identify what was solid and what was not. Finally, in 1991, with the appearance of more rotted planking and the protrusion of various feet through that planking on various occasions, it was decided to tear down the old deck at the end of the season and it was replaced in the spring of ’92.
Other recent improvements in the site saw the building of the new Maintenance Shed and Laser Sail Shed in the fall of 1993. This allowed the movement of the maintenance shop out of the main clubhouse and provided space for the building of change rooms inside the clubhouse where there are less mosquitos. The new access road down to the club which runs around the perimeter of the Y field was built by the Y in 1992 but had limited use in the first year as the size of the gravel was so large it was like driving over boulders. This improved in the following year with the addition of smaller gravel on top and is now the only access which club members are permitted to use. Prior to this, the club access road ran right through the area used by the Y for its summer day camp program, which the “Y” saw as a danger to the many children on the site during the summer.
Social activities have always been a feature of the club. Those which were a part of the second year of operation in 1977 were 1. Opening Day boat launch and Bar-B-Que – May 14, 2. Graduation Day – June 24, 3. 2nd Annual Sail Past – July 9, 4. Sailabration – saluting the first crossing of the Ottawa River – Aug. 6, 5. Corn Boil – Sept. 10, and 6. Closing Day – Bean supper. This set the tone for the future. Some traditions have evolved such as Opening and Closing Day repasts of chili and beer. Another is low cost self sufficiency in the provision of the grog. It started in 1989 when Mike Venables was the Purser. He was able to obtain good quality brew in sufficient quantities at cost price from the Ottawa Valley micro brewery. Now-a-days several club members have taken up the challenge and have become more-or-less the club meister brausers assigned to brewing up a batch of beer and ale at one of the local brew-your-own establishments. Jim Thompson, Albert Cohoe and others have contributed their skills in this capacity.
No Club history would be complete if we forgot to mention our beach hostess. Members will be aware that the Club has contracted with the YMCA to observe the public health laws which prohibit the bringing of any pets to the KSC property. Desmonde, fortunately, is exempt because she came with the territory. She reminds us that the Club site is her home and that, like good guests, we should help her keep it tidy. She also reminds us that watersnakes always go where they have a mind to, over bare feet, beach blankets, saiboards, swimmers and sunbathers. Hopefully we can look forward to many more years of shrieking bathers and picnickers and delighted children, as Desmonde slithers on through the happy summer days.
The river and our location on it gives the Kanata Sailing Club a unique character which is unmatched by other clubs in the area. It is a very picturesque location with very striking sunsets on those beautiful warm summer nights. Immediately in front of the clubhouse, below the cliff, is the beach and, out in the water, “the reef”, which has claimed its share of centreboards and gelcoat. On many occasions members have watched, and tried to warn, as power boats have run across it and keel boats have hit it, bounced back, and then ran at it a second time.
One of the features of the river has always been the large fluctuations in water levels during the summer. This is controlled by dams above and below our club on the river and it is completely out of the club’s control. It has always been a challenge to provide a workable dock and patrol boat docking and launch mechanism which could cope painlessly with this situation. For the early ’80s this provided headaches for the Harbourmaster as the dock could not be put in until the water receded in the spring, would then have to be moved as water levels dropped in mid summer, and could be washed out in September if water levels rose again. This also placed quite a strain on the old aluminum framed dock which was diligently maintained for many years by Mike Daniels. On most opening days the fleet could not be placed on the downriver side of the launch ramp until the water receded. A new floating dock was installed in 1990, but due to placement of the floats it rode very high in the water and threw more than one person in the water when they lost their balance. This was corrected the following year by movement of the floats to inside the frame. One group of resident rodents who were quite happy with the original placement of the floats was a family of muskrats who had decided to make their home on top of one of them. They dredged up all kinds of material from the river bottom, including seaweed, clam shells, and socks lost by some junior members. The inside of this mound of material was hollowed out with an entrance facing the edge of the dock. At night, if you went with a flashlight, you could see the little critters inside. With the floating dock, a new mooring system for the patrol boat was established which allowed the dock and boat to adjust to changing water levels. This was a vast improvement over the old boat cradle which up to that time was used to lift the patrol boat out of the water. The problems with this system were magnified in 1989 when the new patrol boat was purchased which was quite a bit heavier than the old aluminum boat. This put quite a strain on the old cradle.
Club identity has seen various logos developed over the years. Various designs were considered in the early years with a stylized KSC in the form of a sailboat in waves prevailing in the early 80s. In the early ’90s, a sailboat inside a circle with the words Kanata Sailing Club around the sail was used for a few years with club burgees, sweatshirts, and T-shirts being produced and sold to the members. In 1992 this was changed to the current logo of a sailboat followed by the Kanata Sailing Club name and now appears on letterhead, club clothing, ball caps, etc. Like most things we do at the club, it wasn’t until the third design that we got what we wanted.
The club has always had a good relationship with the YMCA but our occupancy of the current site is by no means guaranteed to continue indefinitely. The leases with the Y are typically for a 5 year term at quite reasonable rates. They appear to like the arrangement we have and have always indicated that they will try to protect the clubs interests in any transactions they enter into regarding the property. In 1992 the Y started negotiations with the region for a land swap which would have seen the region take over the Y site with the view to building a filtration plant 20 years or more down the road. The Y was protecting our interests in the deal and we were to be allowed to remain on the site even after the building of the filtration plant. But things can always change after a new owner takes over. This deal finally fell through but it indicates just how tenuous our occupation of the site could be.
Another development in the city which could affect the club came in 1989 when the city purchased some property adjacent to Pinhey’s Point with the idea of developing a deep water marina with associated housing development. This was the same piece of property which the club was interested in purchasing in 1975. The club directors had meetings with alderman Bill Berry to discuss the proposed development and determine what, if any, the club’s involvement should be. It was decided by the executive of the day that we were happy with the club as it was and that we could not see much advantage to moving the club to the proposed marina location, if it ever got built. There was much debate within the community over the city’s expropriation of the necessary properties. In the end the city agreed not to develop the area as long as any of the current owners were still alive.