Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Boss of the BLUENOSE: Schooner Days MCCXLIX (1249)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 10 Dec 1955
Full Text
Boss of the BLUENOSE
Schooner Days MCCXLIX (1249)

by C. H. J. Snider

HAS anyone ever seen a jinnik or whatever the singular of jinx may be? Matter of fact, having lived a sheltered life, Schooner Days can't recall ever seeing "jinx" outside the uninhibited sporting pages.

Certainly we don't hold with the "Bluenose Skipper" suggestion of a "jinx" following the "vessels that sought honor and fame on the international racing course" for the salt-bankers.

A dozen of Bluenose's rivals, Nova Scotian and New England, are mentioned as "gone" after short lives in the racing-fisherman calling. Well, so too were six Nova Scotians that never cast a racing eye on the Bluenose, and all in one summer gale which the Bluenose weathered in '27. And more than a hundred other fishing schooners since.

For that matter Bluenose is gone, too, though she lived well beyond the life expectancy of the salt-banker.

Theirs was a hard life. They were relatively small soft-wood vessels, smaller than our average lake schooners, and at sea in rough water most of their lives. They only came into port to bait or receive or discharge cargo; seldom or never for shelter as coasters do. When fishing they rode out the wildest gales gales at anchor on the banks, or hove to, and they took whatever the Atlantic could send along when winter-freighting their made fish to the Mediterranean or the West Indies, or coming back laden with salt from Turks Island or Portugal.

They used to figure a salt-banker's life at 10 years. After that sell her to Newfoundland or somewhere for shore-fishing or coasting. That was the Lunenburg rule. The demise of some of the racing vessels may have been hastened because they were cut too fine and were dependent upon inside ballast, often of rocks which could be thrown out to make room for the fish. Racing yachts cary sail well because their ballast is fixed and outside, and they keep away from rough water. For ocean racing they have to be shortened in rig and have their ballast redistributed, some inside, some out, but all rigidly fixed.

Bluenose came through many a gale and won many a race, besides being very successful at catching fish and freighting fish, because she was incomparably well designed by W. J. Roue of Dartmouth and sailed by Angus Walters of Lunenburg. The myth about her being altered while building and no one being able to tell what made her go was nonsense. "Bill" Rode tried to improve upon her lines in Haligonian, and never got a chance to see whether he had done so, because Haligonian was twisted nine inches out of shape before she raced Bluenose. Besides, it is hard to improve upon perfection. The "alterations" in building Bluenose were raising her deck 12 inches forward, giving her a higher and dryer bow. This had no effect upon the designed underbody, which gave speed through the water. It made her the grand seaboat she was, but the increased windage probably held her back a little in racing.

"BLUENOSE SKIPPER" (G. J. Gillespie, Brunswick Press, Fredericton, pp. 129, $2) is a title so pat it might mislead. There are or were so many bluenose skippers in sail that this might be a novel or "fiction story" of the Roaring Forties. But the sub-title "The Angus Walters Story" clears the deck, for while Canada's greatest sailing vessel had two or three masters in her 21 years, to the public Bluenose's skipper means only one man, the pepper-and-salty little Lunenburger Angus Walters, who had her built and put Canada on the front page with her international racing and deep sea fishing. Mr. Gillespie's book is a sympathetic, uncritical biography of a great Nova Scotian and his great vessel, and is a compendium of the last decades in the life of the Maritime sailing fisherman.

Snider, C. H. J.
Media Type
Item Type
Date of Publication
10 Dec 1955
Language of Item
Richard Palmer
Creative Commons licence
by [more details]
Copyright Statement
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Boss of the BLUENOSE: Schooner Days MCCXLIX (1249)