Sailing around the Eastern Caribbean this winter has been an amazing experience for the crew of the Picton Castle, but now we’re looking ahead to the next exciting voyage. Starting in Martinique on May 1, with an island stop or two on the way, we will make a deep-sea passage to Charleston, South Carolina. In Charleston we will meet up with a fleet of traditional vessels that will sail in company together to Norfolk, Virginia; Newport, Rhode Island; Halifax, Nova Scotia; then Port Hawkesbury and Sydney, Nova Scotia. These vessels will all be taking part in the American Sail Training Association (ASTA) 2007 Tall Ships Challenge, in partnership with festivals in the host ports. This is a unique opportunity to be part of a large gathering of tall ships, and we’re looking forward to it.
When the tall ships show up, as I learned last summer in the Great Lakes, the host ports embrace the ships and their crews and make us feel welcome. Every port does something different, but they always work to show off their city and help us explore it. Each ship has a liaison officer or two who not only help with ship logistics; they also point the crew in the direction of whatever they’re looking for. Often we get complimentary tickets to local attractions or events organized for us to attend. During the day the ships offer deck tours to the public and many of the visitors go out of their way to welcome individual crew members to their home town.
Meeting crew from other ships will be a highlight of this summer’s events. Our friends and families at home can’t necessarily discuss the proper way to furl a t’gallant, but when you put a group of traditional sailors together they spend a lot of time talking about their ships and how to sail them. Besides, sailors are a lot of fun to hang out with, and when there are a lot of us it’s always a party. Picton Castle crew are used to meeting people in ports, spending a few days with new friends and moving on, but voyaging in company with other vessels means that we get to see many of the same people again in the next port, which is a lot of fun.
There’s no better way to learn about different vessels or rigging than by seeing them yourself. Most ports begin their event with a parade of sail, which is a chance for each vessel to be on display to people watching from ashore while underway. Before the parade begins, all ships are mustered outside the harbour, and that’s when we get to check each other out. Crew often get out binoculars to see the other ships as we mill about under sail. Each vessel on its own is beautiful. A whole group of them together can be breathtaking.
After the excitement of the tall ship events, the Picton Castle will continue on sailing around the Canadian Maritimes. From Sydney we will spend a few days relaxing and drilling in small boats in the Bras d’Or Lakes of Cape Breton before making our way to Newfoundland. We’ll start in Port Aux Basques and head north to the Bay of Islands and the stunningly gorgeous Gros Morne National Park. From there the ship will cross the Gulf of St. Lawrence with a stop in the remote Iles de la Madeleine en route to the friendly and welcoming town of Summerside, PEI. The final passage of the summer will see the ship transit the Canso canal on the way back to our home port of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia at the beginning of September. This part of the voyage will be an excellent way to explore Canada’s Maritime Provinces, and to experience the hospitality for which they are famous around the world.
Come and sail with us! We are currently accepting trainees for this summer’s voyage, and we would love to have you join us. No experience is necessary, just an adventurous spirit, a desire to learn, and the attitude to be a good shipmate. Sign up for a few weeks or a few months to experience life as a working crew member of the Picton Castle. Everyone on board stands watches, both at sea and in port, contributing to the ship’s operation and maintenance. Our experienced and qualified crew will teach you the ways of the ship, and before long you will be standing at the helm, climbing the rigging (optional), and setting and taking in sails.