Have you got an old sailboat stashed in your boathouse? If you do, Rob Mazza wants to know about it.
A passionate marine historian and a former designer for the legendary Canadian builder C&C Yachts, Mazza has embarked on this latest project with the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes in Kingston, Ont. His goal is to track down old racing dinghies, both wood and fiberglass, particularly a highperformance 14-foot design that originated as the Canadian 14 in the 1890s. By the 1930s, it had evolved to become the International 14. For almost a century, many of Canada’s top sailors have raced these sleek, fast sailboats.
When Mazza asks what happened to the boats, he’s frequently told that they were “sold into cottage country.” About 20 were even built by Muskoka’s Greavette Boat Works in Gravenhurst, Ont., better known for its sleek mahogany powerboats.
The museum hopes to create a register and, depending on the response, they may be able to offer maintenance advice. If some boats are rare, the museum may be interested in acquiring them in exchange for a tax receipt. “We hope that we can provide historical perspective to the owners on their individual boats, but also provide suggestions on their restoration and maintenance from other owners and experts in the field, or our active volunteer-run boatshop.”
The museum already has two of this class of sailboat, including the last one built by Greavette, in 1949, called Ariel and found in the U.S. “If we can encourage cottagers to hang onto and document their boats, I’d eventually like to bring them in on a selective basis,” Mazza says. “But the first step is to find out what’s out there.”
“The fact that cottagers have held onto these boats for so long means they care. The father may have held onto it because the grandfather loved it, and now the grandson says, ‘Why are we hanging onto this?’ My great fear is that someone will take an axe to it,” he adds about a prospect languishing under the cottage. If that thought has crossed your mind, take a photo and send it to Mazza at email@example.com.
This story also appeared in the Mar/Apr 2022 issue of Cottage Life magazine.