Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
Captain’s Log – Sailing from the ‘Burg
1640 May 11, 2010 – 20 miles due south of Lunenburg, bound for Panama
By Captain Daniel Moreland
We have taken all sail in and fired up the main engine. That big old Danish diesel is pushing us along at 6.5 knots just now. We are steering SW in smooth seas and a light westerly breeze. Steering for just east of Georges Banks to sneak around a rapidly moving low pressure system headed this way. It can be useful to ride down the back side of one of those…Light overcast skies and cool temps this evening have all hands pretty bundled up in jackets, scarves and mittens – in mid May – it really isn’t all that cold but at sea it usually feels cooler than it is.
Our new Picton Castle gang arrived in Lunenburg about a month ago to begin their process of becoming deepwater square-rig mariners. Their first surprise was to find that their ship going up on the slipways as they arrived. Well, it wasn’t a complete surprise, we had let them know that our dry-docking had been delayed a few weeks. The ship would be up a week for bottom cleaning, inspections, bottom painting and sundry other things that need to be done in dry-dock from time to time. The gang settled down in bunks on two fine former Lunenburg fishing vessels – both scruffy and worn from years at sea on the outside but comfy on the inside. At the end of that week the Picton Castle came happily down with fresh bottom paint, back to our berth at Adams & Knickle which had been graciously hosting us for the winter.
For the next three weeks, under the direction of Chief Mate Michael, the crew cleaned the ship, stowed the ship, sent topmasts aloft, crossed yards, sent up gaffs and booms, sent up some 300 blocks, rove off new manila running rigging, bent sail, overhauled the four ships boats, packed books for distribution to schools in the South Pacific and Africa, set up their bunks as new homes, learned about washing dishes for 50, lashing things, learned all sorts of new terms, trained and drilled for emergencies such as fire-fighting, man-over-board, abandon ship, damage control, heavy weather set-up with stretch-lines, nets – They have also heard a lot about how to prevent and avoid any such emergencies…and they have been bracing the yards, setting and taking in sails, again and again. They have also been exercising in our wonderful 23’ double-ended pulling boat known as the Monomoy, and generally getting familiar with our various small boats. Small boats are an excellent and complimentary seamanship training component for a ship like ours, and small boats are fun too.
A couple days before our intended date of departure it was time for official drills and inspections. Both our flag state surveyor and an inspector from Transport Canada spent much of a day going through the ship, checking her out in fine detail, studying her documents, safety equipment & installations, and putting the crew through their safety drills to asses the ships (and the crews) sea preparedness. As expected, the gang did well and the ship did so as well. With ship and crew ready for sea, stowed, all new certificates, heaps of orientation under our belts we had gales predicted for the weekend, so we put off sailing until Monday. With a nice crowd of friends and well-wishers led by his esteemed worship Mayor Laurence Mawhinney sent us on our way with a blessing. With the ship bow in we backed around into the channel against a stern spring, Logan pushed the bow around with our 20’ Cape Islander, we set lower topsails and slipped out into the harbour with many loud fishing vessels horns ablowing – After testing the radars every day for a week they blinked off. After trying this and that in conference with our tech help, well just about at the Ovens and Cross Island, I just turned the Picton Castle around and we came to anchor to get this sorted – this was done by our very capable radar genius but it was late so another night in Lunenburg but at anchor. The next morning with Nadja at the wheel, the gang loosed all sail and in cool and light NWly breezes heaved the starboard anchor up and sailed their barque off the hook under full sail and out the main channel of beautiful Lunenburg Harbour, past Battery Point, Long Shoal, Sculpin Shoal and then past Cross Island and out into the Atlantic ocean bound for Panama. Scallop Fisherman Tenacity 1 was steaming inbound as we made our way to sea, much waving back and forth as these ships passed.
The 4-8 watch just braced the yards around to the starboard tack. The watch officer is listening to everyone’s favorite single sideband weather routing prognosticator, Herb of “South Bound II”. Donald is in his galley conjuring up a fine, big belly filling supper – just checked – curly pasta and marinara sauce, a kind of spicy burger steak, salad and fresh bread sticks. Hands on watch are resetting some staysails and studying their lines. Chibley the cat is making her rounds. Sun is breaking through the low clouds off to the west.