Page 61 - Bill Forbrigger and Coastal Schooners
ISSUE : Issue 38
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1985/1/1
William "Bill" Forbrigger, his brother Raymond their father Frank, their brother Stanley; two typical schooners outside St. Peter's Canal-- unfortunately. Bill's schooner SPEED is behind. | through the winter?) No, not till the spring. About the last of March, middle of March, somewhere around there. Start paint? ing them up, and caulking them on the wa? ter line. Put all this stuff--booms and gaffs and chains--on one side, and list out. (You'd put them to one side of the vessel, and she'd list.) Her main boom, with the sails on it, and her fore boom-- she had quite a list.. Then turn to the oth? er side and do the same. Always paint them all over in the spring. That's all we'd do while she was listed, the copper paint. Then the topside is out of water. We used to--if it was blowing--we'd take the rope aft, tie it to the bit, and then pay out chain, and she'd turn side to the wind. Then we worked to leeward--no wind at all, calm. (Would your father work with you?) Well, I worked with him. When I was with my brother, I worked with my brother. Most? ly just the 2 of us, till we got ready to go. We'd always get another man after that. (What would you do for a crew?) Oh, just go around--as a rule, you got it right in the place where you lived, in Port Malcolm. They were mostly all sailors there. (So there'd be just the 3 of you aboard?) Just 3. One was the captain, one was the cook, and the other fellow's the deckhand. (But when it came to work, everybody had to work.) Right. Hoist sails and hoist an? chors and steer. (After awhile you had your own schooner. Speed.) I forget what I paid for it. (It was a used schooner?) Oh yeah. Well used. Built in Newfoundland, she was a good schooner. She wasn't that big--56 regis? tered tons. Carried about 120 ton of coal. Good in wind. Good off of the wind, too. My brother lost it at Burchell's Mines in Little Bras d'Or, with a load of coal. You get your tide there, where you've got to go through the bridge, to come up the Lakes. You had to tow through when you loaded. Such a tide, eh? You couldn't sail through. You get a slack tide and they'd tow you out. The towboat towing him through--and they hit the Little Bras d'Or bridge. Got up in Burchell's Cove, and it must have knocked a plank off, for she sunk there. Saved the sails. Where they I Photo: Parker's CAPE BRETON SHIPS AND MEN] put her, the water wasn't that deep. But it cost too much money to take the coal out of her. So we got another one after that. "''' Stella I got in Arichat, West Arichat. I think it was $1200. And I sold it for $1400. I didn't have her too long, about 4 years, I guess. (With your own schooners, were you ever caught in any rough storms?) No, no. Not once. I had great luck with schooners. (Family: Bill, was it you or your brother who took the schooner in to Sydney at a time there was some kind of a strike on, and they couldn't get the schooner un? loaded.) My brother Raymond. It was the steel plant was on strike. The mines--the whole thing. He was 7 weeks there with a load of pit timber, trying to get unloaded. He was in at the Pier and then they chased him out of there, and went up to an anchor in Sydney, till the strike was over. (Couldn't he have gone somewhere else?) No, no, the pit timber belonged to the mines. He had to stay; he had to wait. But I was going all the time--I didn't get caught in that. I was carrying potatoes and coal. Wasn't caught in that at all. He (finally) got unloaded, he took the ves? sel around to North Sydney. To load coal. And come the August Gale, and he lost her there in North Sydney. They had a French consul there--he started to build a wharf. And he built a pier way out in the har- bour--and he never finished it. And my bro? ther drug into that old pier and knocked the stem right off the vessel. So he lost her there, and he lost the other one in Little Bras d'Or. He had hard luck. I was awful lucky with schooners--never had any trouble at all. My father, he was out' in the August Gale, the big August Gale, in a small schooner. He came from the Madeleine Islands. He. was down in Pleasant Bay when the wind struck, and he laid to, what they call laying to-- the foresail, the middle sail, and then you put the wheel hard down, and they go a- head a little, and they drift--and that breaks the sea. But when the foresail blew (61)
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