Wednesday, July 26th, 2006
We left Bay City as scheduled on Monday morning, and we were sad to leave. The whole crew had a fantastic time there, and we found the people of Bay City to be amongst the friendliest anywhere. We have fond memories of our ship liaisons, the volunteers at the event, good-humored crowds who toured the ship, and welcoming locals everywhere we went in town. The Tall Ships Celebration ended with a Mariner’s Ball—a giant dinner for the crews of all the ships and all the event volunteers. The food was fantastic and we had a chance to say thanks and goodbye to our new friends. The Picton Castle was also honoured to win first place in the Sail Training Rally, a series of organized games. Laura, Ollie, Jackie, Paul, Jay and Logan represented us well. Who knew that these sailors also excel in bowling?
When the time came to leave yesterday morning we went out in an unscheduled parade with a number of other tall ships, including the US Brig Niagara (who led the pack) and the Pride of Baltimore II. There are several bridges that have to lift for us, so it was more convenient for the motorists of Bay City for us to leave en masse. Once we got out into Saginaw Bay and beyond the channel we were able to turn off the main engine and set the sails. We had a great southwesterly breeze, probably the best sailing weather we have had since arriving in the Great Lakes. We sailed through the night, firing up the main engine again this morning to motor sail when the wind became too light for sails alone. Weather can change quickly in this area, and large thunderstorms are not uncommon. Watches were particularly alert last night as we had thunderstorms in the forecast, but all we saw was haze and some distant lightning.
New trainees who joined us in Bay City have been learning their lines at a frenzied pace, along with trainees who have been with us for a few weeks. It’s so much easier to learn when you get to set or take in sails and brace the yards often, and this has already been a great passage for plenty of sail handling. New trainees have been aloft to loose and furl sails, and are getting quite good at coiling lines. The ship has been getting some much-needed maintenance done so that we can look our best when we arrive in Green Bay. New hands are learning how to prepare different surfaces for painting, apply paint without dripping it all over the deck, and how to move around the ship without brushing against anyone else’s freshly painted area. Jordan is painting red in the waterways amidships, while Jackie gets the waterways on the quarterdeck. Judy and Allen are working on the green trim on the galley house.
We love the opportunity to visit all sorts of different cities this summer, but for the moment it’s nice to be back at sea. We’re not even that far from land as we travel around the top of the mitten of Michigan (one of the few places whose residents can explain their geography by sticking out their left hand), but it was great to be gently rocked to sleep last night by the motion of the waves. We are looking forward to two more nights of sea-sleep before arriving in Green Bay on Thursday.
We spied the big Brig Niagara as were sailing around the top of the lower peninsula of Michigan. We dodged a severe thunderstorm last night and the weather was clear. We called the Niagara on the radio and agreed to anchor in the same bay just above Mackinac Island for the night. More thunderstorms and a front were predicted for the night. The Captain invited the skipper of the Niagara, Wes Heerson, and some of his crew over for a visit so we have had an old-fashioned Marlinspike on deck and listened to music and even made some of our own!