The Foreign Protestants of Lunenburg – Video

Lunenburg is unique in Nova Scotia in its history and personality. Much of that has to do with the people who settled the town in 1753.

My son participated in a youth documentary filmmaking workshop in September 2014. It was part of the (first annual, as it was a great success) Lunenburg Doc Fest.  Here is the result of his work:

Bluenose II sitting pretty in Lunenburg

The newly rebuilt Bluenose II sits at Lunenburg Foundry at the innermost part of the harbour. Sails and rigging make the job seem complete from a distance, though I’m sure there’s lots going on below decks. She’s a beauty.

Bluenose II
Bluenose II at Lunenburg Foundry, October 24, 2013.
Photo by Heather Holm

 

Nova Scotia Sea School Restoring Dorothea

An iconic sight in the waters of Mahone Bay and beyond, Dorothea has taken hundreds of young people on maritime sailing adventures as part of the Nova Scotia Sea School.

It’s the kind of intense, group adventure that teenagers crave and need for their development, and that schools don’t usually provide.

Lives have been changed.

Dorothea needs an overhaul. Compare the $30,000 they’re looking for to the cost of rebuilding Bluenose II! Small projects like this are very satisfying to support as they can have a huge positive impact on individual lives.

 

Click here to visit the Nova Scotia Sea School website.

Lunenburg in 1939

This wonderful old footage of the Lunenburg waterfront in 1939 shows wooden sailboats, working dorys, and the fishermen of the time – grandfathers of today’s grandfathers. And fish. Lots of salt fish.

The Rope Loft in Chester: a favourite restaurant

Father’s choice on Father’s Day, so of course we went to the Rope Loft on Chester’s Front Harbour.

Entering the Rope Loft
The Rope Loft in Chester

We didn’t dock and dine this time, but you can do that, and berth your boat for the night too, if you’re lucky.

If the walls could talk, they would have many nautical yarns to tell. The old oak timberframe building dates back to the privateer ship Teazer, as it was built with remnants of the famous ship after she burned and sank in Mahone Bay in 1813.

But there’s no salt pork and hardtack on the menu. The Rope Loft Burger is the best around. One of our fathers was very pleased with his sirloin tip roast with baby potatoes and Yorkshire pudding which, he declared, was almost as good as his own. That’s high praise!  The mothers enjoyed Baked Salmon and Seafood Marinara respectively.

A walk around the Village completed our lovely Father’s Day outing.

When the weather is warm enough, you can sit on the deck and watch the activity on the Front Harbour.

The restaurant is a busy place during Race Week. Last year, the Tanzer 22 class was headquartered at the Rope Loft.

Check out the Rope Loft website for a bit of history and some pictures – and of course the menu!

A picture out of time

draft horses and wooden sloop
On the beach, it could have been 100 years ago.

The wooden gaff-rigged sloop was on its way from Lunenburg to Mahone Bay.  But the cable used to raise the centerboard had broken.  So the sailor ran her up on Bachman’s Beach, on Second Peninsula, hoping to fix her at low tide.

The team of draft horses was in training, as usual, and was pulling a sledge.  Their driver brings them down to the beach to cool off.  We’d met them before, a couple of years ago, on this beach.

The hull of the sloop was built by David Westergard from a half-model he’d found.  (Westergard is currently building a couple of schooners at the Dory Shop in Lunenburg.)  Only after he’d built it did he learn that it was a particular Pubnico type of fishing vessel that was often fitted with a make-or-break engine.    The sailor (whose name escaped me; add a comment if you read this) had rigged the boat  himself and was bringing it to Mahone Bay for the schooner races.

“Are the schooner races part of Chester Race Week?” I asked, naively.

“Not at all.”

“Do the schooners eschew Chester Race Week?”

“Fiberglass Race Week!”

Right.  The folks who perpetuate the skills of wooden boat building live in a different universe from the carbon fiber and kevlar world of the most serious racers.  But they sail the same waters.

And so do we, on short overnight cruises in our 32-year-old fiberglass sailboat, not belonging to one group or the other, but glad to admire both, from a respectful distance.

Draft horses on beach
Draft horses cool down at Bachman's Beach, July 2008

Concordia Crew’s Rescue a Tribute to Emergency Equipment and Procedures

Concordia
SV Concordia at her berth in Lunenburg in 2008.

We are all delighted to hear that the entire crew of 64 aboard the tall ship Concordia, part of Lunenburg-based Class Afloat program, have been rescued off the coast of Brazil.

The high school and university age have certainly had an education in marine safety. The lesson should not be lost on other boaters, whether we take to the sea for pleasure or for work.

While we still don’t know exactly why the Concordia ran into trouble, the 100% survival rate was made possible by the use of proper safety equipment and procedures. An emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) sounded the alarm, adequate liferafts and zodiac boats were ready to go, and everyone aboard knew what to do. The liferafts kept everyone safe in high seas through the night until rescue could come.

Major Silvio Monteiro Junior, the head of the air command for the Brazil’s Search and Rescue System, speaking with CBC Radio’s As It Happens last night, spoke of the “beautiful” sight that met the rescuers eyes in the morning when the 3 merchant vessels and the liferafts used flares to communicate their positions to each other, and then the “incredible moment” when they knew that all 64 people were safely on board one or another vessel. He pointed out that Brazil and Canada have often worked together in search and rescue operations, and they were pleased to help us out. Thank you, Brazil.

Lennie Gallant plays to the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival crowd in August, 2009, with SV Concordia as a backdrop.

Beautiful schooners under sail

Is there any boat more beautiful than a schooner?  What is it about them that draws the eye?  The Schooner Association met in Chester this weekend.  We passed a few heading home on Sunday.  Some photos, taken from our boat:

Schooner in Lunenburg Bay.
Schooner in Lunenburg Bay.
Ocean Racing Class schooner, apparently from Germany, spotted in Mahone Bay on August 9, 2009.
Ocean Racing Class schooner, apparently from Germany, spotted in Mahone Bay on August 9, 2009.

Of right, privilege and freedom

I woke up this morning with my family aboard a sailboat at a peaceful anchorage in Mahone Bay just a couple of hours sail from home.  And shared my thoughts:  “We are so privileged to be doing this.  Not just having the boat, but to be able to sail where we want and drop the anchor where we deem best, want without paying a toll to anyone, and to enjoy this beautiful scenery so freely.”

Sunset at Covey Island, one of the islands protected by MICA.
Sunset at Covey Island, one of the islands protected by MICA.

The first settlers of Lunenburg must have been in awe at such freedom.  What we now call Germany was at the time an assortment of many principalities of various sizes.  Going down the “highway” of the river Rhine to Rotterdam, where they boarded the ship that would take them across the Atlantic, the emigrants would have been stopped at every border crossing and paid tolls.  Many of them had even needed to secure permission from their feudal lord to leave the land they were bonded to as peasants.  Once they reached Lunenburg in 1753, they must have been very appreciative of the freedom to profit from their own labour and build their future with their own hands.

Even some of the modern-day German immigrants to Nova Scotia that I know have expressed to me their appreciation of the freedom they have here in a society that is less regulated than the one they left behind.

The entire natural coastline of this island has been destroyed and replaced with a rock wall.
The entire natural coastline of this island has been destroyed and replaced with a rock wall.

The Mahone Islands Conservation Association (MICA) works to protect public access to the islands of Mahone Bay, as well as to preserve their natural environment.  The islands are increasingly under pressure by private owners and developers.  Natural shorelines and nesting habitats are disrupted (photo right).  Owners of some islands chase visitors off beaches that have long been used by the general public. (Some have been known to brandish guns in their efforts, something  that Canadians or at least Nova Scotians just don’t do.)

From what I understand, depending on the type of deed, the intertidal zone has legally remained public except in a few cases where water rights were transferred.  In a country where travel by boat was the norm, the right to land on a shore would have been an issue of public safety.  Nowadays, it seems that there is a trend for private property rights to be extended into the intertidal zone –  whether by deed, by custom, by complicity of the authorities or by ignorance by the public, I don’t know.  Enlighten me if you know anything more about this issue, please, by commenting below.

Meanwhile, I take pleasure in seeing the decendants of the original Lunenburg settlers, with names such as Meisner and Ernst,  involved in MICA, perserving public access to the islands of Mahone Bay for future generations of humans and seabirds.