Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Boat

The Old Y in 1967
There are certain sounds that  remind you of just one place. For me its the rattle of shrouds on a boat in the wind. That sound always makes me think of growing up at the lake and old family boat.

Back in the 60's the old man bought a boat for the family. It wasn't a high powered speed boat or anything  flashy like that - it was a variation of an inland lake scow known as a Y-flyer. With its wide beam and flat bottom the "Y" was a great combination of stability and speed, the kind of boat that you could easily take your friends out for that first sailing experience, or race competitively on the weekends. As a family boat it was ideal. You can fit a lot of kids on a Y-flyer and its natural stability made it a forgiving boat to learn on.

Dad wasn't the only one at the lake with a Y. In the 70's they were a popular racing class and come Sunday mornings we could easily see 10-20 Y's jostling for position at the big orange marker in front of our cottage. Sailing races were part of the growing up culture and lake conversations in those days revolved around the fancy new spinnaker that so-and-so just bought and who made the best snacks at the post race coffee parties.As kids we all learned to tack and gybe before we could drive a car and any one of us could differentiate between a bowline and a reef knot.
In the 70's the Y-flyer faced competition from smaller, nimbler, easier-to-rig boats such as the Laser and the windsurfer. Y-flyers tended to  heavy side which made their launching and storage a group activity as well as being awkward to right in the event of a capsize. A blustery day in 1975 nearly wiped out the fleet during an interprovincial regatta. By the eighties the Y-flyer numbers were in serious decline.

Our own Y was sold in the early nineties only for the reason that it was becoming a chore launching it every spring and hauling it up in October.  My brother bought the boat back after a few years - perhaps he missed the rattle of the rigging in the wind - only to find out that to properly refit it the entire deck would have to removed. The project daunted even his considerable talents and so the old Y was donated to the local sailing club. To replace the Y-flyer he found a used Laser-II at a firesale price which is a fine boat in itself but not something that's comfortable to sit in. We kept a lookout for other Y's to buy but the boat had become scarce and nothing was appearing in the local ads that looked interesting.

Fast forward to a year ago. We saw a notice on a community centre that some guy had a Y-flyer for sale, about the same age as our old boat. We gave him a call and  were pleasantly surprised to find a boat in very good condition. The thing had hardly been used and was being stored indoors. My brother was so impressed that he bought it staightaway and sent me some photos showing off his new catch. Apparently she sails as good as she looks. I'm already looking forward to next year, to hear once more the sound of a boat with so many memories attached to it.

The New Y in Action


H. Nizam said...

Hi PJ,

What an interesting story about your experience growing up with the Y Flyer.
Sorry but I lost you, is it a Yacht?

pj said...

Glad you liked it. A Y-flyer is not really a yacht. It's more what we call a scow - a boat with a flat bottom.
Yachting is a pretty large classification of boats used for recreation. Its a bit strange- I would call the Y a sailboat but the sport is called yachting. Yacht typically have a cabin or cuddy. Sailboats do not.