The Schooner Cove Yacht Club kicked off the boating season with their annual Bay Pursuit Race on Sunday as sailors took to the water under bright blue skies and a brisk northwesterly wind.
Peter Milne reports the race involved five boats setting off from Schooner Cove to the bottom of Northwest Bay and back, with most of the boats choosing to make a colourful spinnaker start.
The 12-mile race ended in a photo finish for the first three boats, with line honours taken by Brian Robinson and crew on Flight, followed by Tim Rann on Amazing Grace in second. Third place was secured by Island Fling, skippered by Ralph Hunter.
All the race boats returned to Schooner Cove in time to join the Club’s annual Sail Past to honour its Commodore, Ron Davis, and to mark the beginning of boating season.
At least 30 boats, including eight power boats and 22 sailboats participated, one of the largest turnouts in the club’s history.
“It was a spectacular sight to witness all the boats parading past the review boat, Offshore1,” Milne said.
The first race of the Wednesday Night Race program kicked off on May 4.
“These races are strictly for fun,” Milne said, “They are a great opportunity for sailors to get out on their boats or to crew for a few hours in the evening when the days are long.”
• After three years of behind the scenes negotiations, the B.C. Marine Trails Network Association is finally gearing up to announce the completion of the longest water trail in the world.
The system of kayak campsites is expected to attract paddlers from around North America and the world.
The plan will be unveiled by members of the association and the Government of B.C. in Ladysmith during the annual Paddlefest celebration on May 14.
Wreck of the week
When the SS Tararua went down on April 29, 1881, it became known as the worst maritime disaster in New Zealand history.
The 222-foot passenger steamer was on a voyage from Dunedin to Melbourne, Australia on a dark, moonless night when, just before 4:30 a.m., the captain turned west, thinking the ship had cleared the southernmost point of land. However, a short time later the crew heard breakers and, at 5 a.m., an hour later the crew heard breakers close at hand.
Attempts by the captain to steer out of danger were to no avail and at 5 a.m. the ship struck Otara Reef.
The captain launched a lifeboat, which took a volunteer close enough to shore for him to swim for it and he raised the alarm. A farmhand rode 56 kilometres to Wyndham to telegraph the news, but the message wasn’t read until 5 p.m. By then, it was too late.
By noon of that day, six passengers tried to swim for shore, but only half of them made it. Other attempts also failed. The ship took over 20 hours to sink, and the last despairing wails of the victims were heard at 2:35 a.m.
Of the 151 passengers and crew on board, only 20 lived to tell the tale.