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Chris Vandersteen's Lezah, Ontario, Canada - The 1st Dolphin? - updated February 24, 2016  
   

July 27, 2012. Normally, the flow of our pages is oldest posting first. In this case we have an exception. While investigation continues it is beginning to to look like Lezah may have been the 1st Dolphin. Why we think this unfolds below.

The First Dolphin? see below

Now, back to our first contact with Lezah. On an Internet search in January, 2007, we found the following picture and post (excerpted/edited) from Chris Vandersteen on the Sailnet site/DolphinList, dated December 11, 2006.


LEZAH does not have a hull number that I am aware of, as the hull was imported by JJ Taylor in 1959 to be completed in Toronto for Hazel Morris and her husband. If I had to guess, I would say that she was one of the very first off the line back in the O'Day . Both were avid yachting people and raced out of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto . They wanted something smaller for Hazel to skipper and the Dolphin provided all the numbers (including a high handicap) to allow her to be successful when competing. Taylor went on to parlay his fibreglass experience into a successful truck company in Unicell after building the Canadian version of the Contessa.

LEZAH (Hazel spelled backwards) was launched in 1960, powered by a 1959 Palmer 6 hp gas single cylinder engine. I can only imagine how classic her lines looked when new. Since then she has seen a lot of wear and tear, breaking loose from her berth a few decades ago in a storm and smashing up against a concrete pier. That damage and the other cracks will soon be less visible as my guy completes the refinishing of the decks and coach roof. I was probably well past the "worth" of the boat when I bought her, but I'm now in the "unrecoverable" area. I'm hoping she'll last another 40 or more years that I have left to sail her in the North Channel, where she'll be berthed in Kagawong, Manitoulin Island. She's never seen salt water, and now she never will; I had hoped at one time to sail her down the St. Lawrence to Port Aux Basques Newfoundland to visit friends. I'll have to find another boat for that passage.

LEZAH is heavier than the later Dolphins I imagine as she was hand-laid up fibreglass an inch thick in spots. So she would have handled ocean-going much more capably than her size would suggest (as you boys in San Francisco and Buzzard's Bay would attest).

From the second and third pics you can see the three bronze opening ports (pictures coming) that I purchased from a foundry in BC through Dowsar Marine in Hamilton ON, but you can find a similar though costlier product at New Found Metals in Washington. The original port hardware was aluminum and was replaced by the second owner, who worked with aluminum. He extruded seven god-awful rectangular portlight frames that cast great light below decks, but made the boat look like a bad home-built - especially the portlight on the front of the coach roof. That one is now gone, and LEZAH will never leak from bashing head-on into waves again. Belowdecks will remain sparse. She retains a v-berth and two aft berths that are crude plywood construction, but enough to get a night's sleep on. She still has a head, but I will have to replumb it to include a waste tank as the original design just dumped the waste overboard. I repowered LEZAH with a 7 hp BMW engine that I had a guy rebuild though V12 Engineering in Northern Ontario.

I hope to be sailing again in the late spring as the North Channel remains hypothermic cold until late May/early June...but who knows with the global temperature rise. On that subject, make a point of watching Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Regardless of your politics, I think sailors will find this concerning.

And one last word in this lengthy email...I'd like to express my condolences to the Gainey family for the loss at sea of Laura. She was crewing on the Picton Castle, a square-rigged barque recently out of Nova Scotia. Laura's dad, Bob Gainey, is a Canadian hockey hero from the 70's and early 80's, having won 5 Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadians. She and the family had overcome so much. My thoughts are with them.

Best regards in the upcoming holiday season,

Chris Vandersteen

********************************************

March 24, 2007. We finally tracked down Chris, and on March 24, 2007, two days before this website went up, we received the following email from Chris (edited)

Hi Ron

My Dolphin 24 was christened "Lezah" by the couple in Toronto Ontario who commissioned J.J. Taylor to complete a hull that was sent up from the U.S. At that time I believe it was O'Day's yard who had their hands in the pie, but I'll have to dig a bit further.

An interim owner, Mr. Bourne who had her for 20 years, had problems with the original ports leaking and so extruded aluminum frames to replace the originals, which were cut much larger, and quite frankly destroyed the classic look the boat may have had prior to that. When I first saw the boat for sale in her cradle, I envisioned her with bronze ports. I don't know why, but it just seemed like the right thing to do. So over the past year and a half of restoration, I paid for a yard to remove the old ports, and build up the sidewalls of the cabin to a solid wall. I had problems with delays so moved the boat to where she is being stored currently, and that gentleman, Gord Smith, installed the bronze ports I bought from a foundry in British Columbia. The foredeck port was not replaced and remains a solid wall. I don't know if the original plan had seven or six ports.

The restoration has been minimal..and so are the pictures. I want to forget how neglected she looked. The interior has yet to be done so I'll do before and afters of that, though I've already stripped out most of the orginial interior. The chainplates were replaced and new chainplate bulkheads installed. I replaced the original gas Palmer 27 6hp single piston engine with a BMW D7 diesel 7hp. And the deck has been repainted. All else is pretty much the way she was originally.

I'll get back to you soon with the details I have recorded somewhere about my conversation with thr original owner. Believe it or not, Lezah was bought for racing. Her high handicap made her a winner in a few races.

Take care
Chris

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December 26, 2011. Overwhelmed with xmas events your webmaster retreated to the peace and quiet of website maintenance. I got to thinking about people one loses contact with, noticed our 5 year info gap with Lezah, and naturally emailed Chris to find out what's up. His reply:

Hi Ron,

She's sitting in the yard all wrapped up in blue. I wish I could say she'll be ready to launch in the spring, but the time and space continuum conspire to keep me from finishing up the refit. Thanks for staying in touch. Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday.

Chris

And, then I got to wondering why we can't seem to get more info about J.J. Taylor and Sons, and also I decided to cruise around the Internet. Lezah is the only J.J. Taylor boat on our Roster... Here's what I found.

A post on our own(!) Forum from back in the early days of the website:

Dolphin 24.org Forum posting
Aug 15, 2007
From: Chris Vandersteen
Re: Dolphin Trailer

Hi Bob,

My Dolphin is sitting on her new float-on trailer, and I'm hoping to launch before the end of the season up here in <ST1:COUNTRY-REGIoN w:st="on">Canada</ST1:COUNTRY-REGIoN>. I had the deck repainted and have yet to get all the gear back on. I'll keep you posted.

Chris
Lezah

We found another post from Chris dated August 19, 2009 on a blog somewhere:

Tanzer 16
So my Dolphin 24 sat on the hard for another season, as she awaits my attention to get her hardware and rigging reinstalled. I had the topsides redone a couple of years ago, and she has yet to be launched. In the flurry of activity since January, with the end of a long-term relationship, I haven't had the time to devote to Lezah and there she sits in the yard, on her trailer, under a canopy of blue shrink-wrap. But I didn't want to let another sailing season slip by completely, and now that I've virtually given up flying and plane ownership, I need to get back on the water. So my son and I searched out and bought a decent sixteen foot dingy, and we'll be travelling north to bring her home. She's a Tanzer 16 and belonged to an elderly gentleman who is no longer able to sail.

Together, my son and I prepared the trailer (which I hauled back from the northern locale a few days ago on my own utility trailer), installing new wheels and tires, wiring, etc. So we'll be heading out in a couple of hours, hoping to launch in the next day or two, weather permitting.

While the trailer was in need of repairs, the boat, upon inspection, appeared to be in good shape. No damage was apparent, and a cursory examination for delamination and soggy fiberglass turned up nothing. For the amount if time in the water that we'll see, I think we're pretty safe. We won't be racing her, and she's too small to do more than fart round for a few hours in light to moderate breezes. Perhaps I'll rekindle my passion for sailing enough to have Lezah ready for spring.

Chris

We are trying to track down Hazel Morris, and also to generate some information about J.J. Taylor and Sons - stay tumed

*************************

December 30, 2011. No long holiday break for your Dolphin24 website staff!, Nor for Beverley Darville, archivist at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto, Canada! As Lezah had a reputation as an active racing boat it seemed that maybe the RCYC might have some archival information that could shed light on her record. BINGO!! Lezah was definitely a racing boat - a very successful racing boat under her skippers Hazel and Dave Morris. Thanks to Beverley we found many records of Lezah's racing success in the Annals of the RCYC. Here are a couple of clippings:

LYRA is the Lake Yacht Racing Association formed in 1884 as an association of yacht clubs on Lake Ontario and eastern Lake Erie. Winning the Louise Freeman Cup (photo at left) in 1963 was quite a challenge - that's over 100! miles on the rhumb line in a Dolphin in heavy weather....We'll try and get the local weather report.

In addition to winning the 1963 Louise Freeman Cup Lezah won the 1963 Earl of Dufferin Cup awarded for the best corrected time in IMS classes; she won the 1963 Boswell Race in Division VIII; and in 1962, she won the annually awarded Queens Cup, originally presented by Her Majesty Queen Victoria in 1891. I am sure that it did not escape notice that Lezah won the Cosgrove Cup in 1960 - right out of the box!!

stay tuned

December 31, 2011. Today, your webmaster spoke with Hazel Morris. She was returning my call and caught me planting our live Christmas tree out back - no pen or note paper, but a wonderful conversation. Hazel lives with husband Dave out on a cattle ranch in Neudorf, Saskatchewan and remembers well getting off a plane from London in January, 1960 and going to the Toronto Boat Show where she was to see her wedding present - a Dolphin 24 on exhibit!

While she and Dave are not 'internet friendly' they will make an effort to get to see the website - perhaps at their local library - and we will talk again next week. I will have pen and paper handy! She told me that they sold Lezah to someone (Roger Bourne), who sold it to Chris, and 6-7 years ago on a trip back east she went to see the boat and knew that it had been painted blue. She has wonderful memories of racing Lezah with her "all girl crew".

Your webmaster also has been in contact with Jim Taylor of J. J. Taylor and Sons (one of 2 sons, the other is William), and he is a long time friend of the Morrises. We will talk next year/week.

For a Dolphin24 webmaster its been a great way to exit the year, and a wonderful opportunity to start 2012. Happy New Year!!

****************

January 24, 2012. Early in January I spoke with Jim Taylor whose father and grandfather owned J. J. Taylor and Sons, and during that period, I also spoke with both Dave and Hazel Morris. The result is the beginning of a fascinating, and continuing story. Basically, Jim tells us that J.J Taylor built only one Dolphin 24 - previous reports had indicated 10-12 boats were built. That one boat was built for Dave Morris who bought it as a wedding present for his new English bride,

Jim reported that Dave was an enthusiast for the, then, new fiberglass technology, and, as we know, so was George O'Day. Hazel told me that their boat was exhibited at the boat show in two pieces, as she recalls - the hull, with the deck suspended above it. The purpose was to show people what could be done with this new fiberglass technology. Jim Taylor told me that they built it as a special favor to Dave, and exhibited it so that show go'ers could see what could be done with fiberglass as a boat building material. Dave told me he had the boat bonded together and arranged to have it finished. We are waiting for more on this story.

On a follow up conversation with Hazel today she told me she had been to the library and, with the help of the librarian, arranged to download and copy several pages from the website including Lezah's. She has also selected some pictures of Lezah and will mail them. The nearest store where copies can be made is over an hour's drive from the ranch!

We had a wonderful conversation ranging the breath of Dolphin sailing experiences - including how Lezah excelled in light air. Hazel recalls Lezah winning the Queens Cup in 1962 - a race from Toronto to Hamilton at the western end of Lake Ontario, a distance of 25-30 miles. The race was under the CCA Handicap System with large and smaller boats racing together - including the RCYC Commodore's 60+ footer. Sometime during the race the wind went very light and many boats retired and were being towed into Hamilton harbor. The Commodore's boat finished, and he was anticipating being awarded the Queen Cup. However, Lezah sailed into the harbor - and was announced as the winner!

February 7, 2012. Hazel Morris found some pictures of Lezah, copied them and mailed them in. We are hoping for more

Dave Morris at the helm - 1960 black and white photo - hull color blue/green

Note port light change by 2nd owner Roger Bourne - and she's red! Dave Morris on boat visiting

**********************************

Dolphin 24 Hull #1?

July 27, 2012. After several months we reconnected with Hazel Morris in an effort to find out more about how Lezah was conceived. It seems that back in the late 1950's Dave Morris worked with an Irving Hallabra (sp?) who represented George O'Day and Associates in Canada. Sometime, in the mid/late 1959 period Dave became aware of the S&S designed Dolphin 24 to be introduced in the US in 1960, and using his enthusiasm and connections, arranged to have a hull and cabin/deck shipped to J.J.Taylor where it would be exhibited as a example of new fiberglass technology at the January 1960 Toronto Boat Show, be presented there to Hazel as a wedding present to his new bride, Hazel, and then be completed to a finished boat by J.J. Taylor and Sons.

Your webmaster has a copy of the Yachting Magazine New York Boat Show Issue, January, 1960. There is no picture of a Dolphin 24 in the George D. O'Day and Associates ad, only a description - so presumably, no finished boat was ready for photographs. When your webmaster visited Sparkman & Stephens offices to go through their Dolphin 24 files, there was a picture of a Dolphin 24 in Miami dated March 19, 1960 - with a notation in the margin "Hull #1". This boat was going to Dick Bertrum's boat dealership to be exhibited at a boat show in Miami. Could it be that this was the first "completed" boat, and Lezah, being shipped in component parts, a 'kit boat', did not have an assigned hull #? Later kit boats, ie, Marionette, did have assigned hull #s (12) but we have no nameplate.

A confusing situation. The late 1950's early 1960's were the wild west days of fiberglass boats. Lezah might well be #1. We'll probably never know for sure.

*******************************

September 8, 2012. We got a couple of emails from Chris Vandersteen (edited/consolidated) that updates Lezah's status, adds to the historical record, and corrects this photo's details.

Hey Ron,

I just found your historical records on Lezah and what a joy! She is still in my care, and while she has not been in the water since the end of the 2004 sailing season, every day gets us closer and closer. I have a correction for you

This is a picture of Lezah sitting in the Northshore Boatworks yard at Bronte, Ontario after I had commissioned them to fill the rectangular ports with solid fiberglass to prepare for installing six 6" bronze opening ports (for my eventual cruising days). Northshore never got around to the job as they were outfitting a much larger yacht for an owner with deeper pockets, and so I had Lezah hauled to Gordon Smith Marine in Greensville, Ontario. The picture you have near the top of the page, with Lezah in restoration mode and her new circular ports, is in Gord's shop.

When I bought Lezah in 2001 (?) she was sporting her red paint and off-pink hull. I did the hand-painted blue topsides, white bootstripe, and gold-painted inlaid stripe just below the rails myself. The "paint job low on the keel" is actually just sunlight; the keel is covered with an old coat of Interprotect 3000 antifouling. She looks pretty sad there on her cradle. I hope some day that Hazel and Dave will be able to see her in fine form.

I see from your pages that red was not the original colour. I can only guess that Roger Bourne, who bought the boat from Hazel and Dave, and was an Air Canada pilot, probably painted the boat in Air Canada colours (the "Big Red" at the time). Just a guess. He owned the boat for 21 years if I remember correctly. If I track him down, I'll pass his contact info to you or have him email you directly.

I'll keep you posted, and if S&S or Dolphin24.org decides to designate Lezah as Hull #1, with the proper documentation, I will affix a plate stating something of that nature.

Just finding your site has given me a kick to get started on preparing her for....next season?

Chris

September 9, 2012. We had no pictures of Lezah's interior which led to follow up questions. Chris did not have any pictures and he has stripped out the interior to rebuild the chainplate bulkheads, but sent in a detailed description which you can read by clicking here. Basically, Lezah had a open layout - a conventional V-berth, with head under, a mast strut, no galley, sink, ice box or hanging locker, 2 settee berths in the main cabin with open shelves above and behind, and open quarter berths. There was a fold up map table fixed to the starboard, aft facing main bulkhead above which hung a radio and fire extinguisher. On the port side was a provision for a gimbaled stove. One of the floor boards had fitting for a table leg. The engine compartment was open on both sides with a removable wood panel in front of the engine, an electrical panel was mounted on the back.

Chris found one picture of Lezah sailing - here with his son.

One might note the double lifelines, aft led halyards with deckhouse winches, the detail of the main hatch slide rail, the main sheet lead... Our technical staff will study the detail and perhaps file a report at a later date.

Webmaster Note: September 10, 2012: Chris advises 1) that near mid boom main sheet leads to a block/cleak on the cockpit floor. That's a conventional traveller aft.

2) Previous owner Roger Bourne was an aluminum extrusion guy and probably made up the aluminum main hatch rails and mating pieces in the wood hatch. The hatch rail base is all molded fiberglass from the coach roof up to where the rail is attached, and it looks original i.e. not modified. It is quite different from pictures shown of early Dolphin main hatch cutouts. Click here to see Passage, #12 main hatch cutout. Click your browser back arror to get back here.

At right is a very crude rendering in MSPaint: The magenta is the molded fibreglass, and the blue is the aluminum rail, fastened with nuts and bolts through the fibreglass. The bottom of the "S" is the coach roof. Interesting - maybe Roger was a fiberglass guy too - see early Lezah photo at top of page

3) why the transom hatch is raised is lost in the mists of time...

***********************************

September 9, 2012. Your webmaster and Dave Morris had an interesting phone conversation yesterday afternoon. I had a series of questions about how he came to buy a Dolphin 24 as a wedding present for his new wife, Hazel. This was 53 years ago but Dave answered as best he could recollect. The following summary is from my notes of this conversation and from previous conversations with Hazel Morris, Jim Taylor, the grandson of the founder of J.J.Taylor & Sons, John Burn of Grampian Yachts, and later C&C Yachts, Bob Larson of US Yachts, and others.

Dave knew George O'Day and followed the action in 12 meter/America's Cup boats. He was a 6 meter racer and, like George O'Day, was an enthusiast of the, then new, fiberglass technology in boats. He had seen articles in Yachting Magazine about the racing successes of Trina, the little yawl in the mid- later 1950's and 'heard', somehow, that George O'Day was planning to introduce a Sparkman & Stephens designed, MORC fiberglass sloop based on Trina. Dave was interested in finding a fiberglass, off shore boat that his soon-to-be bride could easily handle. And what would be a nicer wedding present?

Palmer Scott, owner of Marscot Plastics, and another person representing the company, visited Toronto sometime in late 1959 as part of an effort to help sell the Rhodes 19s that Palmer was building for G.D. O'Day and Associates. It maybe that they were trying to get J.J.Taylor and Sons, a well known quality wooden boat builder, to be a contractor to finish Dolphin 24's in Canada - based on the major fiberglass components being supplied by Marscot. According to Jim Taylor, it seems J.J.Taylor and Sons ultimately did not wish to do this - but the principals were good friends of Dave Morris. They knew of Dave's interest in fiberglass boats, and as a personal favor to him, decided to import a Dolphin 24 hull and deck for him, exhibit it at the Toronto Boat show in January 1960 as part of a program to introduce fiberglass boat building technology to the Canadian public. The timing was such that Dave and Hazel were able to disembark from their flight from London where they had honeymooned, and they went directly to the Toronto Boat Show and where Dave would show Hazel the Dolphin 24 that was to become her wedding present - Lezah.

J.J.Taylor finished the boat and Hazel, Dave and Lezah went on to show what a Dolphin, properly sailed, can do. It's really a great story. Dave offered that George O'Day was quite the salesman and it would not surprise him at all that there were two Hull #1s. Dave does not recall how or why the sail number 31 appears on the mainsail. For now we will leave it a mystery as to which Dolphin was really #1. My vote goes to the model Bob Baker built for George O'Day that Norrie Hoyt wrote about in his book "Addicted to Sail". Like Dick Bertrum's #1, that model is also missing. But Lezah, is not...

************************************

October 31, 2012. Hazel Morris called yesterday with sad news - that her husband Dave had passed away. He had not been well. We were fortunate to have talked with him. He was one of those there at the beginning....

********************************

December 26, 2012. We received a nice card from Hazel Morris. It was basically a notice about her husband David's passing, with some pictures of their life together notably in Dave's 6 meter boat Buzzy II, their Dolphin 24, Lezah, and their Saskatchewan cattle ranch. In it was a picture of Lezah sailing on Lake Ontario in 1960. Here it is

We have set up a page for the Morris' Lezah - click here to go there.

****************************************

February 24, 2016. We got the following update from Chris.

Hi Ron,

Lezah is still with me, and I just snapped this pic out my back door:

She hasn't seen water since 2004 and is looking weather-beaten. Every year I pledge to her that I'm going to build my shop and get her inside to finish her up and relaunch, and she patiently waits for me to make it happen. The mice found my mainsail and use the material for nesting one winter, so she'll need a new suit when I get close to relaunching. For now, she keeps my dreams alive.

I pulled the plastic off two years ago as it was holding in moisture in the teak, and last year I tried to tarp her up but the bloody wind here is gale force most of the year...they've just put up 77 wind turbines in a radius on 50 km of us, the closest is about half a kilometre away. So I moved her behind the house with my little Tanzer and my sister-in-law's SmokeCraft to get a bit of a wind break for her. There she sits and waits, silent and forgiving.

I visit the site every once and a while, and thank you for dedicating space to Lezah. One of these days...

Take care and best of health,

Chris

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