Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Relaunching of Alexander Graham Bell's yawl, the Elsie

An early photo of Elsie from
As we were passing by West Bay on Friday morning we happened upon the relaunching of Elsie, after its recent restoration. Elsie is the yawl that Alexander Graham Bell gave to his daughter, Elsie, as a wedding gift in 1917 when she married Gilbert Grosvenor who was the editor of National Geographic Magazine which was started by Bell and his father-in-law.

An early photo of Elsie from Wooden Boat Forum.
Over the last two years the sailboat has been restored by boat builder, Jens Sauer, in MacKenzie Pointe and it was relaunched in West Bay this past Friday morning.

At first we thought there had been a bad accident when we happened upon a large crowd along the road in West Bay as we were on our way to town.
Large crowd gathered along road in West Bay.
When we learned they were relaunching a historic vessel, we stayed around to watch with a crowd that was gathering.
Dan chatting with Diane MacLean.

A group of little girls taking in the excitement.
First they moved the crane into position.
Crane being raised.
After securing the vessel to the crane it was hoisted.
Hoisting the Elsie.
The Elsie was moved around over the lake.
Almost in the water.
And finally into the water.
In the water once again.
I understand it will be moored over at MacKenzie Pointe until the masts and sails are installed and she is finished.  It was quite an experience to watch as the Elsie was once again launched into Bras d'Or Lake.


  1. Made me think of Daddy launching his house boat
    at Lake crane just logs......
    would love to have had pictures of that,


    P.S. Did you tell the folks up there we
    have Ya'lls too :-)

  2. I sailed away with my bride on my wedding night on the Elsie in August 1988 and spent the night in Boulaceet Harbor. Sadly, the Elsie you discuss was not actually so much restored as reworked into a completely different yacht we sadly nicknamed the Falsie. Her topsides were completely changed and are unrecognizable, ruining her elegant lines designed by the MIT naval architect, George Owen. I am fortunate to be looking a very large photo of the original Elsie above my fireplace taken before I was born of the Elsie on the Bras D'Or Lakes with her rail buried. My great grandparents, Gilbert and Elsie, were married in 1900 and the Elsie was built for them in 1917. BTW the Elsie was the only yacht that itself was an actual member of the prestigious Cruising Club of America as the club was founded in her cabin.

    1. Thank you for your comment, and I'm glad to hear the real story of the "restoration". I don't know much about boats. Your personal experience with your family's boat is interesting. Does that mean that the Falsie is no longer owned by someone in the Bell family? We have a summer place in Marble Mountain and just happened to be driving along on our way to town when we encountered the launching. I thought it was something worth posting on my blog.

    2. Elsie's rail wasn't added until the mid 50s when the Bell family did a restoration on the boat. The "original" topsides you are referring to dated almost 100 years and were made of canvas. The latest is a wood design custom created for Elsie.

      Overall, she was starting to deteriorate due to lack of care over the years. It's a good thing someone who cared bought her or she would be a thing of the past.

    3. Thanks for the additional information about Elsie.


      Here's some recent news about Elsie. My daughter's father-in-law is the skipper.