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Hurricane Season

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


I’m sitting in the officer’s mess listening to the crew scrub the deck over my head. Soapy water and elbow grease help keep the ship clean and is part of our daily routine. Did you know that you can see the officers mess and decks online in our virtual tour? This was filmed several years ago and allows you walk around below decks and peak into our lives! There is also a guided tour on YouTube in which Chief Mate Erin walks you through a below decks with commentary. Both are worth having a look.


In the galley I can hear the steward finishing up the breakfast dishes. The crew each take a turn, a week at a time, keeping the ship clean. They are responsible for dishes, mopping the floor, cleaning the toilets and general wipe downs of each area. The system has been designed that the whole ship is cleaned once each week and the important areas every day. Being steward is often a nice break from deck work and from appearing in the public eye on deck, of course you are also wearing rubber gloves, so I suppose it balances out in the end.


Today we are watching the tropical waves, storms and hurricanes run around the Atlantic Ocean. It’s such a guessing game these days with at times overwhelming and conflicting information. With recent storms causing damage and property loss in Nova Scotia there is heightened awareness to the weather these days. Add in some wildfires and rain in unprecedented quantities and the weather is more than just a conversation piece. In the days of the schooners, before engines, I can only imaging sitting becalmed or at anchor on the Grand Banks, and then noticing a long low swell starting to build. A day or so later you might notice some high cirrus cloud and the gulls starting to change their behaviour, the swell is building. When the wind comes it will come quickly and with ferocity, the seas building into mountains and becoming confused as the fast-moving storm rolls over you. With hope that the dory men are below in their bunks and your stout little ship will survive, the captain can keep track of the ships position in the chess board that is always running in his head, hoping he can give Sable Island a wide berth as they pass by. Or perhaps, you worry and worry you see the swell and high cloud and the storm turns east leaving you with some rain and a few more grey hairs in your beard. If your schooner is lost, your fathers, brothers and cousins will likely be lost with you. Villages and families will lose their principal breadwinners and life will never be the same. Late summer in 1926 and 1927 were particularly difficult and many men were lost. These stories are still reflected along the coasts of New England and Atlantic Canada.


Here is a wish for fair weather for all, let’s hope this hurricane season is gentle to those at sea and ashore.