The Yard

Excerpt from Centennial book, page 11:

The anticipation is palpable. Preparations that only weeks ago seemed impossible to complete in time have somehow been done. In the yard, tarps have been rolled and stored, the last of the bottom paint applied. As the Queen empties, the throb of the winch's determined diesel, loud in the still chilly morning, will fade into the background, yet keep the rhythm of the launch.


Knots of coveralled workers, scattered under leafless trees, respond into teams at the clarion of the weekend. The crack of butterboards being broken free punctuates the hiss of the car gliding down the track. Hands seek space on the cradle. Pushers lean poised as hawsers are tied on.

" One! Two! Three! Heave!" Ropes go taut as the refrain begins…then slack as the stubborn cradle remains in place. Mock accusations are hurled and the cry goes up again. "One! Two! Three! Heave!"
Forty strain. Unable to resist the effort, boat and cradle finally inch forward, now seemingly carried by cries of "Keep her going!" Backs straighten in brief respite as the cradle rests on the car. "Chain her down! Clear the track!"

The car with the first boat of the season rolls toward the lagoon and a summer's pleasure. The ritual will be repeated many times over the coming days, as it has thousands of times. Anachronistic, almost deliberately defiant of technology, even as sailing is to power. And yet, comforting and dependable, even elegant in its functional simplicity, a process to benefit each, possible only through the contribution of all, a metaphor that has defined Queen City for 100 years.

by Wayne Lilley
Copyright 1991
ISBN 1-895161-01-0
Excerpts and photos with permission from Wayne Lilley and Steve Manley