Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Nova Dock tow to Woodside

Photos from the Nova Dock tow by McKeil Marine tugs this afternoon. The dock was towed from Halifax Shipyard to Woodside by four tugs: Salvor in the lead, Tim McKeil and Lois M on the "port" side, and Beverly M1 on the "stern". It is not often that one sees such a large object under tow in the harbour, requiring this many tugs (and fairly large tugs at that).


Beverly M1

Lois M and Beverly M1.

Lois M and Beverly M1 turning Nova Dock.

Tim McKeil, Lois M, and Beverly M1 turning Nova Dock 180 degrees.

Atlantic Condor also put in an appearance.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

1960's CH-124 Sea King landing demonstration

Before the RCN started flying the CH-124 Sea King from the ST. LAURENT class destroyers (DDH) in the mid-1960's, starting with HMCS ASSINNIBOINE, the thought of flying a large ASW helicopter from a relatively small (~2800 ton) ship was a fairly novel idea. Novel enough that the RCN performed demonstrations of the DDH/Beartrap/Sea King combination for other navies, including the US Navy.

A good description of the system can be found in the Wikipedia article on the Beartrap so I won't repeat it here.

The photos below are from one such demonstration, courtesy of Joseph Bowers AW1(AC) USN Ret. They were taken by one of his flight officers on one of their flights to either Norfolk or Halifax as part of Air Development Squadron 1, based in Key West, Fla. If anyone thinks they know the name of the photographer, please let me know.

The Sea King is connected to the Beartrap with the cable here.

The Sea King has been hauled onto the deck.

Close-up of the Sea King on the helo deck.
The identity of the DDH is not known, but I wonder if it might  be FRASER as she performed a demonstration for the USN in 1967. TACAN was introduced later, so the lattice mast would not have been installed at the time of the photo.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Reconstruction of schooner Hebridee II

You don't have to head all the way down to Lunenburg to see traditional Nova Scotian boat building underway - if you live in the Halifax area, there is at least one closer example. In a small shed on the Halifax waterfront, with the sound of water splashing on the rocks below audible despite the music of the Rolling Stones, the schooner Hebridee II has been in the process of being rebuilt since she arrived at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in September, 2009. 

Hebridee II with masts removed.
Soon after arrival, I managed to catch her being lifted out of the water.

Hebridee II being lifted out of the water.
This 42' schooner (37' waterline, I believe) was originally built in 1953*, and was designed by William J. Roue, the designer of a couple schooners by the name of Bluenose and Bluenose II (Mk.1). In fact, she was apparently a scaled reduction of the original Bluenose.

* The Nova Scotia Schooner Association website variably lists her as being built in 1963, or the winter of 1952-53. Take your pick. I suspect the earlier dates to be more accurate. The museum website indicates the design itself dates from 1936.

She spent her first winter in a tent at the museum. This photo was taken in November 2009.
As rebuilds go, this one is fairly extensive. I'm told that all that remains of the previous schooner are the keel, stem, wheel, and a few bulkheads and decorative wood trim. So the schooner in the photo above, though sharing the lines of the new one, is essentially not the same schooner. To be fair, mind you, the new Hebridee II will have more in common with her predecessor than Bluenose II (Mk.2) has with Bluenose II (Mk.1).

Plan and profile views of the schooner.
After watching her under construction for the 5-6 years since, during which time I sadly paid her little attention, I finally got around to asking museum boatbuilder Eamonn Doorly when she might be back in the water (probably a few more years). Mr. Doorly kindly invited me in to take a look at her progress to date, during which time I took the following photos.

Hebridee II's bow points out towards the harbour.

Planking joins with the keel and stem.
The shed is rather tight with Hebridee II crammed in, and I didn't really get any good wide angle shots of her in her entirety.

Caulking of the planking is planned for Spring 2016.

The propeller will be installed on the shaft above, inset into the rudder. The rudder post curves around the inside of the propeller cut-out.

Planking joining with the stern post. The rudder is at an angle, which is mirrored by the wheel on deck above.

While the hull is mostly complete, minus the caulking and some touch-up, the topsides and interior are still a work in progress and I got a good look inside.

The deckhouse bulkheads are erected and porthole frames installed, and the decking is down.

This photos shows what a tight fit Hebridee II is in the shed, with her stern tucked in under the lower roof. The wheel, salvaged from the original, is installed in the cockpit with a seat behind.

The deckhouse roof is framed up, but not planked. This is where the companionway will descend into the cabin.

Hard to see here, but there is a small electric motor flywheel under the deck just behind the plank running top to bottom in this image. 
The original schooner would have had a bulkier engine (diesel, I assume), whereas the new boat will be powered by a bank of marine batteries designed to provide 5-6 hours of propulsion at a nominal 3 knots, enough to provide get-home oomph at the end of a sail to get passengers back to the dock if they need to catch a bus. The batteries can be charged dockside by plugging in, and renewable power will be purchased to reduce Hebridee II's carbon footprint. Smaller, lighter (only 35 pounds), quieter, and apart from the propeller shaft no through-hull fittings are required for exhaust or coolant. Mr. Doorly commented that he would be actually able to get at the stuffing box (propeller shaft seal) without the engine getting in the way.

The roof of the lower main cabin.

Interior of the main cabin, the main mast will be stepped in the red board in the floor.

Starboard decking looking aft.

Looking forward in the cabin. The lathed dowel to the left is apparently from the original schooner.

Starboard side looking aft.

I assume the name board is destined for the transom, though the previous schooner didn't have one.

I look forward to seeing Hebridee II back in the water, and even better yet, under sail!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Blue Dream Project Schooner - Wooden Boatbuilding

Whilst walking along the Lunenburg waterfront last weekend, I stumbled upon some activity within the old Smith & Rhuland shed - the same one where Bluenose and Bluenose II (Mk.1) were built in 1921 and 1963 respectively (Bluenose II Mk.2 was built nearby in a temporary structure erected for the reconstruction). 

The old Smith & Rhuland shed.
Within I found a new wooden schooner being built. The Blue Dream Project aims to build an ambassador to raise public awareness of the health (or lack thereof) of our planet's oceans. The schooner is being built by David Westergard using traditional methods.

I'm always a fan of boats, and boatbuilding, but I may have been more awed simply by being able to photograph the interior of the Smith & Rhuland shed. The combination of wooden boatbuilding within this building was, therefore, irresistible. I may have spent more time inside than I planned, and kept my poor father on his feet longer than he may have wished.

The 60-foot long schooner is roughly half the size of the 111-foot long (waterline) Bluenose, so there is some room to move around her in the shed. This helps with the taking of photos. She is framed up, and partially planked after roughly a year of construction.

Detail showing how the planking joins with the stem, the latter itself trimmed down to aid her passage through the water.

The decking is placed, and the joints taped to prevent debris from getting in.
The gunnels are placed, and frame the image above. I love the framing of the shed above the boat. My Dad was present for the launching of Bluenose II (Mk.1) in 1963, and his recollection is that they had to make some adjustments to the end wall of the shed (seen in the background) when they launched her to prevent the bow from taking out some of the structure. He was standing on a wharf nearby, and the wave of water created when Bluenose was launched got his feet wet.

Viewing the deck from the bow.

The keel gracefully transitions up into the stern of the boat.

I have always been fascinated with how the planking joins up to the keel in a wooden boat.

A detail of the partially planked port side showing the various frames running aft.

Starboard side looking aft. The treenails holding the planks to the ribs can be seen above.
The schooner is being fastened together with treenails, which are wooden pegs or dowels. The treenails will swell when the boat is in the water, allowing it to increase their holding power. There is a good explanation of this on the Traditional Maritime Skills website.  

Detail of the boat's stem.
The benefit of the boat only being partially planked is that it is easy to photograph the interior without having to squeeze into tight spaces (which I probably wouldn't be allowed to do anyway).

The inside end of some treenails can be seen in the foreground and trailing aft.
In the photo above, the wooden angles that join the deck to the ribs are known as knees.

A different angle from further forward, but still looking aft.

A well worn boat's wheel and steering gear that may end up in the new schooner.
For anyone interested in traditional wooden boatbuilding, for photographers looking for something special to photograph, or just the chance to go inside a building where the legendary Bluenose was born, I highly recommend dropping in on this project in Lunenburg. You might even leave a donation to help this project continue!

2016 UPDATE:

The schooner, now named Mahayana (which is apparently Sanskrit for "Great Vehicle"), was launched in an unfinished state on Saturday July 23, 2016. I was unfortunately unable to make it, but my Dad took some photos which I hope to post here at some point in the near future. I did manage to catch her at the Fisheries Museum wharf in Lunenburg later that day.

"Mahayana" in the early evening of her launching day. 
Some work still needs to be done, and she evidently does not yet have her ballast installed. I hope to follow any progress made over the summer and post the photos here as they become available.