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Nova Scotia Motor Fishing Boats
From Hesitant Acceptance to Rapid Adoption
Nova Scotia Motor Fishing Boats


Boat and Engine Design

Competition also served to increase the popularity of the new power boats, and to advertise the superiority of one manufacturer's engine over that of another. A boatbuilder who had designed a winning hull soon had the names of additional customers in his order book. Cape Sable Island became the focus of motor fishing-boat production, and the sons of Ephraim Atkinson joined their father in the expanding business. By 1927, E.M. Atkinson and Sons of Clark's Harbour built all the winning boats in the main racing heats, including the Free-for-all at the Cape Sable Island summer races.

The dissemination of the boat design and engines throughout the province had encouraged fishermen everywhere to use the powered inshore craft. Boatbuilders soon built their own versions of the long, lean pleasure cruiser hulls. They were often double ended with a tapered, pointed aft end known as a cruiser stern. The open boats still retained thwarts for transverse strength with short bulkheads, (parting boards) beneath the thwarts for dividing the long, open cockpit into compartments. The helmsman stayed near the stern to handle the tiller and control the engine, while his partner, or partners, stayed near the bow to fish. The parting boards kept the fish from sliding about within the boat and served to separate fish from nets, fishing gear or engine spaces.


Open Boats

By the 1930s, the first forms of shelters appeared in the open hulls. As power boats were driven into seas with more speed than their sailing forebears, the long narrow hulls tended to take aboard spray, making them very uncomfortable, especially near the forward end. A canvas canopy was the first attempt to alleviate this problem. The canopy was portable and could be rolled to one side when fishing or in good weather.

These open boats served the inshore fishery very well, but as the years went by another form of motor power came into popular acceptance: the automobile engine. It changed the Cape Island design into the general shape and configuration we recognise today.



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