Many of you know we have a fairly close relationship with the tall ship the barque Picton Castle. Well last Autumn they ran a very successful Bosun School here in Lunenburg, and there is always a portion of their Bosun School that includes wooden boat building and repair. (Cool #1) We not only held several workshops in our historic old shop, but we held their graduation ceremony there as well – with Lunenburg’s mayor present to give a speech to the graduates, and live music to keep the night going. Bosun School is an incredibly innovative land-based programme run by Captain Moreland for mariners wanting to further their practical skills. Class learning is required for anyone wanting a career at sea, but that class learning doesn’t leave much time for honing your splicing skills, for example. Or learning to sew sails or repair a wooden boat. We’re quite honoured to be a part of it.
Here in the Dory Shop we have a very big project on the go at the moment. It’s been ongoing for well over a year already, and it is rather all-consuming. Because of this we haven’t had much time for building dories. Normally that would be a sad thing, but the project makes up for it.
Mike Gray has been working on the beautiful Concordia Yawl Tosca (Cool #2). Tosca is one of only 103 built between 1938 and 1966, and she is owned by an absolutely lovely man who lives up in Cape Breton. Fitz came to the Dory Shop for a dory building course and ended up bringing Tosca here to be fixed up and returned to her former glory. This project has been Mike’s baby, and he’s been working hard at it. We’ll have a step-by-step story of this project with photos up on the website in the coming weeks.
Having built plenty of dories in his life, Mike is now running the yard for us and we couldn’t be happier. He’s an interesting guy with more knowledge of the area and the local industries than you can imagine. When he’s telling a story, he includes the finest details: it feels like you were there with him. He’s great for a laugh, and (more importantly) he’s an incredibly talented boat builder. And he makes my job easy by making sure I know what he needs and when he needs it, with plenty of time for me to source, purchase and get it in.
Like I said above, while he is working on Tosca, there is no dory building going on in our old workshop and that seems kind of sad. But Tosca is a big project and Mike can’t do everything at the same time. So something pretty unique and timely happened (Cool #3): The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic has a beautiful old fishing schooner, the Theresa E. Connor. One of the very last commercial fishing schooners to fish out of Lunenburg and she sits at the wharf here in Lunenburg. If you go to the Museum (which I highly recommend you do) you can tour Theresa E. Connor as well – it’s like stepping back in time. This year it’s her 100th birthday, and she needs new dories. We have an historic boat building workshop going unused; they have a boatbuilder with a project that needs doing, and no workshop to do it in. (See where this is going?)
We are super excited to have Lisa Zygowski, the Fisheries Museum’s boat builder, working at the Dory Shop building THERESA her birthday present. Mike is there to lend a hand if she needs one, but this is her baby and so far it’s going great. The project will finish off with a grand launch at the Dory Shop and then row over to Theresa on her birthday – the weekend of 14 July. Be there if you can – it should be fun!
That’s our past year in a nutshell. Over the next few months I’ll give you more information on the ongoing project we have with Tosca.