Ballad of the Bonnie Lou II

The Bonnie Lou II was an older fishing vessel which attempted to remain out in a storm in March, 1988, near Sambro, Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, the storm destroyed the ship, killing all five crew members, including two brothers.



A boat she left Sambro with a captain and crew
To fish east of Sable, she was the Bonnie Lou II
The boat she was old and the men they were new
They were trying to make a living aboard the Bonnie Lou II
The seas were rough the men they knew what to do
We’ll wait out the storm on the Bonnie Lou II

Come Tuesday evening the waves they were high
They worked ‘round the hour on the sea to survive
If only they knew what they had to go through
Watching and waiting aboard the Bonnie Lou II


This time is crying for our men who have died
As the wreaths float out to the sea with the tide
We have to start over our lives to renew
The men are fishing in heaven from the Bonnie Lou II

Next day on the ocean a boat it did call
There wasn’t an answer only strings of their trawl
The boat it was missing the captain and crew
Searching and watching for the Bonnie Lou II

Back home in the village the hope it ran high
We knew they were out there but we didn’t know why
The families are waiting for word to carry them through
For three men and two brothers aboard the Bonnie Lou II

As news casts kept coming hopes were fading away
Debris and a life raft were spotted each day
The families still waiting they didn’t know what to do
Oh where are our men from the Bonnie Lou II
The search it was over and we haven’t a clue
Why God took our brothers on the Bonnie Lou II


We have to start over our lives to renew
The men are fishing in heaven from the Bonnie Lou II

With thanks to Joyce Henneberry for sharing her song with us.

11 responses to “Ballad of the Bonnie Lou II”

  1. Clifton Sangster says:

    Just a short note to say that the Bonnie Lou II was near and dear to my heart. It was my Grandfather, Victor Sangster who had the boat build, My father, Alvin and Uncle Terry both fished with him, until he retired in the mid 70’s. They continued to fish on the Bonnie Lou II until they sold it in the mid 80’s. As a child growing up in Port Bickerton, it was “the boat” to see coming in, past the Big Island, into the harbour. Now, I am the same age as my grandfather was, (53) when he had the Bonnie Lou II build in Cheticamp, NS.
    Thank you for the memories,


  2. Heather Sparling says:

    Thanks for sharing your memories on this site, Clifton. I hadn’t realized how well-known the boat was. It’s so interesting to discover all the different ways that people are connected to something like a boat.

  3. Ashley says:

    Love this song it means so much to me.
    My father was Blair Gray, one of the men lost at sea .
    Just wanted to say thank you for this memory

  4. Heather Sparling says:

    Thanks so much for writing, Ashley. You must have been very young when the Bonnie Lou II went down. I’m glad that the song offers a poignant memory for you.

  5. Ashley Gray says:

    I would have been 3-4 years old

  6. Stephanie(Gray)Newcombe says:

    I am the sister of Blair Gray lost at see on the Bonnie Lou 11 and Ashley was 4 her brother few years older. This was a lovely song, brought tears to my eyes. I will never forget that day.

  7. Heather Sparling says:

    I am increasingly humbled by the ways in which songs touch people connected with a disaster, and how songs can serve as a means to remember and honour the dead. Thank you so much for writing, Stephanie.

  8. Bonnie Lou says:

    Hi, my name is Bonnie Lou and my grandfather, Victor Sangster, had this boat built in Cheticamp when I was four years old. The first Bonnie Lou caught fire and sank when I was six months old. This was a family business and my family set out on many adventures aboard ship. We kept in touch by ship-to-shore radio and welcomed them back to port whether lightly afloat or heavily laden with ice. I was 24 when she sank and am greatly saddened for the loved ones of her crew. I have listened to her commemorative song and will keep these memories close to my heart.

  9. Heather Sparling says:

    Wow, it’s so neat to hear from the boat’s namesake! Thanks for writing, Bonnie Lou, and for sharing more personal information about the history of the boat.

  10. Richard Fairchild says:

    Richard FairchildIt is an unforgettable event. The movie Perfect Storm conveys some of the feelings of it. So sad. Jim Duthie wrote a moving ballad about it that I wish was linked to this page as well.

    • Heather Sparling says:

      I don’t think I have a record of Jim Duthie’s song. If you can provide me with details, I’ll certainly add it, if it fits the project and if I can!

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