EDITORIAL: Ambassador taking sail

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier jriley@digbycourier.ca
Published on August 19, 2015

The Bluenose II will be stopping in Shelburne as part of a Nova Scotia tour this summer.

It’s a travelling showboat.
The Bluenose II is out on tour as the province’s most recognizable sailing ambassador and we can only hope, following the troubles and delays it’s seen, that it lives up to expectations.

With repairs and upgrades recently finished, the schooner is visiting ports around the province.

In its swing of southwestern Nova Scotia, Bluenose II will visit Digby Sept. 9-11, Shelburne Sept. 2-4, and Yarmouth Sept. 5-7.

The visits, which will offer deck visits but not public cruises, are part of an eight-stop tour of the province from Sydney through to Yarmouth and Digby. Public cruises are only scheduled for Lunenburg.

The ship has been a great source of pride for Nova Scotians, and Canadians in general, many of whom make a walk onboard the Bluenose part of their visit to Nova Scotia.

But the repairs, with all the snags and mounting costs, brought out a lot of feelings of frustration among people in this province, who are reminded constantly about the scarcity of public funding.

The ongoing tribulations did turn into a political football, even during the term of the former NDP government.

Premier Stephen McNeil, then opposition leader, described it as a boondoggle with the mounting costs and persistent glitches.

As the details came out, we learned that the province had put the wrong department in charge of repairs.

What’s surprising about that?

Nova Scotia is famous for shipbuilding – but maybe not so much once government departments are involved.

A re-engineered steering system had been a main cause of difficulty in the period of upgrades.

As recently as late last month, it was still not smooth sailing after a bearing in the steering pump broke.

With the Bluenose touring season now in full swing, it will be interesting to see how things emerge, whether it’s still our star floating attraction.

After all the anxious feelings about the repair project, we’re about to witness how people feel – whether they begrudge the excessive money spent or simply see it as water under the bridge.