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Adventure on the North Sea

By Jim Ray, Southwest Chargé de Presse Provincial 

On May 14, thirty-six Chaîne members from Texas, Florida, California, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, New Guinea, and Australia gathered at London’s Lancaster Hotel—the kick-off point for their thirteen-day, land-and-sea tour of the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Denmark.
As in previous years, Pacific Northwest Bailli Provincial Michael Martello, with assistance from Hillsborough Officier Frank Bagley and Dame de la Chaîne Carole Bagley, planned the assemblage. Bailli Provincial Martello and Hillsborough Bailli Lois Gogol co-hosted the event.
That evening, London City and London bailliage members welcomed U.S. confrères to the first-ever “British-American Triple Crown Chaîne Dinner,” held at the five-star Lanesborough Hotel. It was a grand event, filled with Chaîne pride and hospitality. 
The next morning, we were up early and in high spirits, ready to make the most of our last full day in England. After visiting the former home of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu and enjoying a fabulous champagne luncheon, we proceeded to the Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa—a Relais & Châteaux property set on 130 acres of protected wildlife parkland and Britain’s only privately owned, five-star hotel. Attendees arrived in full Chaîne regalia for that evening’s “Grand Sail-Away Dinner,” at which pins were exchanged, awards were presented, and new friendships were forged.
Starting the next day, the Silverseas cruise ship the Silver Whisper would be our floating home away from home. Our first stop along the UK coastline was Falmouth, perhaps best known as the start or end point of several record-breaking voyages, including that of Ellen MacArthur, who, in 2005, sailed solo around the world in just under seventy-two days.
After spending the day in Falmouth, we pulled anchor and journeyed across the open sea to Waterford, Ireland. At the Old Jameson Distillery, we had the opportunity to taste four top-of-the-line Irish whiskeys. Proceeding up the coast of Ireland, we crossed over to Holyhead, Wales, for a visit and then crossed back to Ireland, to tour Dublin.
In Belfast, where the Titanic was built, we visited the nine-gallery museum whose unique interactive exhibits explore such topics as turn-of-the-twentieth-century shipbuilding and the Titanic’s eventual discovery on the seabed.
The museum’s façade is clad in three thousand silver-anodized aluminum shards, enhanced by reflective pools of water surrounding the base of the structure.
We continued north to Portree, and then to Invergordon, Scotland, where we visited the Benromach Distillery and lunched with local Chaîne members. Our next stop was Edinburgh, Scotland. As soon as the ship docked, dressed in coat and tie with our Chaîne decorations proudly displayed, we boarded a bus for a tour of the city’s highlights.
From there we headed to the Caledonia Hotel, where Edinburgh confrères eagerly awaited our arrival. Dressed in traditional Scottish attire, Edinburgh Bailli Sheila Douglas and her bailliage welcomed us with bagpipes and drums.
Before dinner, we were taught the art of removing a champagne cork using a sword—called le sabrage. This activity kept us occupied for as long as fresh, chilled bottles of champagne appeared. We enjoyed meeting our Scottish counterparts, and a good time was had by all.
Thus far, the Silver Whisper had sailed at night, docking each morning to maximize the group’s sightseeing opportunities during the day. However, our itinerary now called for a longer journey, 586 miles across the North Sea to Helsingborg, Sweden. The ship’s many amenities helped keep us busy, happy, and entertained.
After spending the better part of a day touring Helsingborg, we re-boarded the ship for Copenhagen, our final destination. While most of the ship’s other passengers were preparing to return home, our U.S. Chaîne contingent had two more events scheduled. The first was lunch with Selandia Bailli Mette McIsaac and Chargé de Presse Provincial James McIsaac. The second was a dinner with Copenhagen Bailliage members, who were excited about a joint Denmark-U.S. event and the opportunity to exchange Chaîne pins. That wonderful affair marked the end of our North Sea adventure. 
We thank the Silver Whisper officers and staff for making the voyage so enjoyable. Very special thanks and admiration also go to Great Britain Bailli Délégué Philip Evins, Wessex Bailli Janet Evins, Edinburgh Bailli Douglas, and Selandia Bailli McIsaac. U.S. confrères received special Floating Bailliage pins from the U.S. Chaîne in addition to receiving pins from members of the London, Wessex, Scotland, and Copenhagen bailliages.
Members of these bailliages, in turn, received the “United Kingdom, Ireland, North Sea, Denmark, and Sweden” U.S. Chaîne pin.
Presentation to Silver Whisper officers and staff
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