SALTS’s down-east schooner and longtime sail training vessel
was one of the last of Canada’s great Grand Banks schooners. From 1974 to 2003 Victoria’s Sail and Life Training Society
(SALTS) sailed the Robertson II
, fondly known as The Robbie,
as a sail-training vessel. SALTS developed programs aboard her that took as many as 800 young people or “trainees” on voyages of discovery each year. The voyages ranged from 2 to 20 days and took trainees through the Gulf Islands, up the Strait of Georgia, and into spectacular fjords of Jervis and Princess Louisa Inlets. While in harbour Robbie
served as a popular floating museum available for public tours.
A Short Life After SALTS
She was sold, without her suit of sails, to Roy Boudreau and Tom Nimbly of Atlantic and Pacific Fisheries in 2003.
The wreck of Robertson II
On Sunday July 02 2007 Robertson II was grounded on Minx Reef off Saturna Island’s Winter Cove. Upon hearing media accounts of Robbie’s plight, volunteers from far and wide rushed to the scene. Mark Gumley of MG Shipyard & Dive Service in Washington State arrived with inflatable floatation bags to help support about 80 tonnes of the vessel’s 100-tonne frame. He brought divers and salvage equipment to help right the schooner. After the dive team set the airbags and patched planks on both the port and starboard sides, the vessel was trussed and prepped for an attempt to float her off the reef. The plan was to put a barge alongside, then gently float her over to the protected waters of Irish Bay where further work patching her hull would to achieve a state where pumps could keep Robbie afloat and dried her out.
All efforts failed. Today she remains on the reef, stripped of her tall masts and deck fittings. Robbie has become a sad marker for the end of the reef that ended her long and worthy sailing career.
She is missed by the thousands who sailed on her.