Nova Scotia’s historic sailing schooner the Bluenose II needs a modern hydraulic system to turn its 3,200-kilogram rudder and make it seaworthy, says the senior government official overseeing the vessel’s restoration.
David Darrow, the premier’s deputy minister, said Tuesday the work means the Bluenose II – known as the province’s roving sailing ambassador – likely won’t be setting sail this summer. Experts will be hired to design the hydraulic system and to investigate a backup system where buoyancy is added to the rudder to help it move, he said, adding that the solution will also have to be certified by regulators and tested at sea.
“We’re doing our best to grease the skids so that … these activities can happen within the shortest possible time frame,” Mr. Darrow told a news conference at a fisheries museum in Lunenburg after the vessel underwent a sea trial on Tuesday. “That said, I must tell you I’m not optimistic we will be able to salvage much, if any, of this year’s sailing season.”
Mr. Darrow, who was handed the file by Premier Stephen McNeil after a series of cost overruns and delays, said he recently made a personal visit to the vessel. He said he leaned on the wheel with all his force and could barely budge it.
Experts say the wheel of the vessel should be turned with about 30 pounds of force, Mr. Darrow said, but it currently requires more than three times that pressure.
The four-hour test off the coast of Lunenburg was otherwise successful, but Mr. Darrow said it confirmed the rudder is just too difficult for most people to operate.
Kelliann Dean, the deputy minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, told the province’s public accounts committee last week that the cost of restoring the vessel has risen to $19-million.
The Bluenose II, launched in 1963, is a replica of the original Bluenose, a Grand Banks fishing schooner that won worldwide acclaim for its graceful lines and speed.