Wednesday, March 28th, 2007
In this line of work, it is a fact that you can never really be sure where or when you’ll meet your former shipmates again. This winter’s Caribbean Voyage has apparently come at a particularly nostalgic time for Picton Castle alum because the sailors came back. They just couldn’t stay away!
As of today, our crew is comprised of mostly former world voyagers and of crew who originally signed on as trainees, but just wouldn’t go home! There are plenty of familiar names and faces passing on deck these days. They belong to Captain Moreland (all four World Voyages), Chibley the ship’s cat (WV 1-4) Mate Lynsey (Ontario, WV 2-4), Purser Maggie (Ontario, WV 4), Deckhand Logan (Nova Scotia, WV 4), Chief Engineer Andrea (Ohio, WV4), Assistant Engineer Finn (Nova Scotia, WV 2), Deckhand Erin (Nova Scotia, WV 4), Deckhand John K (Virginia, WV 3-4), Mate Rebecca (Nova Scotia, WV 3-4), Deckhand Erik (New York, WV 3), Deckhand Jack (New Hampshire, WV 4), Deckhand Johanna (Nova Scotia, WV 4), and there is another former world voyager due to arrive in a few weeks! As for our trainees-turned-volunteers, we have: Nadja (Spain, tall ships2006, winter ’07), Mary Anne (Nova Scotia, winter ’07), Kelly (Alberta, tall ships 2006, winter ’07), Katie (Illinois, tall ships 2006, winter ’07), Stephanie (Virginia, winter ’07), Bronwen (Nova Scotia, South Africa ’06) and there are at least another two winter ’07 trainees due to return in the next few weeks!
What makes a sailor come back? I can think of as many reasons to return to a ship as I can think of for leaving in the first place! A sailor’s relationships with the sea and the vessels we sail in are personal, so every sailor will give you a different answer.
Loyalty to a vessel and her Master likely plays a role for many. My personal feeling is that if you take good care of a ship she’ll take good care of you, so maybe it’s part loyalty and part superstition.
To be a good shipmate and sailor, the lifestyle must appeal to you. The Picton Castle does not boast private luxury accommodations or amenities; we do not have cold drinking water nor hot water showers. We do not have air conditioning or even AC power to spare! You can count on the ship’s routine, and you can count on the routine being broken when the ship needs you; there is no such thing as truly “off duty.” The ship comes first, and all sailors accept that the lifestyle of serving in a ship might often find them living outside their comfort zones. The Picton Castle crew love the lifestyle and we are never truly happy unless we are a little dirty, a little sweaty, a little thirsty, or a little wet.
Why do former crew return to the Picton Castle? That this ship in particular is magical is no secret to those who serve in her. She will steal the breath right out of your lungs to fill her sails and you will gladly give it. If you do not believe me that the Picton Castle is a magical ship, stand back and watch what changes take place in the faces of children and sea-sensitive souls (who are otherwise invisible in a crowd) when they first step aboard her decks. Many compare her to the magic flying pirate ship in Peter Pan, which is not altogether off-base. Instead of pixie dust we rely on the magic of the wind, the ocean’s glittering phosphorescence and the influence of dolphins and whales instead of pixies like Tink.
Finally, there is a magic about this sailing ship that was best articulated by our former Bosun Michael. He said that serving in her isn’t like coming aboard to work and absorb information every day, instead it is like coming home to care for an old friend who helps us to remember something we’ve known a long, long time.
It’s really no wonder that these sailors came back. They just couldn’t stay away!