the late, great Don Davis (W460)

* Wayfarer legend, Don Davis, passes away at age 88 
* tribute to Don Davis (W460) from CWA Hon. Commodore, George Blanchard 
* Uncle Al remembers Don Davis
* fun times with Don Davis on the Thames: recollections from Norway's Ken Jensen

* the legendary Frank Dye recalls the unique talents of Don Davis
Wayfarer legend, Don Davis, passes away at age 88
----- Original Message -----
From: "Al Schonborn" <>
To: Wayfarers
Sent: Monday, April 24, 2006 7:47 PM
Subject: Don Davis

Hi, gang:

I regret to have to tell you that one of our grand old Wayfarers, Don Davis, passed away quietly at home yesterday. Notice in the Toronto Star tomorrow (Tuesday, the 25th). Visitation and funeral information is in Tim France's e-mail below. Take care,

Uncle Al (W3854

the notice from the Star:

DAVIS, Donald Mercer
- Peacefully, surrounded by the love of his family, at his home in Guelph on Sunday, April 23, 2006. Donald Mercer Davis, in his 89th year, was the beloved husband of Gertrude (Trudy) (Lester) Davis of Guelph. He was the loving father of Anne Gorman of Sault Ste. Marie, Jessie Dale Morrison of Scarborough, Connie Gawley and her husband Jim of Bowmanville, Johnathan Blythe and his wife Annie and Christopher and Diane Blythe, all of Hamilton. Survived by several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Predeceased by son-in-law Len Gorman (1993). Resting at the Gilbert MacIntyre & Son Funeral Home, Dublin Chapel, 252 Dublin St. N., Guelph, where the family will receive friends on Thursday from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. A Funeral Service will be held in the Chapel on Friday, April 28, 2006 at 11 a.m. Interment Marymount Cemetery. As expressions of sympathy, donations to Sleeping Children Around The World or to the War Amps would be appreciated by the family (cards are available at the Funeral Home 519-822-4731 or e-mail condolences

Don Davis funeral photos from Ken Elliott:

----- Original Message -----
From: Alf Easy (former W4688(
Sent: Thursday, April 27, 2006 4:56 PM
Subject: Don Davis

Albert - Thanks for your e-mail.  Don Davis was an incredible Orator, and the only one capable of giving you a run for the money on stage or the podium.  I am committed to taking a group out Fiddlehead Picking tomorrow afternoon (Friday) but if I
can free up some time I'll be there in the evening.
Thank You - Alfie

----- Original Message -----
From: Ann Macdougall
Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 8:14 AM
Subject: Don Davis

Hi Al,

I remember Don very well. I am so sorry to hear of his passing.  Please convey my sympathy to his family.

We had some great times at those regattas and I have very fond memories of everyone.

Take Care,


----- Original Message -----
From: Jim Wickson
Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 12:01 PM
Subject: Don Davis

Many thanks for the message, Al.   Time and location prohibit me from attending the funeral but please pass on my condolences to the family and all.  Don was the one who got me into Wayfarers, and I never regretted one moment of the time spent with the boat and the Class. 

Jim Wickson

tribute to Don Davis (W460) from CWA Hon. Commodore, George Blanchard
----- Original Message -----
From: George Blanchard
Sent: Wednesday, April 26, 2006 9:07 PM
Subject: Tribute to Don M. Davis

Tribute to Don Davis, Wayfarer 460 Cara Mia
The news that Don Davis had passed away was upsetting to all the Wayfarer Members that knew him over the many years that he served on and for the Canadian Wayfarer Association from the mid 1960's. Don was well liked for his cheerful personality and dedication in promoting the Wayfarer during his long association with our Class.
In the late 1960's, Don became an active member of the Ashbridges Bay YC where he became a driving force in building up a Wayfarer fleet from one boat - his own - to some 35 active Wayfarers. Don and his daughter, Connie enjoyed racing in the early years but Don's adventurist dream was to cruise and camp in his Wayfarer throughout our Canadian Great Lakes. After retiring, Don moved to Guelph and was an active member at the Guelph Community Boating and Sailing Club along with our past Cruising Secretary, Tim France.
Sailing a with a wide variety of crews, including his daughter, Connie, Don pioneered Wayfarer cruising in Canada.  His wonderful cruise logs were regular highlights in our Class Newsletters, and inspired numerous other Wayfarers to follow in his footsteps. In 1972,  Don and his daughter, Connie, completed a month-long, 345-mile circumnavigation of Georgian Bay which resulted in them being the first Canadians to receive the Viking Longship Cruise LogTrophy presented by the famous Frank Dye, world renowned British Wayfarer cruiser. In 1977, Don's 15-year-old W460 was displayed in the Toronto Boat Show to illustrate the cruising possibilities in a Dinghy and show the durability of the Wayfarer.
Don served on the CWA Executive Committee for many years (see Yearbook scans below) and was accorded the rare honour of being voted in as an Honorary Life Member of the Wayfarer Class. Don was also the Chairman of the Wayfarer Worlds when it came to Canada for the first time in 1976, to the Toronto Sailing & Canoe Club on Humber Bay.  This event turned out to be a great success due to Don's excellent talents that co-ordinated all the tasks involved to run this championship event.
Sadly, Don's health deteriorated in the late 1990s as his diabetes attacked his eyesight and he had to retire from further cruising. But Don did continue to attend the CWA's Annual General meetings in which he presented the Ted Davis Memorial Trophy for the best cruising log of the year by a Canadian or US Wayfarer.  .
Don will always be remembered for his humorous and witty stories - especially when they formed part of his AGM slide shows. He will be sadly missed by his many friends and associates .
On behalf of  the Members of the Canadian Wayfarer  Association we extend our sincere condolences and heartfelt sorrow to his lovely wife, Trudy, his daughter, Connie, and other family members.
George T. Blanchard
Chairman / Honorary Commodore CWA.      

The 1974 CWA Exec as part of the 1974 Yearbook's KFC ad - Don Davis on far left.
Uncle Al remembers Don Davis

My first impression of Don Davis was that here was a man who could do just about anything, starting with the fact that he could get my Wayfarer Newsletters mailed at no cost. Then, just like that, he had dragged the famous Frank Dye over from England to speak to us. He ran the 1976 Worlds. Once Don decided to cruise rather than race - he claimed it was because the one time he was finally at the front of the fleet, the Lord sent down a thundersquall to Bronte and they cancelled the race - I didn't see as much of Don anymore. But we did stay in touch, largely through those marvellous logs that he kept contributing to the newsletter. It was a tribute to the entertainment value of those logs, that I enjoyed typing them out with two fingers, even though it took me days each time! Memorable, these logs were, too! Just last summer, Marc and I were driving past Thessalon on our way to a regatta east of Sault Ste. Marie. "Thessalon!" I said to Marc. "I remember typing this log once where Don Davis talked about visiting 'the fleshpots of Thessalon'. We have to drive through here!" And so we did. And I have to say that 'fleshpots' must be a relative term. They are probably fleshpots when you compare them to what's available on Flowerpot Island!
 One thing stands out for me: you always had fun when Don Davis was in the mix. It has been a privilege to know you, Don. One of the songs you picked for yesterday's farewell ceremony is right on, I hope: "We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when." And I'm looking forward to it!
in March 1998, the Whiffle newsletter honoured Don on the front cover:
"This Whiffle is dedicated to the first winner of the Wayfarer Diamond Award, Don Davis (W460) for his truly amazing participation in, and contributions to our Class in Canada and abroad. Don has spent the last thirty years or so as an example of how much our beautiful little Wayfarer can do for us - and of what we might do for our Class. In the late '60s, Don built up the Ashbridges Bay YC Wayfarer Fleet from one Wayfarer (his own!) to 35 active members of our Class. Don was also ahead of his time as he used his Wayfarer to full advantage in both racing and cruising - a possibility that is just now beginning to dawn on the rest of us.

Congratulations on your Diamond Award, Don - and thanks from of of us for showing how it should be done!"
a few pictorial memories

Killbear Park 1992: Don  ...

 ... and Uncle Al pose with Cara Mia.

One more time - this one with SHADES.

The first International Wayfarer Rally, 1995, Killbear: Don rests up at a host cottage after ...

... a brisk morning's sail which included the Hole in the Wall (above), typical of the glorious cruising scenery Don would gorge himself on a few times every summer. W460 is 2nd from right.

Cara Mia in cruising mode.

Killarney 1997, start of the Tim France led (3rd from left) North Channel cruise: Even though his health was by now ruling out longer cruises such as this one, Don (3rd from right) ...

... and his wife, Trudy, gladly made the long, long drive to Killarney,
just to see us off and to be with us in spirit!
fun times with Don Davis on the Thames: recollections from Norway's Ken Jensen
----- Original Message -----
From: Ken Jensen (W1348)
To: Trudy Davis
Sent: Friday, December 15, 2006 4:37 PM
Subject: And times go by....

Dear Trudy,
Thanks a lot for your very nice seasons' greetings card, just arrived here today as I hope ours will do at your place.
Soon 35 years ago, early this coming JAN, your beloved Don Davis (for me a great friend for life, since back then, 1972) and I sailed in W48 Wanderer with Frank & Margaret Dye down the River Thames from beyond the Putney Bridge to the Tower Bridge, where Graham Manning, W3220 and his dear old mother, a real Lady, stood on that famous Bridge waiting - despite the chilly, moist weather - to wave a greeting as we passed under, and meet us upon landing.  Having passed the Tower Bridge, W48 was immediately put  about,  heading back upstream to land at the Traitors Gate in order for us to say 'hello' to Mrs. Manning, before visiting the Tower of London Castle and the well-fed *Beefeaters*.
When we climbed over the sea-wall, three lads - straight from the pub, I trust - stopped dead in their tracks looking quite shocked. And one of them said: "Boys, boys, we'd better get back in quick, if we are gonna have the kind of weather, they are dressed up for!"

Four hours later as the tide had just turned in our favour,  Wanderer headed back to Putney, and due to the low water level we now saved a lot of down and up of the mast while passing under the many bridges. No other vessel under sail was seen, but quite a few Sunday-strolling people stopped to have a closer look from the Embankment.  Frank naturally cracked some jokes when passing Parliament, the house of the Commons and the Lords, but never mind, they got very tough skin in there, I'm sure !
This trip was made in celebration of the passed vote at the UKWA's AGM the night before to form the WIC and get that body started. Frank and Margaret tailored this Thames event for that specific Sunday to have a N.A. and a Scand. W-representative along in Wanderer - indeed thoughtful of them and a lot of fun for all of us.
Don, I am sure, would have liked the enclosed picture below, and therefore I send it along, while recalling the fine humorous time Ken jr. and I spent with you and Don before going to the Int. W-Rally at Killbear Park.
Best wishes with love from here.

Ken (the older) & Co. 
PS. a pic. from one week's W-cruise this last summer from Høvik til Engelsviken and back (2 x 100km): 

Early morning after the second nightstop - of one week's W-cruising - at Jeløya ('øya' = isle) west of  Son Bay. Furled 'stand by' jib and sun-heated waterbag on the front decks of W1348 (Ken is still under the boatcover too worn out to get his tent up the night before after a 20-hour day, with only a short noon/lunch-rest).  Photo: HD-World W10390 Lützenkirchen.
the legendary Frank Dye recalls the unique talents of Don Davis
----- Original Message -----
From: "Frank Dye" 
To: "Al Schonborn" <>
Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007 7:43 AM
Subject: Don Davis


The telephone rang one Spring morning many years ago."Come to Canada for a holiday for two weeks. Stay with us. We will pay your return air fare and we'll book your ticket tomorrow," said a Canadian drawl. It was my introduction to Don Davis.

I should have been suspicious, as one of Don's favourite quotes was 'There's no such thing as a free lunch'. I discovered, once I had accepted, that the invitation included 5 talks in Canada and two in Michigan. The financial arrangements were 'dodgy', too, but I didn't dicover this until halfway through our 'holiday'. The airfare, which in those days was very expensive, was being financed by an innocent member of Don's Sailing Club who had boasted to Don that he owned one of the new Credit Cards with a one-month pay-back period. Don immediately realised that this was like hire purchase - have it now and pay later. "We can buy the tickets on this fellow's monthly credit card, charge enough to cover expenses, and pay him off in time for him to settle at the end of his months credit," reasoned Don.  I was told that the chap sweated on the top line for the whole month.

Don introduced us to so many of the Canadian Wayfarers, and many friendships continued over the years. On the last day, he was showing us round his S C when Margaret mentioned, "It was a lovely day and wouldn't it be wonderful to have a a sail?" But Don explained the difficulties - the ice had only left the harbour 2 days previously, air temperature was  5 below, and the boats were still frozen in, and we had inspected several Wayfarers turned over, covered by tarpaulins, and still under ice and snow. But two hours later a wooden Wayfarer arrived by trailer (was it George Blanchard's, collected from his garage, or Don's Cara Mia?). It was soon rigged on the slipway. It was bitterly cold, water temp was only 2 degrees above freezing, and there was a short chop running. "We're going to get wet," I suggested cautiously to Don and George and Margaret as we launched, but the torn oilskins that Don had discovered in the changing rooms didn't leak long as the fresh water spray sealed them as soon as it froze on our backs.

Don was always a great enthusiast, and an organiser with the happy knack of 'getting things right', and he organised many successful adventurous Wayfarer cruises in Georgian Bay and even Lake Superior. He invited Margaret on a Canadian Rally when she was English Cruising Secretary and developing UK Wayfarer Rallies - to the benefit of both.

Only those in the Wayfarer Association who knew him well, realised how hard Don worked to ensure success: One of Don's Wayfarer Cruises had gone extremely well and every decision he made, had come out 'right'. On the last day of the cruise, a member, whom Don didn't like much, as he never helped or cooperated, congratulated him on the organisation of the Rally, describing it as "reasonably good!" Don smothered his dislike and asked if he could perhaps organise anything else for him? He looked at the drink in his hand, "Some ice would be acceptable, Don!". After which, Don walked off into the woods to 'pee' and while thus occupied, there was a sudden hailstorm . When Don returned, the beach was covered with big hailstones and the chap greeted him open mouthed, "Jesus! you really can do anything, can't you!"

Many years later, I was staying with Don and Trudy while waiting for my flight home. We were chatting about Canadian Rally organisation, and Don recalled one particular moment of excitement while sailing with Trudy: "I decided that the weather was too bad to sail and we'd stay ashore, but the others wanted to get back. It was a narrow channel wind blowing straight in. Cara Mia refused to come about and got 'in irons'. There was a narrow gap between the rocks, so I jerked her round with the rudder, through the gap, and ran onto a rock; back across the channel onto another rock but a wave washed us off. Out clear of the channel at last, I hove to and was saying how wonderfully the Wayfarer heaves to just lifting easily to the waves - no fuss or spray! Trudy turned round in tears and said, "Don't you ever pray?!"

Don was silent so I gently repeated Trudy's question, "Do you ever pray,
Don?" "The last time I prayed was in the port of Augusta in Italy. It was a German submarine base. The Germans were bombing the hell out of us one night, shrapnel everywhere from bombs and flak. Chap next to me got a big bit of shrapnel right through his sleeping bag right alongside him - he was very quiet for several days!  I was sheltering behind a stack of 45 gallon drums. Next day, come daylight, I discovered the drums were full of gasoline. Next night the Germans came back and dropped a great flare which lit up everthing. A Junkers dive bomber came down. I can remember it screaming, then the bomb whistling. I dived into a concrete trench among some mounds. I found out later the mounds covered fuel tanks for the submarines! Yes, I prayed then!"

It was in Italy
where the whole population were ardent opera fans with enormously high standards even in wartime with everyone starving, that Don developed his love for classical Opera. It and Wayfaring became enthusiasms that lasted a lifetime.

Even Don's disasters were memorable. He was an accompished speaker. I listened to his talk to a packed audience at the Guelph Working Men's Club and discovered that he was an excellent raconteur. He told of his wartime experiences in Europe with the Canadian Army - many sad and poignant that remain vivid memories to this day - and with humorous and very risqué recollections of young men relaxing 'out of the fighting line'. It was one of the best talks I had been to for a long time but he sailed 'very close to the wind' occasionally. He told me that he gave another lecture to the Church Women's Guild two weeks later and was boo'ed by the audience. Suddenly the penny dropped and I asked suspiciously, "Don, you didn't give them the same talk as I heard at the Working Men's Club?"  "Yes," said Don, "that was a good talk, so I thought I'd do it again." "Not all the stories, too?" I asked in disbelief.  "Yes  - and they boo'ed me!"

Don, we shall all miss you greatly!

Frank Dye W48 'Wanderer'

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007 1:24 PM
Subject: Re: Don Davis

Hi again, Frank:
Here is the stuff I scanned from the Yearbook - I had to switch to "Rich Text" under "Format" above to get the images to go in. Hope you're set up for this? Failing that, I also expect to post your story and these images, and I'll let you know when and where. Best regards,
Uncle Al (W3854)

----- Original Message -----
From: "KEN/K.H.Jensen"
To: "Frank Dye"
Cc: <>; "Ken W6141 Jensen"
Sent: Saturday, January 06, 2007 8:51 AM
Subject: Don Davis

Dear Frank,

Very pleased to read your  Don Davis-memory tale, and also to know that your PC is working, except for taking down pictures(yet!) in an easy manner using ADSL ! Hopefully you and Margaret had a fine W-solstice, Christmas + New Year.
One of Don's achievements in the 1976 Worlds was to persuade the Race Committee (very serious people!) to let Margaret sail with me in a race as Mait was completely out due a very bad Migraine-attack. A thunderstorm finally - for the first time - brought some proper winds that should suit our 'heavy' weather sails, but unfortunately it was never determined how well - as the rudder broke!
Many of us are not very religious, and I include Don with me here.  For the Int.Rally 2004 in Canada my oldest son, Ken jr., whom you have not seen since his was 15 years old in 1968 (on this very date of today he is 54 years old !), and I were most kindly picked up at the airport, and delivered by Uncle Al at Don and Trudy's home, where we had a splendid time with them. At our very first meal there, sitting at a nearly square table, one side for each of us, Trudy reached out her hands saying: "Hold my hands and each other's hands, please!"  Then Trudy said a table prayer - something entirely unexperienced by two heathen Scandinavians who kept tight-skinned faces - but when we let go the handholding our face-value was given a severe testing as Don said: "And a *yab-ba-dab-bah-doo* as the schoolchildren say!"  I believe we managed to keep our face-skins from 'cracking' in big smiles, but a relief it was when Trudy was the one to laugh out aloud - I really love that sweet Lady !
Have some wonderful W-sailing in 2007. Our very first snow - so delayed! - came last night, so Tim and I have just had our first skiing trip on the golf course, the proper thing to use such an area for !
Very best and kind W-regards