A boat SO big …

Featured Online First Pictou Island Memories

It was the autumn season of 1960 and my father was preparing to build himself another boat. The planking for his boats had to be of perfect choice and without any knots. He knew of a lumber yard in Merigomish that would provide such materials and he took a load of this planking in his boat across to the island on September 27. Cameron MacDonald’s 38th birthday was also on that day and he along with Arnold MacMillan, Rollie MacKenzie and Frankie Petterson helped my father with the loading and unloading.

I have read in mother’s diary where Dad went into the woods on Pictou Island on October 7 and cut the keel for his new boat. Dad laid the keel for that boat on October 27 and this boat was going to be built 40 feet 11 inches long.

My father at that time was fishing in his 30-foot long boat named SLO-MO-SHUN that he had built in 1951. The Slo-Mo-Shun was powered by a 289 cubic inch Ford motor. It was now nine years later and he had built several boats for other people over that time. Now, however, Dad wanted a larger boat and also hoped to retain the speed of what he was accustomed to with the smaller Slo-Mo-Shun.  My father had installed a 427 cubic inch Ford motor in the Slo-Mo-Shun a year before and was now going to power his new boat with that motor.

Scott Falconer and his father Ernie sailed over from Caribou Island on November 14th with a load of trap ballast. Scott had married my oldest sister Rita one year before and he then called Pictou Island his home.

Scott sailed over to the mainland on December 12 to pick up a load of timbers for Dad’s new boat. Timbers are what forms the ribs of a boat and provides much support to the hull. Dad finished planking the new boat on December 19. He and Scott began timbering the new boat on Dec. 24 and finished the timbering two days later on the 26th.

I have to chuckle about a story that my father had once told me of when this boat was being built. Two of Dad’s best friends, Arnold MacMillan and Duncan Rankin, would sometimes arrive in the boathouse to assist my father with the construction. On one particular day, Arnold was helping Dad put planking on the boat’s bottom. It appears that one plank with a small knot in its center had slipped through without being detected. Arnold was in the process of clamping that plank into place when Dad noticed it and said, Arnold we can’t use that one. Why not? replied Arnold. No one will know the difference. I will, replied my father, when the knot falls out and water starts pouring in.

That new boat was completed and painted by January 30, 1961. My father named that boat “BIG M” after the 427 cubic inch Mercury motor that was going to power it.

Neithor Mother nor Howard MacCallum have mentioned anything in their diaries concerning the Pictou Lobster Carnival for 1962. I am told by older residents that there was a year or possibly two when there was no Lobster Carnival. Perhaps this was one of those years?

The Big M proved to be a worthy seaboat and was fast for her size. My father went to the races in Montaque, Prince Edward Island on July 11, 1962 and placed first with the BIG M in the class for boats 40 feet long and over. The Big M placed first in her class the next year at the Lobster Carnival boat races on Tuesay July 10th 1963. Some smaller lobster boats from around the area however were faster then the Big M was at those races. It was during the winter of 1963 when Dad decided to correct that situation and he came up with the plans and design for the 34 foot six inches long Dream Boat  III. 

Clarence McCarthy from Caribou Island was mayor of Pictou 1966-1979. Clarence was very supportive of the annual Lobster Carnival, especially the lobster boat races. He was usually there to assist with organizing the annual lobster boat races during the 1950s and early 60s.

During the spring of 1964, Clarence approached Mr. William MacDonald who was then manager of Traders Finance in New Glasgow. He explained the necessity of having notable trophies for all classes in the Lobster Carnival Boat Races. William MacDonald was very eager to assist and donated a beautiful silver trophy for the eight-cylinder class 30 to 35 feet.

Wednesday, July 8th 1964 was Lobster Carnival boat race day. Pictou Islander Charlie Munro placed first in 30 to 35 foot long six cylinder class. The Dream Boat III was brand new, light and powered by the big 427 cubic inch Mercury. She was untouchable in her own class and running far out in front in the free-for-all race when the big Mercury blew apart at the half way point.

Dad replaced the 427 cubic inch Mercury with a 401 cubic inch Wildcat Buick and came back as the free-for-all winner with Dream Boat III in 1965.

Pictured is William MacDonald presenting the Traders Finance Trophy to my father for being the fastest 30-35 eight cylinder class 1964.

My father passed away in 1980 and his trophies were then given to us his children. That Traders Finance Trophy somehow disappeared during the past years but was discovered recently in my sister Rosemary’s attic in Dartmouth. That trophy is now displayed at the Northumberland Fishermen’s Museum in Pictou.

Jimturple4@gmail.com