A 125-year-old sailboat known as ‘Dorothy’ will set sail once again off Vancouver Island

Maritime Museum of B.C.
The sailboat known as Dorothy will glide over Vancouver Island waters once again after a decade-long restoration.

A well-travelled sailboat that once won Queen Victoria’s birthday regatta at the turn of 20th century will be back in Vancouver Island waters following a decade of restoration work.

The sailboat dubbed “Dorothy” — a nine-metre, 125-year-old vessel — was once the flagship vessel of the Victoria Yacht Club.

“She was beautiful and graceful, and moved like a rocket,” said former owner Angus Matthews, who sits on the board for the Maritime Museum of B.C.

In addition to winning the queen’s birthday regatta in 1900, the ship is also notorious because its former owner claimed to make the first sighting of the “Cadborosauraus” — a creature of lore believed to frequent the waters of Cadboro Bay — in a sworn affidavit a few years later.

After she was acquired in 1995 by the Maritime Museum of BC, the sailboat began undergoing a rebuild in 2012 by a master “ship whisperer” on Gabriola Island, according to BC Ferries.

“As I worked on Dorothy it became clear that she was ‘overbuilt’ to some extent which has factored into her longevity,” said shipbuilder Tony Grove. “With the restoration work done, and some regular maintenance Dorothy should have a lot of good years ahead.”

On Tuesday, Dorothy will enter a new chapter of her storied career as she’s towed back to Ladysmith to eventually be made available for day trips.

Because it’s been 20 years since the vessel has touched water, BC Ferries says it will need a week in dock to allow planks to expand before sailing.

“The closure of the shipyard on Gabriola offers no good options to launch which is why BC Ferries is needed to get the boat to the big Island where Dorothy will travel by land to Ladysmith and her temporary port of call,” BC Ferries said.

The Maritime Museum hopes to eventually find the vessel a permanent home in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, finalizing its return to the place Dorothy first drew admirers more than a century ago.


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