Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
We have rounded Land’s End and made our way north to Milford Haven, Wales, where this ship began her seafaring life. We are under a big high pressure so there is little wind but the weather is nice. Weather types insist that it will persist but I do not trust that and I am anxious to get south and below the Bay of Biscay, into some nice steady warm northeast trades. In the meantime we will soon be bound for Saint Nazaire, France. Right now the jet stream is to our north, sweeping all nasty weather with it. But that can change in a day and if it does, that changes everything.
But now we were making what is something of a special port of call for this ship. We were sailing to the Picton Castle‘s original homeport and where she worked and sailed from for many years, Milford Haven, Wales. We had fair winds all the way around from Portsmouth, around Land’s End and into the Bristol Channel. This high pressure system kept building making for lovely fair weather but diminishing winds. We finally fired up and steamed into the estuary leading to Milford Haven and anchored off a small village called Dale.
Milford Haven is an interesting town historically and a bit of an anomaly. Basically it was founded in 1790 by Nantucket whalemen and their families. It was sort of an American colony in reverse. Purpose founded much as Lunenburg was, even with the standard colonial grid layout (regardless of topography, streets going straight up and down steep hills) but this town was founded for commercial purposes to exploit and provide whale oil to light England. This it still does as it has become a major oil and gas terminal, petroleum being in its essence only a substitute for the diminishing supplies of whale oil in the mid 19th century and now we can look to run out of that stuff eventually too.
Out of whaling also grew, quite naturally, deep-sea fishing and this of course is what our Picton Castle was originally built for. She was one of five deep-sea trawlers built for Consolidated Fishing (they had many other vessels as well) named after Welsh castles. The castle known as Picton Castle (built 1300) and for which this ship was named is only a few miles from the port and we were keen to make a visit. From Milford Haven we will start to make our way southward and towards sunnier climes but for now we were excited to see where our ship had come from.