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1980’s Bras d’Or Station History

by Rod Fraser

Station Historian & Archivist 1992-1999

The 1980 Winter Meeting of the Post was held on March 9th at the home of Charles and Betty Church in Gold River.  Past Post Captain Carl Vilas and Margaret drove up from Connecticut to attend.  It was noted with sadness that Captain John Parker, O.B.E. of North Sydney, and early member of the Post had passed away on January 24th.  The condolences of the meeting were passed to his wife, Mary and daughter, Nina.

In early summer of 1980, MORNING LIGHT with John & Ann Doull, Mac & Judy Grant, Charlie & Betty Church aboard, in company with Gordon Mack in AMASEK, sailed to Bermuda and back.  Post Captain Robin Hayward spent several weeks in the Lakes, while Carl & Margaret Vilas sailed DIRECTION from Baddeck to Connecticut.  This trip was reported in January 1981 CCA News.

The summer 1981 Meeting of the Bras d’Or Post was held aboard the Post Captain’s Yacht ARIEL in Deep Cove, Mahone Bay on July 4th.  Post Secretary Charlie Church was elected Post Captain to take over from Robin Hayward who was moving to the West Coast.  With due ceremony, the Post Captain’s burgee was transferred from ARIEL to NINE DRAGONS.  Kit McCurdy was elected Secretary of the Post.

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Kit McCurdy reported in the February 1982 CCA News that Paul Rowlings spent the summer shaking down his new boat SWEET BELLE MAHONE while Post Captain Charlie Church was in the Bras d’Or Lakes with NINE DRAGONS.  John Doull was in the Northumberland Strait with MORNING LIGHT while Gordon Mack in AMASEK went west to Port Mouton.

The Post noted the passing in November 1981 of Charter Member Dr. Daniel Blain.

Of note to Bras d’Or Post members, the February 1982 issue of the CCA News reports the Cape Breton Boatyard, (formerly Pinaud’s Boat yard) is now owned by Hot Fuller’s nephew, Henry Fuller and there is also a list on page 23 of Dr. Paul Sheldon’s many cruises 1937-1975.

The 1982 Winter Meeting was held at Kit & Gretchen McCurdy’s home in February.  NINE DRAGONS and KEHAAR are planning to join the CCA Sexdecennial 4Cruise in Maine this coming July.

The May 1982 CCA News carried the news of the passing of Melville Bell Grosvenor, the Bras d’Or Post’s first Captain, at the age of 80 years.  Robert C. Seamans, Jr, recorded a fitting tribute to the life of this distinguished CCA member.

CCA News, January 1983 carried Kit McCurdy’s report of Post Activities for the past summer:

  • AMASEK – Cruise to Saint John River
  • MORNING LIGHT – Bras d’Or Lakes and Northumberland Strait
  • KEHAAR – joined the Sexdecennial Cruise in Maine. 
  • Wright & Pat Britton are wintering DELIGHT in Chester, at South Shore Marine. 
  • Past Post Captain Mac Grant is now Rear Commodore of the Florida Station.

Of interest to the Bras d’Or Post is a short history of ELSIE written by Carol Grosvenor Myers, in a letter to the Editor Carl Vilas in the January 1983 CCA New

The new pilot boat of the Strait of Canso went into service on July 31, 1982.  It was named for former Bras d’Or Post member Captain John Parker.

Rod Fraser joined the Bras d’Or Post in January 1983 and was officially welcomed by members of the Post at the Spring Meeting held at the home of Post Captain, Charles Church.

The summer of January 1983 saw Kit & Gretchen McCurdy sail their Cheoy Lee ketch KEHAAR II to the south coast of Newfoundland.  Rod and Gail Fraser cruised the coast of Maine in a friend’s boat.  Paul Rowlings traded his SWEET BELLE MAHONE for a smaller trailerable Tanzer 26.  Wright Britton and Pat worked all summer on DELIGHT at South Shore Marine.  This year DIRECTION was retired from the CCA fleet.  Carl and Margaret gave her to the Associated Marine Institute for the rehabilitation of youthful offenders.  The June 1984 CCA News reported the death of Dr. Paul B. Sheldon, SEA CREST’s skipper in January 1984 at 89 years.  Dr. Sheldon was one of the founding members of the Bras d’Or Post.

The summer of 1984 saw Carl and Margaret Vilas in their Cape boat HIGHLAND HEART join a CCA raft in Block Island and then trailer her to the Bras d’Or Lakes for a five-week stay.  John and Ann Doull were cruising with friends in Turkey, while the remainder of the Bras d’Or Post members cruised locally, enjoying the Tall Ships visit to Halifax.

The January 1985 CCA News carried the obituary of Charles W. Bartlett, a founding member of the Bras d’Or Post, who edited, published and updated the Cruising Guide to Nova Scotia.  The 1985 Summer Meeting of the Bras d’Or Post was held at Rod and Gail Fraser’s home in Chester.  There were 10 members present (100% attendance) Kit McCurdy was elected Post Captain, and Rod Fraser, Secretary.  Retiring Post Captain Charlie Church was presented with a newly published book on the History of the Canadian Navy, autographed by all members of the Post.

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The Bras d’Or Post held a Labour Day raft-up in Eastern Point Gut.  Hosts for this outing were Walter and Ruth Flower, who live on Eastern Point Island, Walter having transferred earlier from the New York Station to the Bras d’Or Post. Boats in this raft up were:

  • KEHAAR II, Kit & Gretchen McCurdy
  • NINE DRAGONS, Charlie & Betty Church
  • MANATEE POCKET, Mac & Judy Grant
  • HARDTACK, Rod & Gail Fraser
  • HIGHLAND HEART, Carl & Margaret Vilas.

A delightful evening was had by all, with the highlight being a fresh fish dinner ashore at Walter and Ruth’s restored Lunenburg County fisherman’s home.  After dinner, all hands gathered around the woodstove in the big kitchen, Carl providing accordion accompaniment for heavy singing.

In the fall of 1985, Post Captain Kit McCurdy initiated a movement to propose well-qualified Nova Scotians for membership in the CCA.  In January 1986, Post Captain McCurdy and Secretary Rod Fraser attended the January meeting of the CCA at the New York Yacht Club.  Their host was former Post Captain and CCA News Editor, Carl Vilas.

In the spring of 1986 John and Ann Doull, along with Gordon Mack, did some coastal cruising in Turkey.  Kit and Gretchen McCurdy had an early spring launching of KEHAAR II in preparation for their planned cruise to Labrador.  Following Post Captain McCurdy’s return from his summer long cruise to “The Labrador” the Post’s fall raft up was held on 20th September in Deep Cove.  Seven boats rafted together in the upper reaches of the cove and a beautiful evening complemented the refreshments and story-telling.

The Fall Meeting of the Post was held Friday 24th October at the Post Captain’s residence in Marriott’s Cove.  The highlight of the meeting was the attendance of our most senior member and former Post Captain Carl Vilas with Margaret, all the way from Brantford, Connecticut!

The 1987 Spring meeting was held at the home of John and Ann Doull.

Membership proposals went forward during the winter months and at the Bras d’Or Post’s early summer meeting at The Galley Restaurant at South Shore Marine, Post Captain Kit McCurdy welcomed two new members, Robert Downie and Syd Dumaresq.  With due ceremony they were presented with ties and burgees from the Post.

In July, Bras d’Or Post member Dr. Gordon Mack, hosted a luncheon reception at his residence on the Northwest Arm.  Guests of honour were CCA members who were participants in the Marblehead to Halifax Race.

A fall raft-up was held on 5th September at Walter Flower’s mooring in Eastern Point Gut.

  • KEHAAR II, Kit & Gretchen McCurdy
  • HARDTACK, Rod & Gail Fraser
  • AMASEK, Gordon Mack, Kay & Alan Findlay
  • NINE DRAGONS, Charlie & Betty Church
  • MORNING LIGHT, John & Ann Doull
  • MANATEE POCKET, Mac & Judy Grant
  • RESTLESS V, Bob & Joan Downie
  • SURPRISE, Syd & Sandy Dumaresq
  • MADCAP, Gordon Tidmarsh (Guest)

Carl & Margaret Vilas were shore guests of Walter and Ruth Flower’s.  After an evening meal of cultivated mussels provided by Ruth and Walter from their own mussel beds, Carl provided evening music from his famous squeezebox.  Plans were laid for a summer raft up on August 9, 1988 at Mail Box Cove on the Washabuckt River, Bras d’Or Lakes.

The 1987 Fall Meeting of the Post Was held at the home of Mac and Judy Grant, Halifax on 23rd October.  John Doull was elected Post Captain for the coming year and Rod Fraser was elected to continue as Post Secretary.


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The Bras d’Or Post’s 1988 winter meeting was held on February 26th at the home of Kit and Gretchen McCurdy at Marriott’s Cove.  Post Captain John Doull reported on the January 1988 meeting of the Cruising Club.  Problems with the aquaculture operations in Nova Scotia were discussed, as were plans for a Post raft up in the Washabuckt on August 6th, 1988.

Of interest to the Bras d’Or Station (formerly Post) was the presentation of a duplicate Blue Water Medal to the museum in Laval, France, dedicated to the history and artefacts of Alain Gerbault.  Robin Hayward of the Pacific Northwest Station (a former Bras d’Or Post Captain) in company with Carlisle Norwood, made the presentation.

The 1988 spring meeting of the Bras d’Or station was held Friday, 10th June at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.  Station Captain John Doull welcomed our newest member Michael Cassidy and made the traditional presentation of a Burgee and Tie.  The following weekend, a small raft-up was held on June 18th in Dan Blain’s Cove near West Dover.

Those present were:

  • SURPRISE, Syd & Sandy Dumaresq
  • HARDTACK, Rod & Gail Fraser
  • PALAMU, George & Elva Jollymore (guests)
  • RESTLESS V, Bob & Joan Downie
  • MANATEE POCKET, Mac & Judy Grant


The summer rendezvous of the Bras d’Or

Station was held appropriately on the Bras d’Or Lakes, at Mailbox Cove on the Washabuckt River.  The highlights were the arrival of the ELSIE under full sail and the “magnificent bar” run by Bob and Joan Downie on the foredeck of Station Captain John Doull’s MORNING LIGHT.  The bar featured the Station’s Rum Keg, gifted to the Station by Mac & Judy Grant.

Boats rafted were:

  • MORNING LIGHT, John & Ann Doull
  • HIGHLAND HEART, Carl & Margaret Vilas
  • HARDTACK, Rod & Gail Fraser
  • SURPRISE, Syd & Sandy Dumaresq
  • BLUE SHADOW, Harry Anderson
  • WIND HUNTER, Arthur & Betty Chase
  • LOON, Bob & Nancy Swiggett
  • ATHENE, Bob & Elizabeth Hart
  • GRAFIN, John & Nancy McKelvly
  • BARACOROLLE, Dave & Jane Barker
  • KIA ORA, Joe Blair (Guest)

As reported by the cruise chairman, “this memorable day ended with fireworks shot very cautiously from Carl’s wharf, to the delight of the children both young and old.

Syd Dumaresq reported on the success of Carl’s last Washabuckt raft-up.  After discussion it was moved that the Station host a cocktail party one evening on the upcoming Summer Cruise to the Passamaquoddy Bay and Saint John River. 

A 1989 winter meeting of the Station was held on 24th February at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.  A proposed cruise to Sable Island on July 1st weekend and the integration of a feeder cruise from the Bras d’Or Station to the National Summer CCA Cruise on the Saint John River were discussed.

The 1989 the spring meeting was held at The Galley Restaurant at South Shore Marine.  It was reported that permission had been obtained to land on Sable Island.  Kit McCurdy volunteered to work on the organization and logistics pertaining to the cruise.  Station Cruise Chairman Syd Dumaresq reported that the station would host the raft-up in Big Cove, Washademoak Lake on July 26th.

On May 16th a meeting was held at Station Captain John Doull’s Halifax residence.  The main purpose of these meeting was to firm up plans for:

  1. June raft-up in the bight of Pig Island, Prospect, NS.
  2. Sable Island Cruise, 1st July weekend
  3. Cruise to join the National CCA summer cruise in the Saint John River.

The highlight of the meeting was the superb meal served for the members by Ann Doull.

A meeting was called on June 27th by the Station Captain to finalize plans for the raft-up we were hosting at Big Cove, Washademoak Lake on July 26th.  Much discussion ensured over whether to spend $400.00 of Station funds for a Brass Band to provide music for the raft up!  The June 10th cruise to Pig Island was rained out so was rescheduled for fall.  The Secretary reported that Harry Anderson was leaving for “The Labrador” in BLUE SHADOW on July 1st.  The cruise to Sable Island boiled down to a one-yacht expedition.  PALAMU, a Fisher 37 ketch owned by prospective CCA member, Dr. George Jollymore, carried a crew of Gretchen and Kit McCurdy, Rod and Gail Fraser, Gordon Tidmarsh and Captain George Jollymore to an all-day shore exploration of Sable Island on July 1st.  An account of this voyage is chronicled in “The Log of PALAMU Voyage to Sable Island:” held in Station Archives.

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The Bras d’Or Station feeder cruise to the National Summer Cruise included overnight anchorages at the Tusket Islands, Brier Island and Grant Manan Island.  Yachts on this cruise were:

  • SURPRISE, Syd & Sandy Dumaresq & family
  • RESTLESS VI, Bob & Joan Downie
  • HARDTACK, Rod & Gail Fraser
  • PALAMU, George Jollymore & Bruce Keddy (guest)

The boats joined the National Cruise in Head Harbour, Campobello Island, thence to Saint Andrews in Passamaquoddy Bay.  The cruise headed to Saint John and up the River for a lobster dinner at the Royal Kennebecasis Yacht Club.  The Bras d’Or Station hosted the raft-up in Big Cove on the Washamadoak Lake serenaded by the Station’s $400 Brass Band.  Cruise Chairman Syd Dumaresq sailed the Station labelled wine to the party as SURPRISE had a malfunctioning engine at this juncture.  A grand party ensued which culminated when cruise chairman Dumaresq aided by pyrotechnical expert Bob Downie mounted the fireworks display from SURPRISE’s tender.  The launch pad was insecure due to the difference in weight and nimbleness of the launches.  The launching bucket for the initial rocket tipped slightly just at the time of lift off, resulting in a flight trajectory that narrowly missed totally dismasting Commodore Rothschild’s yacht at the first set of spreaders.  Oops!

John Ross’ report of the party in the December 1989 CCA Cruise stated that “The Bras d’Or Station deported itself with elegance and distinction”.

The Bras d’Or Station Fall Raft-up at Pig Island took place on Labour Day weekend 1989, under bright, sunny skies.  Eight boats rafted.

  • AMASEK, Gordon Mack, Findlays, Charlie & Betty Church
  • MORNING LIGHT, John & Ann Doull
  • MANATEE POCKET, Mac & Judy Grant
  • RESTLESS VI, Bob & Joan Downie
  • HARDTACK, Rod & Gail Fraser
  • SURPRISE, Syd & Sandy Dumaresq
  • MADCAP, Gord & Liz Tidmarsh (guest)
  • PALAMU, George & Elva Jollymore (guest)

The Annual Business Meeting of the Station was held November 3, 1989 and Station Captain John Doull called for reports from the officers.  Of particular interest was the report of Station Cruise Chairman Syd Dumaresq’s detailing the Sable Island and National Cruise.  The election of officers saw Rod Fraser assume the position of Station Captain and Syd Dumaresq that of Station Secretary.

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