Thursday, July 16th, 2009
The crew of the Picton Castle had a great time in Boston. It’s a big city full of things to see and do, many of the crew have talked about returning there sometime to visit again and see more of the city. The ships are tied up at various facilities, with us at Charlestown Navy Yard along with Schooner Bluenose II, Schooner Amistad, three masted Schooner Spirit of Bermuda and the US Coast Guard Barque Eagle. The rest of the sailing ship fleet is spread out around the harbour, as far away as the Boston Fish Pier, which was once home to hundreds of fishing schooners, then fish draggers, now not so much. The weather has been clear, hot and sunny, a big change from our foggy and rainy sail up to Gloucester from Nova Scotia.
Bluenose II and Picton Castle made the front page of the Boston Globe on Friday, all tied up and with visitors aboard in Charlestown. We have welcomed lots of people aboard during our time in Boston. At about 4,000 people per day, our decks have been packed with visitors and despite the fact that the ships are well spread out, people seem to be making the trek to see as many of the ships as they can. Sail Boston and all of their partners have done a great job at making sure that the event is safe and easy to get around. At the head of Pier 4, where we are docked, there is a big first aid station staffed by EMS personnel, along with food and drink concessions and souvenir stands. We have also had visits from many former crew here in Boston, some who have been part of previous world voyages and some who have sailed on shorter voyages. Among those visitors were Mike and Carla Johnson who sailed on our third world voyage. They come by this world voyaging business naturally as Mike’s grandparents were Captain Irving and Exy Johnson of Brigantine Yankee fame. Also Paulina Brooks of Bermuda who (as well as her son) has sailed with the ship many times – she delivered to us samples of the new 70 cent Bermuda postage stamp with Picton Castle under full sail on it.
Our crew have been out exploring Boston on their days off duty. Boston is a great city to walk around in, many of our crew have been on the Freedom Trail or parts of it, visiting historic landmarks in the city. Different Italian restaurants in the north end of the city have been getting great reviews from our crew, there are also some places with great food and wine in Charlestown, close to the ship. A number of our crew attended the crew liberty party at the Bank of America Pavilion, Picton Castle crew were also added to the guest list at the exclusive Foundation Room at House of Blues thanks to our friends at Sail Gloucester. Almost every evening we have met up with crews from other ships. Getting to meet other crew and know them is definitely one of the highlights of sailing as part of the fleet.
Sunday was the last day of festivities in Boston and we were due to get underway Monday morning at 0900 for Halifax. Bluenose II had left the dock an hour before us, so we were able to back up and then turn around and sail out of the harbour. There was no official parade of sail, but with most ships leaving on Monday morning, we were able to see other vessels. The elegant graceful departures of so many sailing ships sailing from Boston made for delightful “pageant of sail” if not a “parade”. We had a stunning view of Sagres, the 295’ barque from Portugal, as she sailed out behind us as well as many of the smaller vessels. The sail from Boston to Halifax was a Cruise-in-Company as part of the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge. Each ship goes at her own pace on the passage, but with so many beautiful vessels sailing between the same ports we were able to see many of the fleet. I have often wondered what our ship looks like coming over the horizon at sea, I think I have a better idea now, having seen other square-riggers at a distance. Pretty magical.
It was good to get back to sea on this four-day passage. Crew got back into the routine of watches and mealtimes, a quiet passage in contrast to the excitement we left in Boston and anticipate in Halifax. It can be tough to get ship’s work done in ports when we’re welcoming guests aboard, so we used the time at sea between ports to do some maintenance work and keep the ship looking her best. Erin taught Nick how to replace ratlines aloft; other crew members were working on slushing some of the rigging, oiling blocks and spot painting. We did a man overboard drill where we threw a buoy over the side and then recovered it with the rescue boat and a fire drill where we simulated a fire in the paint locker. Second mate Paul led a workshop on navigation – then the crew were split in half to study charts and practice plotting with Paul and chief mate Mike. On Wednesday, our last day at sea before arriving in Halifax, we had a leg party to end the first leg of the summer voyage. Crew members leaving the ship in Halifax were presented with their sea service certificates and a Picton Castle hat, followed by some popcorn and punch to celebrate.
As I write this, we are sailing towards Chebucto Head at the entrance of Halifax harbour, about to take on a harbour pilot to bring us in to our berth at Purdy’s Wharf. The Bark Europa is sailing just ahead of us with stuns’ls set and the VHF radio is abuzz with ships in the fleet reporting their arrival and making arrangements to enter the harbour. We’ll be saying goodbye to some of the crew here in Halifax, but we’re looking forward to seeing some old friends and welcoming some new crew.