Then, it’s off to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, housed in a complex of red buildings along the harbor. Paula Masson is the museum guide. Masson's family originally settled here in 1753; generations later, her father took a job in the fish plant as a young man. In one well-lit corner, a retired shipbuilder shows a detailed model ship, which can take two years to build. The finished ships are staggeringly lifelike, with sculpted characters, handmade ropes and tiny fish.
Masson says the museum serves to demonstrate a past era of the fisheries, back when it was a more dangerous job. “Fishermen and families do know there's a risk,” she says. To emphasize the point, she leads us into the museum’s stain-glassed chapel where the names of hundreds of local people lost at sea have been hand-painted on the wall. “Nobody knows what it's like when your husband or boyfriend is out there, and the wind is blowing,” she said.
For Captain Watson of the Bluenose II, his favorite Atlantic survival story is of stranded American fisherman Howard Blackburn. In 1883, his hands froze to the oars while he rowed back to shore, a journey that took five days.
Watson believes bringing a taste of that history to locals and tourists is one of the best parts of his job. “We can say your grandfather, your great-grandfather, this is what they did,” he says. “We bring it to life.”