CAPTAIN BEN PINE AND INTERNATIONAL DORY RACE
Capt. Ben Pine was a very colorful character back in the Gloucester’s history of international sailing schooner racing fame. He gained international prominence for skippering the Gloucester sailing schooner “Columbia” in the International Fisherman’s Cup in 1923. Nova Scotia dominated the races with the Schooner “Bluenose.” Capt. Pine successfully raced against the “Bluenose” with his Essex built “Gertrude l. Theabaud” in 1931. On one of his races the actor Sterling Hayden was at the helm.
The year was in the early 1950s, when Capt. Pine approached my husband. “Bob McKinnon, how would you like to accompany me and my friend on my sailboat the “Skilagalee” to Nova Scotia, Canada to see the International dory races?” Bob was so excited for this opportunity as he was also asked to bring alonga friend. The dory races are traditional each year just before Labor Day and are held alternately in Gloucester and Nova Scotia. Bob’s friend Harold Bradley was also excited to be invited as they both had never attended this event. The day of therace was approaching when they set sail on that beautiful September day. All was going well.
The four-man crew were taking turns keeping watch. Suddenly, the ocean became very rough, and the winds were howling. Ben Pine stated to Bob, “Time for your watch.” Bob opened the cabin door, and the wind took his breath away. All he could see was a terribly angry ocean and huge waves. He quickly closed the door; they were at the mercy of a fierce ocean storm. Bob’s friend became very seasick and vowed never to speak to Bob again.
The storm lasted for many days. The boat’s engine became disabled. Never reaching Nova Scotia, they set sail back to Gloucester. Bob’s father was very worried waiting for some news of the sailboat. He was afraid to tell Bob’s mother that no one had seen the boat or heard from them in days. Rumor was that the boat was lost at sea with all hands. Then on the horizon one day a battered sailboat the “Skilagalee” was seen haggard but in full sail entering Gloucester harbor. Ben Pine was grateful to Bob, offering him one of his sailboats. Bob had to regretfully refuse the offer, because he could not afford the expense of having his own sailboat.