Around the Algoma Sailing Club, Richard Virene is affectionately
nicknamed the Old Man and the Sea.
Virene (shown rowing in his dingy) has been sailing for about 55 years.
He's also had a fine little Cape Cod Catboat for more than 30 years.
The small sailboat,
based on a design originating in Cape Cod about 200 years ago, is made
of teak wood and fibreglass.
It's never had a motor and it has a very short draw (shallow keel)
allowing it to sail in as little as 12 inches of water.
Virene's Catboat has spent the past 34 summers moored in the bay at
Algoma Sailing Club, when it isn't out on the waters of St. Mary's River
with Virene at the helm in all kinds of weather.
"Occasionally when there is no wind at all, I just paddle it
in," says Virene. "But that only happened once this
"They'll move on just about any wind at all," said the retired
English teacher from Sir James Dunn Secondary School.
He says he's never been tempted to put a motor on the boat because
"stink pots," as sailors refer to them, are just too ugly.
Besides, Catboats are so nimble and easy to sail, they just don't need a
Builders of the Catboat say it got its name when someone said it comes
about as quickly as a cat.
Most Catboats are under 20 feet long and have a loyal following of
fishing folk and recreational boaters alike.
Virene says he's taken his Catboat out about 60 times so far this summer
and plans to keep sailing it as often as he can before he has to put it
in his garage for the winter.
"When winter comes we take the car out of the garage for the
boat," he says.
And thanks to a grant announced this week from Ontario Trillium
Foundation, Virene and other members of the Algoma Sailing Club now have
a new dock.
SooToday.com caught up to him this week just as Sault MPP David
Orazietti announced a Trillium grant of $70,000 to pay for renovations
at the club.
Club organizers say they also hope to have the bay dredged at some
But that's a lot less important to Virene than the nice dock where he
keeps his dingy.