Alberta Offshore Sailing Association
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AOSA CLUB HISTORY - The information shown on this page comes primarily from Hans Nederveen, Dean Wray and Bob Schimmel.  Information is still being gathered as not all the details are complete or accurate!  Whenever I meet an ex commodore I glean a bit more and update this file.  The info is posted here in the hope that it will shake the cob webs loose.  If you have information that can clarify the facts, then please email me so we can update this section.       Bob Schimmel, 2016-04-28. 

1975 - The idea of creating a sail club for pocket cruisers was conceived on the shores of the Strutts Marina in discussions amongst the sailors.  Donna Bean is credited with originating the idea and quickly got others involved.  I remember our conversation and Hans Nederveen was also approached.  There were others but neither Donna nor I can remember their names.   We even discussed creating a club with a full marina in the west end of Rosewood Bay.  The Strutts Marina was located on the south shore of Wabamun Lake, half way between SBYC and Rosewood Bay.  It was operated by Klaus and Gisela Strutt.  Now I wouldn't go so far as to call this bunch of sailors a club, but they split into two factions at the end of the year; racing and cruising.  Despite this, we had fun at the events we held during the summer.  Many heated discussions were held during the Sunday morning coffee break, over how to maintain our boats.  Nobody ever heard of anti-fouling paint yet.  You should understand that pocket cruisers were in their infancy and all of us were novices at that time.  We simply did not know enough about fibreglass boats; fastening hardware and especially winter storage, hence Donna's concept of holding winter meetings to exchange ideas and maintain the sailing momentum over the winter.  The idea caught on.  The first meetings were held at the Blue Flame Kitchen in Edmonton and I remember the subject of the first meeting was winter boat storage.  Boy did we learn a thing or two.  Many of us stored our boats totally wrong and we immediately changed our tarps to promote ventilation instead of blocking it.  At any rate the meetings continued during that winter with other speakers and club members invited to speak.  This is still the primary principle of the AOSA today.        (Info supplied by Bob Schimmel).
1976 - The following summer the majority of the racers moved their boats across the lake to moor at Poole Scout Camp and the cruisers remained in the Strutts marina.  Interesting how that relationship went.  Anytime the weather was a bit rough, we cruisers would sail from the marina to the Scout camp to see the racers hunkered down on shore around their camp fire.  They were having fun though.  Dick Weir was the Poole Scout camp Warden at the time and he taught many people how to sail.  In fact, many "old timers" who are now spread throughout the other clubs on the lake had their start at Poole Camp.  Anyway, this original group soon developed into the Poole Sail Committee.  But I digress, as another very important piece of AOSA trivia developed around that camp fire. 

Around this time Alex Weir (not related to Dick Weir) owned a San Juan 24 and in order for him to register his boat for racing under the 1/4 ton ruling, he had to belong to a club that had a link to salt water.  Well obviously Wabamun Lake doesn't have a link to salt water BUT the word offshore in the club name satisfied the rule makers and so the club name became the Alberta Offshore Sailing Association.  As a result the AOSA was incorporated in Edmonton on Aug 16, 1976 as a  non-profit association under the Alberta Societies Act.  Hence the word Association.  Interestingly enough, but unknown to the Wabamun group, a club called AOSA was already operating in Calgary at the time.  They tried incorporating themselves as AOSA two years after the northern members did.  Since the Edmonton group registered their name first, the name stuck and the Calgary club was forced to choose a different name.  Such was the limited communications at the time, there being no ASA in those days.  At any rate the southern fleet is now called the Foothills Association of Cruiser Sailors and were incorporated on April 17, 1979, operating autonomously from the northern fleet.  The southern fleet tended to be oriented towards trailerable cruisers since they didn't have facilities on their local waters.  As a result they usually sailed in Montana or Idaho.  I remember Donna urging Edmonton sailors to join them at Flathead lake and one year quite a few people did.  I believe that 4 or 6 boats were hauled to Flathead Lake that summer.  As a foot note, the Edmonton Scout headquarters finally stopped calling the Poole Sail Committee the "offshore group" in 2000 when Bob Schimmel renamed the club by removing the "offshore group" sign from the tree and hung a Poole Sail Club sign over the steps.  Finally separate identities. 

By this time SBYC consisted of moored boat in the bay and EYC was already well established.  EYC was launching and retrieving cruiser boats from the public access next to their property.  They had a "clothesline" established between shore and an anchor set way out there in deep water.   They would attach a dolly (2 wheels, axle & trailer ball) to the boat trailer and the clothesline could haul the boat out, float it off and the dolly was retrieved.   Nobody knows what happened to that system!  It just disappeared one day.              (Info supplied by Bob Schimmel & Hans Nederveen).

Subsequent Years - From 1983 to 1994 we designed and bought AOSA burgees and had wonderful membership cards that showed we were a legitimate member of ASA/CYA, all primarily thanks to Hans Nederveen who served as an almost perpetual secretary/treasurer from before '83 to about '93.  Many people mistook the AOSA for ASA at that time.  As a result we had contacts from all over the place.  I once received a phone call from a lady in New York who wondered if her daughter or son would be OK hitching a ride on a passing sailboat in the south Pacific.  How would you respond, to a concerned parent like that? 

Panko Ganchev and Kees van der Leek (both EYC) were commodores long before Panko and I was first to establish an AOSA guest mooring when he placed one at EYC.  The 2nd mooring (long since departed) was my original mooring at the Town of Wabamun.  At one time I rebuilt at least one of the EYC guest moorings.  I beefed it up, based on a lifetime of SBYC moorings, and it should be good for my lifetime to hold any 2 or 3 boats for any type of weather that I've seen on the lake.

Brian Smith, who had an SJ23 (Obe-Juan) at Poole Scout Camp, was Vice Commodore in '84 and should probably be credited with starting the spring SWAP MEETS in that year.  I think he was commodore in '85/'86.

We had a closer connection to Calgary in the earlier days.  Many of you may not know that there was a southern AOSA as well as a northern.  Northern AOSA was registered first.  The Calgarians were a group of very mobile trailer sailors.  They would spend a good chunk of their summers moored in Pend Orielle in Idaho or Flathead lake in Montana.  They gave me plans for a knockdown travel lift that they used in their warehouse in the winter.

The Calgary group sent Cal Nixon to Edmonton in the winter of '84.  Cal was heading off shore and looking for crew to keep 3 people on board "Whyak," his Fortune 30, for all the offshore passages between Victoria and the south Pacific/return (four 3-4 wk passages).  He talked me into subbing for his 14 year old on the return passage from Hawaii to Victoria, "the uphill run", in June of '86.

There used to be an annual ASA mid winter conference that faded as priorities changed.  AOSA filled the void by bringing in guest speakers.  Some may remember John Samson, the unabashed owner of the ferro-cement "Stormstrutter."  There were others.   During my tenure I brought in three guest speakers; from a wood, then glass, then steel, sail boats respectively.  It was wonderful hosting these people.  It involved a heck of a lot of work by very few people but it was worth it.

  • 1992 - The first, if memory serves me right, was a retired American submariner named George Maynard from Port Townsend.  I heard about him at their Wooden Boat Festival one September.  He built an exact replica of Slocum's "Spray" and sailed with his family around the Atlantic for a couple of years.  He "exchanged" his wife after that trip for a new one named Julia.  They eventually ended up in Port Townsend building another wooden boat named "Scud."  Very entertaining, crusty old fella.

  • 1993 - Next were Andy (retired Royal Navy pilot and boat broker) and Liza Copeland from Vancouver talking about their 6 year offshore sailing adventure at the Provincial Museum.  The kids started cruising as 3 young boys on "Bagheera", a 40' Beneteau - you'll remember the bubbly Liza who authored "Just Cruising", "Still Cruising" and other excellent books.

  • 1994 - Then came Marc and Jane LeLec on the homebuilt steel 39' "Tevake Nui" out of New Zealand.  They spoke about wintering over in Eastern Russia during the last years before the "Berlin wall came down."  Someone from the Blue Water Cruising Society in Vancouver phoned me, “You should have these people out at your club.  They just came down the Alaska panhandle and talked to us."  So we did, and we have stayed in touch with Marc & Jane, and now Melissa, ever since.  We visited them in Nelson on the south island of New Zealand in 2003.  They left for 5 years offshore sailing last in February, 2003 and returned for Christmas 2012.

Three things I pushed AOSA for;

  1. The winter sailing get together - Anybody and everybody was welcome at AOSA events.  We hoped the Board would have representation from all around Lake Wabamun (99% of AOSA adherents at that time) - should think broader now.  The big guest speakers were something that many people looked forward to - we had 150-200 attendees at each of the three events - I'm sorry they stopped but I know why.
  1. Maintain/expand the AOSA moorings around the lake.  As the only non-property club, we tried to encourage everyone to not be clique-ish and visit all the clubs, and to take that first step in cruising - spend a night off the dock. 
  1. A legitimate sailing club that permitted an inexpensive base for ASA/CYA membership. - We need to support our national sailing organization to encourage growth (someone to buy the boat you're selling) and excellence and have that little card that is recognized at sailing & yacht clubs the world over.

For anything we achieved during my tenure, it wouldn't have happened without considerable backup from Jim Spalding and Hans Nederveen.    (Info supplied by Dean Wray, 1983 & 1994).


Past Commodores and their achievements. (I call them achievements since things are seldom done by one person). 

  1. 1975-76 / Alex Weir (Added the word Offshore so it became AOSA registered under the Societies Act.  This was done so he could race his SJ24 as a 1/4 ton vessel.  Edmonton 1/4 ton Association).
  2. 1976-77 / Laurie Newton
  3. 1977-78 / Hans Nederveen (Designed and created AOSA burgees, membership cards and designed the logo).
  4. 1979-80 / Martin Elton
  5. 1980-81 / Jim Kneesch
  6. 1981-82 / Randy Stiles, Vice Commodore: Hans Nederveen, Sec: Penny Nederveen, News letter Editor: Karin Stiles
    This was as a banner year with the officers heralding the renaissance of change for the AOSA.  Here are a number of “firsts” achieved: 
    - Long term centrally located meeting place suitable for large groups – Strathcona Legion. 
    - Restructure monthly meeting format minimizing AOSA business protocol in favour of general interest or technical presentations related to sailing or boating. 
    - Major presentation with Blue Water medallists and famous authors Hal and Margaret Roth at the Highwayman Motor Hotel ballroom with a sold out crowd. 
    - In later years the achievement of a small but dynamic AOSA/EYC team provided a first with the largest sailing vessel ever displayed in Edmonton at the Sportsman Show; Klaus Grueber’s Roberts 34 “Solitude.”
  7. 1982-83 / Laurie Newton
  8. 1983-84 / Jim Spalding
  9. 1984-85 / Dean Wray
  10. 1985-86 / Brian Smith (Started the mid winter swap meet in 1984).
  11. 1986-87 / ?
  12. 1987-88 / Panko Ganchev (Established first AOSA guest mooring at EYC).
  13. 1988-89 / Kees van der Leek
  14. 1989-90 / ?
  15. 1990-92 / Charlie Patching
  16. 1992-93 Dean Wray (re-established AOSA guest mooring at EYC, Year end speaker - Maynards).
  17. 1993-94 Dean Wray (Year end speaker, Lisa & Andy Copeland)
  18. 1994-95 Dean Wray (Year end speaker - Lelec)
  19. 1995 / Bob Ivesen
  20. 1996 / Klaus Grueber
  21. 1997 / Barry Grove
  22. 1998 / ? 
  23. 1999-03 / Bob Schimmel (Built AOSA web site, created the lake distribution list, decreed that all officers should have free membership for the work they do, eliminated the Blooper in favour of the news on the website, changed the physical year to Jan 01 / Dec 31 to make it easier for new officers). 
    With the help of a few others - Installed 12 AOSA guest moorings, held GPS/nav course, installed 4 cardinal buoys on Wabamun Lake, laminated Wabamun chart, sold the last original AOSA burgee in 2003).
  24. 2004-06 / Dan Smith
  25. 2006-09 / Rod MacMullan
  26. 2009-11 / Bob Brunelle
  27. 2011-16 / Jim Humphries - Excellent meetings with terrific introductions.
  28. 2016-19 / Phil Sutton - Restored AOSA back to good standing with Corporate Registry at Service Alberta.  Since the AOSA by-laws decided to "walk off" somewhere, Phil and Linda retrieved a copy from Service Alberta and created a "kit box" of documentation that will be passed on to each new Commodore.  Restored membership cards.
  29. 2019-21 / Gary Hamilton - Many of the 2020 meetings were cancelled due to the closing of the Legion amid COVID-19.  He tried to change the format of the meetings to less formal and when  COVID hit, he was unsuccessful to change the meetings to online format.  In January he quit citing work commitments and the reluctance of members to change.
  30. 2021-yy / New Commodore name - add comments here.