‘Very big honour’: SV Dorothy, B.C.’s oldest registered sailboat, nominated for international award

'Very big honour': SV Dorothy, B.C.'s oldest registered sailboat, nominated for international award
Photo: Janelle Huopalainen
SV Dorothy in 2023.

The oldest B.C.-built sailboat calls Vancouver Island home, and its owners are seeking votes from the public in hopes it’ll win an award recognizing crews’ hard work restoring it to its former glory.

The century-old SV Dorothy, a 30-foot sailing yacht built in the 1800s, is currently moored in Ladysmith and is a part of the Victoria-based Maritime Museum of B.C.‘s collection.

“Dorothy is the oldest B.C.-built, registered sailboat still sailing,” according to the museum.

Earlier this month, staff announced the boat was up for a Classic Boat Award in the Restored Sailing Vessel under 40 feet (12.2 metres) category. They say the awards are organized by “the world’s most prestigious yachting magazine” Classic Boat, so to be nominated is something to celebrate.

“She was built here in Victoria. She’s been in B.C. waters for her whole life, and for the past 10 years, we’ve been working on a refit for her,” said Brittany Vis, the museum’s executive director, in an interview Monday.

For about a decade, artist and shipwright Tony Grove and a volunteer team at the Ladysmith Maritime Society, led by historian and boatwright Robert Lawson, had worked on “extensive refits,” which Vis says are now complete.

Private donors helped it all come to fruition, says the museum, which has more information about the project here.

The boat is currently at the Oyster Bay Marina, where the museum has “a volunteer crew working on keep her maintained and spruced up,” said Vis.

“She was just launched in the water last spring, and she’s just been nominated for this international award, which is very exciting.”

SV Dorothy’s connection to the past is impressive.

According to the museum, W.H. Langley was the boat’s first owner from 1897 to 1944. Langley had it designed by Linton Hope, and it was later built in J.J. Robinson’s boatyard at Laurel Point before being raced in local waters.

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(SV Dorothy in 1897 in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Photo courtesy of UBC Archives – Uno Langman Collection.)

The boat represents a “cherished living celebration of traditional sailing,” added the museum.

Vis says it’s important to remember its history because “just like any other object, it’s a tangible connection to our past that helps to understand…what our history is, where we’ve been and how we can move forward.”

“They help us understand our maritime past, connect with that past and work towards what the future might be,” she added.

Soon, the boat will make another big splash.

“We are making some plans to have her out at various festivals coming up here in the spring and summer, and she’s going to be at our Classic Boat Festival on Labour Day weekend coming up,” said Vis. “She’s going to make a big appearance.”

In the meantime, the museum is hoping people will cast their vote for the SV Dorothy to win the Classic Boat Award.

But competition is “fierce,” it says, so people are encouraged to ask their friends to vote too. Seven other boats are vying for the win, and people can vote via the Classic Boat Awards 2024 website.

“It’s kinda the top award of its kind in the world, so winning it would be a very big honour,” added Vis. 

People can vote here.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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