Nova Scotia’s Southern Shore

After three days in Halifax it was time to push on down the Western Shore of Nova Scotia. We now had a dead line to meet. I’ve always heard talk of how sailing with dead lines is drag on the overall experience and can even be dangerous. Well, it’s true. Our passage up the coast two months earlier had been a freeing experience, full of adventure with the world as our oyster. Our biggest concerns where in trying to decide which of the plethora of beautiful anchorages we were going to be able to see and which ones we just couldn’t fit in. Now the trip has a different feel to it; a bit more stressful, with a focus on how many miles we can cover and if the weather will cooperate. With the sense of freedom gone it now felt more like work. So we spent barely a week traversing a coast that we could quite literally have spent the entire season exploring, without having to anchor in the same spot twice.

Houses on Hirtle Island, Nova Scotia.

Houses on Hirtle Island, Nova Scotia.

From Halifax we had good 50 nm run down to False Le Have where we spent two nights anchored behind Hirtle island. We explored around in the dingy, taking some short walks on Covey and Hirtle Island. Jess picked a bucket full of mussels and I peaked in the window of the old Covey island boat shop. From there we made our way to Voglers Cove and anchored up in front of our friends Dorian and Dana’s house. We had met them when we first arrived in Lunenburg and spent a few brilliant days sailing with them in Mahone bay. On our second day in Voglers Cove we all piled in the car and drove up to Lunenburg to visit Dorian’s shop on the waterfront and to attend the keel laying party of the new 60’ schooner that Dave Westergard is building.

The old Covey Island boatworks shop. Now a private home.

The old Covey Island boatworks shop. Now a private home.

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia is steeped in the culture and history of the sea; home to the Bluenose and the famous Lunenburg foundry. It is a beautiful town with a colorful waterfront and excellent maritime museum. With a lively fishing industry in its day it was also a bustling commercial port full of fishing boats, builders, iron workers, block makers, sail lofts, ship chandleries and the all the rest of it. Much of that is gone now replaced with the growing tourist trade but if you know were to look and who to talk to there is still some very interesting and exciting boat work going on.

Beautiful morning in Voglers Cove, Nova Scotia.

Beautiful morning in Voglers Cove, Nova Scotia.

We started our afternoon in Dorian’s new second floor shop space, over looking the harbor, were they are putting the rig together for the second Columbia being built and launched in Panama City, FL. You might not be as much of a schooner nut as I am, or you might be living under a rock, but a fellow down in Florida has just had two, yes that isn’t a typo, two, 141 foot replicas of the Starling Burgess schooner ‘Columbia’ built! These giant schooners are nothing short of extraordinary! The Columbia was originally designed and built in 1925 in Essex Massachusetts and was the pinnacle of the American Fishing schooner, a class of fast, graceful, powerful boats with towering rigs and miles of canvass famous for their speed. She was built to race in the Fisherman’s Cup races and was the only American schooner to come close to beating the Bluenose. To be overlooking the harbor standing alongside freshly built spars and giant coils of newly spliced, parceled and served rigging wire for this giant ship of the past was a real treat. The quality of the work was first rate and the crew working there were all really nice guys. What a project! The original Columbia was lost off Sable Island with all hands in 1927.

Photo of the Columbia during her recent sea trials, September 2014. Photo by Eastern Shipbuilding, Panama City, FL.

Photo of the Columbia during her recent sea trials, September 2014. Photo by Eastern Shipbuilding, Panama City, FL.

Following the shop visit, as if I hadn’t gotten enough of schooners, we took a five minute stroll down the road to attend the keel laying party for a new 60‘ Dave Westergaard schooner. Clearly I am not the only one to be caught up in the romance of all this, as the community at large had come out to show there support for new project. The town mayor and the harbor development commission spoke, and the local distillery poured out some first rate rum. It was quite the party. The angelic keel timber was one Dave got from my place of employment, Gannon and Benjamin back in Massachusetts. There is something about the building of a wooden boat that galvanizes a community and brings a richness and sense of authenticity to the waterfront especially in a harbor so full of wooden boat history.

Keel laying party on the Lunenburg waterfront.

Keel laying party on the Lunenburg waterfront.

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