Give avid sailor Stan Elliotson of Orangeville, Ontario, a breeze and he’ll take a gust.
Elliotson, a music teacher, might be marveling today at how an idea he had for a gathering of Sandpiper 565 sailboat owners has gathered wind and grown.
Five years ago, Elliotson invited two other Sandpiper 565 owners to get together for a weekend. They shot the breeze, so to speak, and the first rendezvous was held at Parry Sound with six boats.
Each summer since that inaugural Sandpiper summit, a rendezvous has been held based from a different Ontario port. Last August, a dozen Sandpiper owners registered for the weekend-long event based at Bayport Marina on Georgian Bay at Midland. For me, a Sandpiper 565 owner since last May, it was a summer of learning. It was also one of addiction, exhilaration and camaraderie. That’s all thanks to sailing!
My Sandpiper is about 30 years old and the first time I took it out with my son Douglas we braved stiff winds and a cantering chop. We had enough courage, or common sense, to raise only the mainsail before turning back into Collingwood harbour, joining other sailors whose experience and return courses indicated clearly to us that our maiden voyage would be a short one.
We learned that “safety first” is the best course to take.
Follow up trips aboard “Wind Song” were learn-as-we-go in large measure putting into practice things we had read in how-to-sail books and magazines. In the meantime, my thirst – some might call it an addiction – for sailing had me glued to the excellent Sandpiper 565 Owners Group website. There, I enjoyed the plethora of problem-solving, experience-sharing and generally good-natured, on-line camaraderie.
The highlight of my summer was taking part in the Sandpiper Rendezvous in Midland. There, I met Stan Elliotson making beautiful music with “Wind Chime”. Other Sandpiper owners brought their trailer-sailors from points as far away as Detroit, Ottawa and Peterborough.
I was able to put faces to on-line names and my wife Nancy and I met First Mates. We found experienced Sandpiper owners most helpful, giving us suggestions about rigging and such as part of the newly-found, aquatic camaraderie. Ashore, or sailing, we had a great time swapping stories and sailing, attesting to how very worthwhile it is to join an active owners’ group, such as the Sandpiper 565 one.
Proud owners of the Sandpiper 565, which was designed for use on the English Channel 37 years ago, sailed Midland harbour and did an overnight trip to a sheltered cove at Beausoliel Island. They also enjoyed swapping Sandpiper 565 stories as well as watching the Canada Steamship Lines’ freighter, Frontenac, arrive at Midland harbour.
The Sandpiper 565 can be classified as a pocket, or compact, cruiser because of its size (18.6 feet, or 5.65 metres) and with four berths lends itself to recreational cruising and overnight stays afloat.
The Sandpiper 565 was designed by Leonardo da Costa Sayago, who was born in Portugal, but read naval architecture at Sunderland University in Northern England.
As summer continued, so did my exhilaration when sailing. In concert with my excursions aboard “Wind Song” came notes and plans for what I’ll be doing to improve my sailboat; new lines here and there, a cleat to hold a rudder line.
While the location for next summer’s Sandpiper rendezvous has not yet been decided, I am already counting the days until next mid-August.
Editor's Note: George Czerny is a retired newspaper publisher who now operates Georgian Blue Bed & Breakfast in Craigleith, Ontario