A tour of sorts……….

This post needs a bit of an explanation. The American Tall Ship, the Niagara visited our harbour in Kingsville, Ontario last weekend and we were allowed onboard for tours. This is a bit of a local piece I wrote in my column for the newspaper I work for, but some of you may find it interesting. The Jiimann is a ferry which sails out of Kingsville for a few months of the year to Pelee Island in Lake Erie (about 1 1/2 hr “voyage”).

Majestic. That was my first impression of the Flagship Niagara, the Tall Ship that docked for the weekend at the Kingsville harbour. I first saw it in a clearing at the Mettawas Park parking lot, proudly sitting next to the dock—the sails neatly folded away and the rigging in full view and splendour.

Do not expect proper nautical terms from me—I am a full blown landlubber prone to seasickness even on short forays to Pelee Island, but even I understand the romance of the open water. I picked up a brochure that described the “Live-Aboard Programs” touting “an experience you will long remember.” Perhaps a few decades ago (I will not reveal how many, but more than one or two….) I would have jumped at the chance—but today, I cannot even go below deck as the stairs leading to the mess and sleeping area were just a bit narrow and steep for me. I seem to have developed a fear of steps that are not wide and generous of late—something I find limiting, but alas….

I enjoyed the shortened tour I took on the deck, the mounds of thick ropes, the beautiful wooden decking, the navigational apparatus, and every one of the guides/seamen and women were friendly and knowledgeable. I was allowed through some of the roped areas as I could not complete the tour. No one needs to see a woman go head first down a hatch. A man (much older than I) explained to me that the ship was not handicapped accessible—making me feel just a little bit more senior than I actually am. Oh well, that MRI on my knee cannot come soon enough…..

I noticed that in the middle of the ship there was a raised portion (skylight?) that had bars on the windows. A young father told his daughter that that was where they held the prisoners. I laughed, but then I looked down and saw a woman doing paperwork below deck. I pointed it out to my husband and told him that I felt like that when I did paperwork (trapped in case you are not getting my drift). I am a self-proclaimed creative (?) and I hate paperwork, especially when it involves math any higher that multiplication and division (I have adding and subtracting down pat; formulas not so much).

We met an older volunteer on the deck who was from Albany, New York. He listened very patiently and even seemed interested while my husband regaled him with (true) tales of my ancestor, Peter Geauvreau who was a ships’ carpenter on the Queen Charlotte involved in the same 1812 Battle of Put-In- Bay as The Niagara. We must not have annoyed him too much, as he caught up with us later as we were leaving and talked to us some more about ship history and life in general.

I took some pictures on the dock and then ventured over to one of the fishing boat docks and took some more. I caught the ship with the Jiimann in the background just leaving for its voyage to Pelee Island. I waited and caught the two boats nose to nose, the juxtaposition of old and new a wonderful metaphor for the day—the past and the present entwined for a moment.

Published in: on September 1, 2015 at 2:18 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What a glorious opportunity to tour one of these elegant, impressive ships. I remember seeing the footage when several of them were in the New York Harbor at the same time. It was a joyous sight.

  2. Ahhh, the tall ships. Each and every one is a thing of beauty :). When I was a teenager out sailing around Toronto, we used to love watching for the tall ships because they usually had a crew of handsome teenage boys learning the ropes over the summer vacation. Raising sails, climbing up in the rigging, and swabbing the decks sure helped them build muscles, let me tell you LOL. Those were the days….

  3. We never have gone to see any of the Tall ships … maybe next summer. Diane

  4. Can’t help wishing that you’d included some of your photos here.

    • something I still need to learn to do….

      • It’s really quite simple. When you’re writing your post, click on “Add Media” then “Upload Files”. Next, you can either drag a photo from your desktop or select one from any file on your computer. Once you’ve done that, you are given choices about where to place the picture and what size you want it to appear. Once the picture is added to your post, you can click on it to make changes if you want. Experiment a bit and you’ll figure it out. Photos really enhance some blog posts.

  5. I’ll bet that was a wonderful experience to tour that ship. After reading many historical novels, I don’t believe I would have enjoyed crossing the ocean in one, though!

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