Here is a picture of Pathfinder taken by Jim King in the 1970s when she was in Gananoque area. I came across the photo reading an article “More Nostalgic Vessels”, by Tom King, Thousand Islands Life.com, Mar 13, 2011.
[Photo: Pathfinder in Gananoque are in 1970s. Source J W King Photography Collection, used by permission of Tom King.]
And both Pathfinder and Playfair are coming back to Thousand Islands again this summer. [thanks to Thousand Islands Life.com for promoting the program for us]
SAILORS Wanted: Come sail with us in Thousand Islands in Course 1 and 2 of the 2012 Summer Program. This is perfect for teenagers age 13 to 18 that are looking for an extraordinary summer adventure – making new friends, meeting exciting challenges, learning new skills … a traditional sailing experience.
There will be many unscheduled stops throughout the Thousand Islands area depending on the wind and weather and where we can arrange dockage, water and dump out that can accommodate our ships that are 70 feet long with an 8 foot draft.
The Details of each course in the 2012 Summer Program are provided at the Toronto Brigantine website. http://www.torontobrigantine.org/summer-program/schedule-and-fees/
Sign up today for your tall ship adventure through the Thousand Islands or the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay.
Toronto Brigantine Inc 413-215 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON M5T 2C7
Registered Canadian Charity 11926 5924 RR0001
Special events create a great opportunity for trainees to experience other elements of the marine experience. Here are Some examples of naval battle reenactments that Toronto Brigantine has participated in over the years:
1966: Mike Leigh remembers that Playfair participated in Simcoe Reenactment with Bill Michel as Chief Officer of Guns, the Guns from Fort York. Sheraton College Arts College did an attack on Fort George.
1971: Doug Hunter and three other TBI officers participate in four legs of HBC’s Nonsuch‘s journey across Canada.
1975: the boats participated in a reenactment of the Battle of Sackets Harbor, America’s first major engagement during the War of 1812.
2003: It was the launch day of “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” was released on DVD. The location was Toronto Harbour, where Pathfinder and Playfair played out a mock sea battle. It aired on Discovery Channel’s show Daily Planet. Gord Laco was technical director on Master and commander: The Far Side of the World and appears in HBO First Look (TV series documentary)in The Making of ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World’ (2003)
In 2005, the boats participated in a reenactment at Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown NY.
In 2012, the boats are going to participate in the 1812 Squadron and an reenactment of 1812 battles at Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL). The 1812 Squadron will meet up on the afternoon of July 14 in Toronto, before sailing off the next morning for NOTL.
Playfair with Old Fort Niagara at Youngstown in the background. Pathfinder was there too.
Toronto Brigantine Inc
413-215 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON M5T 2C7
Registered Canadian Charity 11926 5924 RR0001
Jurgen Braunohler remembers sailing Playfair in reenactment of Battle of Sackets Harbor, Summer 1975:
The following week I found myself aboard Playfair. While some cruises went eastwards through the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River, all of mine went well out into Lake Ontario. I’m only guessing that as a petty officer in the making, the more challenging stuff was deliberately
being thrown my way.
At any rate, a boisterous, overnight passage took us around Prince Edward County to Cobourg, where we had shore leave. We also lowered the topsail yard to work on it, an involved operation. [Drawing of Lowering the topsail yard of Playfair, by Jurgen Braunohler]
Then we sailed east in nice weather, through the Murray Canal into the Bay of Quinte and on to Kingston. [Drawing of View of Playfair, by Jurgen Braunohler]
We dropped anchor in Presqu’ile Bay for the night before motoring through the canal, where we had a game of rigging races: to see who could climb to the fore masthead and slide down again the fastest.
The nice weather followed us through the Bay of Quinte and once more I was busy with the leadline and other things. I generally preoccupied myself with every job I could find. Petty Officer Bruce Hunter called me his leading seaman and the role pretty much stuck to the end. On passing Belleville, we had a little drama in waiting for the bridge to swing open, as we sped before a fairly good breeze. The horn was blown and all hands were ordered to stations. But that bridge opened in the nick of time, with traffic backed up in both directions. Sightseers lined the rails, snapping pictures as we stormed through, our lower yard arms just clearing the bridge girders.
We sailed all night to Kingston and on our departure from there, headed through fleets of dinghies preparing for the sailing Olympics the following year. Boisterous conditions greeted our beat out into Lake Ontario, to Main Duck Island, were we anchored for the night.
Departure came very early the next morning, along with an unusually thorough clean-up on deck, as we headed for Sackets Harbor, New York. Pathfinder could be seen scudding along to weather, off our starboard quarter, with Galloo Island in the distance. Both ships sailed into Sackets Harbor, where we re-enacted the War of 1812 Battle of Sackets Harbor, the first major naval engagement of that conflict. We had very little wind for this and when it died altogether, had to motor along slowly and just look like we were sailing. Then Playfair’s engine quit, so we wound up being towed by Pathfinder.
Aside from that, the effects of the re-enactment were startlingly realistic. First of all, the booming cannon fire from shore, from several guns. Even though none of it was real, it felt just slightly disconcerting having cannon aimed at one’s ship. Groups of locals armed with muskets crowded our decks and returned fire. The noise notwithstanding, the concussions or shockwaves that assaulted our ears caused enough pain that we shoved wads of cotton in our ears. Then the drifting battle smoke nearly obscured the large spectator fleet that surrounded us. But I could still just make out fire control parties on shore stamping small grass fires.
Somewhere, someone must have been shooting off firecrackers, for the air was full of shrieks and whistles. It certainly scared the fish, for a large one jumped right out of the water and landed with a colossal splash almost right next to me, as if it was a cannon ball! Up to this point we had not been doing very much, just handling sails as needed. That was about to change.
In 1812, the British squadron from Kingston (which we represented) was repulsed by American defences. Those included a battery of cannons on shore, as well as the brig Oneida, using it’s own broadside battery from a moored position. When the British, led by HMS Royal George, suffered damage, they retreated. Therefore, it was our job to look like we had lost. To that end a small fire was
lit in a metal bucket on Pathfinder’s deck, to send up some smoke to show we were beaten. But that fire got a little out of control and melted the bucket. Soon, officers prancing around with fake swords were now dashing about with fire extinguishers. Our own officers soon yelled at us and now we chanted “Heave! Heave!” in unison as we hauled on the towline to come alongside and render assistance.
But before we got there, someone on Pathfinder grabbed an oar from a dory and used it to fling the bucket overboard.
After a long shore leave, during which the entire town turned out to celebrate and we were the guests of honour, we got underway just before midnight. Although we could have sailed, time was of the essence to get back to Waupoos on time, so we motored. With our engine still broken, that meant that Pathfinder towed us all the way home. It was a long night watch from 12 to 4, with little to do, but not free of incident. While crossing the shipping lanes in foggy conditions, I had to give a yell when a large freighter crossed our path at high speed, requiring evasive action. Aside from my nerves, all was good. I was also not tired anymore.
[Years later, Jurgen writes about the “Battle of Sackets Harbor” for the Flotilla Newsletter. The article is provided here: