Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Tern Schooner Under Construction

Here I am back in the age of sail. It has been a while since I posted something about our sea faring past, but this is a theme that I enjoy revisiting. Today's archival image features a Tern Schooner under construction in the Mills Shipyard. This vessel is quite possibly the C.W. Mills which was launched in 1904. The Mills Shipyard was located on the waterfront (conveniently enough) at the west end of the village of Granville Ferry. By the time this schooner was built in the early 1900s the age of sail was coming to an end. Steam powered vessels would quickly make scenes like this one a thing of the past.

Tern, or three masted, schooners were a type of vessel particularly favoured in the Canadian Maritime provinces. These sturdy vessels were useful in both the shipping and fishing trades. In fact, they were so versatile that if fishing was slow or if there was nothing to ship, a tern schooner could quickly be converted for the alternate use. Due to the fore and aft layout of their sails, tern schooners were not as efficient in the trans-Atlantic trade. They were although ideally suited to sailing in the coastal waters of the Maritimes and New England.

An interesting feature of this photograph is that the bow port opening is visible. Since lumber was one of the primary commodities shipped from Nova Scotia, tern schooners were often built with an opening which would facilitate loading. This port had a clamp which would allow it to be opened or closed as needed. When the vessel was ready to sail, the seams of the port would be sealed with oakum so that water could not get into the schooner.

All for now,
RGS

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