Friends gathered in Halifax on Sunday to remember a visionary whose life was destroyed by hurricane Juan.

When the storm hit Nova Scotia in September 2003, the tall ship Larinda sank in Halifax Harbour.

The replica of a 1767 U.S. schooner had taken Americans Larry Mahan and his wife, Linda, 30 years to build.

"He was totally devastated," said Arthur Scott, who bought the schooner from Mahan's insurance company and organized the memorial.

"The man spent 30 years of his life building the vessel. He had visions of it from a child, and took it through his adulthood, and basically built it in his backyard.

"It was just like losing part of the family."

Mahan, 63, committed suicide at his Massachussets home in the summer.

During Sunday's ceremony, mist blew over the harbour, friends tossed flowers into the sea and a chaplain read a prayer.

Charlene Corkum, a friend of the family, said Mahan was popular on the dock in his home port in Massachussets as well as in Nova Scotia.

"It just seemed that he had a great magnetism that people were attracted to. And people just wanted to sit and listen to his story, of 30 years building his life's dream," she said.

Mahan was forced to sell the Larinda because he couldn't afford to fix it.

Scott is now restoring the ship. In a few months, the Larinda will be back at sea.

The vessel was a victim of one of the worst storms to hit Nova Scotia. Juan made landfall in the early morning of Sept. 29, 2003, as a Category 2 hurricane, then tore north through the province.