Mar 7, 2017

AtlanticaIt’s had to believe it has been 50 years since David Stevens built the 47-foot schooner Atlantica at the Atlantic Pavilion during Expo 67 in Montreal. As Canada celebrates 150 years since Confederation we focus on Atlantica’s first 50 years. Sherrill Harrison is a crewmember for current owner Tye Burt and she sent us a history of the schooner’s ownership and travels. The schooner is clearly in good hands and will probably be around for Canada’s bicentennial.

A Brief History of the Nova Scotian schooner “Atlantica”

Atlantica is the 47- foot schooner built by the late Mr. David Stevens of Second Peninsula, Nova Scotia. The schooner now sails out of Mahone Bay and is owned by Mr. Tye Burt.

The construction of Atlantica was the showcase event for Canada’s Atlantic Provinces Pavilion at the 1967 World’s Fair in Montreal – Expo ’67 – also the year of Canada’s 100th birthday. Thus, 2017 marks the 50th birthday of Atlanticaas well as the 150th birthday of Canada.

Wooden schooner construction is long associated with Atlantic Canada, so it was decided that the construction of such a fishing-style schooner would be a fitting contribution to Canada’s Centennial celebration. This was overseen by Admiral Pullen of Halifax who was instrumental in having the project come to fruition. Over one million visitors viewed the construction site, including Queen Elizabeth, the Second.

Atlantica 2Atlanticawas designed and built by David Stevens of Second Peninsula, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia. Subsequently, Mr. Stevens received the Order of Canada for his contribution to wooden boat building. Atlantica is 47-feet long on deck and 52-feet overall and was constructed of mahogany planks on oak frames. Her interior was built with matched, varnished mahogany throughout. The construction team included Murray Stevens and Jim Rhodenizer of Lunenburg County. Her original rig was the traditional gaff mainsail and foresail associated with Nova Scotia fishing schooners. In the 1970’s she was converted to a staysail schooner rig with a Marconi mainsail for ease of handling.

Atlantica’s gaff foresail was restored in 2005. Atlantica was one of three schooners of similar design and dimensions constructed by Mr. Stevens and his team. Sisterships include Avenger owned by Tom Gallant and Skylark which sailed out of the LaHave River Yacht Club.

Ownership history

Following Expo ’67, Atlantica was purchased at auction by the John Burns family of Montreal who shortly after sailed her down the US coast to Nassau in The Bahamas. In 1968, she was sold to Tony Mather of Montreal. He brought Atlantica to the Summerfield Boat Works in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to refit her for charter. Tony and wife Trudi chartered her for five years out of Grenada, BWI

In 1973, Atlantica was sold in Grenada to Blaine and Hilary Bowen of Toronto, who kept a summer home in Chester. She was skippered and delivered back to Chester by Don Street. Her second-to-last owner was Gordon Pellerin who chartered her out of the Eastern Shore and in the Bras D’Or Lakes in Cape Breton.

The Restoration Project

In 2000, Atlantica was bought by Tye Burt of Toronto and he remains the current owner. Thus, commenced a long process of restoration and refit over several years. In 2001-2002, the mahogany hull was completely re-planked below the waterline and oak frames replaced. Atlantica also required a newly-cast keel. Deadwood, floors and mast steps were also replaced. Mr. Burt added a new power plant and installed all new electronic systems. Rig changes included a new foremast and conversion from a staysail rig to a gaff-rigged foresail, as well additional safety features. The interior has been completely rebuilt in mahogany, maple and teak, including a new galley. Atlantica was outfitted with a new set of Oceanus sails. Her hull is now painted white above the waterline with dark navy blue trim. Over the years of his ownership, Tye Burt has continued to invest in on-going restoration and improvements to Atlantica.

It is important to note that Mr. Burt had all the work on Atlantica was done at local boat yards here on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. Dennis Greenwood, working out of Gold River Marine, restored the hull. The large project of the interior renovation, as well as additional deck work, was masterfully completed by Bill Lutwick of Lutwick’s Boat Building at Indian Point. Seasonal storage of Atlantica was for many years at Clarence Heisler& Sons at Indian Point. Now her winter home is on Second Peninsula, near David Stevens’ original boat shop. New sails were made by Michelle Stevens’ Sailloft of Second Peninsula and by North Sails of Lunenburg. This includes a new fisherman's staysail with the Expo '67 symbol of Man and His World on her canvas.

Proudly bearing sail number 67, Atlantica was re-launched and re-introduced to the Nova Scotia Schooner Association in 2003. Tye Burt, along with family and crew, participate actively in the annual Race Week. Under his captaincy, Atlantica continues to win races, including the Premier’s Cup, the Murphy Cup and the overall NSSA championship. In 2003, Tye Burt was awarded the Mort Pelham Trophy for the restoration of Atlantica.

Each summer, Atlantica is moored in front of the Burt family home in Mader’s Cove, Mahone Bay.

Sherrill Harrison, Crew Atlantica