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!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alex aka Sandy ! - Great pics.... as I am curious about what is going in the maritime sector of Nova Scotia I fell over the "Nova Scotia Schooner Association" and all its beautiful boats racing in coastal areas of NS....

    ... and herewith I fell over the restauration project of Schooner Hebridee II which lead me to your blog.

    Such refittings are more than just "nostalgy"... hopefully it gives the youth an idea about what boat building is, a better understanding about boat history, naval architecture, boat and rig design.... and inspires people to sail on such beauties (as they need lots of volunteers to cover the tremendous amount of work to keep them in shape).

    Hope to see soon the launch of Hebridee II as I watched with pleasure the christening of Bluenose... nice video on YT:

    ... and maybe one day I can make it to sail in the coastal areas of NC.

    Warm greetings from "good old Europe" (North Germany) / Skip JayR