POLITICS

Restoration work on Bluenose II wraps up, schooner to open next month

06/29/2015 01:15 EDT | Updated 06/29/2016 05:59 EDT
LUNENBURG, N.S. - Restoration work on the Bluenose II is complete and Nova Scotia's sailing ambassador will be open to the public next month.

The provincial government says Capt. Phil Watson has deemed the crew of 18 ready to sail and the schooner is awaiting final certification from Transport Canada.

The province says the Bluenose II is scheduled to be open to the public July 19 to 31, conducting two-hour cruises in Lunenburg Bay.

The provincial auditor general has said the restoration of the ship was delayed and over budget because the Heritage Department failed to follow basic management practices.

The Transportation Department estimated earlier this month that the restoration has cost $19.5 million, plus about $5 million remaining on an outstanding claim that still must be settled.

The vessel is a replica of the original Bluenose, the 1921 Grand Banks fishing schooner that won worldwide acclaim for its graceful lines and speed.

The 300-tonne, 43-metre vessel was launched in Lunenburg in 1963.

Auditor general Michael Pickup said the rebuild was undermined by a lack of planning and poor oversight.

His audit released in January said the department didn't define the responsibilities for contractors, failed to prepare a proper budget and drafted a weak construction contract.

When the restoration was announced in 2009 by the province and Ottawa, the budget was set at $14.4 million, half of which was to come from a federal infrastructure fund. The federal government pitched in only $4 million because the project failed to meet Ottawa's deadlines.