Three stops, three days, Sorel
It is our third stop in Sorel but our first day open to visitors. The first two stops were of technical nature, one for putting the rigging, and one during the transit from Quebec to Montreal. At last the people of Sorel will be allowed to visit the boat they have seen since the beginning of July. The stop in Sorel is very different than the previous stop. We are not part of a huge touristic event, we are the event. This is a big difference. We are now the destination!
Tugboat C.L. Churchill, Schooner Lois McClure, and Inflatable Oocher all tie up at the Sorel docks.
After a welcome day off, well organised by Jesseca from the Sorel-Tracy tourist office, we are now ready to open the boat to the public. The old Richelieu dock is scheduled to be opened to the public by the City. We are the first public venue to use the dock, and in a way we are announcing the future permanent opening of the dock in 2009. The environment is special. We are in a real old port with real old buildings. The atmosphere is great. And our schooner melts perfectly with the place.
Slowly the visitors are starting to arrive. It may seem like small numbers relative to Quebec City or Montreal, but the visitors stay much longer than usual. Our boat means something for most of them. After all, we are in one of the Quebec's major shipbuilding centers. Here nearly everybody has relatives who were involved in the trade; caulkers, carpenters, riggers, pilots, shipowners, etc. It is quite unique; most people, even the young ones, know the vocabulary.
We have a group of new interpreters, Amelie, Claude, Suzie, Audreane, and Cassandra. All of these volunteers are from Sorel-Tracy. Our position at the dock creates a curious problem. We are in the Richelieu and most of the speed boats are passing very close to us, sometime less than 20 feet. The big waves they generate provoque a kind of sickness similar to seasickness. Even some of veteran members of the crew were subject to that mysterious speedboat disease. But it is a detail, and the visitors are completely enchanted by their experience. But they don't understand why we stopped at Sorel. Nobody stops here! We have to explain that our boat, or more precisely its predecessors, were seen at the exact same dock during most of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century.
After our dinner Art and Erick are going on a spying expedition! The are exploring the famous submarine killer of WW II, the Techno Venture! Legend has it she rammed and sank a German U-boat. Who knows of this famous boat, probably nobody, but it is a nice story! But the boat is real and is certainly pre-WW II. The hull is riveted not welded. Unfortunately the builder's plaque is missing, but I am pretty confident I can find her history back in Montreal.
After a long and very interesting day we are visiting the Loup Rouge
. It is a micro-brewery named after Dr. Wolfred Nelson. Nelson is famous in Canadian history because as a patriot commander during the rebellion of 1837; he won the battle of Saint-Denis against the British Army on the 23rd of November 1837. It became the only military success of the patriots. Later Nelson was captured, put in jail and then expatriated to the Bahamas. But naturally we are at the Loup Rouge not only for the history but also for the McKraken and the Isle de Grace.
The second day while I was visiting Tracy, the sister city of Sorel, some very interesting visitors came on board. One even brought a model. This visitor had a lot of stories but unfortunately had no picture with him. Amelie will try after our departure to contact him. Curiously I found two illustrations of horseferry on an interpretation panel in Chambly! As usual after a very nice day it started to rain after 10 PM, just after we came back to the boat. Ouf!
The next day, our last in Sorel, the number of visitors increased. We are very pleased. And those visitors are staying on board longer than usual. Around 4 pm, Erick received the call he was waiting for. He is going on the Ocean tug Duga to participate in the departure of the Blue Wing heading for Spain with a cargo of grain. He is very happy of the experience. Some of the crew finished their day at the Loup Rouge. We don't stay very long because tomorrow the day will start very early with the arrival of the crane.