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August Moon – a classic British Columbia sailing vessel.
by John MacFarlane 2016
August Moon under sail (Photo from the Zane Dmytruck collection. )
August Moon was built by Allen Farrell. She started life without an engine or a a keel. Farrell used a huge set of sweeps to propel her when she wasn’t under sail.
August Moon looking very skookum. (Photo from the Don Cumming collection. )
Author, educator and musician, Dan Rubin owned her and sailed the whole coast extensively in her. He recalls "She is definitely one tough little ship. I have a memory of coming about, into the wind, just south of Dodd Narrows in a 45 knot gale, all the while wondering whether she would capsize, but she came about handily, rail under water, to allow me to take down the mainsail and set the jib then run with the storm down to Montague and a safe anchorage. She also once had damage to the rail when that black pirate ship that Godfrey Stephens built and which Michael Putman later owned, dubbed Pookmis, rubbed against her in a Qualicum wind while they were tied to the dock in False Bay. A friend on Thetis Island, Wayne, put her to rights that time, replacing part of the rail and cleat. So I guess she is a survivor."
August Moon detail. (Photo from the Dan Rubin collection. )
Dan Rubin recalls, "The saddest thing for me is that after fourteen years of keeping her sweet and whole, replacing the mast step under the foremast, plus the repair mentioned above and after yearly maintenance, with every winter spent under a custom tarp with heaters running in both cabins, the man to whom I sold her forgot everything I told him and left her sitting without heat for five winters, which resulted in significant rot to the cabin sides (which were plywood). Well, Chad has her now, and I think that is pure luck, as he clearly has the inclination and the skills to address the repairs she needs."
Chad Giesbrecht transits the tricky currents of Dodd Narrows under power (Photo from the Zane Dmytruck collection. )
Chad Giesbrecht says, "She looks a little rough in these early pictures. She was in a bad way when I found her, but the hull was good. This is shortly after the grounding incident.
Chad Giesbrecht and a friend along with my boy (my big Newfy dog) returning from an afternoon sail. (Photo from the Zane Dmytruck collection. )
Dan Rubin recalls, "An old timer, who knew boats very well, was passing by the docks in downtown Victoria, when she as tied up there during the Wooden Boat Festival in 1990, and commented, "That's an Allen Farrell boat, isn't she? I can tell from her beautiful sheer line." We talked a bit, and he said, "You been offshore in her? You know if you ran up a square sail on the fore, and some running backstays, you could sail her to Hawaii." I am sure he was right. Clearly he knew what he was talking about. Mongrel though she is – (Allen Farrell hull, star class keel, Bill Garden schooner sail plan) she is one strong little boat."
Identifiable from a distance by the red sails which fill out a sail plan by the late Bill Garden, an afterthought from her original construction. (Photo from the Chad Giesbrecht collection. )
Dan Rubin sold the boat to a new owner and Chad Giesbrecht bought August Moon in early 2010. She’s about 28’ on deck and displaced around five tons.. When purchased she was still a bit wet from collecting rainwater. She really wasn’t doing too well and if there hadn’t been intervention she might not have survived. She was brought to Mudge Island, sailed a bit, while Chad Giesbrecht prepared a spot in his shop for her. Then she was brought back into form.
Disaster! Whilst on her mooring, another vessel rafted up, a storm kicked up, the rafted up vessels bilge keels caught on the one inch mooring line sawed through the line. The boats wound up on the rocks, poor little August Moon taking the brunt of it with this fibreglass sailboat coming down on her. Chad was certain it was the end for her. (Photo from the Laura Sheldon collection. )
As work progressed Chad fastened a couple of pieces of 1x4 or 1x6 lumber that he on hand to the end of the bunks on the trailer just as a marker so he could see the trailer whilst it waited underwater as the tide began to recede. (Photo from the Jack Nodden collection. )
Chad reworked a trailer he had purchased to accommodate her. He had hoped to get her a bit further forward on he trailer, though after building the bunks two inches taller than he needed, he found out it was four inches too low so he had to weight down the tongue to compensate.
When I asked for more details I found the recovery was a bit more complicated. Chad recalls, "A few neighbours came out to help us get the vessels out of there. We towed them back to the marina on the island and tied up. I headed home to finish getting things in order to pull her out. We had been granted permission to tie up at the marina, though it didn’t take long before marina members started to complain. After a few days, I had a big enough tide that I could do this. I had stacked up some 8x8s on the trailer and welded some brackets in place to anchor them down (with the two uprights as markers forward, and a couple of fenders on a line aft of the trailer. I had an old Jeep at the time, so I towed the empty trailer to the barge ramp which is in the same bay as the marina. The tide was way out. I lined up the Jeep and trailer and backed up, all the while building up some speed so I could get the trailer as far out as I could out in the bay. I needed to get it into some deep water. I backed way in and got stuck. I had to disconnect from the Jeep with a jack–all and pull out the Jeep with my excavator and a long line. I was pretty pleased with myself. Now I just to wait for the 14’ tide to come up, so I headed home for some rest and to line up a couple of helpers. When I came back at high tide I saw my trailer floating in the bay! I didn’t think there was that much flotation in the wood I’d placed on the trailer. So I headed home and gathered up enough old boom chains to sink the trailer. Anyway, after some messing around we got her on the trailer, and pulled her out with my excavator, and then home with the gravel truck. The other boat managed to rest on her bilge keels on low tide while her owner did repairs."
Chad Giesbrecht’s neighbours kept working with him on things and managed to save both vessels. And surprisingly, they found that the fibreglass boat had much worse damage than August Moon. She really stood up quite well. The fellow with the fibreglass boat chased problems for months. August Moon, was pulled out of the water and put in the shop with very little apparent damage: a couple of cleats and a piece of shoe/skeg was broken. (Photo from the Jack Nodden collection. )
She was really hammered on the rocks, but she took the pounding like a champ. Chad said "I was really impressed!" (Photo from the Jack Nodden collection. )
She was pulled out with an excavator, then Chad towed her back to his place with his gravel truck, just getting her inside as the snow started to fly. Since then he’s been able to keep her pretty dry. She is a plywood hull, so keeping her dry is a good thing. He intends to make her ‘pretty’ once again. Until then she will stay inside the covered shop.
After coming ashore she was stored in Chad Giesbrecht’s workshop where he was able to carry out the necessary restoration work. (Photo from the Chad Giesbrecht collection. )
Author’s Note: Chad Giesbrecht lives on Mudge Island BC and also owns the classic Forestry Patrol vessel Silver Fir. Dan Rubin is an educator, musician, author and historian who now lives in Newfoundland. The photographs are owned by Chad Giesbrecht and Dan Rubin and and words come from them as well. I could not have prepared this article without them sharing their passion and experiences.
To quote from this article please cite:
MacFarlane, John M. (2016) August Moon – a classic British Columbia sailing vessel. Nauticapedia.ca 2016. http://nauticapedia.ca/Gallery/August_Moon.php
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