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Anguilla Bound

Captain’s Log – Anguilla Bound

Sunday May 23. 2010

Yesterday morning the Captain posted this notice on the door to the main salon scuttle (where all important notices for Picton Castle crew are posted):

“Announcing –

In order to put some sand between our toes and have a little fun ashore

And after an excellent but none the less strenuous North Atlantic Passage to the tropics

And due to the expectation of poor and even contrary winds for the next few days in the Caribbean Sea Basin about the time the Picton Castle should be entering said sea

We are putting in to the island of Anguilla for a couple days

One watch on, two watches free, small boat handling, tropical anchor watches, etc

ETA Monday May 24, 2010 – AM”

Our intention on this passage was to go directly from Lunenburg to Panama, but stopping at a Caribbean island is never really a bad idea. We’ve had about as good a passage in the North Atlantic as one could ask for and I think the crew would all be just as happy to continue on for the remaining 1000nm to Panama, but once the announcement was made, this pleasant surprise seemed to put a smile on everyone’s faces and a spring in their step.

The announcement was posted at 1115 and by lunch time, it was the talk of the ship. The Lonely Planet guide book for the Caribbean Islands was in high demand, and anyone who has been to Anguilla before was quizzed completely. It makes me smile to know that regardless of the individuals aboard, the first things I’m always asked about are laundry, internet and bank machines. The Captain will hold a muster later today to fill everyone in on local culture and customs, what to do (greet everyone before doing business with them) and not do (don’t wear your bathing suit in town, spearfishing is illegal) to get along with the people who live there, and suggestions for places to go and things to see and do.

Part of the beauty of Anguilla is that there isn’t a lot to do besides relax on white sand beaches, maybe go scuba diving (Anguilla has some great wreck dives) and enjoy the numerous beachfront restaurants and beach bar-shacks (the kind to make Jimmy Buffet envious), many with live music. Picton Castle was most recently in Anguilla in March 2009, when our visit coincided with the Moonsplash Reggae Festival, an annual event hosted by renowned Anguillan reggae musician Bankie Banx at his restaurant/bar/live music venue the Dune Preserve. The place was packed when we were there last, and fantastic around the clock live music, but the multi-level almost treehouse-style wooden structure, roofed in many places by old boats, would be worth checking out again.

While we’re anchored off Sandy Ground at Road Bay, Anguilla, once the site of schooner and smuggling sloop building, each watch will have a day on duty on board the ship and two days off to explore the island. There will be plenty of opportunity to practice small boat handling as there will be regularly scheduled skiff runs back and forth between the ship and the dock. There are always projects to be done that are saved for times when the ship is not underway, and each crew member will stand their first night watch at anchor in the tropics.

At 0645 the winds came ahead after a squall from the south so we fired up the main engine to continue to push us on towards Anguilla. This off weather is all to do with the gales of the low east of the Bahamas twirlling out there causing mischief. The squalls we have been experiencing for the past two days have continued today, bringing with them rain and shifting wind. Lookouts are getting plenty of practice with spotting squalls on the horizon and helmsmen are becoming good at falling off quickly once the officer of the watch gives them the order.

With today being Sunday, Donald has the day off and there are, once again, guest chefs in the galley. Davey, Meredith and Michael put together chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs and really yummy fruit salad for breakfast, then warm sandwiches with cheese and bacon on homemade bread for lunch – cheese and bacon, two of the four food groups… I haven’t yet wandered up to the galley to snoop on supper…

Lauren, Julie and Rebecca take up on braces

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