‘Katie Belle’ Signals New Age of Wind

12 12 2015

Hand-built schooner’s masts raised in Parrsboro
katie-belle-with-masts.jpg

About 200 people gathered in Parrsboro, N.S., Saturday afternoon to celebrate the milestone of the mast raising on a schooner hand built by two cousins.

Evan Densmore said seeing the masts go on the ship he spent five years building made him appreciate why historically the step was so important for shipbuilders and communities.

“Traditionally when you put a mast on a boat it kind of makes it into something living, there’s going to be sails,” he said.

“I’ve always known, I’ve drawn it, I’ve measured everything, I’ve planned the whole lift but when you actually see them on there, it’s wow, it actually completes the boat.”

The Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro, N.S., and Museum Nova Scotia hosted a ceremony to mark the masting Saturday afternoon.

Some people even got to tour the Katie Belle.

Densmore says he and his cousin Nick never anticipated the interest in their boat and were touched by the turnout and well wishes.

“To see lots of people out there of all different backgrounds and professions to come behind us and support us and being interested in the boat, it’s a big deal,” he said.

The Densmores had to design and build a machine to taper the specially-ordered masts to size in Stewiacke. They then shipped the beams to Parrsboro and with the help of a help of a 50-tonne crane spent about three hours securing them in place.

Evan Densmore said it took about three hours to hoist the two masts earlier this month. They received assistance from a crane that was in the town for work on the tidal project.

The wharf in Parrsboro proved an ideal place to do some final work on the lower part of the hull.

“For the six, seven hours at low tide, the mooring serves as a natural dry dock without having to pull the boat from water,” Densmore said.

Parrsboro ceremony

The Fundy Geological Museum hosted a masting ceremony where Evan and Nick Densmore answered questions about the ship. (Submitted by Erin Organ)

The Katie Belle won’t be under full sail for a while. Completing the rigging will take another few weeks, Densmore said. The plan is to cast off on the first trip in the new year before the ice sets into Parrsboro.

“We’ll be doing a shake down cruise down the eastern seaboard, probably stop in Digby before we take off into the Gulf of Maine. We’ll be playing it by ear, seeing how the ship responds, take it easy and say on the safe side of things,” said Densmore.

The ship’s design is based on a 100-year-old fishing schooner used around Georges Bank off Nova Scotia.

It’s made from a wood-epoxy composite with eastern spruce and local red oak, and with the masts weighs about 65 tonnes.

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