Bluenose II renovation costs a lot of dimes

Memories of the super fast schooner are replaced with the delayed, over budget refit

Andrew Vaughan / CP

The Bluenose schooner went undefeated in nearly two decades of racing starting in 1921, but restoring memories of its past glory has left Nova Scotia taxpayers at a loss. The Bluenose II—an exact replica of the 143-foot, two-masted schooner featured on the Canadian dime—is once again in Nova Scotia waters, but only after a three-year renovation that went over time and over budget. “The Bluenose is a symbol of our great province and people,” Kevin Lacey, Atlantic Canada director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, told the Chronicle Herald. “The refit has becomes symbolic of something else: inept government.”

The original budget to restore the Bluenose II was $14.4 million, with the plan for the ship to be back at sea for the 2012 summer tourist season. It took a brief dip in the water last September for its “official” relaunch, but was soon taken out again to replace, among other things, the rudder. The price tag so far is more than $16 million, but that’s expected to rise further.

It’s a long and costly process, especially considering the Oland brewing company paid just $250,000 (equivalent to $1.9 million today) to build the Bluenose II in the first place. The keel was laid in February 1963 and the boat launched on July 24 that same year. A news report from that day says the event, attended by a crowd of 15,000 people, went off without a hitch.

That wasn’t the case on Sept. 6. The replica schooner’s 8 a.m. launch at the Lunenburg Marine Railway was delayed 90 minutes when divers had to go underwater to fix a problem with the rail the vessel sat on. The Bluenose II must now undergo several sea trials before it is ready to set sail with the public on board.