Tall Ship Celebration: All aboard that’s coming aboard

The famed Bluenose II arrives at Sarnia’s Government Dock. Troy Shantz

Troy Shantz

Ships evoking another era dropped anchor in Sarnia last weekend.

Tens of thousands of onlookers flocked to the Government Docks and Sydney Smith Wharf to view the six-vessel fleet at the Tall Ships Celebration, Aug. 9 to 11.

They included the Bluenose II and Picton Castle from Nova Scotia, the Empire Sandy from Toronto, Fair Jeanne, Appledore IV and the Nao Santa Maria, a replica of the ship that brought Columbus to the new world.

From left, the Picton Castle, Appledore IV, Bluenose II and the Empire Sandy.
Troy Shantz

The Bluenose II is an exact replica of the original Bluenose with a number of updated features including GPS and radar, said Thomas Frellick, a deckhand on the schooner that adorns the Canadian dime.

The ship, once the fastest in the world, now serves only training and tourism purposes, he said. But she’s still known throughout the world for having the largest mainsail in all the seven seas.

At 4,000 square feet, the 5,000-pound sail can move the historic vessel at 16 knots, Frellick said. When the wind isn’t up, two diesel engines with more than 700 horsepower ensure the Bluenose II reaches its destination.

“When we sail it’s a really beautiful thing, and we go faster with our sails too,” said Frellick, a native of Lunenburg, N.S. who had family members serve aboard the original Bluenose.

A kayaker snaps a photo of the Bluenose II, an impressive sight even with her sails furled.
Troy Shantz

Nearby was the much smaller Appledore IV, a training vessel designed along the lines of a traditional fishing schooner. She was built to travel the world and visit the Arctic, said deckhand David Sozanski.

Based out of Bay City, Michigan, the Appledore IV made her way to the Festival with a crew of seven students – some of whom had never sailed before, Sozanski said.

The 85-foot (26-metre) ship moves under the watchful eye of captain Matthew Tkach, an Ohio native.

“The Great Lakes, there’s very little consistency as you go through them so you have to be a master of your craft … you have to pay attention to everything,” he said, noting storms can kick up in minutes and batter vessels from all angles.

“Bad seamanship will sink anything.”