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Scraping, sanding, painting and varnishing

Ship's Position: 
Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Well today at least shows the promise of spring and moving ahead. The last several weeks have been somewhat challenging to say the least. The storm on Monday night was a real rip snorter and we saw gusts of 50 knots here in Lunenburg. That’s almost the equivalent of the wind you feel on a 100-series highway if your window is down — nothing to be sneezed at. The heavy cold rain was no treat either.


I did have the opportunity, as the wind was building, to show the crew some clips of Bluenose II sailing in different wind strengths. The strongest one was the ship sailing in 35-40 knots under the fore sail, jumbo sail, and tri-sail, also sometimes known as a riding sail. The footage, taken to be dramatic, shows some big waves lifting above the stern as the ship slips along at 7 knots or so. I pointed out that if we had been going the other way, seasickness would have been an issue. Heading into 50 knots (92 km/h) and bashing against the waves, seasickness becomes a problem for just about everybody.


I also had some footage of Bluenose II sailing with a reef in the mainsail, making 9-10 knots. The funniest bit of that video is the conversation in the background. Being at sea, life becomes small at times. We share memories and stories of our previous lives and make stories with our new shipmates. The news cycle and social media drop away, and real life can be found. Watching the birds follow the ship, looking for sea life and musing about life in the towns and villages we are passing becomes the normal conversation topic.


So, what have the crew been up to underneath the winter cover? It’s quite boring actually. Paint and varnish have been the orders given. The blocks will soon be finished, the bulwarks or rails around the ship have been scraped, sanded, primed and the first coat of finish applied. The booms and gaff are being sanded and varnished and the other smaller pieces of varnish work are being attended to.


The crew are also learning the language and layout of the ship. I watched a crew member wander around the deck this morning trying to remember which hatch to go down to get a sweater! They guessed wrong in the end and found themselves in the chartroom. “Oops, try again!” The language is coming as well, no toilets, no kitchen, no hallway — on board they are called heads, the galley, and alleyways. Wait until we start rigging!


I’ll end with some sad news. Clary Grondin, of Bayport, N.S. slipped his lines this past week. He was the ship's diver and friend for decades. Clary always had a story, and he pulled my leg at every opportunity. He would wait patiently, with a sly smile, while I slowly cottoned on to the fact that he was teasing me. Our sincere condolences to his family, friends and to his community.