Few stories can make a Haligonian as sheepish as the tale of the Larinda. It's not the part of the story where the Larinda was built, over 26 years, in the backyard of Massachusetts auto mechanic Larry Mahan. Or the part where Mahan, as a child, was originally inspired to build the ship after reading The Little Grey Men, a British children's tale wherein three gnomes build their own ship and set sail in search of a lost brother. Nope. The part that makes us hang our heads and scuff our feet is the part where, after being battered by Hurricane Juan in September 2003, the Larinda sank in Halifax Harbour, right beside one of our many, long-lived raw sewage outfalls. Reports of the Larinda filling up with our collective crap circulated, and we bristled with shame.
Halifax first made noises about treating its harbour-bound sewage back in the '70s, right around the time that Mahan was constructing the hull of the Larinda. But as Mahan realized his dreams in his backyard, we failed to muster up the money and political will to actually stop Halifax's raw sewage problem. Mahan launched the Larinda in 1996, a year after the first major "harbour cleanup" effort went bust. By 2003, the city was just about to sign a deal to build the Halifax sewage plant, which became operational five years later, in 2008.
But the Larinda's been restored. The 1767 Boston Schooner replica will take part in this year's Tall Ships event under her own steam, thanks to the restoration efforts of its new owner and captain, Arthur Scott. "We kept everything as orginal as possible," says Scott from the Larinda's home in Boutilier's Point. "And we've added a few of our own touches. I would say that she's just about back to her original splendour prior to her launching," he adds. "She's looking that fine."
Unfortunately, Halifax Harbour will not be so fine. Before completing its first full year of service, the Halifax sewage plant shut down due to apparent design flaws. The busted plant means we're back to the old ways. At least it's not hurricane season.