Captain's Log

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Day’s Run – 12 November, 2018

It’s a beautiful sailing day onboard, heading west, almost dead downwind, braced square with all square sails set. Picton Castle looks like a majestic ship straight out of a film. Hmm, Picton Castle is a majestic ship!

Bacon for breakfast! It’s always a good start to the week when the sweet aromas of bacon waft through the ship as you climb out of your bunk. This week we have three new daymen working under our skilled crew. Joining the sailmaking department is, Clara of Denmark, who stitched away on the new spanker canvas on the main deck, while John and Kimba worked on the quarterdeck finishing off the new main topmast staysail. The carpenter this week, Mandy of Colorado, is learning her way around the carpenter shop, gaining knowledge on the ship’s various tools and helping Carlos fit the new planks on the quarterdeck. Lastly, helping rigger Abbey this week is Rhyanne of South Carolina. This morning Abbey showed Rhyanne the ins and outs of basic rigging, giving a tour of the tar locker, which is where the rigging tools and supplies are kept, and reviewing knots. After which the rigging team set themselves up to send down the starboard fore upper topsail foot rope. Once the temporary foot rope was rigged they gathered the foot rope, nipped it together in a circle and sent it down to the deck in a controlled manner.

While aloft the riggers spotted a large snake swimming along the starboard side of the ship! Rather exciting and amazing to see Mother Nature’s wildlife first hand. Once down on deck, the team rigged up the foot rope on the well deck by fastening it to the shrouds & ladders and hauling it tight in order to work on it. Abbey demonstrated how to serve the wire to Rhyanne as Dustin and Annie performed patch servings throughout. A foot rope is made up of 1/2″ wire, then wrapped in parceling and served, meaning to cover the parcelled wire in marline. This protects the wire which in turn increases its useful working life.

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Monday, November 12, 2018
Noon Position: 10°31.1’S x 136°14/6’E
Course + Speed: W by N 1/2 N + 3.3 kts
Wind direction + Force: E by N + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 1 1/2m + E by N
Weather: Sunny, blue skies
Day’s Run: 79.3 nm
Passage Log: 2027.9 nm
Distance to Port: 1270 nm
Voyage: 12397.3 nm
Sails Set: All square sails, inner and outer jibs, main topmast stays’l, mizzen stays’l

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Day’s Run – 11 November, 2018

Sunday at Sea! There is always a sense of calm when waking to sunny, calm seas and winds on Sunday morning. Even though the ship’s routine is the same, same wake-up times and same meal times, Sundays have an air of peacefulness about them. With no projects being opened up, no sails laid out on the deck and no riggers gearing up to head aloft, crew members take time to catch up on their personal projects.

It was an active morning on the hatch, with the awning strung up and shipmates gathering underneath to seam or grommet their ditty bags, enjoy their book and chit-chat. Dawson had a series of clothespins snapped together and it was his snake. The well deck was filled with shipmates doing laundry and woodworking, crew members have been busy carving their own bowls, cups, spoons and stools!

Lead seaman Abbey got up this morning and performed her rig check. Every lead seaman has an area or two of the ship that they maintain. Each of the masts are distributed among the lead seamen as well as areas such as the tar locker, carpenter’s shop, paint locker, tween decks, and carpenter’s and paint stores. This ensures items are organized, supplies are stocked up and waste is kept to a minimum. This afternoon the Captain will hold a discussion on Bali, educating the crew on the ins & outs and dos & don’ts of the country. This will increase our excitement about our first port since leaving the South Pacific!

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Sunday, November 11, 2018
Noon Position: 10°31’2 S – 137°34.8′ E
Course + Speed: W b N 1/2 N + 3.4 kts
Wind direction + Force: ENE + 3-4
Swell Height + Direction: 1m + Easterly
Weather: Sunny
Day’s Run: 81.5 nm
Passage Log: 82.2 nm
Distance to Port: 1350 nm
Voyage: 12317.5 nm
Sails Set: All square sails, inner jib, main topmast stays’l, mizzen topmast stays’l

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Day’s Run – 9 November, 2018

At about 2300 last night we made it out of the Torres Strait, rocketing past the final sluice at 10 knots with a fair current.   We were lucky to have caught a steady current that helped pull us through, meaning we avoided having to anchor for the night. This morning as the hot sun shone down on us we were able to shut down the engine, set sails and head west enjoying the peaceful sounds of the waves breaking against the hull.

After breakfast, the rigging team (Abbey, John-Boy, Dustin and Annie) worked at sending the refurbished footrope aloft, reattaching it and breaking down the temporary rope. On deck, crew members started their day by washing their laundry and airing out their mattresses, while Anders gave his sea chest a paint job. The main deck awning was sent back up after being taken down for the evening and the helm awning was rigged to provide shade to the crew member on helm. The inside of the scuttle (the hatch leading down to the salon, on the starboard side where we keep safety gear such as life jackets and the deck pump) was cleaned and is receiving a coat of fresh paint. Lovely day of sailing and working onboard today; crew members’ excitement to reach Bali is gaining now that we have reached the halfway mark!

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Friday November 9, 2018
Noon Position: 10°34.5′ S – 140°34.3′ E
Course + Speed: W + 7.8 kts
Wind direction + Force: ESE + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 1m + SE
Weather: Hot, sunny
Day’s Run: 182 nm
Passage Log: 187.8 nm
Distance to Port: 1530 nm
Voyage: 12138.9 nm
Sails Set: All square sails, main topmast stays’l

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Day’s Run – 8 November, 2018

This morning the sun shone through the light wispy clouds, adding pinks and yellows to the horizon. The 4-8 watch got out the scrapers and putty knives and started the workday early by scraping the excess putty that was left over from the installation of the new deck planks on the quarterdeck. Sailing along with all square sails and headsails set, the order came to fire up the main engine. It takes roughly 20 minutes for the old gal to be ready to engage. The call to take in and stow royals was called, crew members scurried to the halyards, gear, sheets and braces, and two crew members scampered up the foremast and mainmast to stow and gasket the sail. To take in the royal one must lower the halyard under control, after which crew members will cast off the sheets and haul on the gear in order to bring the sail up to its yard, somewhat like pulling on window blinds to bring them up.

Once the engine was engaged, we motor sailed through the Torres Strait, the channel running north of Australia and south of Papua New Guinea, the same channel Bligh of the Bounty either sailed or rowed his rescue boat crew through. As we plowed through the strait at 7 knots, the workday began with setting up the main deck awning to allow for more shade. The starboard fore bottle screws were given a healthy rust bust. The forward pin rails located on the foc’sl head received a coat of varnish, the turnbuckles were rust busted, primed and top coated. Our ladder leading to the monkey deck, the deck above the charthouse, was painted with its first layer of top coat. The riggers finished the main upper topsail foot rope chafe gear and overhauled it, ie tarred and oiled it. The fore royal halyard was served, to save climbers from its meathooks. “Meathooks” is a term used when a small piece of wire juts out from the rigging and can often cut people, never enough to do serious damage, only ever a small cut that results in the use of few frustrated words. Lastly, the plank on the quarterdeck was completed! A successful Thursday on the Picton Castle.

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Thursday, November 8, 2018
Noon Position: 09°38.1′ S – 143°19.4′ E
Course + Speed: SW 1/2 S + 5 kts
Wind direction + Force: SE + 3
Swell Height + Direction: 4m + E
Weather: hot, sunny, ozoneless
Day’s Run: 109.0 nm
Passage Log: 120.3 nm
Distance to Port: 1710 nm (to Bali)
Voyage: 11951.1 nm
Sails Set: Upper tops’ls, lower tops’ls, course, main topmast stays’l, outer jib

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Day’s Run – 7 November, 2018

This morning we awoke to lovely blue skies, white puffy clouds and crisp blue blue ocean as far as the eye can see. Although on the chart it appears that we are extremely close to land, in reality it’s still us and the sea at the moment. Last night we changed our clocks back an hour. Each night watch then stood an extra 20 minutes in order to even out the time load, then all hands waking up an hour later than they would from the previous ship’s time.

At 0800 daymen and the 8-12 watch turn to work. The 8-12 watch members polish up the ship, making the heads and living compartments clean and orderly, while the daymen get out their tools and supplies needed for the morning’s tasks. This morning the riggers, Abbey of North Carolina, and John-Boy, of New York, were instructed by the bosun who was instructed by the chief mate to replace the port fore upper topsail brace. With help from Annie, of Ontario, the three of them set up a temporary brace to hold the yard in place, sent down the block and pendant, overhauled the block and pendant, sent it back up and reeved the new line through the block aloft and the block on deck.

The most forward pin rail that houses the headsail downhauls received another coat of varnish. The bottle screws are finally ready for a coat of black paint, after their 5 coats of primer. In the sailmaking department, Erin and Liz are nearly finished seaming together the cloths for the new spanker while Kimba creates an eye splice for one end of the roping that will be sewn onto the new main topmast staysail.

Today at 12 noon the fishing reel screamed out as a fish had caught the lure, “fish on!”, but sadly as two crew members were reeling it in the fish let go. Then amazingly at around 1300 the reel screamed out again! “Fish on!” was called through the ship, Colin fought hard to keep the fish on, reeling it as the swells came. Rune relieved Colin, hauling the fish in together while Donald gaffed the yellowfin tuna to bring it up onto deck. It was a 44-pound fish, well worth the fight, he’ll no doubt feed the entire crew. It’s always a great day when we catch a fish!

As we head northwest we’re enjoying our last few hours of moving along by sail power. Tomorrow morning before breakfast we will take in, stow sails and motor in order to get through the Torres Strait, the passage between the very top of Australia and Papua New Guinea. We’ve been very lucky with the sailing we’ve had since departing Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu a week and a half ago.

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Noon Position: 09°58.5’S x 144°52.1’E
Course + Speed: NW by N 1/2 N + 4.8 kts
Wind direction + Force: E by S + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 2m + E
Weather: Sunny, hot
Day’s Run: 113.1 nm
Passage Log: 114.5 nm
Distance to Cape York: 76.5 nm
Voyage: 11830.8 nm
Sails Set: All headsails, all square sails

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Day’s Run – 5 November, 2018

Yesterday’s festivities went off without a hitch. The sarong/lava lava/pareau fashion show was well executed; the crew now knows how to properly tie their sarongs to prevent a rather embarrassing moment. We were entertained by our ukulele orchestra and their new hit “The Cruise Ship the Picton Castle” song, danced on the hatch to the traditional South Pacific music and ate popcorn until the sun went down.

A gorgeous Monday morning at sea today and the ship’s work commences. The bottle screws on the port main mast and foremast are receiving some tender loving care. They are being rust busted, primed, and new seizings have been added to replace old ones. Six-year-old Dawson is taking advantage of the lovely weather by spending his morning with his toys on the hatch and cooling off in a kiddie pool, otherwise known as a fish tote. He took a brief break from his dinosaurs to assist Brittni on helm, until the call of “fish on!” echoed through the ship, stealing everyone’s attention to the aloha deck. Colin reeled in the wahoo and Johnny-Boy grabbed it with the gaff. This particular fish is on the small size for wahoo but still has plenty of meat. Colin states that Mondays are lucky, as last week Monday was the day we caught two fish at the same time!

This week the daymen departments have some new hands assisting them. Johnny-Boy is under the guidance of rigger Abbey, Tyler remains in the engine room with chief engineer Deyan and his assistant Kevin. Lastly and rather excitingly, Stephanie will be found in the galley assisting cook Donald. Donald has been a one-man show for many voyages, this being his third world voyage, enjoying the comforts of having the galley to himself. This week he has opened his galley dutch door and is happy to be receiving the help.

It’s going to be a great week on board. Shipmates are settling into life back at sea, the deck is running like a well-oiled clock and best of all there are smiles on all faces. Soon we will be entering the Torres Strait, which will mark our halfway point from Vanuatu to Bali. For now, we’re enjoying the steady rolling swells, hot sun and cool breeze.

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Monday, November 5, 2018
Noon Position: 13°09.5′ S x 146°58′ E
Course + Speed: NW by N + 5.4 kts
Wind direction + Force: ESE + 3-4
Swell Height + Direction: 2m + SE
Weather: Hot, sunny
Day’s Run: 124.3 nm
Passage Log: 129.0 nm
Distance to Port: 300 nm to Cape York
Voyage: 11602.0 nm
Sails Set: All square sails, inner jib, main t’gallant stays’l, main topmast stays’l, mizzen topmast stays’l

 

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Day’s Run – 4 November, 2018

This morning as the sun came up over the horizon at the stern, our chief mate Erin of Bermuda raised the Bermudian flag in celebration of her birthday! Sunday at Sea, a birthday and our Farewell to the South Pacific Soiree – big day on board the Picton Castle. The swell has calmed down to a manageable steady rocking and our sea legs are more developed.

Today the Danish Clipper is open for business! The well deck hasn’t seen our Danish lead seaman open shop for some time now, everyone is eager to make an appointment with the ever so talented Anders, of Denmark.

Many shipmates are busting out their personal projects while others enjoy the leisure of Sunday and read on the cool wind swept deck. This morning and afternoon have been spent party prepping! Crew members are organizing music and songs to perform, costumes, games and the South Pacific Fashion Show! It will be a fun-filled afternoon. So long South Pacific, it’s been pretty amazing. As Chief Saitol of Banam Bay once told the Captain,  “I love you never die”.

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Sunday, November 4, 2018
Noon Position:  13°11.5′ x 149°04.7′ E
Course + Speed: W + 5.8 kts
Wind direction + Force: ESE + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 2m + SE’ly
Weather: Sunny
Day’s Run: 137.5 nm
Passage Log: 140.2 nm
Distance to Port: 390 nm (to Cape York)
Voyage: 11473.0 nm
Sails Set: All sails except the spanker and gaff tops’l

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Sunday in the Coral Sea

Sunday in the Coral Sea, November 4, bound for Bali by way of the Torres Straights some 380 miles away.

Sunday at sea means a few things in PICTON CASTLE. For one it means putting away the tar-pots and varnish brushes and the gang can do laundry, patch some trousers or even read a book on watch. As well, of course, steering the ship, handle the sails as required. And any repairs that must be affected straight away. As the spanker tore when setting it (due to a failure to exercise best situational awareness) this sail needed to be sent down and replaced. Another thing is that the Famous Chief Cook of the ship, Donald Church from Grenada, takes the day off. The crew takes over the galley and we see what they can do. Among other things, this practice certainly fosters an appreciation for the hard hot work that Mr. Church does day in, day out, without complaint. We will see what come out of the galley today. Sooprize Sunday!

Conditions are pretty sweet today. Hot and squally a couple days ago with lumpy cross-grained seas, the blue sky has rejoined us, seas have settled down and breezes are steadier. And we are making a nice 6 knots with all sail set – apart from the spanker, of course. Anders has opened shop on the well deck as “The Danish Clipper” offering haircuts in trade for whatever. The sign suggests black pearls, cans of Coke, snacks as payment in exchange for his tonsorial efforts. He is quite good at cutting hair. Sundry crew are strewn about this ship, mostly in the shade working on small personal projects. Plenty clothes washing going on too. The best method is to soak overnight an 20-liter pail of soapy salt water, just one night though. The soaking does half the work for you. The scrub vigorously in dish-washing soap (works well in salt water) and salt water, rinse as many times one likes with salt water(we do have a large supply of that stuff) followed by a final rinse in fresh water.

Hang to dry on line so provided. One lad is making a cup out of a piece of wood. A wag of a shipmate nearby mentioned that you can buy pretty cups pretty cheap ashore…Some of the gang are picking our many fine sextants up again. Well, there is no finer time than now to practise to navigate by the sun and stars, sextant and chronometer.

Yards are just off square on the port tack. Breezes are fresh and keep us cool enough. The big hot yellow-white sun is directly overhead at midday. Shade on deck from the set sails comes and goes with the rolling of the ship. This morning there were a flock of chattering seabirds intent on some fishing as we sailed by. Seen some very big flying fish launch themselves and soar for hundreds of feet, even hundreds of yards, when they beginning to lose altitude, they lower their tails into the sea, fishtail blindingly fast for a spell and are thrust high above the waves again. Some say that flying fish do not fly, only glide, but seems to me that’s an awful lot like flying to me. Airplanes do not flap their winds but are they not flying? Once in a while, we see a white painted Korean or Chinese long-liner fishing boat lolling along. These small ships seem to be all over the world. We have seen some big ships too at 1,000 feet long and 160 feet wide. That’s big. Yesterday an Australian coast patrol plane flew overhead and low. The first of many I expect to see as we close with Australia and transit the Torres Straights. Pretty serious about border protection hereabouts. And good at Search & Rescue as well. Not bad for yachts or voyaging ships like ours.

A few island ukeleles have come out and are being tuned and strummed for a command performance this evening. These are far more beautiful instruments than we are used to seeing on Elvis Presley movies. In a matter of days, we will be out of the South Pacific Ocean forever on the rest of this voyage. We plan to mark this significant occasion with a pareau tying party, aka lavalava, sarong etc, and fashion show, followed by music and cool punch, and popcorn being a requirement for a PC party.

The seas lash and lap along the waterline. We can hear a Pacific playlist coming together and a small Dawson is running around with a Rubics Cube hoping someone will fill a big plastic tote for him you use as a pool on deck amidships. The sea water is 27 degrees C.

 

D.Moreland

 

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Day’s Run – 3 November, 2018

As we make our way farther northwest, out of the South Pacific Ocean and into the Coral Sea, Picton Castle remains steady as she rolls through the larger swells, caused from the joining of the two seas. A rainy start to our day on board. This morning’s 4 – 8 watch were drenched but by the time 0730 breakfast rolled around the rain had ceased and the crew were able to enjoy a pleasant meal outside. As the rain clouds stayed nearby, the sailmakers decided it was best to work indoors below deck.

Hauling out the sewing machine they began working on small sewing projects. Today is the last day for the daymen apprenticeship, starting Monday these three will return to their watch schedules and three new hands will get a chance to learn a new skill as either a sailmaker, rigger or carpenter. Being that it is the weekend on board the Picton Castle, the daymen are finishing up their morning projects and packing it in for the day so they can enjoy their Saturday afternoon and Sunday with no ship’s work, allowing them time to catch up on laundry, personal projects, sleep and reading. Having a half work day Saturday and all of Sunday off also allows off watch crew members to enjoy these days at sea without the disruption of power tools, hammering sounds echoing throughout the steel hull.

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Saturday, November 3, 2018
Noon Position: 13°09.7′ S x 151°26.6′ E
Course + Speed: W 1/2 N + 5.8kts
Wind direction + Force: SE by E + 4
Swell Height + Direction: 2 1/2m + SE
Weather: Sunny, slightly overcast
Day’s Run: 136.6 nm
Passage Log: 139.3 nm
Distance to Port: 505nm (to Cape York)
Voyage: 11332.8 nm
Sail Set: All square sails, outer jib

 

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Day’s Run – 2 November, 2018

TGIF onboard Picton Castle, which means we’ve been underway for a week now since departing from Vanuatu. For those crew members who are on a watch schedule, they sleep for at least 6-8 hours in the night and stand watch for 4 hours and repeat this cycle until they have a galley day. Galley day involves waking up at 0615, turning to at 0630 by getting coffee and hot water out and assisting ship’s cook Donald in whatever he needs as the sun is rising. Donald does most of the work anyway. One crew member is taken from each watch, so three in total, to set up for the meals, clean up after them and perform a daily task. This keeps our scullery (the compartment where we do dishes) clean and orderly and allows a change in the crew members’ schedules. As well they can set the day at their pace, if they complete the tasks that are required in a timely manner they’re able to relax and stand by on the aloha deck with a book.

Today the crew shows no signs in slowing down. The never-ending to do list is getting things checked off. The mates, while on watch, have been busy working on maintaining the bridge. The bridge is the balcony that is in the center of the ship. It allows the mates to see every deck, sail and the bow, which enables them to navigate the ship. It holds a gorgeous teak wooden railing as well as the engine controls. This past week our 2nd mate Dirk, of Germany/Australia, and mate Anne-Laure, of France, have been sanding and scraping this railing, called the fly rail, in order to prep it for today’s coat of varnish. Anne-Laure now stands on the bridge ensuring that no one touches the freshly brushed varnish with their dirty sailor fingers. Tasks such as this are enjoyable for the mates. When we’re sailing along in the open seas, on the same tack for days, they are able to get their hands on small projects as well. It’s always important to keep up your skills and to learn new ones.

At 0800 this morning we wore ship. Meaning we changed from a starboard tack to a port tack, and altered our course from northwest half west to west. The winds and swell picked up, causing our ship to roll a great deal more than it has in the past week. Six-year-old ship’s boy Dawson is making the most of the water splashing on deck, it’s like a water park for him. It’s great fun to have the water rush over your feet as you hold yourself firmly in one spot on the main deck while the sea rolls off the deck and back into the ocean. Tonight Dawson is hosting a dinner party for his family and friends on board, everyone is looking forward to the entertaining time together.

From: Vanuatu
Towards: Bali
Date: Friday, November 2, 2018
Noon Position: 13°04.6′ S x 153°46.5′ W
Course + Speed: W + 4.7 kts
Wind direction + Force: ExS + 5
Swell Height + Direction: 2.5m + ESE
Weather: Sunny, scattered clouds
Day’s Run: 109.2 nm
Passage Log: 113.9 nm
Voyage: 11193.5 nm
Sails Set: All square sails are set, outer jib, mizzen topmast stays’l

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