Hand-built schooner arrives in Saint John after trip from Parrsboro

The crew of the Katie Belle, a 24-metre schooner hand-built in Nova Scotia, encountered a rough first crossing of the Bay of Fundy, one made difficult by both high winds and a nasty flu.

Katie Belle's crew battling flu but didn't encounter any major problems on trip across the Bay of Fundy

The crew of a schooner hand-built in Nova Scotia encountered a rough first crossing of the Bay of Fundy, one made difficult by both high winds and a nasty flu.

"I think the boat tested us out more than anything else," said Evan Densmore, who constructed the 24-metre schooner with his second cousin.

He says at least one crew member had the flu, contributing to some queasy stomachs that may or may not have been seasickness.

"At one point last night we were hitting three-metre swells. The boat was handling it well but it was a little rocky and rolling." 

Evan and Nick Densmore were accompanied by their fathers and three friends on the trip between Parrsboro, N.S., and Saint John. 

Safety lines needed

Despite the forecast that included wind and rain, they didn't consider turning back.

"I've got a lot of faith in the boat. I literally built the whole thing, so I know every single piece to it. It was a little rougher than we thought it would be but in the end it turned out good," said Evan Densmore. 

Three quarters of the way across the Bay of Fundy the wind picked up and waves started crashing across the ship's bow. 

While some of the crew tried to sleep on the bunks below deck, others hung on above deck. 

"We were walking side to side, rail to rail, going under water, we had a safety line strung from bow to stern and anybody on deck had to have a safety harness on tied off to it," said Nick Densmore. "I know there's one time I would've gone over."  

Family waiting on shore

After docking in Saint John about 24 hours after casting off in Nova Scotia, Densmore said he was looking forward to stepping back onto steady ground.

"The boat handled it pretty good. The crew could use a little more practice." 

The crossing made for an anxious night for loved ones on land. 

Erin Durkee drove to Saint John with her and Evan Densmore's two daughters to greet the ship. 

"I don't really think I slept last night at all. I was really nervous," she said. "It's amazing they've been able to accomplish this. It's quite a feat."

The Katie Belle's crew will spend the next few days doing some repairs on the ship — it needs a new hydraulic pump — and they plan to do further sea trials in the Saint John area. 

The cousins' shipbuilding days aren't over either. Evan Densmore says eventually they'd like to sell the Katie Belle and build another boat. 


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