The Qualicum Beach Legion will be packed with ancient — and not so ancient — mariners on Sunday as veterans gather for the annual Battle of the Atlantic service.
The Battle of the Atlantic saw 25 Canadian ships take 1,243 sailors to a watery grave, along with 63 merchant navy ships and 1,629 lives. With the provisioning of fortress England at stake, winning this battle was crucial to the eventual triumph of the Allies.
The service, slated for 11 a.m., will feature John Dyson, the son of a man who served in the battle, sharing his family’s experience during those dark days.
Following the service, local dignitaries will lay wreaths at the cenotaph.
• The weekly Summer Wednesday Evening Fun Racing program left the dock at Schooner Cove Yacht Club on April 24.
Fleet captain Richard Hudson reports that six boats, ranging in size from 6.4 metres to 12 metres, started the race in light airs and smooth seas.
“The sailing conditions were excellent for this kind of event, which takes boats around an easy-to-sail course among the beautiful islands off Schooner Cove Marina,” he said. “
The summer Wednesday evening fun racing program is not aggressive racing. In fact, while it is usually difficult to tell who wins.
“That is not really the motivation for these races,” Hudson said. “The sailors in this program participate simply to be on the water for a nice evening sail with other boats — and to relax afterwards with the camaraderie of their fellow sailors.”
The participants range from cruising boats whose skippers and crew are not experienced in racing to more experienced racers. Several of the boats are cruising boats whose skippers crew on more dedicated racing boats.
“Although the wind became very light by the end of the race, making it challenging for some boats to reach the finish line, the sailors who participated had a great sail,” Hudson said.
Meanwhile, the club held the first of the single handed races, a series of three races in spring, summer and fall for boats sailed by one sailor alone.
“This is a test of boat handling for the skippers, who have no crew to blame if things get out of hand,” Hudson said.
The first race in the series ran Sunday April 28.
The course was a leeward-windward course, taking the boats from the start line outside Fairwinds’ Schooner Cove Marina around Amelia Island, round Ruth Island, back round Amelia Island and again around Ruth Island before finishing off Fairwinds’ Schooner Cove Marina.
Four boats entered the race, which was sailed in variable winds of 5-15 knots. Light airs are a benefit for single handed racing as the challenges of setting sails in stronger wind are avoided.
Brian Robinson took first place in Flight, followed by Andrew Rycroft in his new 28 foot boat Obliquity in second place and Bill Walters at the helm of Rambunctious was third. The next two races in this series are in June and September.
• Time is running short to get ready for the 11th annual Marine Swap Meet at Independent Marine Supply Store on Highway 4A in Coombs.
Vendors, representatives and customers alike from all over Vancouver Island will flock to Coombs on Saturday, May 11.
The event has become known as a great place to pass on old treasures or find new ones.
The event kicks off at 8 a.m. and runs to 3 p.m.
• The B.C. Ferry Queen of the North isn’t sitting all alone on the bottom of Grenville Channel in British Columbia’s Inside Passage. She has company.
That company comes in the form of the U.S. Army transport ship General M.G Zalinsky, which went to the bottom near the site of the more recent wreck in September of 1946.
That’s a bit of a problem, because the ship, built in 1919, was loaded down with bombs and oil when she ran into the rocks of Pitt Island.
Although her crew of 48 was rescued safely by a tugboat and a nearby passenger steamer, that load of unexploded wartime ordinance stayed on board and remains there to this day. In 2003, the ship began leaking oil into the waters of the channel.