Gleniffer at 110
Tom Burnett – February 13, 2022
The Edwardian-era yacht Gleniffer turned 110 this year. As her long-time custodian, one of the things I have noticed is that, unlike myself, the boat gets more interesting over time. When out and about cruising, the interest shown in the craftsmanship of vessels like this makes them more remarkable today, especially as we are surrounded by the virtual and the disposable. Gleniffer is unique in that she has managed to survive for 110 years and remains very close to her original configuration.
At the turn of the 20th century, motor cars and yachts underwent great experimental developments as they distanced themselves from the previous era of the horse and buggy, steam and canvas. The improvements in the internal combustion engine rapidly changed what was once the realm of privileged Gentlemen into one of family touring and cruising accessibility. Gleniffer, with her robust Burma teak construction, is still actively cruising as an excellent design representation of the pre-1914 motor launch.
Gleniffer was an early gasoline-powered boat in the Royal Vancouver Yacht club. Prior to World War One, there was a thriving business in delivering fine teak sail, steam, and motor yachts to Vancouver and Seattle from Hong Kong; Gleniffer was one of these. Built by the firm W. S. Bailey and Company, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong, the new yacht was shipped by steamer eastwards across the Pacific Ocean to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1912. Meanwhile, in the Atlantic, the new liner Titanic steamed west for America.
Gleniffer is a flush-decked 40′ cruiser with a 9’6″ beam and a canoe stern. The evolution from a sailing hull is evident in the subtle curve of her bow, the solid lead section scarfed into the keel, and the inclusion of an aft hand tiller. She has had many motors over the years, most notably a six-cylinder Kermath and later a new special demonstration model Chrysler Crown. Today she is powered by an SD 33 Diesel. Perhaps one day she will sport an electric motor, and slip through the water quietly. One can’t own a boat like this without being somewhat of a dreamer, after all. Personally, this boat has been a part of my life for many years and is most definitely a cherished member of the family.
During the winter of 2019/2020 Gleniffer received extensive upgrades and rebuilding. This was done on the ways in the shop of Abernathy and Gaudin in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia. The hull was strengthened with a complete rebuild of the forward deck and beams. The main deck was re-covered with marine plywood , epoxy and teak strip planks. New sapele covering boards were installed. Patterns were made of the original cast iron handrail stanchions, and these were cast in bronze and fitted with brass rails.Down below, there is a mahogany galley counter with drawers, and a Lunenburg Foundry wood cook stove. There is a separate water closet for the sink and toilet.
This slim, dignified, forty-footer shows the experimentation of pre-First World War power boat design that lead the way to production name brand yachts. Gleniffer was delivered new as a flush decked cruiser with a racy open cockpit, prior to the later modification of an enclosed aft wheelhouse.
Still close to her original configuration, she remains actively cruising in her 110th year.