RVYC WW 1 Roll of Honour
The RVYC WW I Honour Roll was prepared by Ben Temple in 1918 to commemorate the 81 members who served in the 1914-18 war. Over the next four years we are planning to memorialize these men by learning more about them and their families using photos, newspaper articles, letters, diaries and documents. Depending on the amount of information available we will prepare biographies which can be added to our archives records, published in the Mainsheet and put on the YC website. We know there are people missing from the original honour roll, and there are members who served but joined RVYC after 1919.
We need your help. If you have any information that would help us tell the stories of members who served please contact Curatorial Committee member Don Reksten , or 250.419.1518.
Royal Victoria Yacht Club in the Great War
"A Century of Sailing" by the late Terry Reksten was published in 1992 for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. In these excerpts from the book, members who served in WW 1 are featured. Also noted is the effect the war was having on the yacht club activities.
Biographies for many of these members will be placed on this website over the next few months as research is completed by the Curatorial Committee.
Signal flags on the Roll of Honour
Many thanks to those who replied to our request for information on the message indicated by the signal flags on Ben Temple's Roll of Honour. The best explanation came from the crew of SV Massilia in Vancouver. The Readshaw family takes its signal flags seriously and the research by 'Signals Officer Matthew' confirmed that the message is the one hoisted by Admiral Nelson
March 8, 2015 from the Readshaw family
Your appeal for assistance in the Mainsheet has caught the interest of the crew of the SV Massilia. We have an avid interest on board 'Massilia' in the use of signal flags and carry onboard a full set of flags as well as both the 1932 and 1969 International Signal Code flag books. We regularly communicate with fellow sailing vessels by flags. You may or may not know that the 1932 code book, which predates the advent of radio on ships at sea, contains a full suite of conversational signal hoists. Needless to say the advent of radio at sea eliminated the need for conversational hoists. The answer to your query, however, lies in an even earlier code book, the 1917 code flag book which was likely the operational code book at the time that the Roll of Honour was created, and until the adoption of the 1932 codes.
On examination you will find that in 1917, what is now known as the code flag for 1, was in fact the code flag for C. If you then translate the superior hoist then the three flag code at the top, which today reads: M 1 W translates to M C W, which if you then go to the 1917 code book, in the General Codes section means: England. The second superior hoist: M N 1 then translates to M N C which in the conversational code translates to Expects and so forth. Further, code flag 4 used to be code flag F and code flag 3 used to be code flag E.
The RVYC History is therefore correct. The full hoist series does in fact translate to Nelson's hoist. You should know, however, that in 1917, there was a conversational signal hoist for DUTY. At the time of the Battle of Trafalgar, Royal Navy codes, which were all number flags with specific conversation meanings in specific numerical combinations, did not have a signal hoist for DUTY, therefore Nelson's signaller spelt out DUTY in the clear.
John Readshaw, Sailing Master SV Massilia
Matthew Readshaw, Signals Officer, SV MassiliaMichael Readshaw, Supercargo, SV Massilia
Laurie Readshaw, Admiral, SV Massilia
Roll of Honour Biographies
The biographies and related documents are displayed in the "fireplace corner" of the Main Lounge in framed panels. The information was obtained from numerous sources; a list can be obtained from the Curatorial Committee Archivist. Where information was obtained from a book or private documents the source is listed in footnotes for each biography.
The Great War from the RVYC Archives
The following are articles from various sources in the YC archives collection. These sources include the vertical (or clipping) file, “A Century of Sailing”, minutes of the Executive Committee and correspondence files.
Starting with January 1916 new selections will appear in this section each month.
It was reported in the January 1916 issue of “Pacific Motor Boat” magazine that John Arbuthnot had presented to Lady McBride his yacht “Tannis” to be sold to raise money for the Red Cross. Here is an excerpt from “A Century of Sailing”, p. 86:
Of the contributions made by individual members, the most public was John Arbuthnot's decision to donate the Tannis to a patriotic cause. Built in 1907 at a cost of $15,000, the Tannis was fifty feet long and recognized as being a "staunch sea-boat," one of the "most commodious and speedy pleasure yachts on the coast." At the outbreak of war, amid rumours that German warships were lurking in west coast waters, Arbuthnot had offered the Tannis to the Navy. For a year she was used as a patrol boat, protecting the waters off the entrance to Esquimalt harbour. When she was returned to him in the summer of 1915, Arbuthnot turned her over to the premier's wife, who agreed to use her to raise money for a patriotic cause. Lady McBride and the Red Cross hit upon the idea of holding a raffle. Tickets would be sold for a dollar, and, given that the Tannis was so well known along the coast and around the Sound, the raffle was expected to raise at least $10,000. "I am sure that everyone in Victoria will be pleased to hear of this truly magnificent contribution to the Red Cross fund," Lady McBride noted encouragingly. "I am confident that we shall secure a very handsome amount from the proceeds of the sale." But after a campaign that lasted more than five months, only half the tickets had been sold and the Tannis raised a mere $5,114. However, Arbuthnot's generosity did have the effect of prompting similar actions in others, including the Rithets who donated their almost new electric car and Fitzherbert Bullen who offered his palatial motor yacht I'll Away as prizes in similar raffles.
Former commodore John Arbuthnot raised money for the cause by donating his boat Tannis as a prize in a lottery. [Rochfort coll]
Daily Colonist 28 Jan. 1916
Daily Colonist 15 Feb.1916
Daily Colonist 8 Feb. 1916
Daily Colonist 24 March 1916
Daily Colonist 9 March 1916
Daily Colonist 9 April 1916
Daily Colonist 16 April 1916
Daily Colonist 5 May 1916 - J.J. Shallcross and G.A. Kirk were RVYC members
Daily Colonist 2 July 1916
Daily Colonist 17 September 1916
Daily Colonist 1 February 1917
JOINS INLAND WATER TRANSPORT
Mr. T. Beauchamp Tye, a native son, and one of Victoria's prominent business men, has joined the Inland Water Transport of the Royal Engineers, and will leave here with the draft tomorrow night for England. Mr. Tye has been with the Hickman Tye Hardware Company for the past twenty-one years, and he is giving up his position as secretary in that concern to offer his services to his country.
Mr. Tye is another one of the many loyal citizens of Victoria who feels that it is his duty to give his services where they will be of the most value. The Inland Water Transport has opened up an opportunity for many to serve who were not adapted to military service for one reason or another, but sinoe Sergt. W. H. Fry opened his recruiting office for this unit he has been besieged by a great number of Victoria's most prominent citizens who were anxious to do their part.
If it will serve as an example to influence some of the younger men of the city to join up, it may be mentioned that Mr. Tye is a married man with a family of four, and the fact that he is giving up a good business position should also have its due effect in moving some of those who have much less responsibility to do their bit.
Mr. Tye has had many years' experience with gasoline engines, having operated a boat of his own here. He is a member of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club and the Victoria Golf Club. He is very well known in the world of sport, taking a keen Interest In all that pertains to out-door life. In cricket and football his attainments as a crack player are well known. Mr. Tye has a host of friends in Victoria who will be sorry to see him leave the city, and he carries with him the best wishes of all for a safe return.
An article in the 24 June 1917 Daily Colonist illustrates the generosity of club member W. Fitzherbert Bullen. Bullen was a local shipbuilder (BC Marine Railway Co.) and club member from 1896 to 1917. “I’ll Away” was a 37 ft. yacht built with no regard to cost.
The caption for the photo of “I’ll Away” reads:
The drawing for this palatial yacht, the “I’ll Away”, donated by Mr. And Mrs. Fitzherbert Bullen, will take place during the performance of “The Caliph of Baghdad” at the Royal Victoria Theatre on Thursday evening July 5. The vessel has been valued at $4000. A cash offer was made for it of $2,700. Tickets are selling rapidly and those anxious to take a chance and help along the work of the Red Cross are urged to purchase their tickets before they are all gone.(The complete article is at http://archive.org/stream/dailycolonist59y169uvic#page/n9/mode/1up )
On 6 July 1917 it was reported that Mr. Ian Alcock, First Officer of the government steamer “Gabriola” had won the raffle for the “I’ll Away”. The raffle raised $6800 for the Red Cross.
The Curatorial Committee
The Curatorial Standing Committee consists of volunteers –a Chair and at present 3 archivists – dedicated to preserving the history of the Club. The committee manages an archives to:
a. collect and preserve materials which illustrate the growth and development of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club
b. classify, index, catalogue, and safely store all materials deposited therein
c. make materials available to club members and researchers
d. increase knowledge, understanding, and awareness of the RVYC to members and the public
e. prevent loss of historically significant material by providing adequate and appropriate conditions for storage, protection and preservation of archival material
The RVYC Archives was established in 1989 to gather information for "A Century of Sailing", the yacht club history published in 1992, the centennial year. Archives collections include photos and artwork, newspaper clippings, files and documents related to events and club business, plans, audio interviews, videos and DVDs, membership lists, boat records, trophy records, obituaries and biographies, meeting minutes, newsletters, and annuals. There is a small collection of artifacts, but there is no formal provision for a museum.
Donations of archival material are welcomed under conditions spelled out in the Gift Donation form which must accompany every acquisition.
The Committee meets once a month and members are assigned to various projects. Volunteers are always needed.
50 years ago in the Mainsheet
We will select items from “The Mainsheet” from 50 years ago every month and post them here for your enjoyment.
The Sinking of the Enterprise in Cadboro Bay
A member of the Underwater Archaeological Society of BC has contacted us about the sinking of an historic ship close to the yacht club. He writes:
“For the past several months I have been researching a ship named the Enterprise - an article in the attached document (UASBC PDF) outlines the ship's narrative. Long story short it collided with another vessel in 1885, and its remains lie somewhere in Cadboro Bay (probably underneath the moored boats outside the RVYC). Numerous searches have not been able to locate the wreck (I find this unusual).
This is a bit of a long shot, but I figured that documentation may be extant within the RVYC's archival repository relevant to the Enterprise. It is known than the remains were historically visible at low tide - I figure that maybe someone enjoying some sun and fun at the RVYC saw the wreck once, and mentioned it, which may have made its way into the Club's room of dusty papers. Then again, maybe my hypothetical curious sailor never existed, and no mention of the wreck is in the archive.”
Here is the article describing the Enterprise and its fate.
Designed by Geoffrey A. Heal in 1921. Heal was a member of RVYC 1914-16 and 1932-50, and a good friend of Arthur Crease. Plans are dated Nov. 1921
20 foot Sailing Boat for A.D. Crease Esq.
Length O.A. 20’-0”
Length W.L. 17’-9”
Displacement 2.89 long tons
Loon was constructed in 1922 by John Robinson (res. 2425 Cranmore Rd., Oak Bay BC – extant) at his boatyard on the Inner Harbour. Her auxiliary power was a 4 hp Kermath until 1952 when a 6 hp Easthope was installed.
AD Crease sold Loon to NA Tomlin in 1952 and after December 1952 she was owned by four YC members. Member Rob Denny owned her from 1963 to 1978. He restored and modified her and cruised her extensively with his family which included 3 children. The engine, a Universal Bluejacket Twin, was removed and replaced with an outboard.
It was reported in the Jan. 1968 Mainsheet that Rob had “done a very remarkable job” of rebuilding the fine model of Loon and it was mounted in the Chart Room where it still resides.
She was owned by various people between 1978 and 1990. She was then for sale at West Bay Marina for $10,000.
In 2005 N Ryan, daughter of Dr. George Robson who bought Loon in December 1952, reported to a RVYC member that she had seen Loon for sale in 2000 for $17,900 at the Oak Bay Marina.
In the fall of 2001 current owner Ben Lavigne bought her through a friend who moored her at the Blue Peter Pub in Sidney. In spring 2002 he moved her to Oak Bay Marina. He has displayed her at the Victoria Classic Boat Show every year except 2015.
Plans by Geoffrey Heal Nov. 1921
Certificate of British Registry 20 Feb. 1928 (Year built 1922)
BC Archives F-08821 1961 RVYC Annual – undated photo
1966 RVYC Annual - Rob Denny in Loon
January 1968 RVYC Mainsheet – Loon model
1973 RVYC Annual – R Denny article and photo of Loon
RVYC Yacht List – to 1964 (prepared c1990 by RVYC Archives/C. Caple)
1948 PIYA regatta at RVYC
Richard Kenton has brought to life a home movie that his grandfather Fred W. Francis took when he was an RVicYC member (1948-76). The event was the week long PIYA Regatta which ran from June 28 to July 2. The week was filled with races for all types of sailboats and power boats. RVicYC hosted the regatta which was attended by some 200 boats from Bellingham, Everett, Seattle and Vancouver yacht clubs. "Local newspapers treated the regatta as the social event of the year – running full page features, including photographs of visiting yachtsmen lounging around the club." (A Century of Sailing, 1992).
Kenton has posted the seven- minute video on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7X7-2-DvF0k&feature=youtube for everyone to enjoy and hopefully add some more background to this historic movie. Kenton has tried very hard to identify classes and boats and has cleverly inserted question marks in the video hoping that someone will provide the missing information. Please have a look and contact us at if you can provide any information at all for this event.
In the process of assisting Mr. Kenton with his inquiry, we contacted Ian Sherwin who's been a member since 1944. Viewing the video, he recognized himself sailing in his Sunray 15' dinghy! There is another connection. In Ian's words, "The name Kenton brings great memories of Flying Officer Ken Kenton....the war having ended, discharged from the Royal Air Force, coming to Victoria, and married to another old friend's daughter...the old friend was Fred Francis". Ken Kenton was Richard's father who passed away a few years ago in Germany where he lived for years.
Thanks to Richard Kenton for adding to our club's history. It's an example of what makes volunteering on the Curatorial Committee so rewarding.
The wheel from HMCS Rainbow
The wheel has been mounted above the Main Lounge fireplace since the 1920's. HMS Rainbow was an Apollo class light cruiser built in 1891 at Palmers in England. She was the seventh in line to carry the name and served in the British Navy from 1893 to 1910. The first Rainbow was launched in 1586.
In 1910 she was acquired from Britain as one of Canada's first two naval vessels (the other being HMS Niobe), following the passing in parliament of the Naval Services Bill which created the Canadian Navy.
Representative of its class it grossed 3600 tons, was 300 ft. (91 m) in length, 44 ft. (13 m) in beam, 16'6" (5 m) in draught, had a maximum service speed of 20 knots and carried a complement of 273.
To the Admiralty Rainbow was obsolescent, but to the infant Canadian Navy it was to prove useful as a training ship and patrol vessel.
Virtually all her Canadian service was spent on the west coast, prior to the 1914-18 Great War as a patrol vessel to harass American fishermen poaching within the three-mile limit, and during the Great War cruising as far south as Mexico, training men and searching out enemy supply ships.
In 1917 HMCS Rainbow began her paying-off period, and in 1920 she was sold to Nieder and Marcus of Seattle for conversion to an ore carrier. With her went the wheel. Apparently officials at Esquimalt realized the wheel's historical value and on being approached by the then Commander-in-Charge, the firm returned, free of charge, the ship's wheel from the emergency steering position aft. The "wheel" actually consisted of three separate wheels mounted on a single shaft so that extra hands could be closed up in heavy weather. Esquimalt received the three wheels with one ending up in Ottawa at the Canadian War Museum, one in the wardroom at HMCS Naden, and after a few years lying about Dockyard, in 1925 one was given to the yacht club.
Inscribed on each wheel, in gold letters on a white background, were the battle honours garnered by previous warships of the same name. The yacht club wheel (the forward one of the three) has inscribed: Frigate Hancock, 1777 (captured from the Americans), and Hebe (a 40-gun French frigate captured in 1782).
The wheel was first mounted above the front door of the clubhouse where it began to weather badly; someone then repainted it; the around 1930 Bev Acland and Cliff Adams brought the wheel indoors, scraped the paint, varnished it, and mounted the wheel above the fireplace.
1. 1967 RVYC Annual, "Twelve spokes and twenty knots", Don Taylor
2. F.V. Longstaff, Major, Maritime Committee of the BC Historical Association; 11 May 1929, "Rainbow" information prepared for RVYC
The Lipton Cup
Sir Thomas Johnstone Lipton, 1st Baronet, KCVO (1848-1931) was a Scotsman of Ulster-Scots parentage who was a self-made man, merchant, and yachtsman. He created the Lipton tea brand and was the most persistent challenger in the history of the America's Cup. Sir Thomas Lipton was a supporter of international yachting in many ways besides his participation in the America's Cup.
The full name of the trophy is the Sir Thomas Lipton Perpetual Trophy (should not be confused with Seattle Yacht Club's Lipton Trophy).
Victoria's Lipton Cup and RVYC1
In December 1912 Sir Thomas Lipton was visiting Victoria and staying at the Empress Hotel. He was impressed with Victoria and British Columbia and their potential as assets to the British empire, and also the potential for Victoria becoming a centre for international yacht racing. Once the Panama Canal was open in 1915 he could see the possibility of sailing his Shamrock III to Victoria. The Colonist reported that "it may be taken for granted that when the next regatta of the Victoria Yacht Club comes around, there will be a Lipton Cup". Sir Thomas did present a cup, but he donated it to the city rather than the yacht club. (He also donated Lipton Cups to Seattle and San Diego.)
In an effort to promote the yachting scene the city chose to support a maritime Carnival Week in August 1913. RVYC was asked to take complete charge of all water events. It was hoped by the club that this would be a chance to revive competition amongst Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria yachtsmen.
Just before the carnival was to start a cable was received from Sir Thomas Lipton informing the Carnival Committee that the cup could not be completed in time for the carnival. A sketch was posted which would have to suffice for presenting to the Lipton Cup race winner. The race was sailed with very light winds and was won by Spirit I of Vancouver.
The city decided to abandon the idea of sponsoring maritime festivals and in December 1913 deeded the Lipton Cup to RVYC.
For 1914 the club invited yachtsmen from Vancouver and Seattle and other clubs around Puget Sound to participate in a two-day regatta in July. Walter Adams on Truant became the first Victoria winner of the Lipton Cup.
By 1920 yacht club activities were beginning to rebound after the Great War. The Pacific International Yachting Association (PIYA) was formed and Cadboro Bay was chosen for the first post-war race for Victoria's Lipton Cup. Truant was the only Victoria entry and the Seattle Yacht Club sailed away with Victoria's Lipton Cup.
In the 1925 regatta it was "Doc" Harper's heavy displacement Fayth that reveled in the 40 knot winds and was the second Victoria boat to win Victoria's Lipton Cup.
Between 1921 and 1966 (except for 1932-34 and 1941-46) Victoria's Lipton Cup has been won by RVicYC, Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Seattle Yacht Club and Corinthian Yacht Club. The cup since 1969 has been for RVicYC PHRF racers and awarded to the winner of a 12 mile race off the Victoria waterfront.
The races for the Lipton Cup
The Lipton Cup was deeded to Royal Victoria Yacht Club in December 1913. The intention was to award it to the winner of future international races hosted by the club. But the Great War prevented any regattas being organized between 1914 and 1918.
Between 1919 and 1940 the Lipton Cup was for a longer distance race among "two-stickers" – yawls, ketches and schooners with LWL of 25 to 40 ft. (7.6 m to 12 m) - at PIYA2 regattas. After WW II the race for the cup was at the Maple Bay Labour Day Regatta among CC of A-rated B and C class cruisers. In 1967 RVicYC reverted to having the cup competed for off the waterfront on a course of at least 12 miles (at the Maple Bay Regatta George Pearkes donated a new Lieutenant Governor's Trophy). Between 1972 and 1983, IOR rated boats competed; since then, PHRF rated boats have contended for the cup.
1 Excerpted from "A Century of Sailing", T. Reksten, 1992
PIYA -Pacific International Yachting Association
CC of A – Cruising Club of America
IOR - International Offshore Rule
PHRF – Pacific Handicap Racing Fleet
L. Ron Hubbard and the cruise of the Magician
A member of the Bremerton Yacht Club is researching a summer 1940 trip by L. Ron Hubbard on an auxiliary sailboat between Seattle and Ketchikan. The purpose was to assist the US Navy Hydrographic Office with ensuring the inside passage coast pilots were as accurate as possible - the prospect of war with Japan growing rapidly then. His route included a stop at RVicYC (no record in YC documents); the route is shown on the maps shown below.
The researcher has a number of photos taken by Hubbard the location of which he would like to identify. If you like a bit of photographic detective work and want to test your powers of observation please have a look at the following images. When you look at them you will see that they are a type of stereoscopic view. Contact if you think you can ID any of the photos.