When Dave and I moved to Gabriola in 1975, we had been members of Nanaimo Yacht Club for many years and had taken an active part in sailboat racing. Soon after our arrival, Dave was working at Silva Bay Shipyard, then owned and operated by Judy and Arne Bentzen. Not much was happening on the water at that time, so we initiated a “Once Around the Flat Tops” race. This was open to any boat (including a canoe with sail) and racers could go in any direction. There was a weekly (liquid) trophy which I recall we won on one particular day and when we got back to Degnen Bay and the after-gathering at our house, the prize was well on the way to being consumed.
After seeing how much fun we could have, we met together with the Bentzens, Laura and Ron Stratton and John Dibley to discuss the possibility of forming a Yacht Club. It was agreed that it should be a fun club with all members having equal rights. The positions of officers were established and a fee of $5 a person was set. In no time we had 50 members whose names appear on the Charter. Alan Martin, formally of Vancouver Yacht Club, helped Ron Stratton with the constitution which was readily adopted. Since at that time I was making the street banners for the City of Nanaimo, the sea gull taken from one of my designs was chosen for our burgee.
Lorne Brown joined the executive, and as we were using the Silva name, Henry Silva was made Honorary Life Member. The aims of the club, to foster and promote safe boating and to provide enjoyment for members, resulted in an interesting and varied program being presented both on the water and on shore.
Regular Sunday sailboat races were held with the tug, Trojan, and skipper Dee Cowan or Ernie Fleming aboard Astrabelle often serving as committee boat. After the races, hot soup—usually prepared by Margaret Cross, Vivian Silva and Mamie Westwood—was enjoyed while the protest committee sorted things out. A Star fleet was established and a highly successful regatta held with participants being billeted or sleeping under their boats on Bentzen’s lawn. For several years, Silva Bay Yacht Club hosted the Thrasher Rock Invitational Regatta, with boats coming to race from Nanaimo and Vancouver. Arne Bentzen and Dave Hobbs donated a trophy, complete with a piece of Thrasher Rock.