HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia's transportation minister says the Bluenose II is on track to start sailing early this summer.

Geoff MacLellan says crews have finished half of the roughly 25 items on a list that needs to be complete before the replica of the famed racing schooner can sail.

MacLellan says the focus is now on items related to the compliance with rules set out by the American Bureau of Shipping.

He says he'll be in Lunenburg next week to meet with the crew of the Bluenose II for the first time.

MacLellan says the cost of the project, which is four years behind its original schedule, is still around $20 million, with about $5 million on top of that in dispute.

Earlier this year, the provincial auditor general said the project could cost the province three times the original budget because the Heritage Department failed to follow basic management practices.

When the restoration was announced in 2009 by the province and Ottawa, the budget was set at 14.4 million dollars, half of which was to come from a federal infrastructure fund.

The federal government pitched in only $4 million because the project failed to meet Ottawa's deadlines.