Carolyn O’Neil spoke to Shellbacks about Great Lakes Awareness and recent policies with respect to the lakes. Water extraction, pollution, invasive species and other challenges face the Great Lakes, and Carolyn laid out clearly what the challenges mean and where things might be headed in the future.
ABOUT CAROLYN O'NEILL
Carolyn works for Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. She is the Manager of the Great Lakes Office for that Ministry. Her job is to advance Great Lakes policy including Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy, the Great Lakes Protection Act and Great Lakes agreements. Prior to joining the Ministry, Carolyn was with Environment Canada where she worked on programs to protect the Great Lakes and the Fraser River in British Columbia.
Richard Hudson returned to the Shellbacks Club to describe his passage of the Northwest Passage (so taking us to the opposite end of the planet from his talk on sailing through Patagonia that he gave in the fall).
About Richard Hudson
Richard won the Ocean Cruising Club Rambler Medal in 2013.
This medal is awarded for the most challenging voyage made by a member or members.
Richard Hudson s/v Issuma: For a voyage through the Northwest passage shorthanded The award recognizes Richard's 2011-2012 voyage through the Northwest Passage from Cartwright, Labrador to Victoria, B.C. in the 50 foot steel staysail schooner Issuma. Richard had to abandon an earlier attempt in 2010 when he almost lost the mast due to rigging failure in the Labrador Sea and had to return to Cartwright and then New York for repairs.
Although in 2011 he was late in the season, having been held up for three weeks in Cartwright waiting for engine parts, the Northwest Passage light ice conditions in 2011 allowed for a fast passage. He cleared into Canada at Cambridge Bay and made Point Barrow and entered the Bering Sea. His crew left Richard in Kodiak and Richard sailed solo across the Gulf of Alaska to Yakutat, Alaska and then to Sitka where he spent the winter.
In the spring Richard sailed solo down to Victoria arriving May 1, 2012, topping off the challenge with a voyage successfully completed. The fact that he persevered in his quest and succeeded with a short-handed crew demonstrates his capabilities in the face of challenge.
Richard was also nominated in 2011 for Canadian Rolex Sailor of the Year by Canadian Yachting Association [now Sail Canada].
Karen-Ann Xaxier gave an enlightening presentation to the Shellbacks on the things that the Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario is doing in the province, as well as giving the larger context of disabled sailing in Canada.
Technology and dedication are making sailing more and more available to disabled persons, and sailing is an ideal means of enjoying nature and independence.
The DSAO can be found at http://disabledsailingontario.com/.
ABOUT KAREN-ANN XAVIER
Karen-Ann Xavier is Vice-President of the Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario, a registered charity dedicated to providing people living with a disability the opportunity to learn about and enjoy sailing. DSAO has been operating out of the Toronto Harbourfront since 1999, DSAO boats can be seen sailing in the Toronto inner harbour.
Karen-Ann Xavier has been volunteering with DSAO since 2003, with Mobility Cup since 2009 and the AbleSail Network since 2011. She also supports disabled sailing programs across Canada in an ‘ask the expert’ capacity. Mobility Cup is the Canadian National Championship of disabled sailing, the AbleSail Network is the Canadian association for disabled sailing. She is passionate about "enabling" and removing barriers to participation in sport.
Karen-Ann is an avid sailboat racer herself, and has raced for many years in different classes. Her passion is racing multihulls at the national and international level. She has also chaired and been on committees of many national and North American championships.
Christopher gave a fascinating description of his trans-Atlantic sail on an Open 60 -- a flat-out ocean racer with nothing in the line of creature comforts. Nevertheless, doing so was fulfilling a dream.
Watch the videos of Christopher's presentation and of the Open 60 below.
ABOUT CHRISTOPHER HOPE
In 1957 Christopher Hope learned to sail keel boats at Kiel in Germany while serving as a sapper with the engineers in the British Army of the Rhine.
He arrived in Canada in 1964 and has been a member of the RCYC for over 50 years. In the 1960’s Chris crewed on Sharks, & larger boats. He is currently involved with Tuesday & Thursday night race management.
Chris is a competitive KONA wind surfer. Of a summer evening you would see him surfing off the Toronto Windsurfing Club, where he is a member.
With his late wife Mary, Chris chartered over nine times in 34 – 45’ mono hull sloops, mostly Beneteaus and Jeanneaus. These adventures took them to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Australia, and New Zealand. Their first bare boat sailing trip was to the British Virgin Islands in 1978.
Chris was certified as a Scuba diver in 1992. He is a high altitude mountain hiker, a white water wilderness canoist, a snow boarder and as of last October, a blue water sailor.
Peter gave a very interesting presentation on his family as boat builders, detailing the long history of wooden boat construction in Ontario by the Aykroyds. The remarkable output over the decades is perhaps best highlighted by the Aykroyd 14 foot dinghy. Many were built and many still survive. Some are even still raced.
ABOUT PETER AYKROYD
PETER AYKROYD is one of the sixth generation of Aykroyds in Canada and a grandson of the renowned Toronto builder of fine wooden boats – George Aykroyd, “Dean of the Dinghies”.
After graduating from the University of Toronto in 1965, Peter attended Osgoode Hall Law School before switching to become a Chartered Accountant – a career that he pursued for over forty years. Peter retired as a partner of a Bay Street national accounting firm nine years ago. After a five-year absence from Toronto, he and his wife, Gillian, returned in 2014. He is an officer and director of several private corporations, including Amanti Della Cucina Ltd., an enterprise devoted to researching, preserving and celebrating the cuisines of Italy’s twenty regions.
Peter’s parents met while on staff at the Taylor Statten Camps where his father was the sailing instructor. While sailboats and sailing had been integral to the Aykroyd family since 1868, Peter became more of an avid canoeist than a sailor. Perhaps this watercraft diversion is a attributable to the fact that although he is not absolutely certain that he shares that unique Canadian distinction of being conceived in a canoe, his mother revealed years ago that he was “the result“ of his parents’ 1942 summer canoe trip.
Peter’s attachment to a family history of sailors and boat builders, surfaces in his attendance since 1997 at the Stoney Lake Yacht Club’s annual Aykroyd 14’ Catboat Regatta, where he has presented the George Aykroyd Award. For over twenty-two years he was a member of the RCYC. His role as a family archivist and historian has resulted in his co-authorship of A Sense of Place – a published 200-year account of the Aykroyd family history in Canada that includes Peter’s detailed section on the Aykroyd boatbuilding legacy and the history of the Aykroyd 14’ dinghy.
Peter has appeared on television and has been a repeat speaker on professional topics, personal development and wilderness canoeing to a number of organizations including the Stoney Lake Yacht Club and annual conferences of the Institute of Chartered Professional Accountants and the Canadian Bar Association. He is currently writing a book on his life-long passion for Italian regional cuisines.
On July 1, 2017, Peter and Gillian will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. They have two adult children and two teenaged grandchildren.
Connie Van Bussel and Bob Benner gave a very informative talk on their cruising adventures and useful information they learned while crossing the Atlantic twice in their 38 foot Cabo Rico cutter "Meredith".
The transatlantic crossing took 35 days west to east and 20 days east to west, with a 154 mile best day and a 12 mile worst day.
Recommendation: Sex on a boat is recommended only for the very young.
Recommendation: Health insurance - it's generally possible to go self-insured, as OHIP is a good geal and medical costs apart from in the USA are generally reasonable. Bob had a retinal detachment dealt with for $1847.89 -- although in the USA that cost would have been vastly higher.cost
Information: "Baksheesh" means different things in different places, ranging from flat out extortion in the Dominican Republic, to a small tip given for service. It's important to know the local customs.
Tip on provisioning: everyone takes too much food on board.
Connie and Bob offered a number of tales from various travellers: washing up after getting spray by a sperm whale, river piloting in Morocco, and a series of "fatal failures".
The "fatal failures" were instructive in how they were in fact handled:
1) A lost rudder on one boat's passage led to an $18,000 towing bill to get to the Canary islands.
2) Another boat lost use of its autopilot, lost its wind instruments, and had its centreboard broken off, yet was successfully hand steered across most of the Atlantic by its husband and wife crew.
3) The broken autopilot on another boat necessitated using its spare, which sadly ended up being another previously broken autopilot. The lesson: it's probably wiser tor replace broken with better than to take flawed spares.
4) Meredith itself found its bowsprit mount cracking and separating from the hull, and dealt with it by rigging secondary lines as stays and sailing without a foresail. Things can be managed.
1) Perce rock
2) Venice: anchor in the Burano instead, and day trip into Venice - it's beautiful and much cheaper.
3) Don't miss the Aeolian islands.
4) Vulcano and viewing night lava at Stromboli is spectacular.
5) Sint Eustatius in the Caribbean is an overlooked beauty
Recommendation: Travel with boat cards - they lend useful gravitas in dealing with bureaucracy in port.
Recommendation: Eyeglass antiglare coating is problematic as salt degrades the coating rapidly. As a wash: 3 parts rubbing alcohol, 1 part water, 1 drop detergent.
Tip: A Greek litre = 80% of an EU litre - beware when refueling.
Tip: When cooking in heavy weather, heave to.
General philosophy: "Working toward competence"
ABOUT CONNIE VAN BUSSELL AND BOB BENNER
Having raised their family of three children in Lucan, ON, home of the Black Donnelly fiasco, Bob and Connie now maintain a lock-and-leave condo in Grand Bend on the shores of Lake Huron, a unit which they have owned for sixteen months and lived in for two. During their time in Lucan they served two terms on the County School Board, two terms on the Lucan Conservation Society ending as Chairman and served as Mayor of Lucan and Deputy Mayor of the amalgamated community of Lucan Biddulph, which they worked hard to create. None of these jobs were "single person jobs" and they both invested themselves deeply of time and effort.
Connie's love has always been fine jewellery. She started Van Bussel Jewellers in Strathroy, a retail jewellery outlet with design and fabrication facilities which she ran successfully for twenty years.
Bob is a simple country lawyer who operated his sole practice of law in Lucan Ontario, their family home for twenty-five years.
Along the way these two learned how to build subdivisions, they developed two, and seniors’ developments. If you couldn't tell from the “sole proprietorship” nature of their businesses Bob and Connie will quickly agree that they do not play well with others. They are not corporate sorts of people.
Prior to 1998 the only boat Bob and Connie had ever been aboard, was the MS Chi-Cheemaun, a car ferry running between Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island. In 1998, and without consulting Bob, Connie decided that with their children moving away to university they needed to develop a new interest to fill all their newly freed up time. Also, Bob needed more exercise. So, she signed them up for sailing lessons. Then she told Bob.
At their advanced age learning how to sail did not come easy. There were a dozen days the first summer when, exhausted and disheartened, they agreed never to return to lakeside. Fortunately, they are also both stubborn and cheap: too stubborn to quit and too cheap to walk away from the prepaid lesson fees. Since then, they have crossed the Atlantic twice, sailed the Mediterranean Sea and several of its subsidiary seas, and a bunch of the Caribbean islands. They have logged 20 or 30,000 miles in Meredith, their Cabo Rico 38 cutter rigged sailboat. They don't know exactly how far – their trip log went “unserviceable” about fifteen years ago. Bob hopes to get to the repair this coming season. Their favourite sailing ground is still the North Channel, out of season. They believe the most beautiful sailing ground they have visited is the St Lawrence River which they hope to sail again in 2018.
Divers and sailors Moira and John Coulle took us along on an entertaining travelogue of their cruise down the northeast coast of the US. This expedition started in Rockland Maine where their boat had spent the winter. The talk covered their trip down the New England coast and up the Hudson River.
Sailing in New England at times requires navigating around the lobster pots, but the upside is the lobster! John and Moira described the fantastic food at a number of their ports of call.
New England is loaded with coves and harbours and peppered with artists communities. The area also features magnificent yachts, in one case highlighted by a spectacular fourth of July fireworks display.
Near Portsmouth NH John heroically (and he admits perhaps recklessly) untangled a leatherback turtle snagged in fishing tackle. Other notable wildlife included an ocean sunfish and a right whale.
Their boat, a C&C 42' racer named "Geneveve" served admirably on their cruise. Points along the way included Portsmouth YC (near which was the USS Albacore, a submarine); Gloucester Massachusetts (site of the Crows Nest bar); Salem (lots of anchored boats, and a museum tour diorama reenactment); Plymouth (where it was possible to tour a reproduction of the Mayflower); and the Cape Cod Canal (where the Geneveve hit bottom on cement mooring anchors - so not really "bottom").
Further on the way was Woods Hole Massachusetts, where it became apparent that the price to play was rising as mooring and docking prices were rising. Then, out to the Atlantic, battling a crazy current, and off to Nantucket, where a mooring ball was now $79 a night and a spot on the dock was $289.
This was the land of megayachts, and even the large (and secret service guarded) yacht of John Kerry looked small. A nice feature: pump out craft visited boats where they were moored.
The whaling museum and architecture of Hyannis were interesting, and Martha's Vineyard offered the famous Larsen's Fish Market.
Newport RI took things up yet another notch: the yacht club was nice, "The Breakers" (the historic Vanderbilt mansion) was magnificent, and the history of American high society was on display. The Fastnet Irish pub was the site of a chance pool game with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin. Fun, but don't forget to fill your wallet.
Eventually John and Moira headed through Hell's Gate, where the current and waves were intense. Passing Manhattan and heading up the Hudson to Castleton on the Hudson made for interesting story telling, especially a near catastrophe in one of the locks where the unstepped mast, lashed to the deck, snagged on the lock wall as the water was dropping.
Eventually the Geneveve headed up to Oswego, finishing the trip at Lake Ontario.
John and Moira complemented their entertaining narrative with beautiful photos -- too many to fully appreciate. Perhaps another visit to Shellbacks will remedy that.
ABOUT JOHN AND MOIRA COULL
John Coull is currently a full time Assistant Professor at The Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto. He has been teaching Film and Video production to 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students since 1974.
John was a “Certified Open Water Diving Instructor” with The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) and more recently held a Department of Transport certification “Masters Minor Water” captains license. Both Moira and John have worked part time on many of the Toronto Harbor tour boats . . . John as “First Mate” on the Empire Sandy for two seasons and owner / operator of their their own 42’ charter trimaran, “Ptarmigan”.
John and Moira have been connected with Lake Ontario Waters for over 45 years. Learning to Sail in Toronto Harbor on a 24’ K-Class Scow resulted in their moving onto Ward Island in the mid 80’s. Members of the Queen City Yacht Club for over 25 years, both Moira and John have held positions on the Board and they both contributed many volunteer hours in support of the club. Moira was active on the board for many years as the ‘Learn to Sail’ chair before becoming Vice Commodore and then, OCYC’s first Female Commodore from 1999-2000.
Moira is presently retired after a 32 year career in Telecommunications with Bell Canada. She also worked for TELUS for five years. Moira was also a certified diver.
John and Moira moved from the Island 10 years ago and are now living in Cherry Valley Ontario (near Picton). They are presently members of Prince Edward Yacht Club. They have done the ICW three times and sailed “Genevieve” to Cuba in 2001. Moira and John have now spent the last two summers sailing the St. Lawrence and the East Coast of Canada.
They shared their experience of the last three summers and focused on their favorite locations, the highlights, lessons learned, and the challenges that they encountered this past summer. Their slide show presents the beauty of the places that they were able to explore. They will describe locations that are a must see on the East Coast of Canada.
Krystyn Tully of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper (and the affiliated project Swim Drink Fish Canada) accompanied by co-workers Matt and Claire, gave an interesting presentation on what Lake Ontario Waterkeeper does, and discussed the state of the waters on which we sail.
Krystyn's work includes public liaison, mentoring, articles, talks, interviews, radio talks, and writing for such publications as BlogTO and The Huffington Post. She grew up in Oshawa Ontario disconnected from nature, and really only developed interests in nature and environmentalism while working as a researcher for the Walkerton inquiry into the e-coli contamination of the water supply of Walkerton, Ontario. In that event, municipal chlorination had been turned off, and water treatment records were falsified, eventually resulting in the deaths of seven people and illness for thousands more, some ending up permanently affected.
Those events led Krystyn to an interest in effects of water policy -- challenges, wins and losses -- and to community water literacy and advocacy. Some successes, such as the restoration of the Peticodiak River in New Brunswick, are inspirations to continue the work.
Canada's water problem is typified in such things as beach closures, and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper assists people to know the state of their beaches through its Swim Guide app, which provides information on 7000 beaches in Ontario.
Knowing what should be done is in some ways impaired because the knowledge of what the true natural state of waters was is sometimes lost: for example, the natural state of the Great Lakes disappeared before the Confederation of Canada.
Realizing that what's normal is not necessarily what's natural is a starting point. Sometimes the need is great: in Canada contamination from sewage and stormwater is largest source of surface water pollution, but that problem needs around $26 billion for the required infrastructure repairs. As our climate changes, what were considered "100 year storms" are now happening at the rate of 8 in the last 10 years. What seemed like a rarity now needs to be accommodated in standard design.
Political work is needed as well, and the Waterkeepers are now working with the current government to reverse retrograde changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act carried out in 2009-2012.
Inspiration comes from the grassroots, such as the remediation project on the Port Hope waterfront, a massive project to deal with the residues of nuclear waste. The efforts of a local housewife and an area farmer were instrumental in this work.
We as sailors owe a debt to the Waterkeepers for the protection and improvement of the waters we use for our recreational enjoyment.
ABOUT KRYSTYN TULLY
Krystyn Tully has been organizing community events and organizations since her days as a high school student in Oshawa, Ontario. She helped Mark Mattson launch Lake Ontario Waterkeeper in 2001 and serves the organization to this day.
Over the course of the last decade, Krystyn helped to organize a wide range of fundraising events and grant writing campaigns that helped to raise $2-million for Waterkeeper’s work. She also spearheaded the creation of Swim Guide, a mobile app and website that connects people to clean, local beaches as well as Drink Guide, an app that documents drinking water advisories across Canada. These apps are now used by more than 100,000 people in Canada and the USA.
Since co-founding Lake Ontario Waterkeeper with Mark Mattson in 2001, Krystyn has written or edited more than 400 articles about water and environmental policy. She has appeared before numerous municipal, provincial, and federal government committees. For four years, she coordinated a mentoring program that connected aspiring lawyers with communities facing environmental challenges. For two years, she was editor and co-host of a weekly radio program. In 2012, she wrote a series of features on beaches for blogTO and became a regular contributor to Huffington Post.
Through Ryerson University’s part-time degree program, Krystyn has received extensive education in Public Administration and Governance, with a specialization in nonprofit sector management. In October 2012, she was profiled in NOW Magazine’s “Class Action” feature.
Sally, Noel, and Diane described their cruising around the coast of Ireland in a 35' sailboat, beginning with outfitting the boat. The initial crew was Sally and Noel, and they described points along the way, including the Barrow Bridge, Waterford (Wexford), a mooring ball hangup at Youghal in a 5 kt tide, Cork, Cobh Cathedral, transit from Crosshaven to Oyster Haven, Kinsale (35 miles from Fastnet Rock), Charles Fort (where they saw a graveyard with victims of the Lusitania), and Castletownsend. The photos were beautiful.
Sally joined the cruise at Baltimore, and they visited the restored Sun Na Sead Castle, now a beautiful home. Skibbereen, Shirkin Island, Schull. and Crookhaven were stops on route, which was sprinkled with ancient signalling towers along the coast,
The striking Mizzen Head bridge at Bere Island was built to span a piece of the rugged shoreline, which was everywhere a stunning display of .the Irish coast. Final stops included Glengarriff, Skellig (its monastery being a world heritage site), Knightstown on Valentia Island, and a visit from the famous Fungie the dolphin who greets visitors to Dingle.
Wednesday's Shellbacks meeting fell on Robbie Burns Day, and as a special treat we were served a haggis along with the regular lunch. Richard Birchell performed Burns's "Address to a Haggis", with the appropriate stabbing.
For those interested in the Address, here's a link:
The Shellbacks Club will make occasional posts on this blog. If you want something added in a blog post. let us know.