One hundred years ago – Bluenose!

I usually read my daily news, often from the CBC app on my phone – because I can read faster than TV or radio journalists can talk, plus reading allows me to skip whole bits when I please.

Imagine my surprise last night, when I saw my name in an article about the schooner Bluenose – see the link below. The story quoted from my 2010 book called – appropriately – Bluenose. I’d forgotten the date!

Bluenose’s stern, 1940s marine survey. The vessel sank in January, 1946, off Haiti. Photo from NS Archives and Record Management

Yesterday, March 26, was the anniversary of the launch of Bluenose – the schooner on the Canadian dime. Three weeks later, the schooner headed to the wild Atlantic to fish. We all know what the weather is like on land in April. It’s like everything: balmy breezes and sunshine one day, and icy cut-you-in-half gales the next. Imagine being at sea, among waves as tall as your house, or more. It magnifies the land experience!

When I was writing the book, I kept trying to imagine what the fishermen aboard Bluenose experienced. I went outdoors one cold morning to waggle my bare hands in the rain barrel, which had a big chunk of ice still floating in it. When I got a paper cut, I put salt in it to understand the pain of fishing the North Atlantic with blisters on your hands. I sat outside on a cold bench for long, long minutes that seemed like hours, when I shouldn’t have, to see what sitting in a cold wet dory felt like. When I drove my car though fog or wind or rain or snow or other bad weather (alone – I wouldn’t subject anyone else to it), I turned off the heat and rolled down all the windows. It aired out the car, for sure – and gave an inkling of what it might have been like on the deck of Bluenose, with all the canvas filled with weather.

It was cold, it was painful, it was enlightening – and I was only playing at it. For the sake of art, I suppose one could say.

Bluenose, my book, is still available (Nimbus Publishing), and you can read about it elsewhere on this website. It is intended to be an easy read – but it might make you feel cold and wet, hungry, tired, and sore. If it does, I’ve done my job. If it doesn’t, wrap yourself – fully dressed in your indoor clothing – in a soaking wet towel and sit outdoors on the windy side of your house any day now.

It will help you appreciate the fish you eat. Because – the calendar may say spring, but it’s Bluenose weather.

So – here’s to the fisher folk and all “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters…” (Psalm 107) Stay safe.

Here is the CBC story:

by Michael MacDonald, March 26, 2021