|Ea-Gull Turns 50
by Andy Leeksma (W3104)
Sent: Sunday, January 22, 2023 2:41 PM
I met Sue and some of her Wayfarer friends at the boat show yesterday as I was admiring the Wayfarer there at the Parallel 45 booth. I was inspired by that encounter to document a point-form synopsis of a 50-year Wayfarer relationship:
When I was 15, my father, completely out of character as he was no 'sportsman', asked me if we were to purchase a boat, should we buy a motorboat or a sailboat? Our family had absolutely no background in boating so this was a surprise. My reply was, as we're not into fishing we'd likely soon tire of a motorboat; so probably we should go with a sailboat.
That winter we attended the boat show and come across the Wayfarer display and decided that was the boat for us. It was purchased from Abbott (for about $3500 as I recall) and delivered from Sarnia to our North York home in the spring. We arrived home that afternoon and discovered it in the driveway without a single instruction on how to rig it.
Al's note: I ultimately created such instructions which can be consulted at
We had no prior sailing experience, so my father borrowed a sailing book from the library and we put W3104 together there in the driveway. My mother decided on the name Ea-Gull, taken from a short poem by Ogden Nash about a seagull that wished he was an eagle. Appropriately enough, my father purchased a British Seagull outboard as 'insurance' to get us back to port if all else failed.
We launched for our inaugural sail in Frenchman's Bay and got as far as the channel leading out onto the lake before doing a U-turn (not exactly sure how that was accomplished) after deciding that was enough for the first time. My father had a work colleague who had sailed in his youth and he joined us on a few occasions. We trailered the boat to various public launch ramps within a couple of hours of Toronto over the next few summers, and for the winter, the boat was parked in the back yard under a homemade cover.
We eventually tired of the constant trailering and rigging for each use so we joined the Outer Harbour Centreboard Club where we sailed for a few years. The Wayfarer spent a few years parked in my parents' double garage in Oakville while I was in university with little time for sailing. After graduating, I worked as an engineer for IBM, where I met my future wife, Alexandra, who had a family cottage on the Severn River near Gravenhurst, Ontario. As coincidence would have it, Alexandra had taken a sailing course at Harbourfront and then purchased an old Albacore on a trailer for $400
just before we met. We spent time at the cottage refurbishing and it looked good, but the sailing on the river only a few hundred meters wide in front of the cottage sucked.
When the family cottage was sold, the Albacore went with it as its trailer had disintegrated and we no longer had anywhere to keep it. Meanwhile, the Wayfarer which my parents had sold me for $1000, was still patiently waiting in Oakville. Alexandra and I decided to join Toronto Sailing & Canoe Club as it had a great Wayfarer fleet and the fees were reasonable. We trailered Ea-Gull behind my Ford Fiesta to the club, rigged a spin and went racing weeknights. During this period we attended a few Wayfarer events including Nationals in '82, '83 and '85 (I checked the dates as we still have the glasses) but being largely self-taught we were consistently at the back of the fleet. Names I remember from those days are yourself and Julia, Mike and Darlene Codd, George Blanchard, Hans Gottschling and Rick and Sue Goldt.
We also did a couple of 'cruises' in the Wayfarer, once launching from Thunder Beach near Midland a few days up to Parry Sound, and a second time launching from Killarney across the North Channel to Little Current and back - setting up a tent on islands and under the boom tent both times.
We participated for a few years at TSCC but then babies intervened, and the logistics became too difficult. We eventually let our membership lapse and the boat went back into hibernation in Oakville.
As our kids, Aric and Amelia, got older we enrolled them in the junior club at National Yacht Club when a neighbour who was a member there volunteered to drive them to and from the club. Sailing clicked with the kids and they both progressed over many summers from CANSail bronze through gold and on to the NYC race team in both 420s and 29ers. Both the kids became members at National YC, so eventually Alexandra and I joined, helping chaperone the NYC race team to Canadian youth champs as far afield as Edmonton and Halifax. We also took them to mid-winter regattas and training in Florida for several years. Both Aric and Amelia qualified as CANSail instructors, and eventually Ea-Gull was transferred to National, joining the dinghy fleet there. But NYC is not a particularly dinghy-friendly place (no dinghy racing program) so the Wayfarer got very little racing use there. W3104 was trailered to Algonquin for a couple of family camping trips on Opeongo and also to Killbear on Georgian Bay.
Aric and Amelia eventually aged out of youth sailing. Wanting to keep the family engaged in the sport together, Alexandra and I looked around for a boat that would keep them interested in sailing and would accommodate all four of us. We needed a smaller keelboat that wouldn't inhibit us from purchasing a cottage which by this time was also one of our priorities. Eventually we found and purchased a year-old J70 in Rhode Island that we imported into Canada, and which we sail every Wednesday evening at National. All four of us also sail club-owned 420's in the NYC 420 club every Thursday evening. That keeps our weekends free for the cottage.
We ended up transferring the Wayfarer from National to the cottage on Eels Lake between Apsley and Bancroft north of Peterborough. Ea-Gull is happy at the lake as we use it regularly on weekends, introducing neighbours and visitors to the cottage to sailing.
Amelia turned her passion for sailing into a career -- she's worked for many years now in the front office at National as the club's Program Manager and is an Ontario Sailing Learning Facilitator (she trains and certifies dinghy instructors for OSA).
I've attached a picture of the boat on Eels Lake. Aric pointed out yesterday that the boat is now 50 years old! And it still looks and sails great!
That chance inclination of my father when I was a teenager turned into a lifelong involvement in sailing.
P.S. It was fun recollecting this bit of personal history and documenting it.