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Blue Skies, Blue Seas

Captain’s Log – Blue Skies, Blue Seas

Thursday May 13, 2010

By Maggie Ostler

Things just feel right this morning. As I sit here in the ship’s office in the charthouse I can see a sliver of sunlight through the office window, the white capped ocean is a rich deep blue-green, the GPS in the charthouse tells me we’re sailing along at about 6 knots and our true course is 180 degrees. I can hear the gentle tap of chipping hammers as the 8-12 watch are overhauling the pelican hook for the starboard anchor, the hum of the generator which runs every morning to make electricity (and charge our batteries so we only have run the generator 6 hours a day) and the lap and swish of water as the Picton Castle’s hull moves through the seas. Just now trainee Joanna is reporting to Chief Mate Michael that she was relieved on the helm and soon trainee Jon, who was on lookout, will be reporting his ship check. Although I can’t see from here, I know that tops’ls and t’gallants, the main topmast stays’l and inner and outer jibs are set. Lorraine and Tammy are sitting on the hatch talking, Bosun WT is in the carpenter’s shop working on a project, Dave is napping on the aloha deck, there are sweet smells of curry coming out of the galley and I haven’t had a cell phone in my pocket for 24 hours. This is the way it should be.

Weather-wise, all is going as expected. Second mate Rebecca checked in with Herb of Southbound II, the North Atlantic weather guru, on the single sideband radio yesterday afternoon. He confirmed our own analysis of weather maps, that we should slow down and let the approaching low pass to the south of us, then wait for the NNW wind to fill in from the back side of it. From about 1700 yesterday to 0300 today, we drifted and waited. The wind started to come up then, and by 0800 we had a good Force 5 wind from the NNW to push us farther south.

The water temperature has risen since we left Lunenburg – it was about 6 degrees Celsius then, and now we’re up to about 10 degrees. It’s still not warm yet, and there’s plenty of speculation about when we’ll cross the Gulf Stream. I’m currently wearing three long-sleeve shirts, a hoodie, long johns, jeans, thick wool socks, foulie boots, a scarf and a toque (that’s a winter hat, for all you non-Canadians) and my foulie jacket is standing by to cut the wind when I go out on deck. Dressing for night watches reminds me of little kids in snowsuits – crew can’t quite put their arms down because they’re wearing so many layers, and between foulie pants and harnesses, one must use the head before dressing and hope not to have to pee again for the next four hours. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, soup and instant oatmeal is being consumed in mass quantities in an effort to be warm on the inside.

Rebecca and the 12-4 watch spotted a whale yesterday afternoon that breached four times. Before supper, a pod of dolphins, which we later determined were Atlantic whitesided dolphins, swam past the ship to check out the stern, but didn’t stick around long enough to play (or long enough for me to get my camera). We’ve put the cetacean identification book in the chart house, and hopefully we’ll have lots of occasions to have to refer to it. It’s good to be at sea again.

Joani overhauls a turnbuckle
Shawn on helm with Jo
Under sail Thursday morning

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