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12 July, 2011
Lunenburg is one of my favourite places and I’ve been there sufficiently often that I know my way around. I always enjoy that feeling of familiarity. Unfortunately, the morning came in with heavy rain. As it seemed unlikely to ease up, we donned our oilies and went ashore to have a look round and see what was happening ashore.
The south end of the town was looking rather more prosperous than when we were last there, and we soon discovered why: Bluenose II, Canada’s iconic fishing schooner whose image is on the back of every 25¢ piece, was being completely rebuilt there. The original was built in the traditional manner, of barely-seasoned soft woods and iron and in the traditional manner, was pretty much at the end of its life after 25 years. Much money has been thrown at the problem, but there is nothing that can solve the issue of inferior initial construction. Finally money was collected to rebuild the ship completely. About the only original structure to be used will be the deckhouses. Traditional and modern building methods are being used, with much laminated wood instead of hewn timbers. Instead of pine, the hull is being planked in Angélique, a tropical hardwood with similar attributes to teak. Plenty of people are being employed in the project, many of whom will have learned new skills, or had the chance to use once again, skills that they have been unable to hire out in recent years. The whole project will cost about CAN$3,000,000 which seems a better use of money than an extra couple of miles of highway, in my humble opinion. My only disappointment came when I realised that none of the hands-on workers was a woman.
Walking back through the town, we were disappointed to see that the blacksmith’s forge had been taken over by a boutique distillery. Not that I have any objection to distilleries, boutique or otherwise, but it’s a shame that the forge had to go rather than one of the many knick-knack shops. We also got sidetracked by a large shop selling gorgeous clinker day-sailing boats, with a very friendly and owner who was only too happy to tell us all about them. We finally made our way to the library, so that we could send e-mails and I was delighted and flattered to be remembered by one of the ladies working there. What a memory she has! Then we went and did some food shopping and dripped our way back to Iron Bark.
Sunday came in fine and sunny: we were not the only ones to be happy, because a street festival that had originally been planned for the previous day, had been postponed in the hope of better weather. We rowed ashore to go and visit some friends who live nearby.
By the side of the road was a large pond and to my delight, beavers were swimming about in it. Two adults were resolutely swimming back and forth with either food, or building materials and we were amazed to see them disappear under the road. A beaver’s lodge is usually mounded up in the middle of its pond, with an underwater entrance – it seems a little eccentric to have one under the road! The babies were alternately floating and paddling about with their skinny little tails cocked up in the air. Although not much bigger than a kitten, they seemed very self-confident and apparently unconcerned that a passing bald eagle might fancy them as a snack.
When Trevor managed to drag me away, we carried on up the road, but a few minutes later were almost run down by three mad cyclists. With exclamations of delight, we realised that these were our friends, Thierry and Maren, with their son, Joshua. They had heard that we were at anchor and were coming to find us. Joshua was going to the Festival to do a bit of busking – he’s a brilliant tin whistle player – so we all turned back towards town.
Later, Thierry, Maren, Trevor and I wanted to have a sit down in the sunshine, drink a couple of beers and catch up on each others’ news, but Nova Scotian wowsers disapprove of such decadent behaviour. A bona fide pub will allow you to drink without eating – as long as you don’t do it outside where you can be seen and corrupt the morals of the youth; any other hostelry which sells alcohol can only do so if you eat food as well. In the end, Thierry suggested we buy a few beers and go to the yacht club. This sounded like a grand scheme: the Lunenburg yacht club is a wonderful affair – a floating raft with a small shed on it, moored in the harbour. It was built by the locals in order to provide a place to meet after racing and is the perfect place to loaf on a sunny afternoon.
I have an old friend who lives in town, and Trevor and I went to spend a few hours with her before going back to Thierry and Maren’s house for dinner. They have quite a bit of land and we were introduced to the latest family members – two delightful donkeys, whose role in life is to pack out firewood and, in due course, provide transport by pulling a cart to and from the weekly Farmers’ Market. Thierry’s ‘Wylo II’ design, Io, was also close to hand, getting a well-deserved refit. I was happy to catch up with Esther, all grown up now and about to leave for France the next day, but still a keen sailor.
Monday was, as the weathermen would say, ‘a-mix-of-sun-and-cloud.’ We went for breakfast ashore: a nearby B&B is run by David, whom we met in Tasmania! Talk about a small world. He is a keen sailor and has an extreme gaffer which he’s looking forward to racing. The hull is a 19th century design (I think) but built of alloy. It looks absolutely lethal, carrying a cloud of canvas, but I gather that David enjoys going fast!
We stayed on for a day of fog and drizzle and then left on July 12th, heading Down East.