I Am A Sailor: Robert Dunbar


My family has been riddled with sea captains for at least 5 generations so it’s been said that saltwater runs through my veins. My first memory of being in a boat by myself was when I was about 3 or 4 years old when my grandfather put me in his tethered skiff and pushed me out into the Strait of Canso. I vividly remember saying “Let me go, Pappa, Let me go!” A few years later my father and late Uncle Charlie built a pram in Charlie’s garage for me to learn to sail at the Dartmouth Yacht Club. My Uncle Charlie was my first instructor. It was also about that time (age 8) dad, Charlie, and their other brother John would take me on regular and sometimes overnight excursions in the Halifax area on Charlies 26 ft sloop rigged Pachena. Thanks to those guys my lessons in navigation came early as I was often given the helm no matter what the weather.

At the age of 10, I moved to Calgary which is where I really learned my skills through the City of Calgary Sailing School on the Glenmore Reservoir. The skills I learned served me well on trips to the Bras d’Or Lakes and one trip to Newfoundland via St.Pierre during summer vacations. I eventually did a brief stint as a sailing instructor in Calgary and became heavily involved with the Disabled Sailing Association of Alberta which included the role of volunteer coordinator for Mobility Cup 1997 and is also where I started racing in the San Juan 21 fleet.

Eventually, I found my way home to Halifax with my beloved CL 16 Celtic Kiss in tow. Since moving to Nova Scotia I started dinghy camping in Celtic Kiss from Halifax to Shediac, New Brunswick. I’ve also become involved with Sailable Nova Scotia which included a planning role for Mobility Cup 2007. Currently, I sit on Sailable NS’s Board of Directors with hopes of sitting on the Board of Sail Nova Scotia.

I have a multitude of memories from my first day with my grandfather, sailing with my dad and two uncles, racing at the Dartmouth Yacht Club, and the latest taking my 84 yr old father out sailing on my Hobie Wave “Thunderstruck” in a moderate breeze last summer. Family tradition dictates that the father winterizes the son’s boats, this year dad had two. When I can’t sail I write regularly for Sail Nova Scotia and Canadian Yachting Onboard.

by: Rob Dunbar

For more reading on Rob Dunbar and his sailing, check out the link below for an article he wrote on sailing his CL 16 Celtic Kiss from Halifax to Shediac, New Brunswick.


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