Friday, February 10th, 2006
Location: 28° 04.6’S / 42° 01.9’E
Time Zone: ZD-3
Ordered Course: W x N
Rate of Speed: 7.9 knots
Day’s Run: 154 nautical miles
Merrily we roll along in a near-calm ocean, with breezes so light it looks as though the Picton Castle is on the other side of a fun house mirror! We had slowed to 3 knots by 0700 and by 0735 we had clewed up and stowed Gants’ls, Courses and Royals and Chief Engineer Danie had fired up the main engine with a big puff of smoke and soot. Danie and his assistants were literally up to their armpits yesterday afternoon cleaning the exhaust manifold. It’s a dirty and important job, and it took a lot of group effort and a melted jar of GOJO to get them passably clean.
Chibley was in prime ship’s cat mode early this morning. During the 12–4 Watch, she bounded across the quarterdeck and pounced on a seabird that had landed on the starboard aft teak taffrail. With the bird sufficiently stunned and gripped securely in her jaws, Chibs ran forward, through the charthouse and down the aft companionway ladder and straight into the Captain’s cabin! It was her way of doing something nice for Captain Moreland, who she adores above all others (except maybe Ollie). The watch had to retrieve the bird and upon discovering it was just stunned and not really hurt, they decided it would be safest if they secured it from Chibley by putting it inside her kitty kennel until it was ready to fly. The bird remained in the carrier until about 6 this morning.
Joe, the cook, came onto the quarterdeck to look at the bird. I was on the helm and I warned the bird to keep an eye on Joe or it would find itself in the muffins, and sure enough, as soon as Joe leaned over to look into the open cage, the bird tucked and rolled and landed with a bloop! into the sea! There was no dramatic flapping of wings, no hopping or any indication it was about to liberate itself. It just tucked its head down to its chest and rolled off the veggie locker and into the sea! We all ran to the rail to see if it was alive, and watched as it contentedly floated along, stretching its wings from time to time. We stood there together in stunned silence as Chibley’s little seabird drifted away from us and into the rays of the rising sun as they pooled in the ocean astern of us. Chibley would not speak to any of us at breakfast and only now (at dinnertime) is she even pretending to be sociable at all. She is one cranky cat about this, and she can hold a grudge, too.
The daymen and the watches have been employed finishing up all sorts of important projects before we arrive in Cape Town. Amanda has been painting everything that has been patiently waiting its turn for attention. The riggers have been tarring the new ratlines and seizings and oiling blocks aloft and on deck. They have been overhauling the aft main shroud eye and are doing an amazing job of the work. The carpenters already have the second of two deck boxes roughly assembled; the first is already finished and installed on the quarterdeck. The sailmaking team has finished roping the head of the new mains’l and are continuing work on the wire leeches of the sail. They are working together to complete the bunt patches and mast lining on the new Upper Tops’l. There is always a great deal of work that goes into maintaining a sailing ship; it is ongoing and the list never actually gets shorter and is generally not too repetitive. The crew never stop learning!
Now that all of the DVD episodes of Ollie’s (Billy Campbell, a crew who stars in the show as Jordan Collier) “The 4400” have circulated and aired throughout the ship, all the buzz onboard the Picton Castle is about our arrival in Cape Town. We especially want to visit with our old friends at Christel House, a very special and unique school that provides meals, healthcare, and education to more than 400 children from throughout Cape Town and the Townships. I have been pumping previous world voyagers for information, and I’ve received the same answer time and again: No words can explain it. You will LOVE the school and you will fall in love with the children and you will cry very hard.
The Picton Castle‘s cargo hold currently contains 1/3 of our total donation of school supplies. All of these library books and textbooks, chalkboards, chalk, and countless heaps of games, sports equipment, and school supplies are destined for Christel House. There they will be divided among that school and several others in the surrounding area that are trying very hard to provide their students with an education. We still have a great number of hand-made teddy bears from some very loving women in the Lunenburg area and these bears will be accompanying our small contribution to Christel House. A very interesting twist on the Picton Castle‘s seven-year relation ship with Christel House is that its founder, Christel DeHaan, will be visiting the school in Cape Town around the same time that the Picton Castle is to arrive. She is an astounding woman who has opened several Christel Houses throughout the world. I hope our crew will have the opportunity to meet her!
If all goes exceedingly well, and King Neptune still loves us, we could be there in a little over a week!