Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Halifax's Namesake Tug

Tugs are a big part of the daily drama of Halifax Harbour which plays out in front of our waterfront museum. A favourite of museum staff was the tug Point Halifax. We recently acquired a large model of the port's namesake tug. 

1) The model of Point Halifax, M2009.19.1

The real Point Halifax worked for decades as a harbour tug.  She was designed here but built in 1986 at Bromborough, England. Point Halifax was the first tug in Eastern Canada with azimuth drives (swivelling propeller pods.) She was twice as powerful as any tug in Halifax when she first arrived. For years she was the flagship of Eastern Canada Towing (known as ECTUG), the main tug company in Halifax and successor to the famous tugs of the Foundation Maritime Company.

2) The real Point Halifax at work in Halifax Harbour in 1986 and 1991. Courtesy of Mac Mackay.
You can find out more about the history of this tug on Mac's terrific tug boat blog: Tugfax

In 2009 a model builder named Murray Petitpas from Pointe-du-ChĂȘne in New Brunswick donated a large radio-controlled model of Point Halifax to the museum.  The model is built to a large scale ( 1:18).  A "GI Joe" toy figure would feel right at home! Almost 3 metres long and powered by a gasoline engine from a ride-on lawnmower, the model was big enough to move small fishing boats around in the harbour at Pointe-du-ChĂȘne!  

3) This is the model tug alongside in a muddy inlet at Southport, Prince Edward Island, about 1997. Image courtesy Murray Petitpas.

Mr. Petitpas built the model from plans provided by the engineer of the tug. It is outfitted with all the gear needed to safely move ships in the harbour: a working winch, lights, tires and all the necessary miniature safety equipment. Cabin windows even have the traditional curtain colours: red for port side windows, green for the starboard side.

4) The model's rigid inflatable boat complete with a Mercury outboard.

Mr. Petitpas brought the model to the museum on a small trailer. Just as we unloaded the model in the museum courtyard, we heard the throaty growl of big diesel engines as the real tug Point Halifax happened to pass by the museum - almost as if she was checking out her scale depiction. 

Models capture a ship at one particular moment in their career, but ships are always changing and this tug has seen plenty of recent changes. Mergers and new owners added new paint schemes and emblems. Point Halifax left her namesake city in 2010 to work in Cape Breton. She was sold to McKeil Marine in 2012, renamed Leonard M., and now works out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in that company's white and blue livery. In March 2013, an elevated wheelhouse was added for barge work.

5) An elevated wheelhouse is lifted onto the tug Leonard M, ex Point Halifax, St. John's, Newfoundland in March 2013. Image used with permission of Clarence Vautier.

However, back in our steam gallery, Mr. Petitpas' model preserves the look of this tug when she was still the "big kid on the block " in Halifax. We recently installed the model in a dramatic perch in our steam gallery right beside the office sign recently donated by Svitzer Canada which hung above the tug wharves in Halifax.

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