Piece by piece a crane is being built on the Pictou waterfront. Once complete it is expected to be the second largest crane in Nova Scotia.
If weather cooperates and all goes according to plan, the crane will be used to lift the Ship Hector out of the water the week of June 1.
Robert Fraser is operations manager for A.W. Leil Cranes and Equipment, the company tasked with conducting the lift. Fraser said the company has done many different kinds of lifts in the past from ships to wind turbines, but lifting this historic replica wooden ship offers some new challenges.
At 440 tones, he said this crane takes between 17 and 18 transport truck loads of parts to piece together. Adding to the challenge of the job is the fact that there has to be enough room for all the mooring blocks to be place to rest the boat on once it’s out of the water. Once the ship is safely on shore, there still has to be room to disassemble the crane and take it out.
“It’s a very tight confined space down there,” Fraser said.
Another challenge is the fact that the ship’s condition isn’t fully known. While they are aware to a certain degree that it needs repairs, the full extent of the damage won’t be known until they get it out of the water.
Fraser said his team is erring on the side of caution and consulting with experts to make sure that proper rigging is used when the ship is lifted out.
The weather also has to cooperate. Ideally, Fraser said they don’t want to do the lift if the wind is more than 10-15 miles an hour.
Another factor is the weight of the ship, which has been estimated to be around 220 metric tonnes. To make sure the lift goes smoothly, the crane has to have a large amount of counterweight in place.
While the Ship Hector Society members would like to be able to welcome crowds to watch the lift, that won’t be possible because of the restrictions in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But they’re going to do the best they can to include people, not only in Pictou County, but from anywhere in the world, by livestreaming the lift.
“It’s a big thing, but we really need people to respect the measures that the health department has in place,” said Laurie MacDonald , chair of the Ship Hector Society. “There’s a lot of equipment moving around in and out now and afterwards. We have to respect the workers’ safety and everybody’s safety.”
MacDonald said they’re hoping to have some fun and interaction with people as the process unfolds. For instance they’re thinking about having a contest to see if people can guess the weight of the ship.
The society is also considering the possibility of putting a live cam on the ship while the work is done.
About the project
The wooden boat is a replica of the original Ship Hector which brought Scottish settlers to Pictou, Nova Scotia in 1773. It has been referred to as Canada’s Mayflower for the significance it had in the settling of the province and country.
The replica was first opened to the public in 2000, but is now in need of significant repairs. The Ship Hector Society is hoping to have those done in time for the 250th anniversary of the ship’s landing in 2023.
The current estimated cost for repairs and motorizing of the ship is $1.7 million. To just do the repairs without mechanization would be $1.3 million.