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Here are several spectacular wooden boats that caught our eyes as we sailed between the Gulf Islands and Desolation Sound this summer.

“Native Girl” was designed and built by West Coast legend Allen Farrell. She is 48′ overall, with a beam of 10′ 6″ and a draft of 5′ 6″. She was launched in 1965. For more information on artist and boat builder Allen Farrell and his wife Sharie go to http://allenfarrell.com/

“Native Girl”, built and designed by Allen Farrell, seen here in Silva Bay. Note the yard-arm for the square sail.

I couldn’t resist including this photograph of Allen’s last boat, which I came across in Pedder Bay in 2009. The story of Allen and Sharie Farrell is fascinating and documented in “Salt on the Wind” by Dan Rubin and “Sailing Back In Time” by Maria Coffey. Both “Native Girl” and “China Cloud” are breath-taking designs!

Wonderfully elegant “China Cloud”.

Normally at home in Thetis Island, “Grail Dancer” made a short visit to the Cowichan Bay Maritime Society in August. This beautiful 61′ (L.O.A.) schooner, is based on the lines of a 19th century Noank Well Smack. For more information – http://sunrisegrail.com/?action=GR-gallery

She was built by Maureen and Wayne Loiselle and was launched off a beach in 2000.

Magnificent “Grail Dancer” at the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre.

“Grail Dancer”

“Taihoa” is 48′ (L.O.A.), design by George Band, launched in Vancouver in 1947. She is seen here during a haul-out on the newly refurbished ways at the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre.

“Taihoa” – a Colin Archer style, heavy displacement cutter.

Finally, we came across this attractive Aitkin designed cutter in Squitty Cove on Lasqueti Island.

“Josey”, a small Aitkin designed cutter.

Jan Wylie aboard "Vesta", preparing to depart the Maritime Centre last week.

by David Skelhon

Long-time members of the Maritime Centre may remember “Vesta”, donated to the Centre in 1999 after a long career as a gill netter.

The initial restoration was funded in partnership with Human Resources Canada, as part of a skills training program. She was given new ribs and decks and re-launched in July 2001.Vesta is 32’ long and powered by a 6 cylinder Nissan diesel.  She was used for a time as a “showboat”  by the Maritime Centre, traveling to events along the coast.

Vesta has been owned by local shipwright Jan Wylie for the last 5 years. Wylie said Vesta was built in the ‘50s and used by Jack Jensen and his daughter fishing Porlier Pass between Valdez and Gabriola Islands.

Wylie said she loves the gill netter lines. She considers Vesta a “river boat” and although she has cruised as far north as Princess Luisa Inlet she admits that, after a particularly rough passage, “Thirty-five knots in Georgia Straight was a bit much for a boat of this design!”

Wylie keeps Vesta at Genoa Bay Marina, just across the bay from the Maritime Centre. She has replaced the old steel masts with wooden ones and made an elegant deck awning. She has been busy at the Centre’s workshop this winter making changes to the interior.

A member's boat is hauled out on the Maritime Centre's ways last year; rebuilding the ways is our major project for 2012.

Our Heritage Ways Are Important For Members And The Local Community

The Covey Marine Heritage Ways is an authentic piece of Cowichan Bay history. Originally built and operated by Ron Lindsay, owner of Covey Marine, these ways are of the traditional railway type design and one of five that operated in Cowichan Bay for many years.

Ron generously donated the ways to the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre in 2006 and we took on the task of relocating them to our site as part of our interpretive displays. During the move they were brought up to modern environmental standards.

Six years later, after hauling many boats, the ravages of salt water has taken its toll and the complete refurbishment of the carriage is now required. This has also created an opportunity to further improve the ways by increasing its capacity for hauling larger boats. New maintenance services will also be available, including scrubbing, antifouling, zinc replacement plus mechanical and hull repairs.

The ways has become a valuable asset for the Maritime Centre, generating income and providing an important service for boat-owning members. The ways are also important to the local community, bringing in business to stores and restuarants nearby. The cost of the rebuild has been estimated at $25,000 and we are launching a fund raising campaign to achieve that target. If you can help please contact Suzan at cwbs@classicboats.org

Maritime Centre ways operator Lance Underwood has undertaken the task of rebuilding the carriage and with the help of Centre volunteers, the ways should reopen in the early spring.

Ways operator Lance Underwood cuts up the badly corroded steel carriage of the old ways.