Tuesday, October 17th, 2006
As I write this Captain’s log the Picton Castle is tugging on her moorings at her old wharf in Lunenburg with a southeasterly gale roaring along the coast. The fishing vessels Primo and Zebroid, who share our wharf, do the same. Violent rain squalls are blowing hard horizontally across the harbour. Skies and white-cap-spattered seas in the harbour are a uniform battleship grey. The black scallop draggers of Adams & Knickle steamed in and discharged their catch this morning, and they too are having a bit of a ride at the wharf. The ships have all their hawsers doubled up, as well they should. Out in the harbour a couple of small schooners and even an old black Newfoundland schooner are bucking and jerking at their moorings. But inside our office at 132 Montague Street, overlooking Bluenose Drive and the wharves, all is warm and dry. Nice not to be clawing off a lee shore just now.
The Picton Castle has her sails off, sent down and stowed below for the time being. All her yards are still crossed; the running rigging is still rove off in anticipation for her passage south to the Caribbean, planned for the end of November. It is quite amazing to think that only two or three days’ sail due south from Nova Scotia a vessel crosses the Gulf Stream and sails into beautiful warm waters and then soon into the northeast trade-winds followed by some of the best islands in the world in the West Indies. Sign ups are coming along nicely. Wouldn’t you rather spend a sweet Christmas time in the Grenadines wearing shorts, tee-shirts or a sarong? And skipping the madness and commercialism of the holiday period? Bring a pal and sail with us this Yule time in the Christmas Winds of the Windward Isles of the Caribbean. My favorite Christmas-times have always been with a tropical sun and a trade-wind blowing to cool me, barefoot and suntanned, in the lee of a beautiful coconut-palm-covered island.
Along the waterfront
The Schooner Bluenose II…
is hauled out at the Lunenburg slipways for her annual dry-docking. One glance at her sleek hull-form below the waterline and any mystery concerning her swift sailing capability should be quickly dispelled. The gang from Snyder’s Shipbuilding over in Dayspring is doing some routine caulking. The ring of caulking mallets against iron, driving tarry oakum in between her hard oak planks, fills the air of the shipyard once again. It is an interesting opportunity for our crew to go over to the slipways, watch and learn something about the trade and hard work of caulking. The Bluenose II is “flat-roofed,” that is, she has her topmasts sent down. In the old days this was sometimes called the “winter-rig,” as the fishing schooners rarely carried their topmasts in the winter fishing season. Anyway, it is quite a sight to see that big, sleek powerful schooner out of the water.
The Old Dory Shop…
right next to the Picton Castle wharf in the east end of the waterfront is still making wood-chips and putting out dories and other small wooden boats. Jay, the boatwright, is working on a “transom dory.” This is simply a regular dory but with the high tombstone stern replaced with a broad transom that will take an outboard easily. This will make a good run-about utility recreation-fishing workboat. I always had a boat like this (bought 2nd-3rd hand for a short song from the local boat livery) when I was a kid for messing around the islands nearby. It was seaworthy, fast, easy to handle, and could carry a ton of stuff—we will be interested to see how it comes out (www.doryshop.com).
The Great September Classic Schooner Race has come and gone. About a dozen schooners from the area sailed off their moorings in Lunenburg Harbour a week and a half ago, out into the bay, rounded Cross Island and made a majestic sight sailing back in with the well-named Schooner Comet II taking line honours.
Many sweet schooners sailed into Lunenburg for this gathering. The day broke fair and clear with a fine westerly breeze. While the schooners were out racing, some Picton Castle crew were setting up the big barbeque and roasting the mutton at the Dory Shop. Our old dugout served once again as beer cooler. The post-race feast lasted into the wee hours with music, plenty food and drink and good time had by all at this salty corner of Lunenburg Harbour. We want to see schooners being built here once again.
Chibley the Cat…
Is moping around a little without her shipmates. She is used to having 40-50 people around to adore her. Now she is down to four, none of whom are on night watch when she comes out to prowl. She has been modeling clothes lately but with a noticeable lack of enthusiasm. She is waiting for the new gang to show up, I suppose.