ELSIE and BLUENOSE, Start of the First Race

from verso:  "Start of the first race of the Internatonal Race, showing 'Elsie' in the lead with Bluenose in rear."  1921, Halifax Nova Scotia

From the collections of the CAPE ANN MUSEUM, Gloucester, Massachusetts

“Start of the first race of the International Race showing ‘Elsie’ in the lead with Bluenose in the rear” 1921 Halifax, Nova Scotia

Thanks to  Fred Buck for locating this photograph and sharing it with the Gloucester Schooner Festival committee.

From A Race for Real Sailors  The first ELSIE – BLUENOSE RACE.

_________ The two fairly flew across the water, all sails filled in the stiff quartering breeze and hulls rolling heavily in the deep chop.  “The end of Bluenose’s 80-ft. boom was now in the water, now halfway up to the masthead as she gained on her rival.  The Elsie rolled still harder and three times brought her main boom across the Bluenose’s deck, between the fore and main rigging.”  It was a constant battle for the weather berth, with members of both crews either handling lines or working aloft or hugging the windward rails.  Anyone daring to raise his head above the weather rail on Bluenose caught the caught the edge of Walter’s caustic tongue.  __________

A Race for Real Sailors is in stock at the Cape Ann Museum. 

The stirring and poignant tale is illustrated with 51 historical photographs and five maps, and rounded out by a glossary of sailing terms and an appendix of the ever-changing race rules. This is a story that will keep even confirmed landlubbers pegged to their seats, a tale of iron men and wooden ships whose time will never come again.

Al Bezanson

ELSIE crew, 1921

Al Bezanson submits-

from verso:  "Elsie's crew, 1921 International Fishermen's Races."  photo: Cox Bros., Halifax N.S.
Gardner Lamson Collection

From the collections of the CAPE ANN MUSEUM, Gloucester, Massachusetts

Elsie’s crew, 1921 International Fishermen’s Races (photo:  Cox Bros., Halifax, Nova Scotia)  Capt. Marty Welch.

Fred Buck has pitched in to help the Schooner Festival committee recruit entries and increase public awareness of the original International Fishermen’s Races.  This is one of several photographs of ELSIE the Cape Ann Museum is sharing for our use.

From A Race for Real Sailors   The first ELSIE – BLUENOSE race.

______ The combination of wind and too much sail proved to be more than the ELSIE could bear.  First to go was her jib topsail halyard.  As a crewman scampered out onto her bowsprit to re-reeve the halyard, the bow plunged deeply into the sea, burying the bowsprit to the third hank of her jib.  Moments later, the foremast snapped off at the cap and both jib topsail and staysail came down in a mess of wire stays and rigging.  Without missing a beat, the crew set about clearing up the wreckage.  The mate and a couple of fishermen headed out on the bowsprit to cut away the jib topsail that was now dragging under the forefoot.  “Down into the jumping sea went the bowsprit and the three sailors were plunged under five feet of water.  They cut away the sail and brought it in with the crew behind them hauling it inboard through the green-white smother.”  Those aloft worked frantically to secure the topmast, assorted wires, blocks and halyards.

Within six minutes the ELSIE, under forcefully shortened sail, appeared to be making better time than before.  Angus Walters reacted in the spirit of sportsmanship by immediately dousing his own jib topsail and clewing up his main topsail.  _______                               

Al Bezanson

City Hall Weathervane Project (Photos by David B. Cox)

Before and After Repairs and in Between

A Total Volunteer Effort of Equipment and Labor.  A big Thank You from all of Gloucester.




Click on Slide Show below for all the photos:

City Hall Weathervane in 1989 before She Was First Hoisted Atop City Hall From The Infamous Fred Buck

photo courtesy Cape Ann Museum

Fred writes-

joey – here’s the schooner with a broken mast on top of city hall.  the copper model was created by washburn on rt. 114 in 1989 and donated to the city by the cape ann savings bank.  this pic was taken just before she was hoisted up to her place of honor.  it is, of course, the elsie, built in 1910 by a.d. story in essex.  gordon thomas, in fast and able, called her "one of the greatest."  if anyone can help bring her down for repairs, step forward!  a model of the elsie by cape ann master craftsman erik ronnberg is on display at the cape ann museum.  it’s a beautiful thing…
infamous fred

copper model of sch. elsie made by washburn, rt. 114 as weathervane for city hall.  donated by cape ann savings bank.  1989.

This post is in response to our August 16th photos from David Cox showing the Elsie weathervane in serious peril below-

Sail on City Hall Schooner needs help–David B. Cox Photos

Posted on August 16, 2012 by Manuel Simoes



Cape Ann Museum unveils the Gloucester fishing schooner Elsie April 9th


Elsie 2

Cape Ann Museum unveils the Gloucester fishing schooner Elsie
The Cape Ann Museum is pleased to present the unveiling and launching of model maker Erik Ronnberg’s latest masterpiece, the Gloucester fishing schooner Elsie, on Saturday, April 9 from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. This program, which includes a talk by Ronnberg and a reception, is free with admission, reservations are required. To make a reservation or for more information, please call Jeanette Smith at 978-283-0455, x11 or email jeanettesmith@capeannmuseum.org.

The schooner Elsie was built in 1910 at the Arthur D. Story shipyard in Essex, Massachusetts.  She was “smart, able and beautiful,” a proud member of Gloucester’s once famous salt fishing fleet and a contender in the International Fishermen’s Races of 1921.  Elsie was designed by Captain Thomas McManus and built for the Atlantic Maritime Company of Gloucester and Boston.  On her maiden trip she landed over 280,000 pounds of salt cod in Gloucester.  In 1916, Elsie was sold to the Gorton-Pew Company for whom she continued to be a top producer.  After a short stint under Canadian ownership, in 1921 the vessel was taken over by Frank C. Pearce Company and brought back to Gloucester.  It was under the ownership of Pearce that Elsie, with Captain Marty Welch in command, challenged the Canadian fishing schooner Bluenose in the International Fishermen’s Races of 1921.  Elsie had earned the right to represent Gloucester in the Race by out sailing four other local schooners.   Despite gallant efforts in the two races which were held off the coast of Nova Scotia that year, Elsie lost to the Bluenose. The Elsie was lost in January 1935 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  

Erik Ronnberg, one of the finest ship model makers in the country, made this model of the fishing schooner Elsie for descendants of the Pearce family.  It shows the Elsie under full sail with ten dories on its deck.  Crewmen are depicted aloft and working on the deck, engaged in the everyday activities associated with the cod fisheries.  The model is in the scale of 3/8 inch equals one foot;  it took Ronnberg 1800 hours, or approximately eight months to complete.  At the unveiling on April 9th,  Ronnberg will give an overview of the history of the vessel, the research that preceded construction of the model and the actual model making process.  His remarks will be followed by a reception.  The model will remain on display at the Cape Ann Museum through the early summer.
For additional information on the launching of the schooner Elsie and this special program, please visit the Cape Ann Museum’s website at capeannmuseum.org or call 978-283-0455.

The Cape Ann Museum is located at 27 Pleasant Street in Gloucester. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Museum is closed during the month of February, on Mondays, and on major holidays. Admission is $8.00 adults, $6.00 Cape Ann residents, seniors and students. Children under 12 and Museum members are free. The Museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information please call: (978) 283-0455. Additional information can be found online at www.capeannmuseum.org

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