Friday, September 8th, 2006
Kingston was a busy port stop for the Picton Castle, the highlight of which was our South Seas Cargo Sale. On the world voyage, the ship collects all sorts of interesting treasures—cannibal brain-forks from Fiji, whale carvings from Tonga, Zulu beaded jewelry from South Africa, teak-wood furniture and sea chests from Bali, and so much more. We sold a lot of these things at our cargo sale in Lunenburg in June (the same weekend that the ship returned from the world voyage), but still had a number of fantastic items left and decided Kingston would be a great place to host another of our famous Picton Castle “Your Ship Has Come In!” dockside sales.
The ship arrived on Wednesday afternoon and went alongside the old stone wharf and dry-dock behind the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes. The wharf looked a little tight and there were no soundings on the chart so the captain anchored the ship first and we sent in a boat to take soundings. All was well so in we went. First order of business was to get our cotton sails dry and get a little practice in setting and furling them, too. The folks at the museum were generous hosts and helped out greatly with many of our pre-arrival details, and then got us oriented once we were there. Across the grassy pier from us was the Alexander Henry, a Canadian Coast Guard ship that is permanently moored at the museum. She served, among other things, as an icebreaker and now is open daily for tours and overnight as a bed and breakfast for those looking for an authentic marine sleepover. The collection and exhibits of the museum are truly excellent as well, and the staff and volunteers were helpful and friendly.
Thursday the crew set up for the big event, unloading cargo from the ship’s hold and from the truck that met us there from Lunenburg. It was hard work for all, but worth it once the tents were set up and the cargo was arranged inside. As the day went on the world voyage crew got a bit nostalgic, remembering when certain items were bought or traded and telling stories about where they came from. On Friday the sale finally opened to the public, and it was a very busy day. Thursday evening we hosted a reception for museum members (it was very well received), and on Friday we hosted the crew of the St. Lawrence II, a brigantine based in Kingston that offers sail training for teenagers. They offer an excellent program for young people ages 14–18 that has been going for more than 50 years. Over the few days we got to see Kingston, which is a beautiful small city that was once capital of Canada—lots of busy shops, cafés, diners, restaurants, pubs, bookstores, and things to do.
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great on the weekend; in fact it was terrible. Kingston was expecting a gale on Saturday, the remnants of Tropical Storm Ernesto. Winds of up to 60 km/hr/h were predicted and in preparation for it we had to take down one of the tents and the banners, and generally secure the ship. Because of that we weren’t able to open the sale for the day, but did open the decks for tours later in the day. The wind and rain came Saturday evening, and because of our preparations the ship and the cargo were safe. By Sunday morning things had settled a bit (although it was still drizzly and overcast) and we were able to open for business again.
Sunday and Monday we were back on track with the cargo sale all day and deck tours in the afternoons. Extra experienced crew assisted with the sale during the days, and we found that the new trainees we picked up in Toronto are quite a friendly bunch and good with visitors on deck tours. In fact, all the trainees sailing with us from Kingston to Summerside, PEI, are men, which may have never happened before in Picton Castle history. Tuesday we took most of the day to pack the hold again, filling it up with unsold cargo and rearranging the regularly used items we keep there. The packing process went very smoothly, and to my amazement everything fit in easily.
With the hold packed, we backed out from our berth at the museum late in the afternoon, heading for a quiet anchorage off Cedar Island just east of Kingston. We anchored there for the evening and most of the crew went ashore to have a big barbeque. We sent the grill (a “braii” as Danie, our South African engineer, calls it) ashore in the skiff along with hamburgers, corn, and potatoes. After a filling meal people found some firewood for a small fire. It was no late night, though; the crew were back early to get ready to tackle the first lock in the St. Lawrence on Wednesday.