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From the salty oceans of the world to the freshwater seas of North America:
On Picton Castle from Sarnia to South Haven
In the modern world, a sailing ship is an object of wonder. A sailing ship in port is a source of amazement, a spectacle-often the centerpiece of a festival, a celebration of sorts that can even take on a carnival atmosphere. So it was in Sarnia, where Highlander Seas, Madeline, Fair Jeanne, True North and Picton Castle lined up nose to tail, lovely ladies standing in a row.
Whatever is wonderful, whatever is fascinating, whatever evokes the romance of times gone by, can be and is turned into entertainment. So it was in Sarnia where the ships themselves were the focus of long lines of people who waited for their chance to step on board, to feel the rake of the deck, to touch the tar on the rigging, to see members of the crew climb the ninety seven feet "air draft" (the height of the rig measured from the water) to dress loose sails into tight furls.
It was a touch of the past and a touch of the present. Several of the crew working the yards were agile and capable young women, a sight one would hardly have seen on a ship in the Age of Sail. The sight, however, of two brand new crew learning how to climb the rigging past the shrouds that lean frighteningly outward around the lubber's hole-that sight would have been old news to any bosun of one hundred fifty or two hundred years ago.
Few have the privilege to travel on a sailing ship. This program is a personal memoir of such an opportunity, a chance to sail the Great Lakes as they were sailed a century and a half ago.
This documentary follows Picton Castle, a square-rigged three-masted barque, as she sails from Sarnia to South Haven as part of the Tall Ships Celebration.
We see her in port, being visited by hundreds of enthusiastic people, fascinated by the living presence of a tall ship in the modern world.
We see her making her way up the St. Clair River into Lake Michigan, as a small fleet of modern boats and yachts escort her on her way under the Blue Water Bridge and out into the big lake.
We see her prepare to deal with a squall off Thunder Bay as the lakes give her a taste, just a mild one, of what they can do. Tales cross our minds of the hundreds of wrecks that lie still beneath these smiling waters.
We see the life of the crew on board--working, telling stories, enjoying an afternoon off with picnicing on deck and swimming from the side.
We see the calm beauty of a square-rigger under sail, a living thing in harmony with the winds.
And last but not least, we see her welcomed by the large and enthusiastic crowd manning the piers at South Haven--another stop on her many long journeys through the seas, both fresh and salt, of the world.