The family of Dave Martin has created a plaque to honour the best decorated boat in the annual Sailpast event, which was started by Dave more than three decades ago.
The family recognized this year’s Sailpast winner, Miss Yolande, last week, presenting the Dudoward/Reece family with the plaque at a small ceremony. The award was created as a way to recognize Dave’s contribution to Winterfest following his passing in 2012.
Dave was a longtime resident of Prince Rupert who inaugurated the Sailpast 32 years ago as a way to show appreciation to the community for its support of Rescue 15.
“Rescue 15 was developed after there was a couple bad accidents in the seas around Prince Rupert. At that time there was no Coast Guard Auxiliary … so Dave and his friends went out at night in all kinds of weather to get people out of the water,” Jean Martin, Dave’s wife, said.
“Despite being a slap dash organization, they did some really great work,” Jim Martin, Dave’s son, said, adding Rescue 15 received a small amount of funding for fuel, but otherwise operated on donations.
“They were really grateful to the community for coming up with money by donations for them to buy a zodiac so they could go ashore because their boats couldn’t.”
Decorated with Christmas lights and a sound system, Dave, Jean, their daughter Sheila and others sailed up and down the harbour in Dave’s boat in mid-December.
“It was a pretty horrible night with rain and wind,” Jean said.
Jim wasn’t onboard with his family that night, but was able to see and hear them from the shore.
“We were watching up the street from our house. It was a single boat going up the harbour with the wind blowing. It was black and all you could see was this little light rocking back and forth and you could hear some noise coming from it,” he said.
Jean said the crew could also see people on shore.
“Up on some of the overlooking hills you could see lights coming on outside houses and people standing outside and singing,” Jean said, adding the wind carried the sounds of Christmas carols to people on land.
The following year, more people joined the Martin’s on the water with Sailpast eventually growing and becoming part of the annual Winterfest celebration.
This year Miss Yolande, a commercial fishing boat, was chosen as best decorated boat. Marty Dudoward, Kristi Reece and their daughters Martina and Kaylyn were presented with the new plaque last week.