Wilson Yates Story

Sailboat Pictures
Wilson`s story
Nfld Pictures
Cottrell`s Cove Pictures
Heavy Marine Splicing

Wilson Yates and Yacht Rigging for over 45 years
Toronto Boatshow in the Automotive Building 1970
Wire to Rope Halyards, our Specialty
10 Halyards from standard stock, part of customer order

Wilson Yates started out making yacht rigging in April, 1968 working for Davidson Sails and Marine Supplies in downtown Toronto. Davidsons was involved in the retail rigging business plus they had a contract to make custom rigging for EB Bruckmann Woodworking, who had built the famous Red Jacket in 1967 and Bruckmann was soon to become part of the new C&C Yachts Mfg. Ltd. Erich Bruckmann built after 1968 several Redline 41`s, and Redline 25`s, then on to built the C & C 43`s, 48`s, 50`s, 61`s, and custom boats like Nepenthe being produced by Bruckmann. Most boats were owned by groups or individuals at RCYC. Also in the beginning there were a couple of Alum. yachts built by Macotta in Rexdale and finished by Bruckmann and a 53 ft. custom fibreglass C&C for Bernie Herman called Bonaventure V, plus some other boats. Wilson was the rigger at Davidsons from `68 to `74 and put together all the running rigging for these boats plus standing rigging for a lot of them since we were still in the early days of real rod rigging with Navtec just getting started. Wilson was also putting swage fittings on rod with a Kearney machine, a company, NDI was doing rod this way too in the USA. Red Jacket had a rod backstay that was shortened at Davidsons in this way.
When a boat was ready at Bruckmanns, Wilson had to pack his tools in the car and travel to Oakville for a couple of days to make the lifelines there and put in the steering cables plus install the halyards in the mast and do other rigging that was needed before the launch. First, most of the alum.masts came from Morch Mfg. in Belleville and soon Bruckmann found a mast builder and machinst to make his own masts and custom metal parts. Martin Klacko and his brother Danny set up inside Bruckmann MFG. Wilson and Danny Klacko worked together installing the messengers and the halyards in masts for Bruckmann. Wilson was also present at the launches to see that everything about rigging was installed properly and the boat had a primary tuning so it could sail for its sea trials.
In the fall of 1974, work was slow at Davidsons so Wilson was laid off for a few months. About a week or so news came that Whitby Boat Works needed a rigger so Wilson drove to Ajax one afternoon and had a sit down interview with Oskar Valentine, the Whitby Plant Manager, and the next day started work at the Whitby Plant there. Whitby had been growing quickly as a builder with the building of the Whitby 42 plus the Alberg 30 and the Alberg 37. Working every day full time as a rigger was a new experience and there was lots to do making standing and running rigging because Whitby was putting boats out the door and shipping them them to the USA as fast as they could be built. Whitby Boat Works was also in the process at this time of moving into their new plant on Charles St. in Whitby. A lot of the final setup at the new plant was done by employees of Whitby and Wilson spent time working with Wolfgang, a welder, building the stairs and other projects inside the new plant. Wilson was also given the job to install the air compressor lines throught the building. Many tools used in boatbuilding were powered by compressed air and there was a 45 hp compressor used for power at Whitby.
Wilson also had the job to set up the new rigging shop and motorize the Kearney Swaging Machine with a new Loos Kit so making standing rigging got a little easier than hand turning the crank as was the usual.
Before the time of moving to Whitby, Wilson had met rope salesman, Gordon Brown, selling braided rope for Braids and Laces. Braids and Laces was experimenting with making braided yacht rope and pieces similar to Samson was brought to Wilson of each size and was accessed for splicability and quality and soon Davidsons was using the locally made product on the custom boats for C&C and also for halyard tails for the rope to wire halyards that Davidson`s were supplying to the C&C production plant in Niagara on the Lake. Wilson was making about 65 wire to rope halyards a month for Niagara used in the production of the C&C 30 and other boats. A lot of rope to wire experience was gained quickly with that job.
Wilson made many trips to the Braids and Laces plant and got to know Ted Terry, the owner very well. Samson had the patent for Braided Rope at that time and Ted already had a letter from Samson about getting too close to that Patent.
Ted Terry had also seen the patent before he worked on his braided rope and he was using different types of materials than the ones stated in Samson`s patents. Braids and Laces was quickly taking business from Samson in BC so much that the rep. in Ont. warned them about the competition that was moving up and they needed to take any action they could to stop losing business to Braids and Laces.
Braids and Laces still makes rope and shoe laces in Ontario to this day and Samson moved back to supply the Canadian market from plants in the USA. For Braids and Laces, go to www.braidlace.com
Wilson`s friend, Gordon Brown, sold so much braid in a short time for Braids and Laces that he decided that he would set up his own rope making business and expand more quickly than his friends at Braids and Laces wanted to do at that time. Gord`s plant was quickly up and running and Wilson was an important part with his experience in rigging and braided rope. Wilson was now given the contract to make all the bits and pieces for the new GWB Ropes Inc. At the same time a new company called Canadian Sailcraft was moving up from the Caprice, a 15 footer, to the CS 22 and then to the CS 27. As the 27 line got moving, CS had a problem getting extras, especiallly the wire to rope halyards. At times Wilson would drive to the new Brampton Plant of the now called CS Yachts to make halyards in the evening so CS could ship a boat the next morning. Although the Proctor masts were coming from England, there were the customer added extra halyards and also the CS 22 needed extras, too.
Gordon Brown who had sold to them some Braids and Laces rope was now making his rope so he approached CS about supplying made-up rigging for all the boats with the idea that Wilson would make up the parts in Orillia.
In late 1975 Wilson gave up his job at Whitby Boat Works and now worked on his contracts with GWB and even made pieces for Braids and Laces for awhile. GWB had customers that included Canadian Tire who bought thousand of readymade docklines, Wilson was usually like Santa Claus getting ready for Xmas although the elves didn`t come till much later. Some of the Canadian Tire orders called for numbers like 900 tens and 1100 fifteens in 3/8 with a 10 inch eye and a sailmakers whipping. Wilson quickly learned how to mass produce, it got busy moving to Whibty Boats but with the GWB hundreds of pieces usually made many long days.
GWB Rope was fast becoming the major braided rope supplier in Central Canada and was now supplying C&C Yachts production plant in Niagara on the Lake with rope together with smaller builders like Whitby Boatworks and Bayfield Boatyard. CS was coming on strong with the CS 27 and Wilson was busy with their bits and pieces plus all the day to day pieces for GWB which also included a lot of anchorlines that was sold to Canadian Tire and other distributors in Canada. Wilson was also doing contract work again for Davidsons that took him back to the C&C Custom Shop to work like in his early years. He was also involved in the local delivery for GWB to customers like Holland Marine and was soon making wire to rope halyards and other stuff for Holland too. Things progressed along very well and in the fall of 1977 came the Canada`s Cup boats, Evergreen and Mia VI. Wilson was working on Evergreen with his contract at Davidsons and was making the running rigging for Mia VI, a Scott Kaughman design directly for Paul Phelan with the boat being finished off at Ontario Yachts. Wilson was also working side by side at that time at the C&C Custom shop and on the waterfront with Steve Killing and Rob Mazza of the C&C Design Team who were directly involved in trying to make the centreboard and other experimental stuff work on Evergreen. Even Tim Stearn came along for the sea trials in late Nov. out of Bronte for Mia VI. Hans Fogh brought along Paul Tennyson of CS Yachts to go for a sail with everyone including Wilson, Mark Ellis, Brian Gooderham and Paul Phelan himself. Just before Xmas of 1977 when Wilson was offered a job to work for Tillotson Pearson in Fall River, Mass. This started out because a friend, Richard Viggiano,who had worked in Canada with Wilson at Whitby Boat Works now worked for Everett Pearson and thought that Wilson would be a good manager for their rigging shop. TPI was building about six J24`s per day plus other larger boats like the Feedom 40 and the Aldens 44. After a few visits to Fall River to help with training, the wheels were set in motion for Wilson to get a Green Card and get ready to move to the USA. The green card took about four months and in late March of 1978 Wilson was packed up and intered the USA at Thousand Islands. Now in a foreign country and a new job in Fall River, Mass. At that time the TPI rigging shop was very busy and Wilson now was the leader of about six people in the shop. The rigging dept also looked after the commissioning for the bigger boats that was launched at Melville, near Newport. Memories go back to driving a Checker wagon, TPI`s special service car. A Checker car was rare and were usually taxis in NYC.
Also the customer waiting for his own boat while sailing the TPI demo Freedom 40 lost the halyard from the fwd mast and wanted it replaced right away. So a Aldens 44 was parked on the other side of a finger dock across from the Freedom and a helper was taken up the Freedoms mast using the halyard from the Alden 44 across from it. Sure was faster than pulling the mast. A new swivel block was added plus a new halyard and the unhappy customer was happy sailing to Nantuckett for the weekend. Everything was going well with the TPI job but Wilson was missing Canada and the living accomodations in Fall River was not great. So sometime in June Wilson decided living in the USA was not the thing so he packed all his belongings in the truck and back to Toronto. Everything there was much like when he left so he bought a new truck and took back his usual work at GWB and others.
In the fall when worked slowed, Wilson started spending about three days a week working in the GWB plant involved in the actual rope making, repairing machines and attending other things like packing and shipping the orders. This arrangement went on till sometime in the winter and as rigging work picked up Wilson changed back to the same arrangement as for the years before. A great deal of hand on experience was gained about the machines and the actual rope making and how to fine tune the operation and the time spent inside the rope plant was good for all involved.
Wilson also went back to doing work for Davidsons in the spring and things moved along at GWB with several Canadian government contracts and GWB moved into bigger braid with a contract for 25,000 meters of 42mm for the Canadian navy. A new machine was built in England for the cover and the core was produced on a big old Textile Machine bought in Rhode Island. The rope was all made and sent to both coasts to help upgrade the Canadian Navy fleet.
Wilson and Gordon Brown made trips to Halifax and to Victoria to do splicing demonstrations on the new rope. You may still see some of the rope from that contract on our ships to this day, it had a green marker or rogues yarn showing in the cover in case someone wanted to take a few feet home. GWB also produced other products for the Canadian Navy. Tranfer Lines that the fleet was using were now being spliced in Orillia by Wilson plus there was a mile long target tow line with a kevlar that was shipped to Halifax in box by air and the second end was spliced on at the navy yard in Halifax as a demostration by Wilson of his kevlar splice plus test pennants he also made there in the kevlar of similar size to get an idea of the break load on the new lighter target tow.
The idea of the kevlar tow lines never really got off because it lacked stretch and the target had a problem with flipping over while under tow about a mile behind the shooting ship. Wilson also made a huge wire to rope spliced line that appeared to be some kind of an anti-static assembly for a heavy lift. Not sure the actual use for that one. A lot of the cordage used by Canadian Navy in that period was now coming out of GWB Ropes in Orillia.
Things continued on until a company associated with Building Products of Cansda, ESCORD, it also owned Polytwine in Bellville and wanted the GWB technology as part of its bigger Company. GWB was a small struggling company and Escord presented some goodwill money to get a closer look at the GWB operation.
Gordon paid off some of his own bills with that money and bought two new vehicles, one was a new truck that he presented to Wilson to use like he used his own for years in the service of GWB if needed- Still working under contract but a lot closer than anyone else to the GWB operation and its success.
Polytwine was in the middle of changing ownership around that time and the new owners got busy with getting their new company and GWB was put on the back burner for some years.
Then along came Spoolon, a private smaller concern in Cobourg that had watched the growth of GWB because it was the supplier of metal and wooden spools to most of the Canadian Ropemakers. It wasn`t too long before the deal was made and GWB was moving all its machines from Orillia to a new location inside the Spoolon plant in Cobourg and some of the plant employees in Orillia was also moving to Cobourg too. Spoolon took over some of the GWB liabilities and not long after the move a lot of machines went up for sale in BC when Superior Braids closed. Gordon and the Spoolon owners picked up a lot of the machinery from that sale and trucked it back to the Spoolon plant and set it up so GWB doubled in production capacity especially for longer lengths and bigger rope. Many machines were bigger Herzogs from Germany, the best braiders in the world.
This was the fall of 1982 and not much production for cordage sales with the GWB plant inside the Spoolon Plant.
GWB displayed at the Chicago show and then to the Toronto show in Jan 1983. The deal with Spoolon was not a happy one and in the spring the GWB operation moved back to the Orillia plant it had moved from the year before.
Business picked up and the Spoolon people were amazed since it had dropped way down while operating in Cobourg.
Next came the Amco group from the USA buying from GWB and they had a big marine hardware warehouse in the USA and were supplying the new Boat US chain. Wilson had also a direct deal to make wire to rope halyards for Amco and you could find Wilson`s wire to rope halyards on Boat US store shelves as far away as Florida. GWB improved its rope by becoming Radial and changing the cores to match.
Wilson still had the contract to make all premade dock and anchor lines plus the CS running rigging and for others like Express Yachts and some for Gossard. Wilson also had himself, the Kelt 7.6 running rigging and for others like the S2 7.9 and the Ticon 27 and 30 that Kelt Marine were building in Aurora. Wilson also had a contract with Burn and Ellis Yachts to supply dock and anchor line kits for the Nonsuch and Niagara Sailboats being built by the new Hinterholler Yachts. Mark Ellis was the designer and also the selling dealer in the Ontario region. Good business for little guys. Wilson had known Mark Ellis and John Burn from his days working at C&C Custom and they wanted quality made dock and anchor lines for the great boats they sold.
GWB was moving along with more production that Amco was selling in Canada and again there was interest from Techyn Canada that had started building a Rope and materials company around Polytwine in Belleville. GWB was about to be bought up again and management people were transferred from Belleville to Orillia with the idea that the braided rope operation would operate in the Belleville Plant and Orilla would be the Polytec Netting Part. The netting part had evolved when Ford had decided to put nets in the trunk of the Taurius and Sable models and GWB had submitted a net made from netting bought in Nova Scotia and Wilson had installed the borders by hand. Wilson`s background was fishing gear technology from his training in NFLD back in the 1960`s. Mr Moore from Amco took the net to Detroit and Ford gave the contract to GWB. First the netting strips came from IMP in Nova Scotia but GWB bought two old netting machines from bankrupt Nylon Net Inc. in Memphis, Tenn. and moved them to Orillia with a bunch of old ring twisters picked up in the deal and a couple of employees, one called Little Joe to train people to operate the old netting machines. A whole new extension had to be added to GWB to housed the new machines.
Now GWB was intering a whole new production, the cord was braided in the GWB plant and now the huge netting machine were set up and the lines of netting wide enough to make the car nets were being made right in Orillia. Soon there were 3 new shifts in the netting production and the number of employees grew to about 100.
Soon Techyn was back and wanted to take the whole GWB operation under their wing. They now owned the Polytwine Operation in Belleville and wanted to become a major synthetic cordage company in Canada. Polytwine brought some managers to Orillia from their Belleville plant to train since they hoped to move the braided rope operation to the Belleville plant. The netting operation would stay in the Orillia plant under the Polytec Netting Industries name.
In the spring of 1986 the move to Belleville was completed. Much of the braided rope machinery was trucked out and set up in the Belleville plant. Wilson was still the sub-contractor for the prespliced parts and the running rigging for companies like CS Yachts and others. There were some delivery problems during the packing and unpacking of the stock from Orillia and at one point Wilson was asked to spend time in the Belleville plant to help sort out some of the stuff that was being unloaded from the trailers so the orders could go out the door. 
The move to Belleville took place in the busy shipping season as shown above. Because the boating business in Canada is very much seasonal, if you were unable to get your spring orders out the door for any reason, then most of your customers in the marine trade never wanted back orders showing up in July and August and with the move and the setting up time again it was happening to the new GWB. Belleville operation. Lots of orders got behind from the move and the setting up time at the new location. Many of the old employees were brought in for short periods to get the production up and running in the new location.
In the new location there was a much more organized Union too and there were problems trying to do contract work for Wilson inside the new plant with all the union rules and of course it was figured the job could be done by a union person anyway.
      After a few times visiting the Belleville plant Wilson figured he would remove himself from the contract since the new management was not willing to increase the piecework rates that were being paid. Wilson showed up one day with a new truck and right away someone remarked, you are leaving, aren`t you? And from that time till the pull out completely in mid Sept. Wilson was winding down his days at Politwine-GWB. He was suffering burnout from all the rushing and late nights trying to get all the pieces made and a lot of the work he sub-contracted but still had to do all the hard parts like the CS Yachts contract that GWB had made for years. In 1983 Wilson had bought a new house back home in Cottrell`s Cove and now figured he would take a rest for a year and see what else he might like to do during that time. So in late Sept. the trailer was packed and towed by the new truck and the boat was put behind the old AMC Hornet with Yvonne driving and it was on the way to NFLD, bag and baggage to unload in the new house.
    Even on the trip home Wilson had to stop in Belleville and help GWB-Polytwine  with something that they were unable to do themselves. There was no hard feelings and after arriving home in NFLD they even sent a bunch of  2 inch diameter nylon braid for Wilson to make test pennants for a contract they were trying to get with BC Ferries. The test pennants had a min. of 17 ft each and were sent all the way from NFLD to BC for testing.
     Just around that time Braids and Laces had a contract for 1000 pieces with thimbles used to hold up huge tents and they packed 600 pounds of 3/8 nylon braid on a skid and shipped to NFLD to get the job done. That job took less than a week for two people. Hardest part there was getting the correct count. We had recieved 997 thimbles and it messed it up. Thimbles had been weighed instead of counted before leaving Ontario. So here we were trying to get some rest time and he couldn`t hide even being 1800 miles away.
Wilson now tried to take a rest from his many years of hard work and spend some time doing the things that people do in Nfld like hunting and fishing and trying to set up things in the new house. For 18 months he tried to recover from the hussle and bussle of driving the 400 and the 401. He was now living about 500 ft. from his father and mother and had spent little time with them since he went to live in Botwood to attend high school when he was 13 and then on to College of Fisheries in St. John`s at 16. At 18 he had worked at Davidson`s in Toronto  for the summer and then back to College to  graduate in June 1969 with a Dipolma in Nautical Science and right back to Davidsons again in July as the rigger again.

More to follow later!!!!!

Wilson Yates---------- April 15, 2008
A lot older and Fatter!

1969 Diploma from Marine Institute in Nfld

First Reunion of MI classes from 1964 to 1969
50th Anniversary of graduating Classes Apr. 25, 2014

CS 34 Displayed at Toronto Show Sept. 1991
Cick on pictures to enlarge

Shakedown sail for Annaville out of St. John`s NL.
Testing out all the custom fittings on this Roberts 54 Wilson Yates on the Mainsheet.

Custom Cordage Supplier in Canada

2019 Halyard for big trimaran
3/16 wire with 5/8 ls tail

From www.harrisandhellis.com Remembering my friend Erich Bruckmann

Working Days at CS Yachts, Brampton, Ont. 1988
My shop was the end door behind the Spar racks. Boats are almost ready in the opened doors.

My Ford Truck sitting next to the CS Yachts boat hauler used for local boat deliveries. I am probably wearing my other hat and is doing a rope delivery to CS since I was also working for the company that made the rope too.

Enter supporting content here

   On April 9th 2013 it was 45 years since I first started making rigging at Davidson Sails in downtown Toronto. Since that time I have worked on thousands of sailboats, most of them are still sailing in North America or in far away places that I will never visit. I feel very honored to have worked with many famous Canadian yacht builders and designers over the years and have always tried to meet and keep the quality standards that they set out to achieve in their great boats.
Thank you everyone for supporting the Canadian Yacht Building Industry.
A lot of the industry`s papers and information has been archived at the Marine Museum of Upper Canada in Kingston, Ont.   

Wilson Yates

Webmaster`s assistant
Dora the Cat ---Click on picture to enlarge