Sailing boat

Dick Scott

Inducted by Stan Chambers  
  • When I was asked to be the person to Induct Dick Scott, the first image to come to mind was of the five Scotts arriving at the club in the 1950s to go for a sail. You could set your clock on their arrival, no matter what the weather.
  • Dick Scott was born in London, England, in 1914, “within the sounds of Bow Bells”, which would technically make him a Cockney. Orphaned at an early age, Dick was raised by his maternal grandmother, who brought her extended family to Hamilton in 1920. Life was not easy, especially during the Depression, and Dick was forced to quit school after Grade 8.
  • He started out as a carpenter working for his uncles, but soon became a crane operator at Dofasco. With the advent of WW2 Dick tried to enlist in the Navy, but was told to return to Dofasco, since steel production was crucial to the war effort.
  • Though not from a nautical family, Ryan and Larry remember their father as always being “drawn to the water”. In the midst of the Great Depression, Dick and a close friend built their own sailboat. Scavenging wood from an abandoned dock, and utilizing cast off cotton for sails, they built the boat from mail order plans. They had no money, so when the plans arrived, the two immediately traced the drawings, and returned the original plans for a full refund! The sails were cut in the middle of the street using the crown of the road to provide the shape.  With his marriage to Vera in 1940, Dick felt obliged to sell the boat, and embark on the important responsibilities of raising three sons, and establishing his own business. Dick took that latter step in 1947 with the start of R.A. Scott Wood Products, falling back on his original training as a carpenter.
  • In 1955 Dick returned to sailing, but this time with his young family, purchasing a new Morris One-Design, a 19’ clinker built center-boarder.
  • The family joined RHYC in 1956 and kept this boat in the Inner Basin.  Ryan recounts sailing overnight to Port Credit with his father for a regatta. After getting lost, they resorted to going ashore to knock on doors for directions! Ryan admits that there may have been some Crown Royal involved that night to stave off the cold.
  • With regard to boats, and everything else in his life, Ryan and Larry remember that for Dick there was no “mine”. It was always “ours”, referring to the whole family.
  • Dick had always admired the beautiful Six Metres that were the top racing class on the Lake in the late 1950s and early 60s, with Merreinto, Gallant, and  Johan of Rhu already at RHYC. So, when Johan of Rhu became available in 1960, Dick bought her, selling the One-Design, and transferred the family to Johan.
  • Merreinto, Gallant, and Johan of Rhu were soon joined by Hugh Brown’s Stork, then Totem, Bibis, Circe, Starwagon, and Titia, all sitting on moorings in front of the club. RHYC soon had the largest 6-Metre fleet on Lake Ontario, hosting many regattas.
  • Sixes were open boats with no berths, no life lines, no life rafts, no galley, no head or engine or electrical systems, no house or any offshore amenities and safety equipment at all. Despite that, it was not uncommon back then for Sixes to enter the “short course” of the overnight Freeman Cup race.
  • Hugh Brown wrote about such a Freeman Cup race back in 1961 – “…the wind was south easterly giving us a dead buck from Port Credit to Rochester. Stork had a fired up crew who placed a bet with the Johan of Rhu gang for a bottle of rum. After pounding into seas all night we were happy to see the finish line in the early daylight hours. All alone we crossed the line as the gun sounded. We believed we were the first boat across. As we sailed past the yacht club, our excitement quickly vanished. There, outside the men’s showers stood Dick Scott dressed in a towel. “Hey, Hughie, the grog shop is just up the street”, Dick announced gleefully!”
  • With regard to the Sixes, Harry Penny, a Six Metre sailor himself, wrote: “There are more tales to be told about 6-Metres and 6-Metre sailors than there are pages in this book. About the dock parties before the races, especially the one at RCYC the afternoon/evening before the North American Championships in 1962. We drank a lethal concoction of Guinness stout and Canadian Champagne, called Black Velvet. Or, still, at the posh RCYC having exciting bicycle rides down the diving board into the swimming pool! …….And what 6-Metre sailor can forget the incident between Titia and Johan of Rhu. On a gusty evening, Titia crossed the line too soon and was called back. Returning on port tack, the skipper failed to take account of the angle of heel as he passed too close to Johan, who was on starboard and already driving for the weather mark. We watched as the two masts came violently together with the inevitable result – chaos and dismasting, Every skipper and crew can tell ten more such stories; they are endless and perhaps all the better in the re-telling.”
  • In the latter days of the Sixes, Dick and Vera started sailing with Fred and Bertha Overend in their CN-35 Allegro, which was probably their first exposure to real cruising. That is, exposure to a boat with substantially more amenities than found on your average 6-Metre!
  • By this time, the fiberglass Racer/Cruiser was becoming popular on Lake Ontario with the newly established C&C Yachts leading the way. After a short family stint in Solings, Ryan bought a C&C 27.  After the sail of Johan, Dick soon followed with the purchase of a new C&C 30. In the back of his mind was the thought of sailing this boat to England, returning to the land of his birth. But his sons soon convinced him that a 30’ boat may not be the best choice to cross the North Atlantic. Thus negotiations started between Dick Scott and Erich Bruckmann of the C&C Custom division in Oakville. Erich knew and respected Dick, because Dick had delivered boats for Erich, including a C&C 61 for Herbert von Karajan.  
  • Thus, in October of 1974 the Scott family took delivery of an unfinished C&C 43. “Little more than a shell with a bulkhead or two to hold her together”, says Harry Penny. Utilizing the skills of the Custom Shop’s Joe DePonte on evening and weekends, Larry put in over 1200 hours to finish the interior, installing the mechanical and electrical systems, and installing all the deck hardware. It should be pointed out that this was the only boat that Erich Bruckmann let out of his shop in an unfinished state. So it speaks well of his confidence in Dick to finish the boat to the C&C level of quality.
  • Christening the new boat Long Reach, she was launched on May 15th of 1975, and immediately set off on her year long voyage - installing stanchions and lifelines on the way! On July 1st Long Reach departed Sydney, NS, for Plymouth, England. Aboard for the trans-Atlantic passage were Dick and Ryan Scott, RHYC sailors Gord Mitchel and Ron Jones, and Bob Moss and Sandy Andrews of National Yacht Club.
  • “Before they sighted the lights along the coast of Ireland on July 16th, they had experienced everything the North Atlantic could throw at them - fog, storms, cold, driving rain, gale force winds, and monstrous 45’ waves.” Two days later they were in Plymouth. Dick flew home, and Sandy Andrews joined the crew of Dynamo for the Admirals’ Cup racing, and Ryan’s wife Jill joined the crew.
  • From Plymouth Long Reach crossed the channel to France, working her way to northern Spain, then along the Portugal coast on her way to Gibraltar. Larry and Susie joined them there, bringing another much needed crew member, Heathcliffe – an Auto Pilot. Heathcliffe made their life much easier, and quickly became a trusted member of the crew. At this point Ryan was doing all the navigation, all self-taught with sextant and RDF.
  • On November 8th, Long Reach cast off from Gibraltar with Ryan and Jill, Larry & Susie, and Sandy Andrews aboard, heading to Tangiers, the Canary Island, then across the Atlantic to Barbados, where they arrived 2700 miles and 15 days later. For six straight days and nights they flew the spinnaker, until it blew out in a morning squall!
  • Alternating different family members, they cruised Long Reach through the Caribbean, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, up to the Bahamas, then to West Palm Beach, their first North American landfall in over 10 months.
  • On their way north to Moorhead City they were forced into Charleston by bad weather. On June 9th, they entered New York Harbor to continue up the Hudson River on their way home. After unstepping the mast they entered the Erie Canal, where hitting deadhead severely bent the prop shaft, substantially slowing their progress.  With grim faces they limped into Oswego, where they restepped the mast and set off under sail for Hamilton in light headwinds, arriving 48 hours later.
  • Ryan’s log records that “Early in the evening of June 22nd Long Reach tied up to the club’s front dock more than a year from her departure, a little tired looking, but just as sound as the day she was launched. She had carried us many thousands of miles, not always in comfort and serenity, but always in perfect safety. Out on the Bay the evening races were just about to begin, and occasionally someone would call out “Welcome back Long Reach, have a good trip?” It seemed at that moment as though nothing had changed, and yet, everything had changed”.
  • That epic voyage did not end Dick’s wanderlust. At 65 he was soon planning an excursion to Australia, on a “lets’ just do it” basis! On this voyage they got as far as the Bahamas, but a distinct lack of enthusiasm from his sons for the Australian adventure put a damper on that, so Long Reach returned to Hamilton.
  • In 1984 Long Reach set off again for a voyage south, this time to Bermuda and the Virgin Islands.
  •  Long Reach would stay in the Scott family for over thirty years, until she was reluctantly sold in 2005, two years after Dick’s death.
  • Dick Scott started life with very little, but through determination and hard work, made his way up in the sailing world by first building his own boat, then buying and racing a local one design, before acquiring the magnificent 6- Metre Johan of Rhu, and then acquired and finished the legendary C&C 43 Long Reach, aboard which he and his family embarked on their amazing deep water voyages. He provided adventure and opportunities for his sons, and was part of the fabric of RHYC for over 60 years.
Rob Mazza
Chair, RHYC Heritage Committee