Robert Ash is getting ready to set sail aboard the 72-foot brigantine Lord
Entrepreneurs get ready to
launch tall ship
SAINT JOHN -
Looking down the East Coast, almost every major port city has a tourist-toting
tall ship tied to its docks.
So why not Saint John, which
was once home to the Marco Polo, the fastest-sailing clipper ship of them all?
"We have the most beautiful river system in the world,
but nobody was doing this," Robert Ash said.
And now, of
course, he is.
Armed with three blackpowder cannons and
driven by a billowing cloud of square sails, jibs and spankers, Mr. Ash's
72-foot brigantine, the Lord Sheffield, will begin sailing regularly scheduled
cruises on the Kennebecasis and St. John rivers in early July.
The double-masted vessel is currently being customized
and refitted at the Royal Kennebeccasis Yacht Club, and will sail from the club
at the end of Millidge Avenue as often as three times per day. It was purchased
last September by Mr. Ash and three adventurous friends - Rod MacBain, Ian
Bashaw and Mike Alexander.
"I knew that tall ships are
attractive to some people, so I had always been keeping my eye out for one, and
then this turned up," Mr. Ash said Wednesday, taking a breather from working on
the boat. "It turned out to be too good to be true, and too good to pass up.
"There are only a few boats like this in the world. It's
really truly miraculous to me that I found one."
Sheffield was built in Montreal to be the personal yacht of Bob Perrault, the
president of St. Lawrence Boats. Mr. Perrault built or supervised the
construction, ol more than 20 similar vessels, most of which went into service
But this one was different because it was a
labour of love. Its keel was laid in 1968, but the vessel wasn't launched until
1984, when it participated in the Quebec Parade of Sail as a registered tall
ship. It was originally named J. J. Tarte in honour of Mr. Perrault's
grandfather, a member of Parliament from Montreal whc was instrumental in
improving the St. Lawrence Seaway System.
The yacht has
been renamed after a 300-tonne vessel built in Maugerville for Benedict Arnold.
The vessel will spend summers in southern New Brunswick and winters in St.
Cruises will cost from $20 to $70 per person,
with the least expensive being a three-hour breakfast sail and the latter a
full-day junket. The price includes meals, and excursions will be limited to 25
The Lord Sheffield, which is five metres wide
and carries 10 sails, is currently resting beside the yacht club while its keel
is being modified. Mr. Ash is overseeing myriad renovations that he promises
will make it appealing.
"It won't be your grandmother's
parlour, but it will be quite elegant," Mr. Ash said, "in a rough sort of way."
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