The provincial government had promised advance notice of the event, given delays and cost overruns in the rebuild.
However, the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage sent out a news release about Tuesday's departure eight minutes after the schooner was scheduled to leave the wharf.
The plan is for the vessel to sail near Cross Island in the harbour to test the engine, steering and anchor.
The vessel is expected to arrive back at the wharf by about 2 p.m.
The department said the Bluenose II will not be under sail and will be accompanied by three support boats.
Delay after delay plagues vessel
The schooner was supposed to return to regular sailing two summers ago after an extensive two-year rebuild at a cost of $14.4 million, with $7.2 million coming from the federal government.
But the restoration has suffered from budget overruns and repeated delays, prompting Premier Stephen McNeil to ask the province's auditor general to review the project.
Right now, the cost of the rebuild sits at nearly $19 million, but that doesn't include $4.2 million in costs being disputed by the province.
That figure also doesn't include other work that has yet to be accounted for, or work that has yet to be done on the schooner, said Deputy Minister Kelliann Dean.