Film explores the life of B.C.’s oldest sail boat

Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Sounder News

Monday, December 31 2012

Filmmakers Tobi Elliot and Kate Bradford are documenting the restoration and story of the oldest sailboat in B.C. as Gabriola artist and wooden boat restoration expert, Tony Grove (seen below with Dorothy in June of 2012), returns her to her racing prowess.
Tobi was first roped in by Dorothy when she saw the boat at Tony’s studio on the Thanksgiving Studio Tour. She wasn’t looking for a story, but when she saw the boat, Tony’s work and learned the 115-year history of the 30-foot racing vessel, she knew she needed to document it.
“Between Wood and Water” focuses on more than just the restoration work Tony is doing for the Maritime Museum of BC.
“We aren’t just talking about the restoration of a magnificent boat,” Tobi said, who moved to Gabriola in October. “We are talking about all the people who have loved her and poured their time, energy and resources into keeping her proudly afloat. It follows a theme of personal sacrifice in the context of giving to something greater than us, and how that can change us, and how ultimately, what the things we choose to invest in say about us.”
Tobi said she and Kate had abundant research materials available to them and have spent many hours poring over logbooks dating back to the 1910s, accounts of her adventures up and down the B.C. coast and stories from previous owners, including correspondence between Dorothy’s original owner, WH Langley and her designer Linton Hope in England.
Tobi calls Dorothy a “heartbreaker” because of the pleasure yacht’s tumultuous life on the coast.
“Several times she was brought to peak condition by one of her 11 owners, only to be sold to someone who didn’t understand the level of care wooden boats need, and let her fall into decline. Three times she almost perished because of abandonment or neglect. Once you’ve invested that much time, you feel really attached and don’t want to see anything bad happen to her.
“One owner said that selling her was like giving a daughter or a member of the family away.”
The film will also explore B.C.’s maritime history and feature interviews with Tony and some of her previous owners. Tobi and Kate are currently in the pre-production phase. They have shot a trailer, which is available at www.dorothysails.com.
“One of the most interesting things about Dorothy is how a boat of that age has lasted that long. She is made of old-growth cedar, fir, oak and some teak, and at least 50 per cent or more of her materials are still original. So there’s a bit of a mystery as to how she could last for over a century when she was several times subjected to neglect, abandonment, bad repairs, and even once was set on fire by vandals! She should have decayed far worse than she has, but for some reason she hasn’t and is still capable of sailing for another 100 years if she’s kept up properly.”
Filming will begin in March 2013 as Tobi and Kate follow Tony’s journey to repair Dorothy so she may continue to sail the sea for generations to come.