By Purser: Allison Steele
With the heartiest of welcomes, Norris Point laid out the welcome mat for PICTON CASTLE. We were the only ship in a small port so proud of their community and heritage and they definitely made our stop one of the most memorable of the summer! It seemed like the entire town came out to welcome us and they quickly launched into fun activities for all!
Our first evening we were treated to a Community Welcome evening at the local centre where locals could come and meet the Captain and crew. The food was amazing and all donated by local businesses and of course the evening wouldn’t have been complete without a traditional “Screeching In”. In typical Newfoundland fashion, “Screeching In” requires Newfie Screech, bologna, a codfish and a rather humorous ceremony to make you an honorary Newfoundlander. The evening didn’t end there, however. In a neighbouring town they were having a “Coming Home Year” celebration whereby people who have moved away from home are invited to come back and reconnect with friends and family and several of the crew made their way there to partake.
The organizers of the event had made arrangements for several of the crew to go on a guided tour of the Table Lands as well as the Gros Morne National Park Discovery Centre. Many of the crew enjoyed stretching their legs and after several hours (and a lovely packed lunch) of taking in the sites and enjoying the view a few of them stopped for a very cold swim in a waterfall.
Later that day other crew members were treated to a kayak tour along the rugged shore line and were delighted by some very curious whales! I cannot describe how beautiful the landscape is and how lucky we all felt to be able to see such an amazing part of Canada’s rugged eastern shore.
It seems as though the entire community came to see and tour the ship and the restaurant beside the wharf was always packed with live music and people just watching our comings and goings. We were quite the draw with both locals and tourists coming out to see us. Often they would share stories and history about both the area and their own family’s involvement in the sailing of tall ships in the years past. For some it was quite nostalgic especially just to see such a grand vessel come into their home port.
Needless to say again, the events didn’t stop there. The community held a sold out traditional “Jigs Dinner” so that the townsfolk and visitors could have a chance to visit and chat with the crew. All but a handful of PICTON CASTLE crew (someone has to stay and watch the ship) made their way back up to the Community Hall where we were treated to a delicious meal of salt beef, boiled potatoes, peas pudding, carrots and squash. The event ended with yet another “Screeching In” for those who were unable to attend the first night. With our bellies full and our spirits still high, the crew made their way to watch fireworks and enjoy a bonfire on the beach with songs and storytelling to round out a wonderful day.
Visiting the port of Norris Point, in true Newfoundland fashion was like our own little “coming home” as we were made to feel like returning family. Even Fiji came away with new admirers who gifted her with some new toys after making herself comfortable at an event volunteer’s house just by the wharf.
With 40lbs of cod in the cooler and many new friends, we sadly departed after a much too short visit.
Thank you to the Town of Norris Point, the entire community and especially the volunteers who made this memorable event happen. There are so many individuals to thank that I’m afraid to miss someone but our Liaison Officers Shawn and Heather Cooper and all who we had the pleasure of meeting, a warm and heartfelt thank you to you all.