Tuesday, July 7th, 2009
Picton Castle’s visit to Gloucester has been a bit of a whirlwind. After getting tied up at the very excellent new facility of Gloucester Cruiseport, operated by the extremely gracious Sheree DeLorenzo, right across from the big fish pier, we had two days of perfect weather. This was well appreciated after weeks of fog and rain. We have had such a warm welcome, everyone in the city has been really friendly to our crew and there have been a number of events for us to attend. Once we told Ally O’Connor we were coming to Gloucester on our way to Boston, she wrangled more vessels to join us in Gloucester, including the Dutch Navy sail training vessel Urania, the Dutch barque Europa and Tecla, a vessel our crew first saw at the Tall Ship Races in Europe last summer. Gloucester is such a richly salty old seaport with all sorts of charming small coves and boats coming and going or tied up. They have something here we don’t see so much anymore; small wooden family operated fishing trawlers making a living bringing in fish from the sea. Plenty of lobster boats too with seagulls wheeling overhead constantly crying. And the beautiful Essex built Schooner Thomas Lannon making daily trips getting visitors and locals alike out on Gloucester harbour in an exquisite example of the type of craft that made for Gloucester’s legends. The 1924 fishing schooner Adventure was berthed right next to us, making progress on her restoration too.
After we got the ship turned around in the narrow passage and tied up (gang-way out, chafe gear on, net rigged) and cleared through Customs/Immigration (very smooth), we quickly prepared the ship to open for deck tours. There is a small floating dock between the wharf and the ship, making gangway arrangements fairly easy. We opened the ship for deck tours for a few hours on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Our guests aboard were inquisitive, asking the crew all sorts of questions about the ship and her voyages. With so many crew who had just completed our 20,000 mile voyage of the Atlantic we had no shortage of answers. For many of our new crew, this was the first time they were involved in public deck tours and it was a good warm-up for the big city tall ship events to come in Boston and Halifax.
Lovely dinners at local restaurants were offered to groups of our crew every night that we were in Gloucester. On Saturday night the crew enjoyed a fantastic Mexican meal at Jalapenos on Main Street, on Sunday we sat on the beautiful patio at the Dogbar for supper and on Monday night we were at Gloucester House for a crew party for the crews of all visiting ships. We send our thanks to all these fine establishments for their hospitality – you certainly went out of your way to make us feel welcome and we appreciate it!
Sunday morning started with breakfast at the Eastern Point Yacht Club for the Captain and a number of our crew. Captain Moreland was asked to address the members of the yacht club, to speak about the ship. Eastern Point Yacht Club is a beautiful old association at the very mouth of the harbour, right at the lands end of the big breakwater protecting the port. They are now working at getting more young people out sailing to give them a chance to enjoy and appreciate their own wonderful local waters. A number of the members came to the ship later in the day for deck tours. Monday morning also started with a breakfast program, this time a business breakfast with three panellists, Bert Rogers, Executive Director of the American Sail Training Association, Ian Kerr, Executive Director of Ocean Alliance and Captain Moreland, also speaking about waterfront development. Mayor Carolyn Kirk moderated the forum, attended by Gloucester business people. This event went over well and hopefully will help to advance the conversation in Gloucester about waterfront issues specific to their seafaring community.
Picton Castle has a lot of friends and supporters in Gloucester and it was great to be able to welcome them aboard. We had a private reception the first evening we were in port and another one yesterday around lunch time. During our stay we shared in the Blessing of the Fleet, which something we never pass up when it comes our way.