Departure Day

SV-Falcon GT motored away from Bronte Harbour
Tuesday Oct.14th at 12:30p.m.
With three of five crew members on board:
Captain John Gayford, Doug Gayford and Brendan Shadford.
Remaining two crew members,
Stuart Hamilton and Doug Sandrin will join them in N.Y.
on Oct. 30th ready to set sail Oct. 31st.

A crowd of family and friends came out to wish the crew Bon Voyage & Good Luck on their adventure.

Weather was cloudy with 20 knot winds gusting to 25 knots. Clearing later. Mast is down until they have cleared the bridges & locks on the Erie Canal, and they arrive at the Hudson River Albany N.Y.
Click here to view More Pictures

Crew Party

Crew are busy packing up the boat ready for Tuesday's departure! Not much time left! Going through the lists, checking them twice and checking things off as they go.Fifth and final crew member, Doug G has arrived from Australia.
The boat is looking more and more full but still lots of room for relaxing, reading and watching a good ol' sea flic. on the t.v.
In the meantime, while still here on land, there's always time for turkey during Canada's Thanksgiving weekend! One last big feast before it's down to dried or canned and fish, fish and more fish!
Sunday evening Stui and his wife, Ellena hosted a delicious barbecue at their place. Everyone swapping sailing stories, swigging back lots of good wine and chomping down on delicious burgers. We'll be updating the map daily, after departure Tuesday, following Falcon GT as she is manouevered through the locks and down the Hudson River to Liberty Landing in New York City.
Tuesday's departure is fast approaching!

Now we are getting somewhere...

Falcon Files From John:
Monday 6 October 2008

Now we are getting somewhere. 7 days to go. This time next week it’ll be party time as we say goodbye to Oakville.
I’m looking forward to a nice warm bunk with a book and then a good long snooze. Got to get 2 years night shift out of my system – the work was fine but the rest of the 14 hours was simply awful – always tired and listless. Need an ocean cruise!
The ‘Open boat’ was a lot of fun. Jeannette, Audrey and Moni produced tables of nibblies.

The boat was full from 2pm for a solid 3 hours

and the yacht club bar was full of folks having a good time.

Lots of chin stroking and beard pulling, mutterings, and opinions passed, and laughing.

Kids racing through the inside and out the front hatch, radar arch works great as monkey bars, and one 3yo crying because his mean Dad wouldn’t let him ‘go sailing on Johnnies boat’. Raised some hundreds of dollars to fight men’s cancer.

Sunday we loaded water in jerry cans, and more food. Today took the mast out and strapped it on the deck

ready for motoring 140 miles across Lake Ontario to Oswego, through the Erie Barge Canal in New York state to Albany to re-step the mast. Sail down the Hudson River past West point to NYC. We are booked into the Liberty Landing marina in NJ, right opposite lower Manhatten. Should be there 20 Oct.

The lawn is cut, the garage is almost empty, the table is fitted into the boat, still need to pack clothes, books, bed stuff, store more spares, get another spinnaker, and mail birthday cards. My manager Jeannette is busy with everyone at home, in a weeks time it’ll be down to 3 out of 5. Bro Doug arrives Thursday. A full crew and family meeting at Stuart’s home Sunday night ( hope he mentioned to his manager.)
Sailmail and Winlink email works fantastic on the ICOM 802 SSB. We are set ocean communications with the sat phones as backup.

Email us on the boat at



15 DAYS TO BLAST OFF by Captain John

Falcon Files
Monday 29 September 2008

15 days to blast off – That’s 2 weeks from tomorrow . Times running out – kind of like the start of a sailboat race – when the start is less than 30 seconds that 30 takes about 2 seconds!
Last Friday we hauled the boat to put on the final coats of anti-fouling, and tickle up the drive train.


Popped it back in the water this morning, motored about at a range of rpms and all is well.


Dana Upholstery came by to measure the bimini- that will be ready in a week – it’s a heavy duty cover over 1-1/4” ss hoops made by Kingsley, and bolted onto the handrails by Tom G. Doug S thinks it’ll do the job and will be an extra downwind sail. Keep off the sun, too.
The boat is almost empty of junk, now ready for the food to load tomorrow. That’s when reality sets in. I keep reminding myself (and others should they be listening) that the first part of the voyage is never going to be perfect, and anyway it’s only for 60 days (i.e when we reach Cape Town.) Does that mean the Cape Town to Melbourne trip will be perfect? Noo.
Which brings me to the fundamentals – the voyage is about enjoying the journey. Reminds me of South Moll Island in the 70’s when bro Doug, his wife Viv and myself were lolling about the pool (our boat safely at anchor posing as a suitable backdrop, us posing as residents) when an Aussie tour leader came by with his non-English speaking tourists following behind in single file. He looked at us and commanded us to ‘Smile you bastards’ as he marched by. It worked - we nearly fell off our plastic lounges from laughing.
So to ensure we enjoy the journey without too much flak from home, a crew meeting with the wives was held at the local hostelery – now they are the best of mates plotting the crews futures with glee.
And now onto more technical matters. We think the boat and its equipment are good, we think the boat speed will be good, too and Graham Radford (the yacht designer in Sydney) advises to sail conservatively in ‘fresh winds’ with the staysail and reefed main – keep the boat more upright that pressed over, and when motor sailing keep at 1.1 times the square root of the waterline length i.e at 7.2 knots max . say 7 knots would be good and the best fuel value and = 168 mpd. Oh yeah right - the crew expressed some concern that the oldest member of the crew likes using spinnakers at the slightest provocation, and will not take them down – so much for G Radford’s advice.
Anyhoo (Canadian expression meaning change the subject)– to summarize – Boat is good – dry food is ready to load (in 12 plastic totes) – SSB radio and Sat phones all work on email & voice, lockers have locks on them, no junk on the boat, all the safety gear ready, charts ready, sails ready, spares galore, wine cellar incomplete – (send note to wine selection committee), video and library ready, insurances paid, medical kit ready, and the lawns are cut.
On Saturday afternoon we are having an ‘open boat’ at our club (Bronte Harbour YC) to let the locals have a look-see, and raise some money to fight cancer. Open bar – hope we don’t end up midnight sailing!
Cheers John

Falcon Files Sept. 8th 2008 by Captain John Gayford

37 days to blast off – Who’d of thought we’d get this far? Unbelievable - Starting to get kind of shivery nervous – what’s forgotten? What will sink the boat? So many seemingly small things to do that take way longer than expected. E.g. vee berth lights, installing the table, installing the rod holders.

But all those concerns fade away and instant happiness happens when you go sailing in 20 to 28 knots of wind on Lake Ontario. Only got the jib on board. Straight out parallel to the 4 to 6 foot chop. Boat sits on 7 then up to 7.7 in gusts – sails almost straight without helming – nice trick. With the autopilot on, my son, Daniel and I sit on the bow enjoying the ride. 15 degrees of heel and straight as an arrow. It’s a Beautiful Thing. Get the odd spray over the deck to get a taste of the ocean. With the main up in these conditions I expect to sit on max hull speed and reel off them miles.

Major milestones achieved – food menu done and buying to start this week. – good job by Brendan and Stuart – water supply finalized – thanks Stuart, bullet proof poly-carbonate Lexan storm windows bolted on and sealed – good work Doug S. All the plumbing done incl. the manual fresh water galley pump – now have H&C water for the head, galley and the stern shower (our main bathroom) . Flood lights for the cockpit and stern fishing platform – looks like a perfect fishing spot – with a couple of deep sea rods and reels from Captain Harry’s in Miami. And the radar arch stereo speakers complete a great atmosphere in the cockpit when we rip down waves with the Ride of the Valkries blasting, (think Apocalypse Now).

Your suggestions for music during storms, and harbour departures and arrivals will be welcomed.

Jeannette’s contribution– Grand Funk Railroad ‘I’m your captain’ Jimmy Buffett 'Son of a Son of a Sailor, Crosby, Stills & Nash 'Southern Cross'; John B: 'Sloop'; The Beach Boys, Orinoco Flow: Enya, The Downeaster "Alexa": Billy Joel, Cool Change: Little River Band, Beyond the Seas: Bobby Darin, A life on the Ocean Wave by the Band of her Majesty’s Royal Marines.

On the navigation part – 4 c-maps, 40 charts and the 09 Nautical Almanac ordered. - Sextant and Nick deMunnicks book on board (The Celestial Nav course at National Yacht Club by Nick is simply the best).
Epirb, handheld floating vhf radios bought (keep the vhf radio with you at all time so if you fall off you can yell for help. Reminds me of a joke about ’sorry you’re gonna die’.)

The installation of the main table and the cockpit table completes the woodwork by Maestro boat cabinet maker/builder Mr. Johnnie Silverio – He is my finish wood worker saving grace.
On that note complete reverence belongs to Mr. John McInnes who carefully and completely built the interior. Come and see it – we have tried our best to stress it so cracks appear but so far – nothing – looks like molded fibreglass, and the paint job by Gavin Mcinnes is just superb.

And you should check out our electrical system and workmanship – I believe I got the best in Canada – Mr. Paul Thornton
– indicates that Oakville has a core team of boat builders on a par with the best anywhere and most of them work for Bruckmann Yachts-
absolutely first class genuine 50 year experience boat builders - see for yourself.

Who else helped me as we near the completion of the boat and our blast off?
Apart from our crew of Brendan, Doug, Doug, and Stuart; there is Ed and Rick at AquaMarine, Paul at Canfab, Doug and Dave at Canadian Bron.

So – next is to knock off some little jobs, clean and paint the bottom, go for as many burns as we can fit in
– hold a ‘BON VOYAGE’ party at the Bronte Harbour Yacht Club
2-5pm Sat October 4th
-then- Blast Off October 14th!

- as my mate Reginald says ‘Hang onto your ass’!

QCYC Trip by Doug S.

Thanks Brendon for photo's ('cause I forgot my camera)

Aug 1

Brendan, John and I showed up around 2:00 pm and we were off. Nice reaching conditions with winds around 7 to 9 knots and the boat going 4 to 5. Oh if only the Lake Ontario 300 had been like this! Nice sunny day, a few boats on the lake, no waves, light steady winds. You could not ask for a better day. Of course it's not what we really wanted. Howling winds, large waves, would have been better practice for the big trip but how can you complain on a perfect day like this.

We set the sails, pointed towards Toronto, and it was smooth sailing. The only big event of the whole sail was when the boat gave a bit of a shudder and Brendan noticed the wind had shifted around to our rear port quarter so John came up from his short snooze and put up the spinnaker pole to the jib for a little wing on wing action.

As we got close to Toronto Island
Airport and the Western gap we dropped the sails, started the engine and were motoring into the gap when we noticed a sailboat stopped dead in front of us. As we passed John called over to see if he needed any help. The lone sailer replied that he had lost his gears and was adrift. We circled, he threw us a line, and we towed him a short distance up to National Yacht Club. Good thing we came by because he was starting to drift towards the rocks at Ontario place.
A little excitement after all. We then motored through Toronto Harbour over to QCYC. (Queens City Yacht Club). After checking in and revisiting the sights from last year,
John got the stove working on the boat and made some excellent snaggers (that's Aussie for sausages). Went for a walk and saw the Islanders Friday night fire parade, back to the boat, some discussion, and off to sleep with the wind rocking the boat gently (maybe some good wind tomorrow??).

A quick breakfast with the wind still moving the trees around us. Out we motor into the Harbour, though the Western Gap and into the Lake. Up go the sails and down goes the wind. We sail for awhile hard on the light 4 to 5 knot winds, shades of the LO300 but the sun is shining. Not for long as a black cloud builds over us. Brendan is steering while John and I set up some lines for the jib car. We go through a little shower and watch as it builds into a very heavy down pour . Brendan was the only one to don his rain gear and he's elected to roll up the jib in the deluge as the winds die to nothing. (Now it's just like the LO300). We motor back to Bronte and John and Brendan are off to cut the grass.
I'm driving home ready for work in the morning.

Lake Ontario 300 By Doug S

Photo's by Doug, Brendan & Stuart

July 19th. Well here we go. The big shake down cruise. But with the wind forecast light and variable this is going to be nothing like the ocean.

Set off around 7am with light mist over a glassy lake. No wind so far. We motor around 5 or 6 knots with the engine running at a quiet 1500 to 1800 rpm. All food and clothes are stuffed away and the crew is not real happy about the wind prospects. Nice morning though.

We get up to the start line around 9:30 with an hour to go before the first start. Drop anchor and relax, kill some flies, snack and wait for the rest of the boats to come out.

Lots of stares at the silver beast. As the committee boats come out we haul anchor , raise the main and motor off to cruise around the fleet to check out the competition.

Lots of very nice boats motoring around. The first start is at 10:35, the non spinnaker white sail fleet. Off they go towards Toronto with a light following breeze. Our start is at 10:55 and we start about a minute behind the line, out of harms way. Throw up the spinnaker, and we are away. Not much speed here but at least we are moving and enjoying the views.

As we come up to the first mark (Gibraltar point off Toronto Island) things are getting crowded. The organisers wanted a good photo op. off Toronto with all the boats and they got one.

We go around the mark and stay well inside to clear all the traffic. This puts us closer to shore than most of the others. We head a little south now to clear the eastern gap and Leslie Street spit headland. Again we stay inshore and as we pass the headland, the wind isn’t bad. We are saving some distance, compared to the boats that went out further.

All is going smoothly when I notice a few of the boats are heading quite a bit south of the most direct course. There are still a lot of boats around and we can’t see a long way ahead. Then we see why the course changes. There are 4 boats just sitting with flat sails and pointing in different directions. Never a good sight. Boats bobbing around with flat sails means no wind! We quickly try and change course to get out of the flat spot, but our speed goes way down and now we seem to be in a channel with no wind. Boats are passing us on both sides. Very frustrating because you just can't manoeuvre a sail boat over to where you would like to be. You can only go where the wind will let you. Now, if this wasn't a race on would go the motor and over to the wind we would go, but we can't do that here.

We are still moving although slowly and we make our way down to the Whitby mark. Pretty crowded here too. Make our way around and because of traffic and winds decide to stay inshore close to the most direct path to the next headland, about 50 miles away. We have a dinner of spaghetti. Changing sails and tacking are happening quite a bit. Very low speeds with some improvement during rain showers but nothing exciting that's for sure. John and I head off to the bunks and Stuart and Brendan make way.

I get up around 1 am, we haven't got too far, the boat is still close to the shortest distance course. There were about 4 other boats still in sight. The boys have gone though numerous tacks
which means taking down the spinnaker moving it over to the other side of the boat, changing course, hauling up the spinnaker, set the new running back, try to get the spinnaker flying again because the wind has died and the boat has stopped moving. After about 10 minutes hopefully you are going at 2 knots again. Oh ya and it's been raining off and on. One good thing at least it's warm.Time to put on the foul weather gear!

John and I take over. Right now just the jib and main are up. We are going along at about 2 to 3 knots. I'm enjoying going forward and the quiet. Then I hear John up front getting the chute ready to fly. Sure enough up it goes and we fight to get it flying. Settle down, creeping along, and there goes the wind over to the other side. The spinnaker stars flapping so down it comes, over to the other side. Our speed goes to zero, fight to get it flying, and 10 minutes later we're back up to 2 knots. OK, not bad we're moving again, but hold on, there goes the spinnaker flapping again, time for another tack. I suggest to John we just put up the jib and see if the wind will make up it's mind. Moving along slowly beats all these stops, and starts. John agrees, reluctantly, he's more a racer and doesn't mind a lot of work for that extra ½ knot. I'm more a cruiser, sit back and see what happens, if the wind picks up go for the chute if not just relax and watch the world go by.

So here we are, it's raining hard, we're heading away from shore, we're moving, the wind is shifting slowly and we are bending our course to a more favourable heading. Hoping for more wind in the middle of the lake or a big shift. Neither!

Stuart gets up around 5 or 6 looks at our position and asks if we're lost. We're heading towards the middle of the lake and not making a lot of headway towards the headland. Stu and Brendan take over and I'm off to the V berth to get out of my wet clothes and into a warm sleeping bag.

I get up somewhere around 8 and Brendan and Stuart are on the same course, going out into the lake but do make a tack just after I get up. At least we're going back towards land but a bit too much so the wind is not cooperating at all. We have some breakfast, and then the wind shifts. Not a good wind shift though. Now it's coming straight from where we want to go. The worst thing that could happen.

Now to go where we want to go we have to zig zag. People watching us on the web site think we can't make up our minds as we go towards land for an hour then back out into the lake for an hour. Miles travelled, 4. Miles towards the mark about 1 ½. Another wind shift. Now we are heading right towards the shore. Not good. Tack over and I can't believe it, we are heading right towards the mark. The wind is perfect. Not strong, but at least we are going where we want to go. WOW this might be it, we might actually get back into the race. Spirits are up, but, wait for it, about a half hour later the wind starts to shift again, now we're heading right towards shore once more, and the wind is dying. It's gone. Nothing.

We sit, the sails aren't even flapping. Hardly any waves. Have some lunch, have a nap, nothing. Thomas puts on a movie, I turn the stove on and make a frozen lasagna, which I screw up and we have to microwave to fully heat up. It was good in the end and the movie was also good. Not a bad day floating in the lake.

After the movie, we have a meeting, we'll give it until morning and see what the wind does. One hour goes by, things are cleaned up, we all agree, enough is enough, no wind lets go home. The motor comes on the wheel is turned, (all day the boat was pointed at the land and never moved) and the course is set to Port Credit.

Later that night the wind came up, we were able to turn off the engine and sail in a light breeze at around 2 to 3 knots. Much better than with the engine running. We were in no hurry to get home, hoping a good wind would fill in and we could enjoy a nice sail back. Not to be. The wind died and the motor came back on. That was that, the sails where put away and we motored from Toronto to Port Credit YC, turned in our transponder, congratulated the boats that had completed the white sail race and put out for Bronte.

It looked like we may hit a storm just as we where arriving at Bronte. I suggested if that was the case we go out into the lake instead of trying to get into port in a storm. Luckily the bad weather passed in front of us. A big storm did hit the lake behind us (with funnel clouds sighted) and we had some strong winds with sunshine. Of course our sails were put away, and we were too close to home to take advantage of the wind.

All in all, not our kind of race, probably the worst conditions that we could have wanted. If we experience that on the ocean, the motor would have been on and we would head for wind. We did learn a lot though, so it was not a waste of time. The crew got along well. Everyone agreed with most decisions that were made. Well, John and I got a bit of a hard time about heading out into the middle of the lake, but no one was keel hauled. A few small problems came up with the boat, so those can now get fixed.

So that was it for our big race. Disappointed we couldn't show off the boat more, but better off because of the things that we had learned. Now it's all about the big trip. Not much time left!!!

Lake Ontario 300, Friday July 19, From Doug S

Pre race crew meeting.

Drove over to Port Credit Yacht Club to attend The Skipper’s meetings. Lots of people, very crowded room with a lot of guest speakers. Wxx briefing was good with a disappointing forecast. All in all it’s as one old timer said. “what you see is what you’ll get”. I can add to that , where you are is what you’ve got.
Overall forecast was 3 low pressure troughs being pushed though by a high pressure system. Winds light & variable except around rain showers. That was what we got in a nut shell.

Falcon files Thursday June 5, 2008.

From John:

Been a while since the last FF. Been a heck of a Winter here. It was long and cold, and I wasn't particularly in the mood for that weather- lots to do on Falcon GT.
So what did we manage to get done
- relaxed a fair bit – 'it's too snowy to get out'
- visited Mum in Aus – very nice with Doug G
- 4 of us now have ham radio licences
- 2 of us know where the book is for celestial nav – great course at the National YC
- Stuart is the medic
- Brendan is the journo/photographer

Anyhoo – here's the scoop – got the boat dans le water, mast in and snugged down. Popped on the J1 (jib#1) and the furler – fits great. Side rigging was too short last year but after mixing up which side was which it now fits perfectly, forestay fits perfect, put the boom and mainsail on – fits perfect – what happened?? Must have stuffed up something last year. Anyway all good news. Now fro sailing.
Snuck out solo – could not resist it - had the main and J1 up in 5 knots of calm seas – gliding along at 3knots – nice.
Next time out in 10 knots – hard on the wind – 6 knots with the main looking like an aircraft wing – solid and shaped great. Next time 15 gusting to 20 - J1 and 2 reefs – main sets just like it should – just powering along – would not get 8.2 but 8.1 and 7.9 hard on the wind and 8 running down. Steering slightly heavy but feeling good. I love it!!

It's a different feeling to last year. – maybe the changes underwater, and the improved reefing system has done the trick.

Now we have a boat.


Bronte slip 325 – Welcome aboard.

Summer of 2008

From Doug S.

After a long winter and cool /cold spring the boat is in the water and it's sailing time. John did a lot of work over the winter and it's coming along nicely. All the new electronics need to be hooked up so we can start playing with the toys. Other than that we seem to be ready to go. On my first sail of the season it was quite cold but the boat was sailing nicely in light air. Getting back in the groove and slowly remembering all the forgotten quirks of the boat, like not wrapping the running backs on the spreaders. Look up! Anyway this is the big year and it's time to get going.