Sadie, Nova Scotia and Hiram Tumbler

Sadie, Nova Scotia and Hiram Tumbler



Launching Sadie from the Rees's side of Middle Island after wintering in the woods (about 1994)

I had observed and admired the 26 foot transon stern Sadie for quite a few years. The owner, Hiram Tumblin was a local fisherman, well respected but not well liked. He was given a small stipend to keep an eye out for lobster poaching, out of season fishing and other minor infractions. When he spotted the float of an illegal trap bobbing on the water he would hide until he caught the owner.hauling his trap..Then Hiram would  rise stiffly out of the bushes and startle the poacher with the archaic phrase: “In  the name of the Queen I seize this trap”. His most famous exploit was catching the Town Clerk of Bridgewater ‘bowing’ for lobster. As he told me “Yes, he had to pay his fine just like anyone else-- didn’t even get to keep the lobsters.”
Hiram Tumbler and the Poachers

Hiram’s favorite trick was to take his dory at night and row silently around the most likely spots for poaching, He muffled the oars by wrapping the blades in burlap and padded the thole pins so they didn't rattle. With his dory painted a dark color I’ve been surprised by Hiram more than once--luckily I don’t care for lobster. When he was waiting to unload his catch at the processing plant he would stop his engine--a single cylinder Atlantic-- to save fuel. A neighboring boat, watching his chance would reach over and change the throttle setting from ‘ idle’ to ‘full ahead’. So when Hiram’s turn came and he started the engine the boat took off to the delight of the spectators.

Hiram's Boat Provides the Lines for Sadie
Hiram finally retired, he laid his boat up in a field where the elegance of her lines was even more apparent. I showed a photograph of the hull to David Stevens, the most respected authority on local boats in Lunenburg County. David recognized the unique quality of this boat, took a trip to Bells Island and measured her. He then carved a builder's half model and built his version of Sadie in his workshop on Second Peninsula. He very generously loaned me the same half model and I commissioned Role Deschamp to build a second boat in Shelburne, Nova Scotia.. I worked with Role for the entire six-week project--from half model to molds, planking and finally steam bending the frames and fastening them.The completed boat was much admired locally and when the town’s master builder, Douglas Mackay,(long retired) came into the shop to visit we all held our breath wondering what he would say. After walking once around the hull he slapped the transom and said:  “She’s going to sail like witch” none of us knew how a witch sailed but we took it as a compliment.
Sadie Sails Off

We rigged the boat and ballasted her with a half a ton of pig iron and set off one night for the Lahave islands. It was a calm clear evening with an offshore breeze and the pollen was blowing off the fields and dusting the swells. Percy Baker had given us the compass heading to the nearest point of land--Cape Lahave. . “I'll be watching for you”  he said and he was.


(A complete photographic record. of the building of Sadie can be seen at the Lunenbug Fisheries Museum in Nova Scotia).

Comments