Barque Picton Castle Goes Pirate

Ahoy! From the Pirate Barque Picton Castle
Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS*

Yes! We've turned pirate for Emmy Award-winning producer Mark Burnett's latest epic reality series, Pirate Master*.

Airing Thursdays on CBS (CTV in Canada), the series follows the adventures of 16 modern-day pirates who, for 33 days, live as buccaneers as they travel around the Caribbean in search of hidden treasure that will total $1 million. Their home during that time? The Barque Picton Castle.

Training Pirates for a Decade

Of course, our square-rigged ship is particularly well-suited to the task of turning landlubbers—in the case of the show, they include a former National Football League player, a smoke jumper, a disc jockey and a fashion publicist, to speak to a few of the individuals—into tall ship sailors if not outright pirates.

Over the past 10 years, we've circled the globe four times, welcoming more than 700 sail trainees aboard our ship. Many of these folks had little or no previous sailing experience. A number have gone on to seagoing careers.

We've traveled to some amazing places including the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Bali, Mauritius and South Africa. The list reads a lot like the locations of Burnett's best-known reality series, Survivor, but hey, we've also been to Cleveland!

And, as you can see, we look rather convincing in our role as a rogue pirate ship.

Getting Into Character

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Photos: Monty Brinton/CBS*(top-left), Picton Castle (bottom-left, right)

Like all great actresses, the Picton Castle had to go through makeup and wardrobe before assuming our role on Pirate Master. The process began back in February at Dominica, the Caribbean island around which the show was filmed. It included the construction of an elegant transom with pane-glass windows and beautifully detailed woodwork on our stern. Weeks in the making, it was dismantled in days following the production.

We also gained a large figurehead—part mermaid, part Medusa—whose cold dead eyes stared out past the skull she clutched. Our steels masts and deck cabins were painted so you'd swear they were made of well-weathered wood. But the most significant change took place when the ship's hull—white for a decade—was painted coal black.

Those who've known us for awhile will remember our hull was black when the ship was first converted from a fishing trawler and one-time minesweeper to a Class A tall ship in the mid-1990s. The color scheme proved impractical in the heat of the Tropics, but it sets the right tone as the ship looms up out of the mist in the show's opening episode.

That's all we can really say about Pirate Master, though you're welcome to read the Captain's Log and Crew Journals written about the show. It certainly was an amazing experience for us and we're sure you're going to like it!

Sailing the East Coast This Summer

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Photo: Picton Castle

The Picton Castle is now back at her regular gig, providing trainees with the adventures of a lifetime as they learn traditional square-rigged sailing and seamanship aboard this storied barque.

This summer, we're heading North up the U.S. East Coast and back to Maritime Canada as part of an armada of traditional ships taking part in the American Sail Training Association's 2007 Tall Ships Challenge.

Keep track of our adventures by signing up for our newsletter or visit us at any of the following ports of call:

Charleston, South Carolina May 17-20
Norfolk, Virginia June 7-12
Newport, Rhode Island June 27-July 1
Halifax, Nova Scotia July 13-16
Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia July 18-19
Sydney, Nova Scotia July 21-22

Join our Motley Crew!

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Photo: Picton Castle

Or perhaps you want to turn pirate yourself? If so, why not join us as a sail trainee? We'll have you hoisting the anchor, handling the sails, swabbing the deck, pillaging and looting—wait, scratch those last two!—in no time. Remember, no sailing experience is necessary, just a strong back and a willing heart. Get more information on the Picton Castle's voyages.

* ©2007 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.