View our exclusive gallery of past Gloucester Schooner Fesitvals

--- They were the work horse of an ancient fleet. They have been called the fastest wind driven wooden vessels ever built. They stir the imagination of youth and old salt alike. Many were built right here on Cape Ann. In Essex alone from 1848 to 1853, 256 vessels were built and when the shipyards finally halted production in 1949, nearly 4000 vessels had been launched into the Essex River (photo left).

In 1920, the Halifax Herald (Nova Scotia) established a formal race of real sail carriers that were bona-fide working ships. The following excerpts are from "Bluenose II - Back In Time":

"That year (1920), elimination races in both countries selected contenders. The schooner Esperanto out of Gloucester, Mass., defeated the Delewana of Lunenburg and took the trophy to New England.

Dismayed Nova Scotians hired young Halifax designer William J. Roué to design a ship to challenge for the trophy. The schooner Bluenose (photo right) was built by Smith and Rhuland and launched in Lunenburg
on March 26, 1921.

In October 1921, after a season fishing on the Grand Banks, Bluenose defeated Gloucester's Elsie and brought the trophy home. In an 18-year racing career Bluenose did not give up the trophy. The American schooners Henry Ford, Columbia, Gertrude L. Thebaud, as well as a number of Canadian vessels built in an effort to surpass Bluenose's remarkable sailing abilities, could not grasp the trophy from her.

The final race series took place in 1938. The Bluenose, by then 17 years of age, defeated the Thebaud one final time. Still handling as smartly as ever, Canada's most famous sailing vessel was a tribute to the Nova Scotia shipwrights and sailors who built her and many other fishing and cargo schooners.

The Second World War ended the era of the great fishing schooners. Replaced by modern steel trawlers, the fleets of sailing salt-bankers no longer set out to challenge the cruel North Atlantic to reap a harvest of cod for the markets of the world.

In 1942, despite the efforts by her Master, Capt. Angus J. Walters of Lunenburg, and others to keep the ship in Nova Scotia, Bluenose was sold to carry freight in the West Indies. The other schooners were gone. Esperanto and Columbia were lost in storms, victims of the treacherous sandbars of Sable Island, which is 90 miles eastward of Nova Scotia and is known as "the graveyard of the Atlantic". Henry Ford and Elsie sank in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. On January 28, 1946, the Queen of the North Atlantic joined the fate of her greatest rival, the Gertrude L. Thebaud and foundered on a Haitian reef.

In 1955, both Bluenose and Captain J. Angus Walters were inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame for their achievements in the International Fishermen's Trophy races."

 


 

View our exclusive gallery of past Gloucester Schooner Fesitvals

   

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