Bluenose II emerged in front of the Lunenburg harbour on Saturday in its first official public viewing since its restoration.

The vessel is nearly three years overdueand $5 million over budget, with a total cost of $20 million for the whole restoration. Nova Scotia Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan admits hard lessons were learned.

“It was rushed out the door,” says MacLellan. “The engineering, the design, none of the real decisions that had to be done were really put together properly. It wasn't in the right department for a construction of this nature."

The restoration began in 2008 when there was rotting wood and the boat’s hull was bent out of shape.

The hydraulic system in a cabinet behind the wheel was one of the biggest holdups. It was expensive to design and build, and took a long time to install.

While political battles raged, some Nova Scotians wondered if the world-famous silhouette would ever be able to serve as ambassador again.

The captain and crew say the schooner handles “like a dream.” The last of the seaworthiness certifications came in on Friday.

The crew has a busy summer ahead.

“Go around Nova Scotia and visit different ports,” says captain Phil Watson. “And show everyone what she’s all about.”

Bluenose II now more closely resembles the original, above and below decks.

Once the crew is finished welcoming visitors in Lunenburg, it will set sail for Halifax.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ron Shaw.