Schooner Katie Belle
Wooden ships whether power or sail driven are always a labour of love. They require constant maintenance because if the natural deterioration of wood by dry rot gets a hold major repairs may be required. A ship sitting still will develop bottom rot due to barnacles and weeds.
The schooner Katie Belle has sat in the open and exposed to our maritime weather for years. It should have been covered stem to stern with waterproof tarps.
I hope the owners of this fine vessel know what they are doing.
Schooner Katie Bell in Mill Bay, Bedford
This is a media except from earlier days:
In a community known more for its farmers than its shipbuilders, a large wooden sailboat is a strange sight in Stewiacke, N.S., and it’s attracting a lot of attention.
“Sheer size is what gets them, not used to something like this,” says Nick Densmore.
He and his cousin, Evan Densmore, built the 80-foot sailboat in memory of their beloved grandfather.
The cousins say they have always been interested in building things.
“I think I got my first toolset when I was two. They had to take that away from me,” says Nick. “I was cutting up furniture and pounding nails on the floor.”
“My dad sparked my interest when I was a kid. He loved powerboats, anything that floated really,” says Evan. “My grandfather was a builder and a carpenter, and he kind of fostered that interest in me.”
When Evan was a boy, he and his grandfather created a model of a sailboat in the hopes of building the real thing someday.
His grandfather built the wheel for the future vessel, but passed away last spring.
“He was a pretty quiet guy, have a couple laughs, it would be a pretty good time,” says Evan.
After three-and-a-half years of building, the cousins are almost ready to set sail. But first, they need to get the ship into the water.
“Time is pretty important. As the tide peaks in Stewiacke, it’s already going down in Maitland, and you kind of get that ‘swoosh’ effect,” says Evan.
“So, out in Maitland, the tide drops at about an inch per minute. So every 12 minutes you’re not there, the water goes down. Twelve minutes is one foot less of water, so we’re going to have to wait one tidal cycle in the river once we launch the boat in order to have enough water to get out to Cobequid Bay.”
The move from the shop to the river was also a challenge. It took months of planning to make a 45-minute trip three kilometres down the road.
“The front truck pulled the truck and Jeep and the boat and my other truck back up and steered the back end of the boat,” explains truck driver Brad Crowe.
Once in the water, two 140 horsepower diesel engines will take them to Parrsboro, where they will install the masts.
Eventually, the cousins plan to take tourists out to sea.
“I would say we could comfortably have 40 people on the deck for a day sail trip,” says Nick.
There is still work to be done below deck, but once it’s complete, Evan and Nick expect 14 people will be able to sleep there.
“I’d like to do some cruising hopefully this winter, head down the eastern seaboard, if everything goes according to plan,” says Evan. “If not, I’ll be freezing on a wharf in Nova Scotia.”
As for the ship’s name, the cousins are keeping it secret until the official launch next Tuesday.
“No, you’re going to have to wait for the launch day for that,” says Evan. “A little suspense.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Matt Woodman