History

1992 Memories

In 1992, six youth received instruction from a professional shipwright to build a 38’ traditional longboat from the 18th century. This boat, Vitalité, was then used for a month long educational residential program for 24 young Canadians from across the country at Discovery Harbour. Curriculum included seamanship, sailing and rowing skills, navigation, rope work and leadership development. This group of youth then traveled to an international program in France to demonstrate their newly acquired skills in a friendly competition. This event led to ACC hosting the event in Canada in 1994 and provided the catalyst for the GB ’94 Marine Heritage Festival.

 

1993 Memories

In 1993, 40 volunteer youth and adults began construction of a second Bantry Bay longboat at Midland Secondary School. During the summer, local youth from the Midland – Penetanguishene area participated in weekly instructional programs with Vitalité, the first boat at Discovery Harbour.

 

1994 Memories

In 1994, the second longboat, Tenacité, was launched, and 30 participants from across Canada and international youth from Mexico, Japan, Puerto Rico and Australia registered for the residential program at Discovery Harbour. This group then acted as hosts to youth from seven other nations who attended the demonstrations of seamanship which acted at the catalyst to create the Marine Heritage Festival GB ’94 at Discovery Harbour.

 

1995 Memories

In 1995, 55 local youth along with 15 students from other provinces participated in weekly educational program at Discovery Harbour throughout the summer. In addition, a two week expedition was undertaken through the Trent – Severn Waterway to Peterborough. ACC also received a gift of a Block Island Cowhorn, a replica 23’ traditional American sailcraft from the 1800s. The craft, The Lester F. Hall has proven to be a valuable asset to our organization and has been used in several movie shoots.

 

1996 Memories

In 1996, 30 youth from across Canada participated in a five week international program in Bantry Bay, Ireland. This is home of the original French longboat was captured 200 years ago and used in the Atlantic Challenge. This program saw the use of both longboats, Vitalité and Tenacité, for training and competition. It also offered an excellent opportunity for the youth to interact with the culture of the local community and youth from other participating countries. In preparation for this, both longboats had maintenance and repainting completed by ACC over the winter months.

 

1997 Memories

In 1997, Over 30 youth participated in a weekly educational program at Discovery Harbour and a two week expedition through the Trent – Severn Waterway. This trip included several stops along the way allowing youth to experience the culture, hospitality and scenic splendor of Ontario. We practiced and displayed the “Captains Gig” in period dress showcasing the historical tie of the boat and promoting our home base of Discovery Harbour.

 

1998 Memories

In 1998, 16 youth participated in a month long educational residential program at Discovery Harbour in preparation for an international contest of seamanship at The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark. In conjunction with this, an additional 20 local youth from Simcoe County participated in a weekly program in seamanship and sailing and rowing skills using Vitalité and Lester F. Hall at Discovery Harbour. This year also saw a joint venture with Camp Turnaround with saw some of these youth come out for sail in Tenacité.

 

1999 Memories

In 1999, 54 boatbuilders constructed 14 Nutshell Brams as part of a community boat building program. The new fleet was launched on Canada Day at Little Lake Park. Thirty youth participated in several events this year which included the Mallorytown Landing in July, in which both longboats were used. A weekly leadership and educational program was run at Discovery Harbour, and the end of the summer saw another trip through the Trent – Severn waterway which ended this time in Hastings.

 

2000 Memories

In 2000, local youth and adults undertook maintenance and painting of Vitalité and Tenacité over the winter in anticipation of utilizing the longboats throughout the coming year. Fifteen youth then participated in a six week long leadership program preparing and participating in the International Contest of Seamanship in Douarnenez, France. Twenty-four other youth from Simcoe County participated in a weekly program at Discovery Harbour which included a weekend expedition to Beausoliel Island and Canada Day Celebrations in Toronto.

 

2001 Memories

In 2001, youth and adults from across Simcoe County participated in weekly programs based out of Discovery Harbour. August saw a trip down the Trent – Severn waterway in which for the first time was navigated from start to finish in two weeks using the longboats Vitalité and Tenacité from Discovery Harbour in Penetanguishene to Trenton on Lake Ontario.

 

2002 Memories

In 2002, 16 youth from Ontario and Quebec participated in a leadership and educational residential program at Discovery Harbour. This same group then traveled to Ottawa for Canada Day festivities and then to Quebec before going to Rockland, Maine for the Atlantic Challenge Contest of Seamanship.

 

2003 Memories

In 2003, a youth educational program based out of King’s Wharf, which utilized the two gigs, was offered to residents in the Simcoe County area. As an additional program, an expedition through the Trent – Severn waterway, from Discovery Harbour to Peterborough, was conducted during the month of August with participants from throughout Ontario and Quebec.

 

2004 Memories

In 2004, 16 youth from across Canada participated in a five week educational program in preparation for the International Contest of Seamanship in Fishguard – Goodwick, Wales. The crew trained before the contest at Discovery Harbour, Penetanguishene prior to traveling to the United Kingdom for two weeks. The crew was awarded the “Spirit of Atlantic Challenge” Award. An evening sailing program was also carried out for youth and adults along with a weekend expedition to Beausoliel Island. Upon returning to Canada, Tenacité participated in the reopening ceremonies of the historic trade route Penetanguishene Road connecting Barrie, Ontario with Lake Huron in August.

 

2005 Memories

In 2005, several events occurred during the year starting with a day trip to Gin Rocks and ending with an overnight excursion to Beausoliel Island. Throughout the summer we traveled with both boats through the Trent – Severn Waterway from Penetanguishene to Serpent Mounds Park on Rice Lake. A new program was started in Carthew Bay on Lake Simcoe using our Block Island Cowhorn with a focus on maritime heritage using Lester F. Hall.

 

2006 Memories

In 2006, the year started with Tenacité spending time in the Central North Correctional Facility getting its semi-annual maintenance as part of the educational programming taking place. It was fortunate to have this work take place and the results were magnificent and she was ready for the upcoming training program for Italy. In July, 17 youth from across Canada participated in a five week educational program in preparation for the International Contest of Seamanship in Genoa, Italy. The crew trained together in Penetanguishene prior to traveling to Italy where they placed 2nd overall in this friendly contest. A new boat was brought back called a Gole’an, “Lance Medura” which is a traditional Indonesian fishing boat on loan. It was constructed in 2005 using traditional techniques and materials and is lateen rigged as similar boats still in use in Indonesia. In the fall, a move in to a new shop located beside Bay Port Yachting Centre in Midland took place and reconstruction of Vitalité began

 

2007 Memories

In 2007, the rebuilding of the gunwales on Vitalité continued and preparing the shop to be used for storing equipment and future construction projects was carried out. The new shop, which will soon be part of a new housing development by the Kaitlin Group called Bay Port Village, provides a place to repair the various vessels in the fleet and to run programs throughout the year. It was also decided to move the on water programs to Bay Port Yachting Centre allowing a close proximity to the shop. A youth and adult program ran during the summer in Midland Bay with many evenings filled with rowing and sailing. A one week trip through Georgian Bay and the Trent – Severn waterway to Stephan Leacock Home and back took place with camping at Beausoliel Island, cottages and the locks along the way.

 

2008 Memories

In 2008, a lot of boat work took place this season with getting the Gole’an ready to send to Rockland, ME and getting “Lester” back in the water again. The Gole’an needed to be stripped down, have some minor repairs done and repainted in traditional colours. “Lester F. Hall”, our Block Island Cowhorn underwent a major refit with her being sanded down, caulked and refinished. At the same time, electrical and mechanical repairs and upgrades were undertaken and she was launched in September and fitted with her new sails courtesy of the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Youth and adult programs were run from Bay Port Yachting Centre again this summer with some great sailing in Midland Bay. Plans are well under way for hosting the 2010 International Contest of Seamanship and the Town of Midland and community showing their support. This year also saw Atlantic Challenge acquire Vitalité rather than leasing her from the province. The year ended with Vitalité upside down in the shop and ready to be stripped, caulked and painted in anticipation of the spring season.

 

2009 Memories

In 2009, the year started with Vitalité having her hull taken down through 9 layers of paint and primer to bare wood. The hull was then resealed, primed and painted to bring it back up to its original beauty and a fitting start to her now belonging to Atlantic Challenge after all these years. Shortly after completing the work on Vitalité we found out that we had to move out of our shop 2 years earlier as the development was occurring around it. We were fortunate to end up in a smaller space beside Bayport that we can continue to work on boats teach skills the youth. The summer saw an expedition to Beausoleil Island for a weekend and the International Trustees arriving in the fall for their annual meeting and visit to see the site for 2010. The visit went great and all of the Trustees left looking forward to coming back next year for the International Contest of Seamanship in July. This winter will be full of excitement getting ready for next year’s contest and recruiting for the Canadian crew to represent the country.

 

2010 Memories

In 2010, preparations were well underway at the start of the year for the International Contest of Seamanship.  The winter and spring saw regular planning meetings to coordinate with the Town of Midland and other local organizations for the 10 day event.  Volunteers were recruited to help out at the various venues planned for the event and to assist in getting ready for the 300 participants, trainers and supporters that arrived July.  In addition, both boats had minor repairs conducted and were painted to get ready for the summer and arrival of boats from around the world.  A partnership with Midland Bay Sailing Club was started with the 17 crew trained there preparing for the contest in Midland.  The event happened under perfect skies and was considered one of the best contests to date.  The fall trip to Port Severn took place in September with many of the Midland crew coming back for the trip and both boats going.  A final shop day and sail took place in October to finish the year out and plan for the major refit of Tenacité’s ribs which were in need of repair and would begin early next year.

2011 Memories

In the aftermath of 2010, the ACC volunteer team turned its attention to care for the Gig’s and expansion of the on-water programs. The spring was spent completing the refit/replacement of over 30 of Tenacité’s ribs to ensure that she would be strong enough and ready for the transit and competition in Bantry, Ireland 2012. Many volunteers and participants spent countless hours removing, steam-heating and installing new ribs in order to give the hull back its strength. The hull was finally ready to return to the water in the beginning of the summer which was timely as the 2011 Trent-Severn expedition was just around the corner… 13 crew left Midland in sweltering heat without any wind and rowed the distance to Port Severn, the first of over 20 locks we would travel through ending at Bobcaygeon 1 week later. The trip was a great success with all types of weather, great food and of course: loads of fun. 2011 finshed with the shop undergoing some small renovations to make room for Vitalité to be set down and have her ribs replaced the following spring…

2012 Memories

The year of much-to-do… 2012 saw the ACC crews, volunteers and staff with a very “full plate”. With the 2012 contest on the horizon and a new International crew all signed up, the spring of 2012 was full of activity to prepare for the season. Vitalité underwent the planned rib and structure replacement to bring her up to spec with Tenacité. Over 25 ribs were carefully cut out, new ones were steam-bent and installed and a new nose deck was installed to replace the failing structure where the crew often jump out to beach the gig. Meanwhile, Tenacité had to be prepped for shipping to Bantry, Ireland- the 2012 contest location. New competition sails were ordered for both gigs to replace the almost 20 year old sails that were well worn and no longer functioning properly. Tenacité was transported to Quebec City in early June to be shipped by container to Ireland along with the Quebec team gig. The spring of 2012 was marred by the loss of our 22′ Block Island Cowhorn, the Lester F Hall. She was extensively damaged in a storm on Lake Simcoe and salvaged to hopefully be repaired someday in the future.

July of 2012 was a flurry of activity as the 2012 International Contest crew arrived and started their intensive 3 week training and crew bonding experience. Before leaving for Ireland to participate, the crew and volunteers attended the 1812 battle of Fort George re-enactment in Niagara-On-The-Lake. The crew participated in the historical encampment, live battle (complete with canons and muskets!) and wore period clothing. Following this exciting weekend, crew and volunteers then made the journey to Bantry, Ireland and settled in for 12 days of contest life. The Canadian crew competed on the international stage with 14 other crews from their respective countries and placed a respectable 10th overall. All crew members truly enjoyed the visit and left with smiles and new friends from around the world.

The latter half of the season was spent wrapping up the activities from the summer and retrieving Tenacité once she had returned to Canadian soil. ACC was given the use of a second dock at Bayport Marina to keep a modern sailboat in the water for sales and additional sail training purposes. During the fall, our inventory of modern boats was repaired by volunteers to ready them for sale in spring of 2013 to continue to raise funds needed to run the programs. The season was rounded out with one last trip in the gig to Beausoleil Island for some camping and sailing.

2013 Memories

2013 saw some modern boat sailing this year on one of our donated boats which was a new and different experience for the youth.  We were able to sail with other modern boats to provide something new for everyone.  In the fall we ventured out to Beausoleil Island for our annual fall camping trip.  It was a bit cold and wet but still an enjoyable time for all that attended and a great way to finish the season!

Instead of covering both boats for the winter, Vitalité was moved to Collingwood for a continuation of the repairs to Vitalité in a winter shop where we could stay out of the snow and cold.  It provided an opportunity to do needed work without rushing in the spring.

 

2014 Memories

2014 began with continued work on Vitalité which included new stanchions at several oar locks, a rebuilt transom, new rudder and replacing some rivets.  A fresh coat of paint finished the job so she could be launched in the spring in Collingwood where she would stay for the summer.  The contest this year was in France and a small group went to Vannes to watch, participate and help with the event during July.  Our crew were on a combined boat with Danes, Belgiums and Americans on a borrowed French gig making it a unique adventure.  Travel after the event allowed everyone to see part of the country before heading back to Canada.

The fall trip was great with the wind allowing us to sail both ways which made for a quick trip to and from the island.  Members from Midland and Collingwood participated so it was a great chance for everyone to get to know and learn from each other.

 

2015 Memories

2015 was a big year for us when we received our charter to run programs under the Scouts Canada umbrella.  We attended the council camp in May with Tenacite where over 3,000 youth and Scouters had a chance to see the boat and ask questions.  It was the start of a new chapter in our programming with exposure to local youth and those across the country.  We spent the summer on the water and in the fall had a local Venturer company out to explore what the gigs had to offer.  We had both gigs on the water for the outing and it was great to be able to challenge each other for the night.  Planning started for the contest in Denmark the following year.

 

2016 Memories

2016 was a busy year getting ready for Denmark in the spring and fall trip with youth from around the province.  Training for crew was split up over a couple of weekends in May and June with the crew learning needed skills prior to heading to Denmark.  We joined the Danish team for the contest and left early to train together as a crew before the start of the contest.  We spent a few days before training to tour the area and see some of the culture and history of Denmark.  The event was again at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde which offers an excellent opportunity to see original and reproduction viking ships.

During the fall we held a weekend camp with Scouting youth from throughout the province.  Some had been on the boat before, while others were out for the first time.  We spent two days exploring Midland Harbour and camping at MBSC before pulling the boats to get ready for winter storage.