susys running away to sea

"The rigors (sic) of an expeditionary lifestyle"

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Oh, no - there's more - it's CANADA DAY!

Sat 1 July is Canada Day, and currently in the oldest N American city, in the youngest Canadian province (I think it's province), I have been actively enjoying the lead-in and today's festivities.

Dual Nationality

Anyway, the lead-in. Last night (Friday) J and I went to George (wall to wall pubs) Street, paid our 10 dollar entry fee to see the live band on the street, and rocked to the music. And then I saw it: "Get Screeched In at 11.15." Oh, I just had to. Let me explain a bit. Screech is rum, and a little cottage industry has been built up to sell the stuff and alongside, become an honorary Newfie, complete with certificate. J, who doesnt drink and had had enough rocking by then, decided to go back to the boat (we were getting up at 4 the next morning for the Sunrise Ceremony and he likes a good sleep - oh, yes).

So off I go to the pub, sign in, spend the intervening time anticipating the rum with strong coffee and incomprehensible conversation with an on-the-go Coastguard at the bar, and wonder what I'm up to this time.

At 11.15 nine of us assemble in the upstairs bar and off we go. A mad character in oilskins (boy, wouldnt like to be around when he eventually took them off - it was hot and humid) burst into the room, slapping his hand energetically with a canoe paddle and talking loud and fast. We had to introduce ourselves (cue for taking the piss out of my accent hee hee), sing daft responses to his daft song and to learn the reply to his question: "Are you a Screecher?!?!?" Well, that took a bit of learning - garbled, fast and tongue twisting and left us all cracking up at our attempts.

So: "Are you a Screecher?!?"

"Yes I is, me ole cock, and long may your big jib draw!" To be howled as fast and as loudly as possible.

Having sorted this one out, and by now kneeling on the floor, we moved on to the induction: eating a piece of bologna, ingredients unnamable, tossing off a stout shot of Screech, and then, as you do, kissing a codfish. And yes, I did it all! Excellent! (The alternative to kissing the cod is to kiss a puffin's bum - but as this would have been a wooden puffin, by golly, glad I had a real fish to snog.)

Then we were dubbed with the paddle on both shoulders and presented with our certificates.

And so to bed.

It's now 12.30 and officially Canada Day. Up in the little park, with the dog statues, at the top of the jetty, in case you've forgotten (probably omitted) previous details, it's party on down time, dudes - the ones I wished "Good morning" to, on my way down to the boat. They are very happy indeed.

After a while, some of them moved down to the jetty, and I'm nearly asleep, when BLAAAAASSSTTTT from the cockpit. I know that sound - it's our foghorn. In nightie alone, I stick my head out of the companionway - there are four of them there. "Hey, kids!" I say - and they jump a mile! They are such amiable drunks, so apologetic, shaking my hand, lurching off the boat and just failing to fall in the water. I feel mean breaking up their party.

And so to bed, again.


This is J's alarm for 4 oclock. I havent really bothered to sleep, so I'm quite perky and peer out of my burrow to see a sleepy skipper wondering what on earth he's doing up at that hour. I think he thought I wouldn't get up so early. Ha-ha! I'm good at that ...

And off we go (me: 5 mins to get ready; J half and hour) to catch the bus to the top of Signal Hill overlooking St John's and the Narrows, where the Sunrise Ceremony is to take place. We could see Fortune from the Cabot Tower, and we could see another boat had tied up against us!

And as all ceremonies go, it was a fine mixture of bathos and true emotion. Many of the audience were wearing funny hats, funny clothes. Many of the dignitories were doing the same, only theirs were official. After five somewhat repetitive speeches by various representatives of various things, we are reminded (5 times) that it is the 90th anniversary of a WW1 battle on the Somme, where lots of young Newfoundland men died. So, with the flags being raised, and then lowered to half mast, it was very moving. I really like the idea of saying Happy Birthday to your country. We were entertained by a bilingual choir, much buffetted by a strong wind. The sun shone briefly, but at the right time, through the fog, and the rain kindly held off till the end of the proceedings. Along with lots of like-minded people, we skipped the birthday cake in favour of a rush for the bus, forced an entry through the back doors, and got seats. Breakfast on the walk back to the boat.

And so to bed - third time lucky?

The new boat people woke me up (J can sleep through almost anything), and apologised profusely for disturbing us when they arrived - they had tried to be as quiet as possible, so as not to wake us. Imagine their faces when I told them we hadn't been there!

Have brought a couple of French blokes from another boat to the visitor centre where I am typing, and am going now.

This afternoon, J and I to music celebrations, early night, off tomorrow at about 7 for Conception Bay South.

And so to bed - perchance to sleep tonight? Whaddya think?


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