Allan lynch, a wandering scribbler misadventures in the real world washington university careers

October 9, 2018 – on tuesday, with pennants fluttering in the breeze and long blasts of its horn the sleek un-painted brown hull of the first member of the ritz-carlton yacht collection effortlessly slipped from its dry dock in the HJ barreras shipyard into the harbour at vigo, spain..

From this splash, the first of three vessels comprising the ritz-carlton yacht collection (RCYC) goes for a 12-month detailed outfitting process. That will be followed by several shakedown cruises in late 2019-early 2020 with “trusted travelers”. The shakedown process is longer than standard because, as RCYC chief executive officer doug prothero says, “we will do more shakedown voyages than most in order to be full on-brand when we accept guests.”

Prothero, from port stanley, ontario, has had a 35-year career built around the water.

Most recently he was chairman of sail training international (STI), the 32-country organization, which trains young people to sail and organizes tall ships gatherings as well as a maritime finance consultant for capital canada limited (CCL), a toronto-based boutique investment firm. It was at CCL that he met marriott executives who invited him to put together some sort of cruise product.

On-board amenities include an aft deck marina which acts as a floating beach and five dining venues: an asian fusion restaurant, an international restaurant that will shift between french and italian cuisines, poolside grill, seafood grill and aqua, a concept restaurant by three-michelin starred chef sven elverfeld. Aqua is an a la carte option, while everything else on board, including gratuities and bespoke land-based experiences are covered in the all-inclusive price.

The out-of-the-box thinking for the yachts started with the selection of spain’s HJ barreras shipyard as builders. Prothero shunned the mainstream cruise shipyards for barreras which typically builds highly complicated research vessels. “they have a lot of experience in specialty ships and we needed a highly customized build.” that customization extends to the technology, which will allow guests to control their suites and experiences from their smart phones.

Another break with tradition was hiring one firm – tilberg of sweden – to design the ship. “most cruise ships have six or seven designers, this has one designer throughout the entire yacht so we’ve been able to get a really cohesive design plan.”

These are followed by the world’s tastiest event: DEVOUR, the food film fest. DEVOUR is ground zero for the marriage and many manifestations of art and food. It’s been said that food is first visually consumed, then tasted. DEVOUR puts food on the big screen, then develops special meals based on the film themes. One year, after a documentary on oysters, instead of popcorn and soda, oysters and vodka were served in the theatre lobby.

The six-day festival (oct. 23-28) comprises films, documentaries, seminars, workshops, special meals, galas, receptions and other food-based events like the bubbles bus, street food party (from a cluster of food trucks), mayors’ bike ride with refreshment stops, and an everything apple express. Events are held in wolfville, kentville and starr’s point.

In addition to the scheduled events, the valley offers a variety of other food-related experiences. There’s a weekly saturday farmers’ market in wolfville (with a diverse range of on-site edibles). Throughout the valley are pop-up roadside farm markets, with shelves stocked with just-picked, just-pulled from the ground produce as well as home-baked pies, bread, squares and preserves. American university programs many are on an hour-system, so bring cash. In small denominations.

Outside wolfville you’ll find a corn maze and kids playground at noggins’ farm, a pumpkin maze at stirlings and fresh cider at elderkin’s. And from windsor to annapolis royal there are any number of community breakfasts, lunches and dinners based on old recipes and local ingredients. They are real home cooking. Top 10 american universities check out valleyevents.Ca.

The wolfville lions club hosted their monthly breakfast. Around the corner the weekly farmers’ market was packed with social shoppers, stocking up on fresh-from-the-field produce. Then wandering main street I saw dozens of mud-covered acadia university students walking barefoot through the downtown. They had come from sliding in the harbour mud at low tide and were headed to the university gym to shower before hitting their dorms and town’s cafes.

One of the community’s older businesses, herbin’s jewellers, is sporting a fresh new mural, which employs a line from john frederic herbin’s writings. Herbin was a renaissance man who put the place on the map. He was an optometrist, jeweller, historian and author. He used the royalties from his books to compile the land for a park at grand pre, which is now has double UNESCO world heritage status as the site of the deportation of the acadians (1755) and as the longest continuously farmed part of north america (many farmers here are the eighth and ninth generations on this land).

In it’s 200-year history the regatta has only been postponed a few times: the death of george III, world wars (tho’ in 1941 it was held as a diversion for men at arms and to help with their physical fitness) and because of wind and rain in 2007 and 2008. Some times the weather turns during the regatta. In 1968 the last races ran so late that car lights were used to guide rowers to the finish.

Since wednesday could be a holiday, st. Johner’s party the night before. If the regatta is postponed, they go to work and party again wednesday night because thursday could be a holiday. The local joke is never to schedule surgery for early august because you don’t know what state your surgeon will be in.

The regatta is the last fixed-seat rowing competition in the world. It’s held on quidi vidi lake (pronounced kitty vitty). The day is filled with 20 races between 80 sculls comprised of six rowers and a coxswain (the guy who yells at the rowers). There are competitions for men and women with teams made up of a wide swath of the community from lawyers, to car dealers, members of the military, students, airline staff, pharmacists and others. One side of the lake is occupied by regatta fans, the other by a massive festival with games of chance, crafts, food vendors, music and at the far end bouncy castles, slides and rides for kids. There are two types of regatta attendees: the rabid racing crowd and the carnival crowd who ask, “oh, is there a race?”

The lead-in to the regatta is the george street festival. American university college confidential george street is the city’s infamous street of bars. In three blocks there are 24 pubs, clubs and bars. The easy-to-follow directions I was given on my first visit to st. John’s were, “walk that way. You’ll hear it before you see it.”

For six nights each summer george street closes to the public and implements an admission charge to become the continent’s largest pop-up bar. Bands perform on a main stage constructed for the festival and street establishments waive admission charges, create special drinks and provide express service windows. People are allowed to wander the street with drink in hand. It’s new orleans north. While it sounds raucous, it’s a fun, multi-generational experience.

I’ve twice attended the festival. I kick myself for not taking a camera to the first when I saw three university-aged lads wandering the street with an olive-green, velvet sofa. Periodically they would sit it down in the middle of the street and pause for a drink. Other times it could be seen leaning beside the doorway of whatever club they were in.