Posted on September 18th, 2010 by .

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a bit of an obsession with boats – apparently, I’m not alone. The Old Port has been packed with nautical nerds and seafaring fans ever since five tall ships (Bounty, Pride of Baltimore, Lynx, Roald Amundsen and Unicorn) sailed into Montreal on Thursday.

Tall ships are the stuff of legend and adventure – ancient, modern and fantastical alike (Bounty starred along side raffish Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest and Unicorn’s hull was fashioned using dismantled German U-boats and is stewarded by an all-female crew). The vessels just completed the Great Lakes Tall Ships Challenge – a series of summer sailing races meant to raise awareness of the importance of protecting freshwater sources worldwide.

The ships are moored at the Jacques Cartier Pier, through Sunday. Although I don’t recommend ransacking or pillaging your way aboard (tickets are sold out for weekend tours), you can still admire these majestic rigs from the quay. They’re lovely works of craftsmanship, and when the sun goes down, their masts are lit. The Pier is also lined with marine-themed activities, including a maritime village dedicated to the promotion of sailing, storytellers (when I passed by, revelers chugged beer around long wood tables and listened to tall tales of pirating), sail painting and live entertainment (including sailor, buccaneer and pirate-inspired sing-songs) which take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Since you’re already in the Old Port, be sure to explore Montreal’s harbour and grab a bite at Resto Muv Box, an all-in-one modular canteen featuring locally produced food like lobsters from les Îles-de-la-Madeleine and duck from Lac Brome. Since we’re in the last throws of summer, be sure to sample the ice cream at Bilboquet.

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