Bella Blue departs at 6am and it is a lovely, windless morning. The sail to Picton is uneventful, with not much to see, besides a few factories and houses hanging off the cliffs overlooking the water. We motor into Picton harbour, and it is beautiful – a few sailboats are anchored out while many other boats are snuggled into their cozy slips at the marina. We have a slip reserved at the Picton Harbour Inn, which is mainly a hotel but with very new looking docks.
We slowly ease up to the docks, but the numbers on them are tiny so we can’t see if we are at the right slip until we are practically on top of it. Both Ana and Magnus hop from our boat to the dock, but it’s a floating dock, and extremely wobbly, and they both stumble and nearly fall in. In the mayhem I am coming in too fast and slam the boat into reverse just in time to avoid smashing into the dock, and the young couple who are sitting there quietly on a dock bench, totally oblivious to the impending disaster.
Cabin Fever arrives shortly after us and we help them with docking. Since they can travel much faster than us, they opted for the later start and the faster passage. Once we are all settled, we take a walk into town along the main street. I am looking for a barber shop and since it is Saturday I’m expecting to find somebody open, but no luck – Picton barbers do not work on the weekends.
Tony and break off from the main pack to check something out and end up getting separated. I send Ana text to find out where she is. She sends back a photo of herself with my aunt Linda. Perplexed, I am. We walk up the street and find a whole gaggle of Olsons – my aunt Linda, cousins Katie, Megan, Mark , Melanie, Tio, and husbands of cousins Adam and Greg. Sadly, my uncle Mark is not there as he’s working on a contract in Mexico, but he’s going to be real pissed when he hears about missing this. The Olsons are there for a party for a grandma on the other side of the family, so they aren’t able to stay long, but the husbands stay behind and we join them in some heavy duty beer drinking on a local patio, while Ana and Angela hit the shops.
Tony and Greg hit it off immediately. Tony flies airplanes and Greg paints them, and used to assemble them for Bombardier. Greg’s favourite place is the racing speedway in Oshweken, and Tony knows lots of people there from his sign business, so they have plenty to talk about. Adam and I add in some smartass commentary when we can, and the kids busy themselves with watching the Russia/Croatia world cup game inside on the large tv. We are working our way through the craft beer menu, and after trying practically all of them, we decide that the Jury beer is the best, so we drink some more of those and gently ease into a state of pleasantly pissededness. You could say we have been Pictoned. This became obvious to me when I saw Tony leaning over, trying to stroke Greg’s magnificent, luscious, red, Viking beard, and Greg wasn’t even pulling away so I don’t know what the hell was going on there. That’s some fine craft beer we was drinkin’.
Megan stops by the pub for a quick visit with her son Tio, who is the cutest little man ever. She re-invites us for dinner this coming Friday at their place in St. Catherine’s, which will be our launching off point for the return trip through the Welland. I’ve also recruited Adam to help us out with the passage, but that was way before he was drunk on the patio, so it still counts.
We get the call from the ladies to come and join them for early dinner at a restaurant down the way, so we say goodbye to the lads (and good luck) and pour ourselves from the patio onto the street and we flow right down the main street, with the help of Magnus and Stella directing the stream, onto the patio of Vic’s café where we did our best to play it sober with the ladies, even ordering up carbonated water, and I think Tony might have ordered a salad, which may have been overdoing it a bit, but nonetheless, we fooled them completely, as far as I could tell.
Post lunch Tony reminds us that he needs to do a sign quote at a nearby shopping center, so Magnus and I tag along while the ladies go to Giant Tiger to pick up some groceries. We walk up the main road until we reach a Metro supermarket with a beaten up old sign in front.
“This must be it,” he says. “But I was expecting the store to be bigger from what he described.” He took a few pictures while Magnus and I gave him some creative ideas on what sort of sign to build. Then it hit me – this is a perfect way for Tony to write off all his gas, docking, and other expenses for the trip! Do a sign quote and then it’s all business expense – what a mastermind. That made me sad for a moment, knowing we no longer have a company to write things off against. In fact, the only thing I’ll be writing off after this trip is my credit score. It would turn out later that Tony took photos of the wrong place – the actual one was a few blocks away. Damn, that was good craft beer!The path back to Giant Tiger took us right by a bona fide telephone booth so Magnus felt compelled to give it a try as he had never been in a phone booth before. I demonstrated the proper technique – first, scan the floor for vomit and dog poo before stepping in. Next, inspect the phone handle for greenies, plain saliva or any other unpleasant substances. Now pull up the bottom of your shirt and use the fabric to grab the handle and lift it up to your head, without making contact – especially the part you talk into; if that touches your face you will get herpes for sure. Shoot in a quarter and then use a stick or pen to punch in the phone number. After you call is done, hammer the change release button a few times to see if you can shake loose a quarter or two, and then check the coin return slot for any windfall cash. At the end of it, I am immensely pleased that I’ve been able to pass on a historically important, but now useless life lesson to my boy.
We met the ladies and mule-carried the grocery bags back to the boats. The Picton configuration is odd – walking up and down the classic main street, you’d never know there was a beautiful harbour just blocks away, because you must walk to the north end of the main street and then take a small, uninteresting side road down to the harbour, which isn’t immediately visible.
Happy hour is called, so we dutifully assemble around one of the picnic tables and grill up some fatty sausages and crispy spring rolls for snacks, but once we added in chips and vegetables the whole affair was promoted to dinner. All is good in the world and this Picton is a fine, fine place.