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Off with the winter cover

Ship's Position: 
Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Schooner Bluenose II crew.

It has been a productive week aboard Bluenose II and our weeks of quiet preparation work have started to pay off. Our crew numbers are starting to increase as well. We are up to twelve deckhands with the last two arriving Monday morning. With a mix of young people who are attending university and those who are not, our joining dates are spread out over the month of April. The last two are cutting it close as they will have one day of work aboard the ship and then go straight into their Marine Emergency Duties course. This course, with an instructor from NSCC Shelburne, gives new deckhands a hands-on overview of safety at sea. The crew will have a chance to fight a fire with an extinguisher, swim in an immersion suit, and get into a life raft from the water. They will also learn about the mental aspects of health and safety at sea. This broad generic course provides the basis for our emergency drills on and continuing safety education on board Bluenose. The crew are also given an overview in crowd control and dealing with large groups in an emergency.

As far as the mates’ work list goes, we have continued to paint and varnish in the rigging shed. As each project is completed, we stow each item carefully and eventually carry everything onto the ship. You might be interested in having a look around the ship in a virtual tour. Here you can begin to see the number of different surfaces we have to paint, varnish and polish.

The two notable projects this week were firstly taking the winter cover off. This always changes the attitude towards the ship both ashore and onboard. The locals, who have been asking about the cover since March are placated and the crew begin to feel they are on a ship and not just labourers under the big top. The wooden structure of the tent is all numbered and comes apart in a predictable fashion and is stored away for the summer. The plastic cover is going to a local sheep farmer for reuse. For many years the plastic went to ship diver Clary Grondin who would share the plastic out in his community. Clary was a wonderful spirit with a keen sense of humour; father, grandfather, fire chief, fisherman, water witch. Clary passed a couple of years ago and I still think of him often.

The other project this week that made a difference was getting the anchors and chain aboard the ship. All wire brushed, painted, and made ready, the chain is loaded onto a raft by the crew and brought underneath the bow to be brought aboard by the windlass. The anchors and emergency fire pump are lifted aboard with a small crane. Ocean Gear, a marine based machine shop on the Lunenburg waterfront, do a lot for us in the way of bringing a crane or forklift when we have big weights and not enough people or a way to rig a purchase.

In the next week we will move to our summer berth and begin to uncover the topmasts and main gaff. Paint and varnish will continue, and rigging will commence. Training is always an ongoing project.