Everything had to go smoothly on launch day if my cousin Tim Rhyno was to successfully float his new million dollar fishing boat. But of course it didn’t.
In a race against time, the boat had to be transported several kilometers along a narrow, winding road to the slip where it would be backed into the water at the peak of high tide. Delay after delay caused many anxious moments.
Tim had the Robert and Arieta built to fish his crab and lobster quotas off the coast of Nova Scotia. He hired Carmarc Boatbuilders, a small shop in Argyle to build it. As the ship progressed at a snail’s pace toward its goal, electrical workers held up wires with long fiberglass poles so the high load could slip underneath, each time stalling its progress. Tree branches snapped overhead.
A husky, powerful ship, I could tell this beast was going to be a stable workhouse out on the water. So sturdy and wide was it that the truck driver had a very hard time turning in the tight spaces around the crowded wharf area. Faced with an impossible turn that threatened to roll the tires off the rims, someone came up with an ingenious solution to get the flatbed turned stern-to the slip. Four sheets of plywood were fetched. A pair was placed beneath each side of the flatbed in front of the weight-bearing wheels. Grease was smeared between the two sets of sheets to lubricate them. The truck eased forward so the wheels were on the two pairs of plywood. In this way, the wheels could pivot on the spot. It worked, but the operation took us ever closer to low tide.
At nine meters (30 ft) wide and 15 meters (50 ft) long, the boat looks more like a raft from behind. It has what’s called a Goreham hull. The broad stern is essential for the safe, efficient hauling and setting of fishing gear like strings of lobster traps. The truck transporting it seemed at times not quite up to the task. Twice, hoses broke, dumping brightly coloured fluid on the ground, and twice the operation was stalled for repairs, the tide dropping all the time.
Many members of my large, extended family showed up to watch and celebrate. Aunts, uncles, cousins lined up in cars behind the boat for the slow ride to the slip and then waited anxiously on the wharf as the tide continued to drop. Tim’s wife Paula and some of his five kids came to help.
Will she float? That was the question we were all asking ourselves and each other, so low was the tide by the time she was finally lowered into the water. There was a real danger the ship would bottom out. It seemed no matter how far the flatbed backed into the water, the ship would not rise off its supports. Finally, with a little encouragement, the ship slipped from the support arms and floated on its own.
The whole operation took so long and the final stages were so anxious, Tim and Paula had no opportunity to smash the customary bottle of champagne on the bow. Instead, they broke it over the stern. The compromise didn’t seem to bother anyone – the Robert and Arieta was sailing at last.
Taking her place among the finest fishing vessels in the harbour, the Robert and Arieta’s built-in chilled water system will enable her to carry up to 60,000 pounds of king crab back from the fishing grounds up to 150 kilometres offshore. Tim painted “Big Chill” on the side of the wheelhouse as a nod to this ship’s capacity to bring home the bacon. That kind of range won’t be a problem for the Robert and Arieta with four tanks that hold up to 4000 gallons of fuel.
Like a proud father, Tim shows us around the Robert and Arieta, each of us thinking about the Grand Poo Ba, as we called him, my Granddad Bob and his wife Arieta, parents to ten, grandparents to who knows how many. We all knew they’d puff with pride at the sight.
The Robert and Arieta hit the fishing grounds for the first time in the last week of November for the start of the 2014-15 lobster season. Wishing her safety and prosperity.
All photos by Darcy Rhyno – All Rights Reserved