Clare has a tremendous history of sea-faring and shipbuilding; many men of Clare have heard and heeded the call of the ocean. My cousin Delbé L. Comeau is no exception.
Born in Meteghan River (Clare) Nova Scotia, Delbé is a direct descendant of one of the very first settlers at Baie-Sainte-Marie – Justinien Comeau.
After completing two university degrees, Delbé worked in Ontario during the early 1970’s. Having grown up on St. Mary’s Bay and spending all his formative years “messing around” with boats, as he describes it, he quickly started to yearn for the ocean again. Delbé tells me that a lucky break came in 1975 when a friend, who had been working aboard the Bluenose II, left mid-season. Without hesitation, Delbé traded all his land ties for the opportunity to work as a deck hand aboard the famous schooner.
It was a first step in what Delbé describes as a “long and gratifying sea career”. Delbé’s skill at woodworking earned him the title of ship’s carpenter or “Chips”. Two years later, he was promoted to bosun and became responsible for all the ship’s sails and rigging. The following year, he started attending the Nova Scotia Nautical Institute and was promoted to second mate.
In 1986, Delbé took over the position of Chief Mate. That same year, the Bluenose II undertook its longest voyage to date, sailing south to Panama and then north to Vancouver to represent Nova Scotia at the world exposition.
1994 saw Delbé back at his studies for his Master’s 350-ton certificate; Delbé continued to serve as Chief Mate, occasionally relieving Captain Walters.
Until very recently, Delbé held the record for the longest working crew member aboard the Bluenose II.
Delbé resides in Meteghan River with his wife Mary, in a home subtly reminiscent of a ship in its colours, textures and atmosphere; one is surrounded by photographs and souvenirs of a life at sea and a library overflowing with books on every aspect of sailing and shipbuilding. And if you are truly lucky, you will find him in a story-telling mood and you will hear wonderful stories of his adventures working on the Bluenose II.
Delbé and Gerald J. Comeau have graciously allowed me to publish this Clare shipbuilding research on our website. Delbé’s research was originally published in Clare Photo Album – Clare en Photos (Volume 2 pp. 139 to 177) compiled by Gerald J. Comeau (Published 2014). The articles published here are but a small sampling of the tremendous amount of research that Delbé has conducted on the subject.
If you would like to contact Delbé Comeau on any aspect of shipbuilding in Clare, whether it be facts, stories or anecdotes, photos or questions, feel free to contact us at the email address provided in the Help section of this website.