Captain's Log

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A Stunningly Beautiful Day off the Coast of Surinam

Our day comes in fair and clear with a nice Force 4 trade-wind on the starboard beam of the Picton Castle . White caps are all around and they allude to the 15 or so knots of wind that is flowing over us and sending us along our way. The sky is a fulsome blue with small puffy fair weather clouds in pleasant abundance. A couple days ago we had some curious sea-birds set down on the taff-rail next to the spanker sheet as well as the entire watch on duty there. Good thing Chibley didn’t see them, she is rough on birds. Early in the morning the sea is yet a rich dark blue as a few flying fish launch themselves airborne to get out of our way or the way of some bigger fish that wants to eat ‘em or maybe they shoot off and fly simply because they can – if I could fly I think I would set off into the sky quite frequently just for fun. Who says fish cannot have fun? Scientists say it hasn’t been proven but then scientists are always “baffled” about things anyway…

Deck wash down with hose and brushes was taken care of just after dawn. In the low early morning sun galley gang are shunting back and forth from the galley with pots of coffee, muffins and porridge and scrambled eggs to the covered stern area where we usually take our breakfast in good weather. Fresh fruit is long gone but with lush garden islands up ahead, soon come. At the end of a long sea passage that is what we miss most, fresh fruits, vegetables and salads.

The fore royal is being sent up to be bent on after coming down for repairs. It is a pretty old sail but its holding up well enough. Soon bent and drawing once again. On the quarter-deck David and his sailmaker helper, John are working on two new topgallants and a mizzen topmast staysail. A new inner jib just got roped and covered and we have put away our new strong main topmast staysail to save it and have bent on an old, well worn and plenty patches stay-sail in its place for these balmy conditions.

Matt, who has become keen to learn ships carpentry to compliment his already high level of accomplishment as a cabinet-maker carpenter has been variously making a new stunsle boom, new hardwood trim for the bronze windows of the chart house and will soon have some boat carpentry to look after.

Baggywrinkle is under way up on the well-deck. We hope to shift out all our 12 year old baggywrinkle on the fore and main-stays in the islands soon up ahead. It takes about a foot or so of linear baggywrinkle to make an inch of applied baggywrinkle. In olden times baggywrinkle was removed form a ships rigging as she entered port as it was considered unsightly and thus uncool to have aloft as a point of pride in port. Today we see big floppy dustyruffles of bag o’wrinkle all over the rigging of vessels. An examination of black & white photos of sailing ships even well up into the end of the age of sail will reveal limited use of baggywrinkle. The goal on a ship is to reduce chafe as much as possible with smart leads to rigging and not just festoon the rigging of a ship with baggywrinkle making her look like a sailing forest of Spanish Moss. Baggywrinkle serves really only one purpose; to reduce [but not eliminate] chafe between sail canvas and wire stays, it can do no more than that.

Up ahead lay Guyana , Trinidad and Tobago , all of which we sail blithely past on our way to Grenada , Carriacou and the Lesser Antilles . Of course we want to get where we are bound – the crew are extremely excited at the prospect of sailing the Caribbean in a way only a few ships do or can but we can wait our time – this passage under sail is too sweet to not savour.

Picton Castle in the Caribbean
sailing in the BVI
what to do at Jost Van Dyke

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