Costly Bluenose II to be launched Sept. 29
Anxiety growing around launch of vessel
The rebuilt Bluenose II is just weeks away from entering the water and the people working on the vessel are getting anxious.
A date has now been set — Sept. 29 — to launch the replica of the iconic Bluenose. If everything goes as planned, the schooner will begin its short but treacherous journey from its perch on land to the water.
Peter Kinley, president of the Lunenburg Foundry, has spent the past two years rebuilding the Bluenose II.
The job is a year behind schedule. Kinley and others will have to gingerly nudge the 258 tonne ship from land to water —hopefully without incident.
"Every launch we have to look at safety. We go through the various procedures and checklists," said Kinley. "Here you are dealing with a vessel that has been so deeply reconstructed that there are a number of unknowns."
Kinley said the tide has to be just right for the launch. There are also questions about the accuracy of the ship's weight, which can't be calculated until the vessel is sitting in the water.
The original Bluenose II was slipped into the water in 1963. It was a replica of the original Bluenose, built in 1921.
Wayne Walters, the captain and director of operations for the Bluenose II, is also the grandson of Angus Walters, the original captain of the Bluenose.
Wayne Walters was one of the 10,000 people on the Lunenburg waterfront in 1963 and remembers there was lots of anxiety when the vessel was moved into the water. He said those anxious feelings will return later this month.
"Always a bit nervous yes," said Walters. "It's all of us, we all own the vessel and we're always a little nervous about things."
The building of the Bluenose II replica has been expensive. The Nova Scotia government invested $15.9 million on the refit of the iconic racing schooner.
It was supposed to be launched in early July, in time for the summer tourist season. It was also supposed to be part of the 2012 Tall Ships festival, but was plagued by cost overruns, safety concerns and bureaucratic headaches.
The province is planning an all day celebration around the launch in two weeks. Fireworks will be set off from the Lunenburg waterfront and several artists are set to perform, including Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea and Michael Stanbury, the man who wrote the song The Bluenose.