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I’m a proud Nova Scotian by birth, but employment has taken me far away from home. Perhaps a little homesick, I decided last May to take on the Model Shipways Bluenose as a means of reconnecting to a home that I haven’t seen in years. I grew up when the Canadian Heritage Moments were an extremely common sight on the CBC, and I remember always being thrilled at the one that featured Bluenose, because as a boy it always seemed to me that her story was proof that interesting things did indeed happen in Nova Scotia!

 

I had been toying around with the idea of building a wooden ship for some time prior to this, and wound up getting the Model Shipways 18th Century Longboat kit as a warm-up exercise. I thoroughly enjoyed that build and the kit turns out a really beautiful result even with novice skills. I fell in love with the medium and the subject and it confirmed my feelings that it was time to take on Bluenose. I had actually attempted to build a model of her years and years before but the planking stage defeated me and I wound up passing the kit on to someone else, returning to plastic, resin and metal models for quite some time. As any reader can well attest, building wooden ships requires a different mindset than just about any other style of miniature construction and at that time I wasn’t there yet.

 

Bluenose is well attested to in the historical record and there is a wealth of knowledge and information out there about her appearance down the years. Starting out, I made a very conscious decision to mostly not concern myself with this too much—what I really wanted to do was recreate what I imagined as a boy, standing on her deck as she heeled over under her press of sail. I respect them that devote the immense amount of time, effort and skill into ensuring that their models are near-perfect representations of the real deal, but my aim here is a little different. This being a learning experience for a larger-scale build, I am making allowances for my relative lack of skill and I’m not going to beat myself up for not producing a museum-quality piece right out of the gate. I have, however, made a lengthy list of deviations from what is correct or optimal, and written down a lot of notes on best practices and lessons learned as I’ve progressed through the build.

 

I have a rather specific vision in mind when it comes to what the model will eventually look like. I intend to represent Bluenose in port after a day’s racing, so her sails will be furled. I’m personally not a fan of displaying a model with a full set of canvas as I find it’s very tricky to get right at the scales we are working at… and those sails never look quite right just hanging there anyways. I’m also toying with the idea of dressing the ship—presenting her with all kinds of bunting tossed aloft to celebrate the day’s events (and spelling out something particular in the signal flags, but that's still in the far off distance).

 

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The day that the model arrived (early May 2018), I got down to assembling the keel and laying out the markings for the bulkheads, as you can see here. My other hobby involves shooting antique rifles, so the digital caliper that I use for measuring cartridge length was pressed into service for this task and it’s been a godsend ever since.

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Next came the matter of installing the bulkheads. I chose the MSW kit after reviewing the build logs from this very forum and it did not escape me that several builders noted quite a bit of flex in the keel, and that the stern could be very delicate and prone to snapping if not reinforced. I used a bunch of scrap and even green stuff putty to build reinforcements that were added to stiffen the hull for planking and to add strength to the stern while it was being worked on—I did not want to see that snap off while I was fairing the bulkheads!

 

 

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The waterways were the first planks added. They went in relatively easily, though if I could do it again, I would go back and pre-notch and shape the inner strips before installing them as that process was quite a pain once they were already on the hull. I also noted not long after getting the waterways in that something wasn’t quite right with one of the bulkheads—it had shifted at some point and was out of square. After a bit of cutting, sanding and swearing, this was corrected and all was well. I remember being impressed at how even just adding the waterways greatly stiffened the hull.

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On my previous attempt at building Bluenose, I failed to properly appreciate how important the fairing process was to the end result of the hull and it really showed-- the planks I had installed had more lumps and bumps and gaps than a country road in Nova Scotia. Building the longboat kit first allowed me to better understand this process and that lesson was applied to Bluenose. I spent a few hours sanding down the bulkheads little by little and checking the angles with a plank to ensure that the angles matched and that there were no lumps or hollows in the run of the planks. Where necessary, thin strips of scrap were added and sanded down to correct for hollows. The extra attention was absolutely worth it, as it turned out.

 

When it came time to plank the hull, the process proceeded extremely smoothly. Very few stealers were required, and the garboard strakes went in with relative ease. Schooners like Bluenose have very graceful lines and it makes laying down planks a breeze. I felt no small satisfaction in finishing the planking as it was this step that had beaten me before. What followed that was hours and hours of sanding, filling and sanding and yet more sanding to ensure that the hull had a smooth finish. Getting there was a pretty big win for me. At this point I hadn’t settled on whether I wanted to paint the model or go for a natural finish.

 

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But again, the effort was absolutely worth it and I had a very real demonstration of how vital proper preparation is when planking. And yes, my construction cradle consists of a pair of socks filled with rice and tied off with zip ties. It makes for a really flexible and sturdy holder for a model that is very inexpensive. And for the wits that are no doubt wondering, no, the rice is considered a total loss and will not be eaten later on.

 

Just  a quick note: I experienced the same issue as other builders of this kit in that the keel pieces didn't completely line up. I resolved this by sanding the proud half of the keel until it was level with its counterpart and filling the gap in with wood filler.

Edited by Tector
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Sounds like you learned a lot with the longboat and made good use of it here, the planking is nice and smooth. I'm not sure what the instructions tell you so you may have just followed instructions, but one suggestion would be to change your planking pattern to a four-butt shift which was pretty much standard throughout the age of sail. Here you've done a two-butt shift and that makes for very visible vertical lines where half the planks are ending. Instead, you divide your plank length by four and shift the next plank by 1/4 of the plank length, next one shifted another 1/4, then one more and the fourth plank will be in the same position the first plank is in. See below.

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Hmmm. Thanks for sharing that, I will take that into account in future builds. As I recall, the instructions were a little vague on precisely how to go about it, so I just worked to make sure I didn't have two butts immediately next to each other. This is something of a retrospective build log; the photos in my last post were taken in early June 2018. I wound up painting the model and so now the butts of the planks are not particularly visible (as shall be seen shortly).

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3 hours ago, vossiewulf said:

Yes, when painting the hull it's largely irrelevant, but it will always be relevant for the deck at least. Just something to keep in mind for the next time around.

I see your point. What you're suggesting conceals the bulkheads far better than the method I wound up using. I'll keep it in mind going forward. You can really see the lines in the deck in the next series of pictures.

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At this stage, I took some time to prepare the various bits of fittings for the deck and hull—mainly as I was still trying to figure out how I was going to install the various railings. I fell into the habit of taking lots of measurements off the plans, then checking them, drawing out what I needed to do to figure out how I was going to do it, then checking the measurements again and finally committing. In the case of the mail rails, I made a template of the overall curve of the rails on both sides of the hull and then measured inboard the distance shown on the plans to create something that would install with relative ease. For the most part, it worked. In the case of the largest cabin, I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to match the curve of the deck to ensure a snug fit… and finally found the answer watching a guitar repair video of all things (why I was watching this, I have no idea—I have no musical talent whatsoever). I wound up putting a piece of sandpaper on the deck and gave the cabin a few passes over that to help it match the curve of the deck. Worked like a charm! As a part of this process, I vigorously sanded the deck to ensure that it had a smooth finish. I was quite pleased with how the deck turned out, particularly in the aft section of the schooner and wanted to show that off… so after a couple of exploratory tests on some scrap I applied a couple of coats of Tru-Oil, gave it a gentle sanding when it was dry and then another coat to round things out. I still hadn’t decided on what the overall finish was going to be.

 

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But then I wound up taking the plunge and painting it and I haven’t regretted it. The waterline was laid out by taking measurements off the plans and then poking a pencil through a paper cup at the appropriate level (I think I cribbed this technique from a log I saw here, it’s not my idea) and used this to mark the line on the model when it was appropriately braced and held at the right level. This line was then used as a guide to mask out the waterline, which was painted by brush with several coats of a high-pigment white model paint. I took care to really burnish the tape to minimize leakage, but still had a couple of small spots to touch up all the same… but not too many given the sheer length of the masking. One of the things that I love about Bluenose is that she can look like she’s going fast while sitting still and I like to flatter myself by thinking that even my humble efforts capture that aspect of her.

 

 

 

Edited by Tector
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Here we can see the hull with some of the deck fittings resting more or less in place where they would eventually be installed. I found it very helpful to draw out each individual item as a basic shape and then work out a process for construction to help me wrap my head around what needed to happen. Someone once said that building wooden models is best understood as a bunch of smaller projects that are subsequently glued together, and I came to appreciate the wisdom of those words as I was doing this.

 

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I spent a remarkable amount of time thinking about how to go about installing the rails. I was not at all looking forward to executing a two dimensional bend of a plank, so what I wound up doing was creating port and starboard patterns for the rails that would splice together to allow them to be formed from the included strips of wood. The pattern making consisted of getting a clear template for the line of the rail and then measuring out the required thickness at 1cm intervals with my calipers and then connecting the dots. This was laid over the strips of wood and marked out for cutting. After this, it was simply a matter of trimming and installing the rails, and finally sanding them to shape. This is also the last photo of the model at our old home in Anchorage, AK. A couple of weeks later, it was carefully packaged and in the mail to our new home in Vancouver, BC.

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Happily, the Bluenose made the trip in one piece. Here she is, in our new home in Vancouver, at my new hobby table. I started working on her bowsprit not long after arriving back in Canada and also started working on her chainplates and deadeyes around the same time. Here they are, installed. By this point, I had started installing deck furniture as well.

 

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On a lot of models that I’ve seen, the chainplates are installed over top of the rails, but this is not strictly accurate according to the plans. I opted to go in and cut out notches for these and then go back and fill them in afterwards. For all the aggravation that it caused, I am glad I did. The model looks far better for it. Sharp-eyed viewers will probably note that she’s short on dories and might be missing deck fittings, particularly pertaining to her machinery for’ard. The Shipways plans make reference to various things being removed from the ship when she was racing—apparently, the crew were even known to remove the ratlines from the shrouds to reduce wind resistance. This is supported by archival footage of Bluenose racing—it is clear that a lot of equipment was removed from the deck and either left ashore or stowed below.

 

 

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Here we have a closeup shot of the bowsprit. The ports for the anchor chains will eventually be provided with covers—footage from the 1938 race shows her with some sort of red covering. I’m not entirely sure what they might be made of, but I kind of suspect some sort of wood cover held in place through the ports themselves through torsion. It’s how I’d do it if I wanted something to keep the sea out and that was relatively sturdy.

 

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Here is some shots of her bow with the yellow stripe and details painted in. The stripe was added in much the same way as the waterline—a burnished Tamiya Tape mask and touch-ups (or is that touch-oops?) as necessary. The scroll work follows what is on the plans and was done free-hand over a pencil drawing. I added nameplates via printed decals later on. I tried many times to paint them in free-hand but never got satisfactory results (partially because of how hard it was to get a supported position with the model in a vise or on the table) and so I accepted my limitation and moved on to a less frustrating alternative.

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This is a shot of the for’ard half of the vessel. Various major bits of furniture have been installed, though the companionway was recently removed to re-site it in a better location for the placement of the foremast. The nibbing turned out ok, but it’s a process that I definitely could have handled better. I’ve also been over the plans three or four times to ensure that I have all the eyes and belaying pins needed for the rigging, but I won’t be shocked if I have to add something later.

 

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When I packed up Bluenose for the move, I carefully gathered all the white metal bits into a baggy to make sure they made it safely. I distinctly remember putting both of the forward mooring chocks into that baggy but when she arrived in Vancouver, they were nowhere to be found. I cannot for the life of me explain this so rather than trying to tax my possibly already frayed sanity by looking for an explanation, I just made some new ones out of some scrap brass and wood. They match each other nicely, and are even close to the ones already installed on the stern.

 

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And here’s the mainmast under construction. This was right around Christmas time and I was working as a model builder for an architectural modelling firm—so my output on my personal projects slowed to a crawl. You can see the rudder upside down in the background. I have both the boom and the gaff for the mainsail built now and everything has been painted. I've since been able to find work in my actual professional field so now Bluenose is how I de-stress after a long day at work. The foremast is now the project and soon its booms and gaff will be as well—so rigging is fast approaching!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 months later...

My wife and I were expecting to be spending the next few weeks finalizing a move-- finding a place to live in Vancouver, BC, is a nightmarish experience. This being the case, I made plans to prepare to box up Bluenose again and get ready to move her. I suspended the build as I did not like the idea of moving a half rigged model. Happily, circumstances unfolded in such a way as we were able to remain at our current place and so I have been back at work.

 

All major construction is done. All the masts and spars are finished now and so the process of rigging is beginning. I'm starting by comparing the plans to the model to ensure that every eyebolt and belaying pin is installed and more or less where it needs to be. After that, I intend to progress to installing all of the blocks on the spars and masts, before preparing the sails that will go on the finished model. I have a specific image of Bluenose after a race in mind that will have a mix of set and furled sails, plus signal flags aloft.

 

 

 

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More times than I can count I have had reason to give thanks for having a wife who makes her own jewelry. Usually this means I can "borrow" all sorts of neat tools that also work really well on building model ships, but it's also given me access to a remarkable array of fine chain that is very handy too.

 

Regarding the nameplates: I opted to print some decals for these rather than paint them on by hand. I tried doing this on the transom and gave up after several attempts-- I do not possess the requisite steadiness to do this, and the work piece was rather awkward for that purpose. In real life, the difference in shade between the nameplate and the yellow stripe is nowhere near so profound, but I may go back in with a brush and try to do something about that.

 

I've kept a substantial personal build log on this model so far to assess various techniques and as a way of helping to wrap my head around what had to go into each individual piece. This is my first large-scale wooden model that has progressed to this point. I have approached it as a learning experience and have allowed myself to fail and struggle as I went along, accepting that this was all part of the learning process. There are a great many features on it that represent the best ideas I could come up with at the time, but subsequent experience and thought would further improve those solutions. To me, this is especially apparent in the masts and spars. The mainmast was completed first, then the lessons learned applied to the foremast, which went together far easier.

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8 hours ago, Yorky said:

I think you've done a really nice job here, looks very neat with nice attention to detail. Also interesting and informative read. The nameplates and stern lettering look great. Thank you for posting, looking forward to reading more!

Thank you for the kind words. More will be forthcoming as it gets done-- I am hoping to have the rigging completed by this fall (but we shall see). I've got to order a bunch of new flags, including a new Canadian red ensign. For reasons I do not understand, MS included a Maple Leaf with the kit, which was only adopted in 1965-- nearly two decades after Bluenose sank off of Haiti after being sold into cargo service.

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8 hours ago, CPDDET said:

Very nice work. I'm following your build closely as I'm just to the point of painting the waterways and hull.

Many thanks. I've been paying close attention to a lot of other Bluenose builds on the forum (including yours) as there seem to be quite a few going on at any given time (and I think it's easy to see why-- she's a beautiful subject). I'm going to do a tools and paint post next I think, in the hopes of assisting those coming after who might be new to the hobby.

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While I'm just finishing up the basic hull, I have managed to obtain a copy of LB Jensons book on Bluenose II. 

The book is a treasure trove of scale drawings for the entire ship. Including hull planking, rigging, deck housings, sail plan and many details. There are even drawings of below deck areas.

 

What a challenge it would be to build a half open hull showing below decks. Way beyond my current skill level.

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4 hours ago, CPDDET said:

While I'm just finishing up the basic hull, I have managed to obtain a copy of LB Jensons book on Bluenose II. 

The book is a treasure trove of scale drawings for the entire ship. Including hull planking, rigging, deck housings, sail plan and many details. There are even drawings of below deck areas.

 

What a challenge it would be to build a half open hull showing below decks. Way beyond my current skill level.

That sounds like a really neat resource-- I wonder how closely Bluenose II's internal arrangements mirror her predecessor?

 

All that being said, for those that are relatively new to the hobby and not as well established as some of the more experienced builders around here I will present a quick run through of some of the tools that I have been using. Some are more specialized or weird than others, but all have been useful. Many are produced by model companies, but quite a few have analogs outside of the hobby that are often far less expensive.

 

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From left to right are a pair of Xuron micro shears, for cutting brass and mild steel wire. There are less expensive variants out there sold in a lot of electronics shops-- all of which are capable of cutting soft metals and plastic cleanly. Next is a parallel ring making pliers, which can be used to carefully form small rings in wire or strip with little waste. I cannot overstate how incredibly useful this tool has been. After this is a pair of parallel pliers, which have been immensely handy for pressing metal rings (like mast fittings) back into a flat shape, and also for re-flattening metal that didn't bend quite right. Lastly are a basic hobby knife and a razor saw. I've got an aluminum miter box for the latter that has been a godsend.

 

Also visible is a sock filled with rice. Two of these can make an inexpensive and effective cradle for a model ship while it is being worked on.

 

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In the black and blue case is a set of electronics tweezers. These can be had on Amazon for about $20 and are excellent for handling very small delicate parts-- eight pairs of varying shapes and sizes are in the case (the tweezers in mid-image are from that set). Next is a roll of Tamiya tape. This is my go-to for masking, and I have found that when properly burnished it makes for a very good edge seal with little leaking. For small abrasives, I usually "borrow" some of the emery sticks that my wife has for her nails. Lastly, I keep a selection of brushes handy for painting. Prior to moving out west, I did commission miniature painting for people and had an airbrush set-up, plus a huge array of brushes. I've kept things significantly smaller since the move but did make a point of springing for some decent large brushes for painting wide areas like a hull.

 

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From left to right (after the Tamiya tape), I have a pin vise and a cheap cordless Dremel. The former is a given-- every builder should have one of those, and I have found that the latter has been a godsend for sanding down large amounts of material, shaping metal and so on. I have since also augmented it with a Proxxon rotary tool that is rather more flexible. Finally, there is some of the paint I have been using. I've been a big fan of Vallejo paint for years, starting with the Game Color range, but for what we do the Model Color range tends to have a better color palette. The VGC range usually gets you good coverage and has a special additive in it to make it more durable, but the colors tend to be more vibrant and saturated than the VMC range and some can dry with a semi-gloss finish.

 

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Lastly, from left to right I have a bottle of Birchwood Casey brass blackening liquid (which I transferred into a dropper bottle for easier use). This has been very useful for treating brass prior to paint, or just blackening it in its own right. Next to it is a tube of gun blue paste, which works nicely on steel. And finally there is glue. I use wood glue and CA with great frequency on my work, depending on the task at hand.

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  • 2 months later...

Thank you for the kind words. I took most of the summer off, because it's the summer. I started rigging this weekend, but stopped myself after a little while as I had had too much coffee previously and was shaking like a leaf... and that is no foundation for progress.

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  • 3 weeks later...
4 hours ago, prussian14 said:

Very informative and detailed post. Learned quite a bit for my upcoming build. I seem to procrastinate at the thought of planking, fearing making mistakes.

Maybe overthinking that portion of the build. At any rate I appreciate you sharing this.

Planking can be really intimidating, but on Bluenose it's comparatively easy due to how gradual most of her curves are. Thank you for your kind words and there will be more forthcoming as the rigging is completed!

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  • 7 months later...

I've been doing a lot of work on the Bluenose over the course of the past few months. Before getting started on the rigging, I decided to install the masts, but because of how I went about preparing the sockets that they would sit in, this turned into a substantially more challenging task than originally intended. If I was smarter, or at least more experienced, I would have cut the bottom of the masts into square pegs to slot into a square hole and then carefully shaped and tapered the rest of the mast before installing the spreader bars and other hardware. This I did not do so as to make it easier to assemble the masts... but what this accomplished was to simply delay a present difficulty to a later date and so I spent a lot of time agonizing over how I was going to get the masts into the correct positions and square to the deck. Eventually, I realized that I only really had to do make sure one mast was aligned both fore and aft and port and starboard-- and then use that as a reference point for installing the other one. I installed the foremast first and used a jig to help align it:

 

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At this stage I went about starting the rigging with what was included in the kit. It really didn't look very good so I took the suggestions of a couple of other builders and purchased some replacement rope from Syren, and my goodness I am glad that I did.

 

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It is so very much better.

 

I also went about creating some signal flags to run on the foremast flag halyard:

 

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These were painted by hand onto tissue paper and then cut out with a scalpel and metal straight edge. These can also be purchased in sets, but as I wanted to spell a message out and am also extremely cheap, I did not want to spend a pile of money on three sets of signal flags, most of which I would only use once. Once painted, I added string to create a loop at the top of the flag and a tail at the bottom to allow me to chain them together to spell a message.

 

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These were then secured to one another by means of a series of tiny reef knots, tied with tweezers. I have found that the extremely fine tweezers used for soldering computer components are invaluable in this kind of work. To get a sense of what the flags would look like on the model, I attached them with a temporary loop:

 

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And most recently I have gone about working on the main gaff before packing up the model for a move to our new home.

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And that is where things stand at the moment. I still have plenty to do, but it is nice to see the rigging under way. My plan overall is to do the rigging starting from the centerline and then radiate outwards so as to not drive myself insane trying to set up rigging with other bits of rigging in the way.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm still chipping away at the rigging. I've spoken with other builders in the past that find this the most tedious part of the model, but I find that so long as I give myself other things to do to take a break, it's not so bad (though I rather suspect I would change my tune at a great rate of knots if I was doing anything with a full ship rig). I've found the Model Shipways plans to be a bit confusing by times and this has guided me to make a couple of mistakes that required going back into the model and fixing earlier oopsies, but I am glad that I did. This has taught me once again to slow down a bit and draw out how a piece of rigging works so as to confirm understanding before seeking to recreate it (one of these days, the lesson might even take!) 

 

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In addition to this, the kit came with what is quite possibly the ugliest version of the Maple Leaf that I have ever seen and between this and the fact that the Bluenose never flew it, I opted for some after market bunting to toss aloft. Modern photos of the Bluenose II show her flying the national flag off the main gaff with a much smaller Nova Scotia flag flown at the top of the main mast. I've seen at least a couple of photos of the original with the national flag at the top of of the main mast and have sought to replicate this. The Nova Scotia flag could be viewed as somewhat oversized, but I like to believe that if the original crew had access to a flag that big they'd have flown it as we're all proud Nova Scotians.

 

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Through this process I have been getting increasingly good at tying some basic knots with tweezers, chiefly the reef knot and bowline. It really amazes me how each additional line seems to add something new and seemingly important to the model-- it really feels to me like each part brings this project tangibly closer to completion. 

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She is a beauty :)  Technically you should switch the way you have your flags. You did exactly what I did before doing my research lol. In fact the NS flag off the gaff is the most important flag position on the ship and reserved for the ships country of origin. If the ship was visiting another country and decided to fly that countries flag as a courtesy or to honor them then they would fly the other countries flag in any position below there own. The NS flag or any other sign or signal flags that the ship uses can go higher or lower than the country flag. The NS flag usually went where you have the CA flag. You have done such an awesome job making your flags. The signal flags are really going to add a nice touch to the end effect. Cheers

Robin ~

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  • 1 month later...

Work continues on the Bluenose. For everyone's reference, here is a photo of the original that has informed some of my choices in how the model has turned out so far:

 

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I am not trying to precisely emulate the image, but rather used it as a guide as I continue to work on the model. My intention was to give the model a post-race kind of appearance, with the ship dressed and as a result, I initially chose to run my string of signal flags up the foremast's flag halyard, creating this appearance:

 

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But to be completely honest, I wasn't happy with how this made the model look as the flags are mostly hidden if viewed from the starboard side of the schooner so I pulled them down and considered my options. In the inspiration image, there does not appear to be much appreciable rhyme or reason to where the crew put signal flags when dressing the ship, so I thought on this for a while before arriving at a different solution...

 

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...which I am far happier with. The model looks dressed and the flags are visible from port and starboard. I put way too much work into those for them to be hidden away!

 

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And here's the model as of late last week. I'm currently working on the downhauls and halyards in a few places, and then it's on to shrouds. When those are done, it will be time to mount and display the model... it's hard to believe that the end is this close.

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  • 4 months later...

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Work continues on the Bluenose. I was not happy with how the Red Ensign looked in terms of its shape, and reactivated the thin coat of glue it had been given with alcohol and shaped it again, using clamps to help hold it in shape while the glue set up again.

 

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The same was done to the Nova Scotian flag as well.

 

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Subsequent to this, I went about installing the shrouds. I found this one of the less enjoyable parts of the build because of how repetitive it was.

 

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But it wasn't long before the sheer poles were ready to go in.

 

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From here, the final bits of rigging were up at the bowsprit.

 

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And then I set the model aside for a few days to give it an editing pass to correct a few small things, or add details that I missed. So it came to pass that a build that started on 12 April 2018 concluded on 5 December 2020 and my table has been cleared for another project that has just begun. This was the first large scale wooden ship model I have ever completed and I did the best I could with the skills, tools and knowledge I had at the time. For this reason I am very proud of what I have done and what I have learned, and I will carry those lessons forward. I am looking forward to getting her display case completed to keep her safe and dust free.

 

I will miss working on Bluenose, because this project was a huge labour of love, a symbol of a home that I had to move away from but never left. It's also been a welcome distraction and means of self-care that has been a huge support in some difficult and stressful times. But I will also apply what I learned here on the next build, and so it goes.

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Thank you. I'm very pleased with it, but I have to confess it took an act of will to down tools and clear the bench for something else. While on a rational level I wanted to see the project through, there was also a part of me that didn't want to move on to something else just yet.

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