“A Great Story” – update

A Great Story


Dec 21, 2017

Last January we ran a short piece on the motor boat A Great Story which had been restored by the crew at Covey Island Boatworks. Nick Aien from Covey just sent us this update with some more background on this interesting little boat. His research, confirmed by former Bluenose II crew members, reveals the boat was used as launch for Bluenose II in the 1960s.

HullThanks to D. Nick Nickerson, who was a crew member in the early seventies, we have these recollections of those times.


BLUENOSE II’s Motor Launch

By D Nick Nickerson,

When BLUENOSE II was built in 1963, it was decided the vessel would spend winter months in the Caribbean and West Indies doing private charters. To do so, the many anchorages at remote ports and lagoons would require service for shuttling charter guests ashore and back to the vessel. Having a need to be able to transport up to four passengers at a time, a motor launch built in nearby Mahone Bay was selected.

Hull 2

The builder, Mahone Bay Plycraft, a world pioneer in using a process to mold plywood, had roots that began with local operation in 1946. Unlike traditional plank construction, the process they used was perfected during WWII for the building of British ‘Mosquito Bombers’ aircraft. At the end of the war, the equipment was purchased and shipped from Winnipeg to Nova Scotia.

While a small portion of the company’s business included fully finished craft, they were a primary builder for Evinrude, Johnson and Mercury producing over 40 hulls per day.


Launch History

The launch provided service for the first three charter seasons in the West Indies as well as in the North during the summer season.

Propulsion was supplied by a 4-cylinder Volvo gas engine coupled to a Dowty-Hamilton Marine Jet propulsion unit, which was quite unique for those times.

Ready For PaintThere are several tales over the 3 years that left some vivid memories. Be it related to the propulsion system, hull or a combination of both, as she was known to have a desire continue in a straight line when maneuvering. This was the case while attending an event at Armdale in 1965 when the bosun was returning to the vessel with supplies. Not responding to her wheel, the launch ended underneath Bluenose II’s stern which promptly removed the launch’s windscreen in a destructive manner.

On another occasion one evening in Bermuda, the launch was summoned to pickup Mr Oland and a guest at a jetty and deliver them to the vessel. On arrival, the seaman handling the launch attempted to back in to the dock. Having not fully mastered the control of a jet system, a large jet of water was delivered vertically, thoroughly drenching the passengers.

Retired from service in the fall of 1966, she was replaced by a Boston Whaler.

Dowty Hamilton SignIn 1967, the launch was in storage in the Bluenose II shed at Oland’s Wharf on Lower Water St Halifax. At that time, a close family friend made attempts to purchase the launch from the Oland family however, sale the craft was declined at that time.

Over the years her condition had declined to a near final state. Having now been fully restored for private owners by Covey Island Boatworks, on the 50th anniversary of her retirement, she returned her to the waters.

Her name: “A Great Story”

Living in a disposable age when so much of history has disappeared, we are so fortunate for those that value, preserve and act above the call to ensure our connections to the past remain for future generations.

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