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More Schooner Tales


More Schooner Tales

We dig it when one article inspires another. This from anarchist Bruce from our Twin Tales piece from yesterday…

My father and grandfather used to build schooners they built here in Newfoundland, and the skills still do reside in some out ports.  Recently some friends of mine built a 55 ft fishing boat entirely out of juniper that they got out of the woods and ran through their own saw mill. Another pair of friends of mine built a Herreshoff 36 – Neira here in the 90’s.

My father is 87 and he went to Labrador and as far as Baffin Island in the 30’s in wooden boats with no engine.  He was given a schooner and a crew of men by his father when he was 18.  No charts – always just some old uncle who had all the headlands memorized.  Wooden boats and men of steel.

I once had the luck of getting my father on the Bluenose one summer afternoon in the 70’s when you could get a 4 hr sail for $10.  I asked him how many men did it take to run a schooner – he said 8 Newfoundlanders or 12 Americans – a chauvinist to the end!  You may be aware of those schooner races between Bluenose and series of schooners from Gloucester.  They make a big deal of the fact that the Bluenose never lost a race, but in every instance the Gloucester boats were shorter, shallower and with less sail area – no magic there.  And half of both crews were Newfoundlanders.  The Canada USA border was open until 1971 or so – so I have a lot of draft dodger American friends I went to school with, and we all have cousins in "The Boston States".  Right up into the 50’s you could sail direct from St John’s to NYC or Boston.