06/13/2013 02:37 EDT | Updated 08/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Bluenose II to undergo sea trials before end of month, culture minister says

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia Culture Minister Leonard Preyra says the Bluenose II is expected to undergo sea trials before the end of this month, but it remains uncertain when it will be available for public tours.

Preyra says it's important to ensure public health and safety standards are met before the restored schooner is open to tourists.

The Bluenose II was lowered into the waters off Lunenburg, N.S., with much fanfare last September, and the government had said it was expected to be ready for public sailing this summer.

But since then work has continued on the wooden vessel.

Preyra says its restoration has cost about $16 million, $4.9 million of which came from Ottawa.

He says there may be additional labour costs, but was unable to provide an estimate on them.

The Bluenose II, launched in 1963, is a replica of the original Bluenose, a Grand Banks fishing schooner that won worldwide acclaim for its graceful lines and flat-out speed.