The winds of goodwill blew through Pictou today (Thursday) as some of the tall ships scheduled to arrive for Canada Day came to port earlier than anticipated.
Five tall ships will be in port until Sunday, July 2, as part of the Rendez-vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta and to help Pictou County celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. There are 40 ships in the regatta and the five that are coming here are: the Bluenose II, El Galeon of Spain, Gulden Leeuw of The Netherlands, and Spaniel of Latvia. A sail training vessel from Ecuador, Guayas, is also part of the fleet. Guyas and El Galeon are already docked at Pier C.
The ships’ early arrival was due to favourable winds, and that’s a bonus to local residents. The downside is that extra security had to be put in place the two extra days the ships will be here, due to Transport Canada regulations.
In less than a day, local businesses and individuals came together to make sure the extra cost was covered.
Central Nova MP Sean Fraser, who led the charge in making it happen, was quick to laud the community for this quick action.
“We just had tremendous response,” he praised. “With every phone call that was made we were asked immediately, ‘What can I do to help’? We’ve had lots of offers to help.”
Sean Murray, CEO of Advocate Printing & Publishing, and The Advocate newspaper did not hesitate to help.
“Basically, Sean Fraser called and presented the issue to me and we came up with a plan to invite the local businesses and tourism operators to help.” Murray said. “He is leading the charge on this and I told him that whatever he needed, Advocate would look after.”
The decision to support the project was a simple one for Murray. “We believe it is good for the community, it is good for tourism and the local tourism operators, it is good for local businesses like restaurants and hotels and motels.
“And The Advocate, being the voice of the community, has a part to play.”
Speaking for The Advocate newspaper, editor Jackie Jardine said, “We welcome the opportunity to support the community. We are proud to be a part of an organization that is so community minded.”
In addition to Advocate’s contribution, Pictou Lodge has stepped up to offer monetary support and in-kind donations with accommodations, Sharon’s Place Family Restaurant on Front Street offered to provide the meals for the security personnel and Sobeys has provided support as has Sean’s Fraser’s office. And there are others, Fraser lauded.
“If this didn’t happen, the ships would have had to moor offshore,” Fraser said. “This way, the community is creating something special for Canada’s 150th.”
Darlene MacDonald, manager of the deCoste Performing Arts Centre, which is organizing the Tall Ships visit, is thrilled with the ships’ early arrival and the community’s response.
“It’s absolutely wonderful to see the community come together so the ships’ visit can be enjoyed for an extra bit of time,” she said. “Events like this are totally dependent on weather and it’s tremendous that, in this unexpected circumstance, the community pulls together.”
Above: A crew member sits in front of El Galeon of Spain, currently moored at Pier C, watching an impromptu soccer game. INSET: A soccer game between crew member of El Galeon of Spain and Guayas from Ecuador was a great way for the crew to get a little exercise. (Jardine photos)