After nine years of painstaking restoration, a ship that was once wrecked on the bottom of Halifax harbour is sailing again at the Tall Ships Festival.  

The Larinda was a victim of Hurricane Juan, one of the worst storms ever to hit Nova Scotia. It made landfall in the early morning of Sept. 29, 2003, as a Category 2 hurricane.  

As the hurricane approached, the Larinda was forced into Halifax harbour, where it berthed beside HMCS Sackville, one of more than 120 corvettes built in Canada during the Second World War.


The Larinda, seen here before its sinking and restoration, has been fitted with new junk-rigged sails. (CBC)

The two ships were tethered when the mooring lines of the Sackville snapped in sustained winds of around 165 km/h. The Sackville rammed the Larinda, which sank to the bottom of the harbour.

Two weeks after the sinking, a crane and barge began raising the heavily damaged Larinda. The process took several more weeks.

Restoring the ship was a labour of love, crafted over the course of 26 years by more than 1,000 volunteers in the backyard of the former owner Larry Mahan.

Unfortunately, Mahan could not afford the cost of raising and restoring the ship to its former glory.

Mahan, 63, committed suicide at his Massachusetts home in 2005. He was depressed following the loss of his boat and a car accident in which a cyclist was killed.

The ship was purchased by a company called Larinda Ltd., owned by Arthur Scott of St. Margaret's Bay, N.S. The vessel has undergone a dramatic restoration over the past nine years.

A unique design

The Larinda is a modified replica of the Boston schooner HMS Sultana, which was built in 1767 and patrolled the U.S. coast between 1768 and 1772.


The ship boasts a 1928 four-cylinder Wolverine diesel engine, thought to be one of only two still operating. (CBC)

After the Larinda's raising and restoration, the ship was given new white 2,800-square-foot, junk-rigged sails and two shiny bronze cannons.

The vessel intricate woodwork such as whimsical seahorse stair rails, leaping dolphins carved into benches and the trademark frog figurehead, decked in a tricorne hat and waistcoat.

The Larinda’s figurehead frog was carved by Susan R. White from a 100-year-old cypress tree, using traditional hand tools. It took her about two months, working six hours each day, five days a week, to complete the carving.

The ship's month-long submersion in the harbour's saltwater and sewage destroyed the engine.

The Larinda is now fitted with a rare 1928 four-cylinder Wolverine diesel engine, thought to be one of only two still operating.

The engine weighs eight tonnes and produces 100 horsepower at 275 r.p.m.

The ship's former owner, Mahan, attempted to sue the non-profit company that manages the Sackville for damages after the Larinda sank and was refloated.  

Mahan tried to sue for nearly $1 million, saying the Larinda was worth $815,000 US and that it cost $110,000 to have it refloated after it sank.  

In August 2011, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge found that the owners HMCS Sackville were not at fault when it broke its lines and rammed the Larinda during the storm.  

The Larinda was insured for $250,000, which the family received.