by Gordon Clay

The Centennial Sailing Club was born on the waters of the Pitt River on Jan. 1, 1971 – the BC Centennial Year.  About 35 keen sailors came out with their sailing dinghies to celebrate the event.  There were Enterprises, Little Admirals, Sabots, Flying Dutchmen, OK Dinghy, to name a few.

From that moment on, the CSC had about 3 events each month throughout the summer and went on to travel to places like Tsawwassen and West Vancouver and Jericho Beach to enjoy their sport.  They also took part in major dinghy events such as VIEW ’73 (World Enterprise week) and Jack Holt Regatta at Jericho Beach.  In 1976 the club expanded to include cruising boats as well, but unfortunately many dinghy sailors disappeared from the scene and CSC became mainly a cruising boat club.  By 1980 the dinghy fleet almost disappeared so I began a junior sailing fleet as a sub-section of CSC at Barnet Marine Park where Little Admirals were available for programs.

After a few years, we realized that Burnaby Marine Park was not a very safe or convenient place to train young people, so Roel den Dryver proposed taking the boats to Port Moody andS continuing the programs there.  At first, Roel begged, borrowed (and stole?) wooden sabots and stored them on a trailer which he brought to Rocky Point Park each Monday after school.  It was a lot of work to rig the boats and get the young sailors in the boats so Roel simplified the program by getting permission to store the boats in an unused shed in the park.  Now that we were an active presence in the park, Port Moody gave us the use of another unused shed closer to the launching ramp and Mr. Dave Harris of Reed Point Marina gave us a large (50’ X 15’) float on which to store the boats and equipment.  This worked much better, but now the boats were subject to vandals who came down in the evenings and damaged the boats.  So we separated our float from the Port Moody docks by about 20’.  The vandalism ceased and the boats were much safer.

About this time, Como Lake Sailing Club was forced to cease their programs on Como Lake so John Barltrop of Parkland School donated their wooden and fibre-glass boats to our program at Rocky Point Park.  The fibre-glass boats reduced our maintenance programs greatly and our programs continued to grow.  We now realized that the boats could be used to invite school children to Rocky Point and learn how to sail.   Rod McVicar volunteered to help build a canoe float so some of the school district canoes could be stored with the sabots and canoeing added a new dimension to our programs.  The district sail and canoe programs became very popular and other adults volunteered to assist with the programs.

These other adults now helped with the boats.  Now Roel discovered that the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club had their 10 420 training boats for sail for $1000 each.  We decided to take a look and Roel proposed that we buy the entire fleet!  Our bank account at this pint was only about $2500  but RVYC liked our plan of developing an active training program so they offered the 10 boat to us for $5000.  Great!  Now we were only $3500 short.  But after taking our results to Mayor David Driscoll of Port Moody, the City loaned us the $3500 and we had a fleet of tired 420’s!

 How do we get them to Port Moody?  The cruising fleet of CSC were sympathetic to us so they offered to fetch them to Reed Point Marina where we would take them over and repair them in Port Moody.  This move was happily accepted and on a rather blustery day in April the 420’s were towed to RPM needing even more repair as many of them had capsized on the way.  Many hours and days were used to get a fleet of 5 420’s ready, but we finally got 5 420’s busy and sailing on the bay.  The addition of the 420’s also made it possible for our adult members to use the boats in club programs so we could all enjoy sailing in Port Moody.

Of course, we now realized that we needed a dry and warm place in which to repair the boats, so much of our time was occupied with exploring and trying various ways to repair the boats.  Some went to member’s homes for repair and others went to local business owners who loaned us space in the back of their shops.  Eventually this led to the concept of having a dedicated building for developing and running our programs.  By this time, we had formally split from CSC and formed a new organization – ROCKY POINT SAILING ASSOCIATION.  By 1995 we were making good progress in our plans and Port Moody was assisting us with our ideas.  By 1998 the new Mayor of Port Moody, John Northey, had arranged to have a new building built for us.  He acquired the huge frames of the saw sharpening building of Flavelle Cedar in Port Moody and after having the beams and trusses re-engineered for $20,000, these became the shape of our new home – THE OLD MILL BOATHOUSE –  a home for all small non-powered boats in the area.  Under Dave Driscoll’s guidance, plans were completed, and the building opened on July 2, 2002.  We now had a home for sailing, rowing, canoeing, dragon boating and other small boat organizations as well as a large repair and storage bay on the lower level.

RPSA programs for schools; summer; adult; race team; juniors; were all very good and there was always activity around the OMBH.  The 2020 Pandemic has presented some very serious challenges, but I am sure that we can rise to the challenge and see our way through.