Tall Ships arrive in Lunenburg

by Michael Lee

  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p><em>Bowdoin</em>, built in 1921 for famed Arctic explorer Donald B. MacMillan and the official vessel of the U.S. state of Maine, arrives in Lunenburg for the Tall Ships Regatta on August 10.</p>
  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p>Eager tourists try to catch a glimpse of <em>Europa</em> as it sails into the Lunenburg harbour. The ship, built in 1911 in Hamburg, Germany, and currently based in the Hague, Netherlands, is named after one of the mythological love interests to the Greek god Zeus.</p>
  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p>Kurt Schultz, a mate on the American ship <em>When and If</em>, in Lunenburg.</p>
  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p>Jennifer Smither from Columbus, Ohio, on board the <em>Lord Nelson</em>.</p>
  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p>Ray Carpenter from Tampa, Florida, on the <em>Lord Nelson</em>.</p>
  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p>Lorna Firstbrook from Meaford, Ontario, in Lunenburg for the Tall Ships Regatta.</p>
  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p>Christine Gobien, middle, from Centreville with her two-year-old son Nolan, right, and her cousin&#8217;s eight-year-old daughter Peyton Nickerson, left.</p>

Ray Carpenter watched as visitors ushered themselves through the deck of the Lord Nelson.

He had just sailed into Lunenburg the morning of August 10 after a weary voyage from Cape Breton, but appeared in good spirits as he recalled the trip down south: the warm welcome he and others received in Burgeo, Newfoundland, and a whale one of the crew members saw while at sea.

Even with the rain and rocky weather, he said getting to see a whale "makes it all worth it."

Carpenter joined the crews of nearly a dozen ships from around the world who descended on Lunenburg for the 2017 Tall Ships Regatta.

Lunenburg, which is the home port for the Bluenose II and Picton Castle, was one of 11 ports in Nova Scotia to host the event, which saw ships from Bermuda, the U.K., the Netherlands, Ontario and the United States take part.

The ships are in Lunenburg until August 12 before they depart for Digby, Saint John and elsewhere.

The British-based Lord Nelson that Carpenter sailed in on is unique in that it's designed so people with physical disabilities can work on board.

It is equipped with chair lifts, accessible bathrooms and sleeping areas, notches on deck to help secure chairs, handrail markers for the visually impaired and a compass which calls out directions.

Among the 43-person crew who sailed to Lunenburg, four were in wheelchairs.

One of those people was Carpenter.

Carpenter is from Tampa, Florida, and flew to Canada for the first time in late July so he could join the crew of the Lord Nelson in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.

He first heard about the Lord Nelson and her sister ship Tenacious in a Facebook post and sailed for the first time last year in Costa Rica, where he spent five days on board Tenacious.

"I love it," he said. "That's the reason I came back again."

His cousin Jennifer Smither, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, also came along for the ride.

Smither joined up with the Lord Nelson in Sydney and like Carpenter, she too didn't have any prior sailing experience, but said she learned how to do everything from cleaning floors, to pulling ropes and climbing the mast.

"It looks really complicated, but each individual job is really simple."

Second mate and first-time visitor to Canada, Rowan Legg, has spent five years on and off both the Lord Nelson, built in 1985, and Tenacious, built in 2000.

She too remembered the thunderstorms and fog along the way to Lunenburg, but despite the weather, she said, "For a British person, it feels quite familiar."

"Everybody has been really friendly and we've had a lovely time."

Kurt Schultz arrived on the When and If, an American yacht which General George S. Patton commissioned to sail around the world.

Built in 1939, Patton only sailed the ship for a few years before he died in an automobile accident in 1945. It is now based in Key West, Florida.

The weather coming into Lunenburg was a "little snotty," said Schultz, after the crew got caught in a storm leaving St. Peter's, Cape Breton, and had to hide in a cove, but he praised the people of Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland before that, for being good to them.

"[They've] taken really good care of us," he said.

For veteran sailors like Lorna Firstbrook, the regatta's first day couldn't have been better.

"It's fabulous and the day is perfect," she said.

Firstbrook arrived in Nova Scotia with her husband via the Yarmouth ferry line after visiting their son in Vermont.

The two are from Meaford, Ontario, on the southern coast of Georgian Bay, and have sailed in places like the Bahamas and Guatemala.

"It's kind of like a step back in history," said Firstbrook about the tall ships.

Christine Gobien, who came to Lunenburg from Centreville in the Annapolis Valley to visit family, said the tall ships were exciting for her children.

"Loving it, beautiful day ... can't complain."

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