Sail Training Vessel




Courtesy of Eric Ruff


Commissioned: 1953

Paid off: 1979

Fate: Sold for private/commercial use. Currently listed for sale (2015)

Displacement: 26.5 tons

Length OA: 59 ft 4 in

Length WL: 42 ft 7¾ in

Beam: 13 ft 5 in

Draught: 8 ft 6 in

Sail Area: 1,480 Sq ft


"The impression one gets from these plans is that they have been drawn by a man with a thorough knowledge of the sea and that the vessel can come straight from the builder's yard into the race capable of winning it, or she can sail straight from the builder's yard round the word, for these plans, without doubt, represent a very fine cruiser that would also make a good ocean racer, a vessel on which men can live in comfort for months on end. Seaworthiness, speed and comfort all combine to make her a perfect little ship." (From the book "The History of the Helgoland")


Helgoland was a yawl designed by Henry Gruber of Germany in 1936 and was built at the naval yard Burmester Yacht of Bremen. From the onset, she was a race winning sailing vessel and in 1939 she was the first German sailboat to win the "Hawke Trophy" putting to end 40 years of British supremacy in this race. With the onset of WW II, she was transferred to the Kreigsmarine as a school ship. After the war, the Royal Navy took over Helgoland as a war prize and renamed her PICKLE to honour the sailing vessel that brought back the news of Nelson's victory at Trafalgar. The RN did not have the funds to maintain a vessel of this class and after a short period she began to deteriorate. The decision was made to gift her to the RCN who at the time was better financially placed to maintain her.


In 1953 the PICKLE was gifted to the RCN by the RN. After inspection she was deemed not worthy of a transatlantic voyage and was hoisted aboard the carrier HMCS Magnificent and transported to Halifax. The PICKLE was given to HMCS Shearwater where she sat for a year and a half when it was decided to transfer her to the Sail Association of the Canadian Navy. Before the transfer was done, she had to be repaired and restored and made ready to take to sea again.


During her refit PICKLE was in a hanger on the waterfront at Shearwater. She was launched in late May early June 1955. After re-launching she was sailed exclusively during late June and July by the base XO Cdr Wadds. She completed three cruises during August 1955. The first cruise was to St Margarets Bay with the UNTD AE class aboard. The second cruise was to Guysborough with a group of supply branch PO’s aboard. The third cruise was to Lunenburg with a group of supply branch officers aboard. While in Lunenburg the crew had the memorable experience of meeting Angus Walters past skipper of Bluenose.


There was never a shortage of volunteers to man the PICKLE and while her primary focus was training, she was participated in several races: The Marblehead to Halifax Race from 1957 to 1970; the Century Transatlantic Race of 1968 between Bermuda and Travenmude, Germany; and the Transatlantic International Race between Newport, Rhode Island and Cork Ireland in 1969. She won the Bermuda Race four times in 1956, 67, 62 and 64. The PICKLE was used to teach future navy officers to navigate, make contact with the sea, acquire the art of sailing and promote the Canadian flag.


In 1972, PICKLE represented Canada and the Canadian Navy at the Olympics in Kiel, Germany. Soon afterward, it was determined the the PICKLE was too expensive to maintain and a potential buyer was sought. She was purchased by Mr. Norman Gowland, from Toronto, Ont, who had the intent to restore her. He moved her to the James D. Rosborough shipyards, where, after experiencing financial difficulties, he abandoned her. James Rosborough new of the PICKLEs history and tried to save her. She was slowly deteriorating in the shipyard and steps had to be taken before she sank at her moorings. He contacted Mr. Gowland and permission was given to sell the PICKLE.


In 1984, René Renaud, a fisherman from Bonaventure, on the Gaspé coast in Quebec, purchase her. After having divers removed 5 inches of seaweed and barnacles, he had her towed to Paspebiac, Que. The restoration lasted two years. The Oregon pick deck was completely removed and rebuilt. Some hull planking was replaced as well and the engine, transmission and sails - for a cost of $95,000.00.


Renamed Helgoland I in 1986, she re-entered service in the Baie des Chaleurs, was operated between Bathhurst, NB, Baie Comeau, Que and Miramichi, NB. Mr. Renaud petioned the Que government for funding to help cover the cost of her restoration, but all requests for grants wnet unanswered. In 1990, after exhausting all resources to keep her in operation, René Renaud had to to sell the Helgoland I.


In the summer of 1990, Julien Chevarie, a fisherman from Nouvelle, on Baie des Chaleurs, bought the Helgoland I and brought her to Carleton where he sailed her during the summer for cruises on Tragadigache bay. That fall, he had her full sandblasted and found most of the planking was rotted around the holding down bolts. Determined to restore his dream, he spend over $100,000 to restore the hull, but pasted away in 1993 before realizing his dream. After several years and attempts to raise funds, the Helgoland I was sold to Mr. Michel Tadros, from Madeleine, Que. around 1996-97.


At a cost of over $500,000 (Cdn), Mr. Tadros restored the Helgoland I. Her deck was replaced with Oregon pine, the hull coated with epoxy inside and out. The sails were replaced; the engine rebuilt and a new transmission installed. She was inspected by the Canadian coast Guard and classed as a sightseeing/whale watching vessel for 38 persons. After one season, her owners put her up for sale. She was listed for sale in 2015 on World Maritime Yachts Exchange.



RCN Memories:     The PICKLE's C.O.     The Unsinkable PICKLE


Photos and Documents



Commanding Officers


CPO Charles Church, Skipper - 1961

LCdr Poole-Warren - 1964-1965

LCdr William (Bill) Desmond Walker, RCN(R), Skipper - 1968

LCdr George Taylor Fulford III, RCN(R) - c1970



     In memory of those who have crossed the bar    

They shall not be forgotten




Former Crew Members


(TA) - crew of PICKLE for 1968 Trans-Atlantic Race     (MR) - crew of PICKLE for 1961 Marblehead Race     (NB) - crew of PICKLE for 1964 Newport-Bermuda Race


Badenock, Tom A., SLt, Watch Hands - 1968 (TA)


Benoit, Julian - 1964 (NB)


Blythe, T.J.W., SLt, Watch Hands - 1968 (TA)


Church, Charles, CPO, Skipper - 1961 (MR)


Coell, Ron H., LCdr, Watch Mate - 1964 (NB) / 1968 (TA)


Frisby, David, Cdt(E), RCN(R) - Aug-Sep 1955


Haines, C.K., SLt, Watch Hand - 1968 (TA)

Hailey, Terry - 1964 (NB)


Huxtable, John = 1964 (NB)


Lalonde, J. Richard., SLt, Watch Hand - 1968 (TA)


McClusky, Art, LS - 1955 / 1964 (NB)


Oliver, J.M., SLt, Watch Hand - 1968 (TA)


Poole-Warren, Peter - 1964 (NB)

Ruff, Eric J., SLt, Watch Hand - 1968 (TA)


Sanderson, I.D., SLt, Watch Hand - 1968 (TA)


Sanford, Wendell, SLt - c1970


Scott, John - 1964 (NB)


Shippam, Glen, PO, Watch Mate - 1968 (TA)


Sibley (Neuf) - 1964 (NB)


Wade, Ron - 1964 (NB)


Wiggs, Ed - 1964 (NB)



Photos and Documents


Scale drawing of the Yawl Helgoland

Drawing of the Helgoland from "The History of the Helgoland"

Courtesy of Eric Ruff



RCN Photo # DNS 14477


Courtesy of the Comox RCAF Museum

CNAV PICKLE's 1968 Trans-Atlantic Race




Article above from the Sentinal Magazine



Recent RMC grads who were part of PICKLE's crew


Front (L-R): Eric Ruff, John Jamieson, Jean-Marie Olivier, Richard Lalonde

Back (L-R) Tom Badenoch, Tim Blythe, Chris Haines, Ian Sanderson


Courtesy of Eric Ruff

LCdr George Fulford III at the helm of CNAV PICKLE


From the collection of LCdr George Fulford III


Courtesy of George Fulford IV

CNAV PICKLE, Charlottetown, PEI - 1973

Courtesy of Bill Perks

Whatever Happened to PICKLE?




An article from the Trident Magazine 03 Nov 1981