Monday, August 1st, 2016
Picton Castle made a grand entrance at Quebec City on Thursday July 28th.
As you may remember, we have been working on a project that involves a historical re-enactment, and this is the final port for that project.
Families of those aboard were standing on the shore at the harbour entrance, watching Picton Castle pass by with sails set up to the royals, shouting and waving at their loved ones aboard. The ship continued up the St. Lawrence River to do a sail-past of Old Quebec, creating an iconic image for anyone taking photographs from the south shore of the river with a square rigger pictured in front of the old city walls and fortifications. The ship then turned and came down the river, into the outer basin of the harbour, turned 180 degrees and came alongside the commercial pontoon at Quai 19 starboard side-to.
Picton Castle’s arrival in Quebec City marks the culmination of an epic voyage. The passage from La Rochelle, France to New Brunswick, Canada took 39 days, following a route that took the ship as far south as 28 degrees latitude. After a brief stay in New Brunswick, it was another six days at sea to reach Quebec City. While this was a re-enactment, it was also very much the real thing. Sailing transatlantic in a square rigger is rare these days and everyone aboard seems bolstered by the confidence of having done just this.
Quebec City is a fitting end for a “historical” voyage. It’s one of the oldest European settlements in North America, founded in 1608 by explorer Samuel de Champlain and it maintains much of its historic architecture and layout today, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Quebec is also the site of one of Canada’s few battles, the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, where in 1759 the British defeated the French.
The walls around the old city, which still exist now, were first built in the 1600s and built upon and improved over the coming centuries by both the British and the French, including the construction of a citadel.
It’s also a fantastic port for a sailor on his or her day off duty. The narrow streets and old stone buildings have many hidden corners and alleyways to discover. The food and drinks are excellent and there seems to be something interesting going on at every corner. We’ve seen street performers in the evenings juggling fire, slacklining and doing acrobatics (although not all at the same time). Quebec attracts thousands if not millions of tourists every year so people are welcoming and readily offer assistance.
Our ship is drawing quite a crowd in Quebec, with a photo in the local newspaper on Friday with a brief story about our arrival. Picton Castle will be back in Quebec in 2017 for the Rendezvous 2017 tall ships event, as part of a large fleet of ships. Although we haven’t been able to welcome the public aboard during this visit, we look forward to doing that next summer.
As usual, ship’s work continues as the crew on duty look after our ship.
As I type this in the ship’s office aboard (my favourite work location!), the crew are taking advantage of the good weather to oil the decks on the quarterdeck and foc’sle head, after yesterday’s on duty watch sanded and varnished the two aft deck boxes and the taff rail at the forward end of the quarterdeck.