Snow — you’ve got to be kidding me. Is this an unfunny April Fools joke? I came aboard this morning early, by myself. Dragging the gangway across the wharf I was reminded of an alumni’s comments about a snowy gangway being a “Lunenburg bobsled”. Bob sledding was added to the Olympics in 1924 so maybe Capt. Angus and his crew, excited by a new sport, pushed a gangway along a wharf. I was not so excited as I pivoted the length of the gangway perpendicular to the wharf and the ship. More like a snowplow, the aluminum cold in my hands and the deck slippery with snow and sawdust from the shipyard crew. The officers were not all that long behind me, and the beginnings of our crew arrived at 10:00. As always, we have a mix of young people, these days from across Canada. Mostly Nova Scotians of course however spreading the knowledge of a Canadian icon across the country is a worthwhile endeavour and having different life experiences within the crew is great for them!
Each year when I return, I carry ghosts from the previous years with me. As my career stretches on, I have forgotten many of those I have sailed with but the sound of laughter from the galley echoes in my mind. I have some great friends from over the years, sailors who maybe I haven’t talked to in several years, but we have a common bond of a ship and the sea.
That bond with the spirit of Bluenose II is 60 years in the making this year. Sixty years of young people gathering to represent a province, a spirit and the history of Bluenose, Captain Angus and his crews. In that time Bluenose II has made her own history more than doubling the lifespan of the great Bluenose. The catches are different to be sure — we count visitors instead of cod, and social media metrics are more and more important to us and the vessel owners. We have a few surprises in that department so stay tuned!
So, 2023 — what is in store for the ship? Our principal mission this summer will have us based in Lunenburg doing harbour tours and public access dock visits. There will be lots of opportunities to “see and sail” the vessel and her crew this summer. Two highlights of the summer are a quick midsummer trip to Gloucester to help celebrate the city’s 400th Anniversary. Gloucester was the home of Bluenose’s racing rivals and the bond between the communities is still strong. A second highlight is the relaunch of the Hector in September. The original arrived in Pictou in 1773 and a community-led group has been beavering away giving Hector a big refit and getting her ready to go back into the water. They have big plans for her future too!