Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.


Springtime in the shed

Ship's Position: 
Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Image of staff inside the rigging shed.

It’s Good Friday in the world outside the gate of the rigging shed, inside it’s just another day. If it wasn’t a big Christian holiday, many of us wouldn’t know the day of the week. Life on a ship is measured in weeks or months and occasionally minutes or seconds but rarely days of the week. The crew, for the most part, work straight through from April into October, dedicating their summer to the service of Canadian icon Bluenose and Bluenose II.

There has been some comment from alumni about the small number of crew starting the season and how hard the few present must be working. This is indeed the case this year. We have had several hands who changed their schedule within days of our start date. This of course makes life hard for everybody and sets back our work schedule. April is the time when we do a great deal of preparatory work for the season. All 120+ pulley blocks are taken apart and serviced, Booms and gaffs are sanded and varnished, the deck, hull and bulwarks are sanded and made ready for paint, oil, or varnish. May is the month in which we put everything on the ship and train the crew.

Train the crew — sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Just take a group of fourteen young people, teach them a new language, new physical skills, 100 years of history and form them into a crew. Then give them a lifetime of memories and a willingness to carry the lessons learned for the rest of their lives. This aspect of her work alone makes the mission set to Bluenose II valuable.

What have the crew been doing? The same thing, over and over again. Every pulley block, all 120+ of them are taken apart cleaned, inspected, and greased. Then we get to sanding and varnishing the wooden shell. Each block gets a minimum of three coats of varnish and sometimes even more. The blocks were made locally by Mr. Arthur Dauphinee, who is a legend around the world in the sailing ship industry. Brigs, barques, full rigged ships, sloops and schooners all carry Mr. Dauphinee’s blocks. The Dauphinee name alone has helped keep Lunenburg’s name on the marine industry map.

As the week progresses, the blocks will be finished, and the weather will guide our work. In fair to good conditions, we will get to work scraping the hull. One mate, several deckhands, life jackets and scrapers. We catch the paint on the raft and sweep up at the end of the day, trying to keep the otters, who live under the waterfront wharfs, watery home as clean as possible!

Enough for now, I hope the crocus and snow drops are showing their faces in your garden.