Friday, July 10th, 2009
After Picton Castle’s departure from Gloucester was delayed by weather on Tuesday, we got underway early on Wednesday morning to sail into Boston on time for our docking schedule. We had a few new faces on board for this passage as we had a crew exchange with the Dutch Navy ketch Urania. We welcomed Marc, Eric, Gerrit and Rodney as crew for this short passage while Sasha, Lewis and Antoine from our crew sailed with Urania into Boston. Getting to know sailors from other ships and experiencing other vessels is a huge part of what makes these Tall Ships events interesting and valuable for the crew.
The day came in kind of grey but with a modest fair wind for Boston. There was an all hands wakeup call at 0600, then we quickly got the main engine fired up, dock lines singled up, the gangway aboard and stowed and we were underway, heading out of Gloucester harbour. This passage would be a short one, as we were due into Boston at 1100. We motor-sailed for the first part of the passage, trying to get to the mouth of the harbour fairly quickly so we could take our time sailing into Boston. Around 0820 we set all sail up to t’gallants and were under sail power alone, beginning our entrance to the harbour. The main engine was on stand-by in case we needed it.
We sailed along into the harbour, past different industrial buildings at first, then into the downtown skyline. The international airport in Boston is on the water’s edge and it was pretty amazing to have airplanes flying low above the ship as they came in to land. As we got closer to the main city centre, we saw a number of other ships already alongside at their berths including the full-rigger Cisne Branco from Brazil, Libertad from Argentina also a full-rigger and the 4-masted barque Kruzenshtern from Russia. These are very big ships.
We made our way to the head of the harbour, to Charlestown Navy Yard, which is the home of the USS Constitution. Picton Castle is docked at Pier 4, along with Bluenose II, the famous Canadian schooner and our neighbour in Lunenburg, and LE Eithne, an Irish Navy warship. In the space between Pier 3 and Pier 4 is a drydock basin that is part of the Navy Yard. The whole area is now operated by the National Parks Service as a historic site. Ellen, our liaison officer from Sail Boston, was on the dock to greet us and hand over piles of information on the city and the event. US Coast Guard personnel were also on hand upon our arrival to inspect the ship and certify us for deck tours. Shortly after, second mate Paul and I were whisked away to a briefing on the port and the local area.
We took advantage of the time on Wednesday with no deck tours scheduled to get the ship into great shape for opening to the public on Thursday. We estimate that we had about 4,000 visitors tour the decks on Thursday, it looks now like those kind of numbers will continue for the duration of the event. We love having the chance to share the ship with people and are glad to welcome folks aboard.
The crew are getting out to explore the city while off duty. There is a ferry boat that goes from the next pier over into the heart of Boston, or it’s possible to walk the Freedom Trail from Charlestown Navy Yard, across the bridge and into the central part of the city, passing by a number of historic landmarks on the way. The crew were able to take in one such landmark on Wednesday evening as a crew party was scheduled in Faneuil Hall, a collection of shops and restaurants in an all-pedestrian marketplace. Our crew party was at Cheers (one of two locations in Boston), modelled on the bar from the TV show.
Just before the crew party, our furry four-legged crew member, Chibley, the ship’s cat, had an adventure of her own. The building closest to where the ship is tied up is a condominium, somehow Chibs ended up in the parking garage of the condo. Some nice resident found her there and turned her in to the front desk clerk. The clerk then called the phone number on Chibley’s tag and got through to us. One of the crew went to the condo front desk to retrieve her. The nice folks had ordered room service for her and she had some pretty nice chow in front of her. She is used to walking around and exploring on her own, so she would have found her way home without help. It’s nice that someone was looking out for her, though. Our time in Boston has just begun, but it seems like a great city and we’re looking forward to exploring it more.