Picture the year 1921; in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. A quaint little town on this coast where fishing is the dominant industry. Here a fishing schooner is being built to fish the waters of the North Atlantic but it’s also being built to race. It will become a famous racing schooner and known as The Bluenose.
The design of this boat gives it a rather unique look and because of this it’s easily recognized. She is designed for the long, deep sea fishing expeditions on the Grand Banks. So in that design; the inside ballast is placed over the keel and the bow is raised. This feature provides more adequate space for crew members to eat and sleep comfortably while enduring the long hours at sea. Its a big build fin this little community. Anticipation is high. Its comparable to a racehorse in foal; with so much fuss, before it is even launched.
International Fisherman’s Cup
The International Fisherman’s Cup is a very prestigious race between American and Canadian fishing schooners. It’s held on a yearly basis and alternates between Nova Scotia and Massachusetts. Enter The Bluenose. Remember this is the 1920’s. The fishing industry is booming. The crew is well aware they have a fast boat and racing is on their minds.
By 1921; The Blunose is a contender in the Fisherman’s Cup held off the coast of Nova Scotia. You guessed it! The Bluenose won hands down! The same happened in 1922 in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The schooner is fastly becoming an International celebrity. She is dubbed “The Queen of the North Atlantic!” In 1923 the race is held in Halifax, NS; with new rules implemented. The race is the best of three and The Blunose takes the first race quite easily. In the second she is disqualified for breaking a rule. Captain Angus Walters has a lot invested in the ship as both her captain and part owner. He appeals the decision. The judges rule against him. A very frustrated Angus hauls the boat out of the competition. In the end; the race is declared a draw and the prize money is shared. After this controversial race; The Fisherman’s Cup takes a 7 year hiatus from racing. Both sides involved are simmering mad about the whole situation and the outcome. A draw is unacceptable!!
In 1930; the Americans (in Gloucester, Mass) build a new ship called “Gertrude L. Thebaud.” Well it turns out that “Little Girtie” is pretty fast. So the owners invite the crew of the Bluenose down for a race. Angus takes the bait.(money is at hand) The Bluenose and her crew head out to give the upstart Americans a lesson in sailing. Well this time; The Bluenose gets beat by Little Girtie. An upset Angus returns home to make some minor adjustments to his schooner. He calls for a rematch to be held in Halifax; in 1931. Well this time she wins and bids adieu to Little Gertie and her crew for awhile.
Bluenose Final Race
Meanwhile; in 1937, the deep sea fishing industry is changing. Gone are the days of having a sailing ship. It is now more favourable to operate the much faster and motorised boats. So to accommodate for this; the masts are removed from The Bluenose and replaced by diesel engines. But it is not the end of the racing days yet. Gerties’ owners are looking to race the Bluenoce once again. Angus is very eager to keep racing! Even under financial strains; he manages to reinstall the masts and removes the diesel engine. In 1938, she sets out for Gloucester to race and win in her final deep sea schooner race.
Back home; the fishing industry is growing. The Bluenose design cannot compete for fish against the newer and faster boats. She gets tied up in the Lunenburg harbour and only goes out to sea periodicaly.
Whatever became of the beloved Bluenose! Well; in 1942; it gets sold to the West Indies Consortium and is converted to a cargo ship for the Carribean coastal trade. In 1946 and laden with bananas, she runs into a reef off the coast of Haiti. The crew is safe but the beloved Bluenose is abandoned, breaks up and slips into the sea; piece by piece. Its a very humbling end to the great ship known as “The Queen of the North Atlantic!”