Main Menu

Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta: Be Inspired by Picton Castle’s Grand Traversée

Posted on: 11.05.17

After several years of planning and preparation, the incredible Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta is now in full swing. Participating trainees, crew members and vessel operators have already shared lots of exciting and inspirational stories and photos with us. Here’s one of our favourite stories from Picton Castle (Cook Islands), about their road to the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta

Picton Castle (Cook Islands) was built in 1928, as one of five fishing trawlers… and she’s the only one still in service. The ship has a rich history, ranging from serving as a British Royal Navy minesweeper in the Second World War, to life as a freighter along the Norwegian coast. Eventually, she was transformed into a beautiful square-rigger and refitted as a sail training vessel in Nova Scotia.

To celebrate this proud history and Canadian connection, Picton Castle (Cook Islands) was invited to star in a very special project… a TV series called La Grand Traversée (The Great Crossing). As one of 40 signature initiatives funded by the Canadian government to celebrate Canada 150, the show re-enacts the perilous journey that 18th-century French colonists made from France to New France (a colonised area of North America).

La Grand Traversée (The Great Crossing)

In May 2016, Picton Castle (Cook Islands) sailed from her home port of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, across the Atlantic to La Rochelle, France. There, a film crew of eight people and a group of 10 “colonists” boarded the ship, ready to film the Transatlantic crossing back to Canada.

La Grand Traversée follows the colonists as they undertake this incredible voyage on board Picton Castle (Cook Islands), which was renamed L’Esperance (The Hope) for the show. On board, they lived mostly as they would have done in the 1700s, when early settlers were migrating from France to New France. They wore period clothing, they cooked their own meals on a wood- and coal-burning stove, and they slept in living quarters that were set up like the hold of a ship.

In one break from historical accuracy, however, the colonists stood watch alongside Picton Castle’s crew, so they could be involved with sailing the ship. At the time, the colonists would have been kept below deck for most of the voyage.

“We want to bring people back to the early 18th century to try to represent the different journeys that took place over a 100-year period between Europe and Québec.”

Louis Paquin, Les Productions Rivard, who realised the project with Zone 3-XII.

The series is being shown on Radio Canada (ICI Radio-Canada Télé) over the summer in a series of 10 episodes (Radio Canada is the French-language version of CBC, Canada’s national broadcaster). Check out the La Grand Traversée Facebook page for more information.

Picton Castle in the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta

We’re proud to welcome Picton Castle (Cook Islands) to the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta. She’ll join the international fleet in Bermuda, fresh from the Charleston to Bermuda US feeder race. She’ll then take part in Race 3 from Bermuda to Boston, Race 4 from Boston to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence Ports, and then the special Guest Ports Programme. She’s due to arrive in Québec City as the TV series comes to an end.

Picton Castle (Cook Islands) still has trainee places available for most legs. Visit for more information and to book your place.

About the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta

The Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta is truly the adventure of a lifetime. The event covers 10,000 nautical miles, visits seven different countries – UK, Portugal, Canary Islands, Bermuda, USA, Canada, France – and cruises to more than 30 beautiful Canadian Guest Ports.

The event celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation through its founders and founding provinces, which is a unique chance to commemorate the rich history of sailing in Canada and around the world.

You can still be part of this adventure. Berths are available for Race 3 (Bermuda to Boston) onwards (note: Picton Castle (Cook Islands) is fully booked for this leg). Why wait? Secure your place today. Check out the available places on our Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta event pages.

What’s Next?

Want to get involved with the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta? Check out our event page for more information. You can book your place directly with a participating vessel, or if you’d like help, simply email our friendly team on who can make recommendations, answer questions, and process your booking for you.