Found A Good Home

In August 2020, William “Bill” James offered his C&C 27 “Sesiya” to the Nepean Sailing Club for use in its Sail Training & Able Sail programs; on October 6, 2020, Sesiya arrived in Ottawa. This, and related, pages provide the history of Sesiya, and how she came to NSC.

C&C 27 Sesiya at her mooring, c2019.

C&C 27 Sesiya – A Description of the boat

Sesiya is a 1976 C&C 27 Mark 3, hull #643, built at the C&C 27 factory in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and commissioned in Penetanguishene on Georgian Bay, in the late spring of 1976.

She is very well equipped for single-handed cruising, with a dodger and bimini, Harken furler, and most lines led aft. She has a tiller and a Ray Marine ST-2000 Autohelm. Electronics include depth gauge, knot meter, VHF and GPS. There are 4 cockpit winches, 2 cabin-top winches, and one on the mast. Anchors include CQR and Bruce anchors, with lots of 5/16″ double-dipped anodized chains.

The propulsion is from an Atomic 4 gasoline engine with a 2-blade fixed prop.

Sails include a fully-battened North mainsail, a North genoa on the furler, and a spinnaker.

The decks were professionally re-done in c2000, and the hull was re-painted (date TBC). The bottom has been painted annually with VC-17 anti-fouling.

The boat did not come with a cradle or trailer, nor was there a winter cover or frame.

More general information about the C&C 27 Mark 3 can be found on the C&C 27 Association website.

Sesiya – The origin and background of this unique name

The name “Sesiya” derives from Sesiya Hamba, a Zulu song meaning we are leaving, e.g. sung when returning home to the rolling hills of Zululand after working in a hellish job in a big city.

William James grew up in Durban, South Africa. He wrote, “At Glenwood High School in Durban I had to cycle home up Berea Road, which was essentially long and quite steep, and it always seemed to be steamingly hot. Buses fully loaded with Zulu workers laboured uphill and I was able to catch up and grab the rear left corner with my right hand to catch a free ride up the hill (choked by the clouds of diesel exhaust). No, agreed, not particularly clever. In those days Zulus were naturally musical, harmonizing from infancy – people at a bus stop would spontaneously break into really beautiful singing. For me, in the heat and choking fumes, their singing on the bus was inspiring. Sesiya Hamba was typical. Who could forget it?”

A note above the nav station in Sesiya reads “‘Sesiya Hamba’ is the Zulu anthem ‘We are Leaving’, generally sung as a resolve to continue the fight against apartheid. It raises images of the beautiful rolling hills of Zululand as opposed to the hellish treadmill of the white cities. The sentiments are similar, whether settling in Canada from South Africa or sailing in Georgian Bay after a week’s work in Hamilton.”

Google “Sesiya Hamba” now, and you’ll find it referred to as a drinking song, though that’s not how Mr. James originally perceived it. Click here for a recording of Sesiya Hamba.

The James Family – Donors to NSC of Sesiya

William James grew up in Durban, South Africa, learning to sail there before emigrating to Canada. He and his wife, Lyn, bought Sesiya in 1976 and kept it in Bayfield Inlet, and later at Sound Boat Works in Parry Sound. They cruised it extensively with their two sons on Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, with excursions as far away as Quebec City, for the Tall Ship Rendezvous in 1984.

Lyn’s last sail was in c2006, following a cancer diagnosis, so for 13 years, Mr. James mostly single-handed Sesiya. Sadly, Lyn passed away in late 2018.

William James is a civil engineer, University Professor Emeritus and past Dean of Engineering at the University of Guelph. He was the founding president of CHI, a consulting engineering and software company based in Guelph, Ontario.

Parry Sound to Charlevoix

In 2013, William James completed a 1,200 km single-handed round-trip cruise from Parry Sound to attend the Great Lakes Cruising Club rendezvous in Charlevoix, Michigan. The trip is documented in this YouTube video; accompanying notes for this video are available here.

From Parry Sound to NSC – Sesiya’s move to Ottawa

At 0530 on the morning of October 6, 2020, NSC volunteers Mike Laughlin and Hugh Morrin set out from Ottawa for the trip to Parry Sound. Upon arrival at Sound Boat Works, Sesiya was already in the straps of the crane, and within minutes, she was being lowered onto Blue Zulu’s trailer, which was used for the trip.

Bill James had driven from Guelph to meet Hugh & Mike and showed them through the boat as they readied her for the trip back to Ottawa. After a couple of hours of packing and securing everything, and a quick bite of a packed lunch, Mike and Hugh began the return leg to Ottawa, through Algonquin Park, in the beautiful fall foliage.

Below are a few photos:

The Offer – How NSC was offered C&C 27 Sesiya

In the summer of 2020, William James decided not to launch Sesiya, primarily due to concerns related to COVID-19. Though only 83 years young, Mr. James wondered whether it was wise to continue to single-handing Sesiya around Georgian Bay, and began to consider what other options there might be.

Nepean Sailing Club has the largest and most active fleet of C&C 27s anywhere in the world, and so a Google search led Mr. James to NSC. He thus reached out to NSC’s Commodore, Michael Hoffman, coincidentally a co-owner of C&C 27 Blue Zulu; Michael in turn put Mr. James in contact with Hugh Morrin, the other co-owner of Blue Zulu, and the primary C&C 27 contact at NSC.

During email exchanges and a telephone call, Mr. James expressed his desire to find a “good home” for the boat that he had loved and cared for, for the past 44 years; finding a good home was much more important to Mr. James than financial compensation. This led Hugh to consider whether NSC might be in a position to accept a C&C 27 for use in its Sail Training program — the possibilities seemed exciting. After some initial discussions with the Sailing Training Director, Shawn Batten, Sailing Activities Manager, and Michael, and further emails back and forth, Mr. James and his sons decided to offer Sesiya to NSC, as a donation, for use in its Sail Training and other programs, as the club deemed appropriate. Hence began the process of NSC’s acquisition of Sesiya.

Considerations in Accepting Sesiya

It would not be prudent nor responsible for NSC to accept any offer of a donated boat without fully considering whether the boat was appropriate and suitable for use by NSC. NSC had been considering the option of club-owned keelboats, and how they might be used, but with COVID-19 causing upheaval during the spring and summer of 2020, those discussions were still ongoing at the time that Sesiya was offered to NSC. Nevertheless, the gracious offer by the James family was considered an option worth pursuing.

After multiple meetings and telephone discussions, the Sail Training Director presented a proposal to acquire Sesiya, and a plan for her use. Legitimate concerns were raised about who would maintain Sesiya, how maintenance and operating costs would be covered, and how the boat would be used. Mr. James graciously made his donation “with no strings attached”, so that the club could use the boat as deemed appropriate.

The plan was discussed at a specially convened Board of Directors meeting on October 1, 2020, and was unanimously supported.

A Plan for Sesiya’s Usage

In her proposal to the Board of Directors, Michele Cimon, Sail Training Director, outlined various opportunities for how Sesiya might be used at NSC, in the Sail Training and Able Sail programs. NSC’s current Able Sail program, utilizing the Martin 16s, cannot accommodate many with physical or developmental disabilities. Some of the opportunities for the use of Sesiya include:

Able Sail Program

Children with Autism – Day Programs

In 2019, NSC engaged in exploratory conversations with representatives of Autism Canada. Although there was interest in pursuing sailing activities for children affected by Autism, for most the Martin 16 was not an appropriate platform, as most children would need a caregiver or accompanying adult – which is not an option in the Martins. With Sesiya, and our ability to offer an alternative platform more conducive to the needs of these constituents, NSC can re-ignite the conversation with Autism Canada to develop appropriate engagement options.

Adults with Developmental Disabilities – Day Programs

In 2019, NSC offered sailing as a “day program” through a local Group Home, but could only take some of their residents in the Martin 16s. The “day program” for individuals with developmental disabilities is very under-served in Ottawa. With Sesiya, NSC could expand our outreach to such group homes and other organizations in our region.

Seniors Residences – Day Programs

In 2019, NSC was approached by a local Seniors Residence about making sailing available as an activity for their residents, since many of their residents are past members of NSC. With the acquisition of Sesiya, NSC is now in a position to reconsider the feasibility of developing appropriate engagement options with such Seniors Residences.

Sail Training Program

Adventure Sail (Youth)

The acquisition of a larger keelboat could offer the opportunity for NSC to expand its youth Adventure Sail program, to include outings to Aylmer Island or Pinhey’s Point, for days trips or potentially even overnight excursions.

Keelboat Training (Youth)

Currently, NSC does not offer any youth keelboat training, but Sesiya offers an opportunity to offer training on a boat that requires a crew of 5-6 to work together as a team.

Experiential Sailing

NSC gets a lot of requests from people interested in experiencing what sailing is all about, without signing up for a full course. Sesiya might be the perfect platform to accommodate such requests.

NSC is not at this time committed to implementing all, or any, of the above programs, but this gives a flavour of the opportunities being considered for Sesiya’s future use. This plan will undoubtedly evolve over time, and for the next year or so, will likely be very dependent on the progress of COVID-19.