March 10, 2010

Bath is schooner's port of call

By ANN S. KIM Staff Writer


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Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer: BLUENOSE II First Mate Gail Atkinson oversees the crew as the schooner docks at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath on July 5, 2009.

Tim Greenway

Additional Photos Below

Staff Writer

BATH — Jackie and Victor Grace caught sight of the schooner making its way up the Kennebec River and had to find out more.

It was the Bluenose II, a replica of the Bluenose -- the famed Nova Scotian fishing and racing vessel whose image decorates provincial license plates and the Canadian dime.

Bluenose II is visiting the Maine Maritime Museum in conjunction with an exhibit by the museum, ''Net Worth: The Rise and Fall of Maine's Fin Fisheries.''

The schooner will be at the museum's Deering Pier until about 2 p.m. Tuesday, when it heads to Boston to participate in a parade of tall ships.

The Graces, who live in Harpswell, were among the small crowd of maritime enthusiasts who gathered at the pier Sunday to admire the ship.

After U.S. Customs agents cleared the ship, the Bluenose II opened for tours. Visitors stood on the pier and admired the ship's elegant lines and crossed the gangplank to see its features up close.

''This one is a beauty, really,'' Jackie Grace said.

The Durham family of Kennebunk -- parents and academics Alyson and Ian and their children, 8-year-old Nathaniel and 6-year-old Sarah -- waited patiently to go aboard.

''I just love old wooden ships -- tall ships. They're graceful,'' Ian Durham said.

A Grand Banks fishing schooner, the Bluenose had a storied record of racing wins in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1942, it was sold and left Nova Scotia to carry cargo in the Caribbean. Its demise came in 1946, when it hit a reef and sank.

The Bluenose II was built at the same shipyard in Nova Scotia as its namesake and launched as a private yacht in 1963. The owners, the Orland brewing family, sold it to the provincial government for $1 in 1971.

Operated by the Lunenburg Marine Museum Society, the ship serves as an ambassador for the province, forgoing racing.

The Bluenose II is a not an exact replica of the Bluenose but comes close, with the same size and shape, said Phil Watson, the ship's captain. The mainmast is more than 125 feet tall and the mainsail, with an area of 4,150 square feet, is believed to be the largest working one in the world.

The crew of 16 lives aboard the ship for six months at a time. For Jayme Moore, a university student from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, working aboard the Bluenose II represents an exciting summer job and a big opportunity to put teamwork into play.

Moore, who is studying environmental sciences, grew up near the ship, whose home port is Lunenburg. Now he is a deckhand, assisting in the ship's mission.

''We're basically here to spread the history of the ship and promote Nova Scotia,'' he said. ''It's a beautiful province -- much to see and do, friendly people.''

Vessels of similar style had sailed out of Maine as well, said Chris Hall, the curator of exhibits at the Bath maritime museum. Fishing would take place out of dories, with multiple hooks set on long trawl lines, he said. The lines would be pulled manually or with small winches, and the fishermen would row back to the mother ship and pitch the fish aboard, he said.

Frank and Judy Dillon of Bath marveled at the features of the Bluenose II -- its gleaming wood and shining brightwork -- especially compared to modern fiberglass boats.

''To build these things today and be able to sail them is unbelievable,'' Frank Dillon said. ''You look around -- the amount of work to keep things up.''

Judy Dillon expressed her preference for sailing over other ways of being on the water.

''There's nothing like going out, full sails up,'' she said. ''It's magnificent. It's really different from being on just a big boat.''

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

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Additional Photos

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Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer: The schooner BLUENOSE II docked at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath on July 5, 2009.

Tim Greenway


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