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Canada’s oldest sailboat is restored, to be back at sea after 20 years

Dorothy has gone through many adventures during its 125 years of life. After decades in which it could no longer operate, this priceless jewel in Canada’s sailing history is getting ready to finally be back at sea, where it belongs.

Dorothy’s life could inspire novels and movies. Built in 1897, it won the 1900 Queen Victoria’s birthday regatta, and its first owner claimed the first official sighting of the Cadborosaurus, a mythological sea monster. Dorothy witnessed the World War I and was engulfed by flames in the 1940s. But it survived all of that, and went through the hands of multiple owners, and several repairs.

The sailboat’s destiny took a turn ten years ago. The Maritime Museum of British Columbia had acquired it in 1995, and in 2012 it was shipped to Gabriola Island, where an expert would kick off its restoration process. Tony Grove is a shipbuilder and an artist who first saw this historic vessel at the Classic Boat Festival in Victoria, where he was a judge. Grove provided a temporary home for this classic yacht, while the museum gathered the funds required for the restoration.

It took ten years, but it was worth it – Dorothy is now ready to return to its original home, where it will conduct daily trips for visitors. The Museum hopes that Dorothy will continue its long life at the Victoria Inner Harbour. Until then, it first needs to be reacquainted with the sea, after two decades of being away from it. The sailboat will head back to Vancouver Island, where it will temporarily be in the care of the Ladysmith Maritime Society.

BC Ferries, which transported Dorothy to the Gabriola Island ten years ago, will also be taking it to Vancouver Island this year. In an interesting interplay between the old and new generations, this 125-year-old yacht will be transported onboard an innovative hybrid-electric ferry.

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