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Quebec City – The Pinnacle of the Rendez-vous

Quebec City has rolled out the red carpet, so to speak, for all of the tall ships gathered here now including Picton Castle. This is the largest gathering of tall ships in Canada this year, all here to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation. The last time Quebec City hosted a major tall ships event was in 1984, so this is a rare and special event.

The tall ships’ visit to Quebec City is part of a larger regatta taking place around the Atlantic. Back in April the regatta began in Grenwich in London in the UK. From there, the ships sailed to Sines in Portugal, then to Bermuda, then Boston, then a number of “guest ports” in the Canadian Maritimes and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In the meantime, a separate fleet of ships met up in the Great Lakes and sailed west, making guest port visits as well. All of the ships have met in Quebec City, arriving earlier this week. The regatta will continue on to Halifax, then back across the Atlantic to La Havre, France.

On Thursday, after the crew parade where crews of all the vessels marched through the streets of Old Quebec, some in their formal military uniforms and some in brightly coloured costumes (Picton Castle crew, of course, were brightly, tropically coloured), prizes were awarded in various categories. During the prize giving ceremony, a letter from Her Majesty, the Queen of England, which has been carried across the Atlantic on board a different ship each leg of the voyage, was read aloud. A copy of the letter was given to each of the five ships that are making the full regatta, including Blue Clipper, Jolie Brise, Rona II, Wylde Swan and Peter von Danzig.

Quebec is a fantastic city and the crew are enjoying it. The waterfront area is bustling with activity and our crew have been visiting the other ships. They’ve also been making their way into Old Quebec, checking out the historic walled city and enjoying the festive atmosphere.

We have been welcoming the public on board the ship for deck tours, as much as the tides and the angle of the gangway have allowed. The crew on watch have been keeping a close eye on the gangway – at high tide it slants slightly up from the dock, at low tide, which is 7 metres lower, the gangway is at a fairly steep angle, and because of the difference it requires close tending.

Behind the scenes, we’ve been doing all the usual things we do in port – taking on fresh water, fuel and provisions, saying goodbye to trainees signing off at the end of their leg, saying hello to trainees signing on here and getting them settled and oriented on board.

When we leave Quebec on Sunday, we’ll head down the St. Lawrence River bound for Norris Point, Newfoundland, then to a number of ports in Nova Scotia. Want to join us? Trainee berths are still available, no experience necessary.

Picton Castle gangway at high tide

Picton Castle crew at the prize giving ceremony after the crew parade

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