Thursday, July 26th, 2012
By Kate “Bob” Addison
Tuesday morning finds Picton Castle sailing northeast along the coast from Halifax which was the hub of the Nova Scotia tall ship festivals. From there the fleet has divided into two to visit the Nova Scotia outports. Picton Castle along with Bounty, Gazela, Peacemaker and company are heading north towards Port Hawkesbury and Pugwash for the last two festivals of our summer, while the other half of the fleet including Pride of Baltimore II, Lynx and Amistad are heading South for the festivals at Shelburne and Lunenburg.
There were sad goodbyes between the crews of the ships as the fleet starts to break up. Friendships have been building in every port, and it’s sad that we won’t all meet up again at the next festival. We’ll miss the rest of the fleet next year too when we’ll be in the South Pacific hopping between islands and they will be in the Great Lakes hopping between festivals. It was just like it’s always been with sailors waving goodbye to friends and sweethearts as they sail off to sea, the only difference now is that now the girl is as likely to be the sailor, and the one standing on the dock a boy.
It’s been a spectacular summer at all the ports and Halifax was a great event. Conspicuously well organised with brilliant work from our Liason Officers who, we are pretty sure, would have fetched us the moon on a stick if we’d asked for it.
There were the usual events: open ship with visitors touring the decks and taking each others’ photos at the wheel, a crew party at the Citadel (a big stine fort from the days of Halifax being the Gibraltar of the North) on top of the hill above the city, a blessing of the fleet with sailors singing ‘for those in peril on the sea’, enthusiastic more than tuneful. There were games for the younger crew and a crew parade with our gang looking great in tropical pareaus and goofy finery. They carried musics for their dancing, a huge Cook Islands flag from Avatiu in Rarotonga and the national flags of some of our motley crew (Danish, Grenadian, American, Canadian, Pitcairn Island, Norwegian, German, South African). Right now our crew includes citizens of eight nations and almost all were represented in the parade.
For evening activities there was plenty of live music and dancing, delicious seafood, outdoor films showing on the dock right next to our ship. I found a café open late that made me Turkish coffee and a spectacular chocolate brownie sundae. The diet starts tomorrow.
Right now we’re enjoying a fabulous sail up the coast. Storming along at seven knots with a nice fresh Force 5 on the starboard quarter, square sails are set to the topgallants and the sails all full of wind and looking fine. Headsail sheets are quivering gently under the pressure of the sails and the ship is racing along with an easy movement as she skips along over the small seas. The North Atlantic, so often grey and unfriendly, is a lovely shade of turquoise and scattered here and there with white foam. George is snoozing in the office, Donald is making lunch. The sun is shining making everything sparkle and all is well aboard Picton Castle.