The new construction/restoration of the Canadian schooner Bluenose II has not gone well. Years behind schedule and millions over budget. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil is calling it a “boondoggle” and is demanding an investigation into the project. Recent lawsuits involving the schooner have cost more in legal fees alone than the cost of the original Bluenose II in 1963. The total cost of the current project is $16.7 million dollars and expected to rise still further.
The original Bluenose was a Canadian fishing and racing schooner from Nova Scotia built in 1921. The schooner became famous for winning the International Fishing Challenge Cup off Gloucester, Massachusetts for many years. The Bluenose is considered by many to be an iconic symbol of Canada. The schooner appears on the Canadian dime and the current Nova Scotia licence plate.
The Bluenose II was built in 1963 by Oland Brewery for roughly C$300,000 as a marketing tool for their Schooner Lager beer brand. In 1979, ownership was transferred to the government of Nova Scotia. In 1994–95 the ship’s hull was restored. Around this time the management of the schooner got caught up in what the Canadian Sponsorship Scandal when the federal government allocated $2.3 million for the schooner through a consulting firm but only a small amount of the money reached the vessel.
In July 2010, the Nova Scotia government awarded a $12.5 million contract for the restoration of Bluenose II to a consortium of three Nova Scotia shipyards. The total project budget was $14.4 million. The word “restoration” is a something of a misnomer. The original schooner was largely scrapped and the “restored” schooner was built from keel up with new materials. Some equipment and sections of the old schooner were retained, but the schooner is essentially a new vessel.
The new Bluenose II was supposed to be sailing in the summer of 2012. She was launched in 2013 and then hauled back ashore for additional work. The schooner is currently tied up at at a wharf in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
Recently, the provincial government settled a copyright infringement lawsuit with the the family of the schooner’s original designer. In 2012, the Roue family launched a lawsuit against the provincial government alleging that it infringed on their copyright by using William J. Roue’s drawings in the Bluenose II restoration. The government settled the suit for $300,000, including legal fees. The provincial government says about $1 million has been spent on legal costs since the case was launched.