Participants in our spring dory course have been working so hard, we figured it was time they got out of The Dory Shop and visited a few of our neighbours in the greater Lunenburg marine trades community.
First, it was off to the beehive that is the Michele Stevens Sailloft in Second Peninsula.
The drive down the Peninsula is a treat any time of year, but particularly so in springtime. Arriving at the Stevens family farm where we parked under a ready-to-bloom apple tree, Hugh made a comment about heaven on earth. It truly is a spectacular place!
Inside, Michele introduced the guys to the history of the Stevens family, how her great grandfather Randolph moved his large family here from Tancook Island , establishing not only a prosperous farm but also the sailloft where four generations of Stevens have now sewn sails. (At 96 years young, the shop itself is just one year older than our Dory Shop).
The Stevens name is legendary in these parts, not only as sailmakers but also as boat builders (David Stevens) and block makers (Arthur Dauphinee).
Like most of the Stevens family, Michele grew up in and around the shop where her dad Robert worked. Originally, she didn’t see herself going into the business, though she was always a keen sewer. She returned to the business one summer while attending university and has never looked back.
These days the loft is extraordinarily busy with not only the regular slate of spring sail orders, repairs and canvas projects, but also the building of sails for a new steel replica of the Schooner Columbia, famous as one of the Bluenose biggest rivals (for an idea of scale, remember: Bluenose II has the largest working main sail in the world!). And yet Michele personally made time for a very in-depth tour of the operation, including a look at all of the projects currently on the go. Many, many thanks to the whole gang for your hospitality!
On the way back to Lunenburg, we also stopped at Arthur Dauphinee’s Block Shop (Arthur’s mother Mary was a Stevens who married a Dauphinee). While Arthur unfortunately was out, his employee Lloyd Zinck was kind enough to allow us a look around this fascinating shop, which is also going full-out these days, building wooden blocks for Columbia and another big boat project in the Caribbean.
Back in Lunenburg, the guys grabbed some lunch and did some work on their dory before we took them down to the shipyard for a VIP tour of the Schooner Bluenose II, currently being rebuilt by the Lunenburg Shipyard Alliance. Again, our sincerest thanks to boatbuilder Michael Higgins who took the gang aboard for a first-hand look at this massive and oh-so-impressive example of the wooden boatbuilding talents of our area.
And speaking of boatbuilding talents, today is the day our gang will launch their brand-new Banks dory. Pictures of the launch to follow!