A Sea Captain’s Tale

Schooner Yankee

Schooner Yankee



A Sea Captain’s Tale


The life and times of Capt. Guy Walter Boudreau and his son Lou. Men true to the legacy of wooden ships and iron men.

Based on the books “The Man Who Loved Schooners” and “Where the Trade Winds Blow” by his son, Capt. Robert Louis Boudreau.


After a German submarine sinks the merchant barkentine Angelus, her ten crew are left to face the cold and merciless north Atlantic in a small open lifeboat without food or water. Over the next ten horrifying days, 24-year-old Walter Boudreau witnesses the death of all but one of his shipmates. Miraculously, Boudreau survives. Just as incredible, this agonizing introduction to life before the mast does nothing to cool his passion for sailing. Over the next four decades, Captain Boudreau’s love affair with adventure and the sea aboard his various classic schooners takes him through nautical adventures, both thrilling and extraordinary. Our course plots an exciting voyage from a shipwreck in the far north and the dramatic rescue of a stranded U.S. naval vessel, to an eerie encounter with a tiger shark. We witness the terror of confronting a 65-foot rogue wave, a fight with drug pirates in the Bahamas, and the onslaught of a vicious hurricane. Journeying from Canada’s East Coast to the Caribbean islands, across the raging Atlantic and, finally, home to Canada, the trials and tribulations of a life at sea – including the tragic loss of several of Boudreau’s beloved schooners – are tempered by the wonderful adventures of life under sail.

A young Walter Boudreau buys his first schooner, the Nellie J King, and uses her to supply provisions to the northern outposts of Labrador. On the King’s last voyage, she runs into a storm and is wrecked on a hostile unforgiving coast. Her crew leave the grounded vessel on the reef and escape in the dories. The coastline is desolate and hostile and their location can only be guessed. Walter and his crew of Acadians and Mi’kmaq Indians began the trek north. After some days they reach the northern outposts of Lance a Loup, where they are met by hardy souls who live there. Their escape from this potentially fatal shipwreck was made possible only through the help of the Mi’kmaq crew members who knew how to survive in the wilderness of Labrador.

The young Capt. Walter does not allow this experience to deter him, and the flame of wanderlust burning in his chest is now stronger than ever. War comes and Walter joins the Canadian merchant marine. He is assigned to a classic barkentine sailing ship, whose mission is to carry lumber to the West Indies, and rum, molasses and salt back to Nova Scotia. The ship was preparing to leave when the United States naval vessel SC709, a wooden sub chaser is grounded on the bar at the entrance to Louisbourg Harbor in January 1943. The American ship soon begins to look like an iceberg and their sailors inside our facing a certain death. Although various attempts to rescue the 29 men were unsuccessful because of the weather, and the inability of the Canadian salvage tug to get close from the ocean side. Local fishermen similarly tried to help, but were unable to get their larger boats alongside the stricken sub chaser. It was then that the Norwegian captain of the Angelus, Captain Jensen, called for volunteers from the crew to help. To dories were hauled by oxcart over the hill to the shore facing the now completely iced over warship. Walter Boudreau and another man take one dory and began to pull towards the ship. It was hard and dangerous work and the two men soon found their wet mittens frozen to the oars. Finally, they reached the ship and begin ferrying US sailors to the shore two by two. Eventually, all 29 are rescued. The U.S. sailors are taken into the homes of the local people and given warm food and clothing. Young Walter Boudreau returns to the Angelus, where they finish preparation for their voyage to the West Indies.

Like a vision from a long forgotten time the barkentine Angelus makes an offing for the West Indies with her cargo of lumber. Young Walter Boudreau feels that this is the life that he is meant to be living a tall ship under Tradewinds sky making her way across the blue Atlantic stop but fate once again has plans for Boudreau and while just to the southeast of Georges Bank dawn breaks and a grey hulled German sub surfaces near them. The Germans sub fires a warning shot across their bow and her crew jumped to the life boat. The German captain gives the crew twenty minutes before sinking the barkentine with a shot from her deck gun and the eleven crewmen in the lifeboat rowed a few hundred feet away. It is very cold and the crew of the Angelus slowly die agonizing deaths from freezing and their bodies are slid into the Atlantic. A sad poignant moment is when Sandy, the first mate son dies in his father’s arms. Walter and one other man survive to be rescued by a US destroyer and taken to Portland, Maine.

The war ends and Capt. Walter is determined to live out the life that he is chosen. He starts his company called Nova Scotia windjammer cruises in 1950 in the deck Nova Scotia with three schooners the world-famous Yankee the beautiful Doubloon and the smaller Windbloweth. Passengers are carried on the schooners to the many beautiful coves and bays in the breast or Lakes and North to the French islands of St Pierre Miquelon. It is in Cape Breton but Walter meets the love of his life beautiful Teresa McNeil and soon a baby boy is crawling about the decks of his father schooners. It was determined however that the short sailing season in the North did not allow were sufficient sailing time and Walter Boudreau moved his three schooners to the West Indies and continued his passenger cruises. It was said by some that on some of the trips to Cuba aboard the Baltimore clipper carry be that there may have been some guns in the bilges.

A few years later Capt. Walter sales his young son Lou to treasure Island in the British Virgin Islands stop there he plants an old wooden treasure box in the hole on the hillside above trigger point and his son finds his first treasure there at age 7.

The years pass and in the sea adventure continues there are more schooners; the Ramona, the Janeen and Caribee all run successfully in Capt. Walters adventure cruise business. One schooner, the Monsoon, is stolen from Capt. Walter while anchored off of Bayfront Park in Miami. There is a run in with a giant shark hurricanes, storms and a live fire encounter with drug pirates in the Bahamas. The Boudreau family builds the first small marina and hotel on the island of St. Lucia, in and idyllic lagoon called Marigot Bay. Herman Wouk wrote “Don’t Stop the Carnival”, but we lived it. It is a scene straight out of Swiss family Robinson, and A high wind in Jamaica. Eventually, there are five children, two of which become masters under sail and follow in the footsteps of their father.

In 1996 Capt. Walters’s eldest son Capt. Lou was sailing a large yacht from the Canary Islands. There was a fire on board when the ship was exactly in mid Atlantic. It was a serious fire and the ship was in grave peril. As the captain and crew fought the fire, Lou felt a strange presence. There on the deck stood Capt. Walter, there to help his son. Lou later found out that his father Capt. Walter had passed away at that exact moment when the ship was on fire in mid Atlantic.

The great Atlantic rolls blue waves and the trade winds still blow. Most of the iron men who sailed their wooden ships have passed beyond the bar, but their memories remain. Their courage remains legend and we the decedents of these great men take courage from their exploits.

A quote:

“There resides in everyone the spirit of adventure, that small flame that inspires life’s quest. All that is required is the kindling and then it will burn brightly. The first sips of freedom’s heavy brew are intoxicating and will pull you ever onwards, as it has me. Drink freely of it and you will not be disappointed. May fair winds fill your sails and the lee shore never find you”


Capt. Lou Boudreau

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