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Panama #2-Turtles, Lumber and Sugar

Chief Engineer Christian has become the Picton Castle turtle wrangler. On the list of requests from Pitcairn Island, one of the things that was asked for was pet turtles, the little kind you have in aquariums. Just had to have pet turtles. In order to have a reasonable number of turtles make it to Pitcairn Island alive a month away, we bought 35 in Panama. I think the pet store owner was a bit shocked. They’re currently all living, quite happily it seems, swimming around in a plastic tote with fresh water and rocks in the skiff on top of the galley house. They don’t seem to be fond of having the main topmast staysail set over their temporary home, but other than that they are quite happy, energetic and almost frisky, swimming around in the tote and hiding under the rocks. All are OK so far. They’re pretty feisty, or feistier than you might expect turtles to be anyway. We are bringing these turtles with full knowledge and approval of the island council and due deliberation given to environmental concerns…turtles to Pitcairn? Sure, why not…we are also bringing 14 lawn mowers to the island – we said we should bring goats instead as they fertilize as they mow but that idea didn’t catch on…besides Pitcairn already has some goats.

Even though we might be the only sailing ship today with a big cargo hold for storage, storage space aboard any ship is finite, so that makes stowing all the things we bought a bit of a challenge and always a job once we start getting full. In addition to the lumber and food provisions I’ve already mentioned, we also had two major food orders that will see us through until Bali on dry goods, plenty of deck supplies like paint brushes and wire wheels, and an assortment of household goods to bring to Pitcairn. You can get pretty much anything in Panama. When the trucks bringing these things arrived at the ship, the crew unloaded the trucks, laying everything out on the dock to see what we had, inventory and to put similar things together, before finding a spot for it on board. The 4-8 watch loaded most of the food order into the hold, taking everything out of cardboard boxes on the dock before bringing it aboard.

The hold is organized so that the port side is mostly galley supplies and the starboard side is mostly deck supplies, with shelves built to fit and hold plastic totes in place. A great deal of organization goes into stowing the hold, making sure that similar things are packed together so that later on, when someone is looking for something, it can be easily found and accessed. Most of the dry goods are stored in the hold, the freezers were packed completely full, and the veggie lockers on the aloha deck are topped up. The aloha deck itself currently looks like a bit of a jungle with four stalks of bananas, a net full of mangoes, and a net of pineapples and papayas suspended from the overhead. Some of the lumber has been stored on deck, along with big metal drums, so the crew have had to learn their way around deck again without stubbing their toes on the new arrangement. Conveniently, these wood stacks also make handy places to sit on deck.

With the ship completely stowed, the last step was to lash everything down for sea. On Wednesday morning we had all hands busy with loading the last of the lumber on to the deck and lashing it below the pin rails, making sure that plastic totes were secure in their shelves in the hold, lashing down the bags of flour and sugar in the hold and tying down the 55 gallon drums in the port breezeway. Until we manage to eat a significant amount of food and discharge cargo at Pitcairn Island, the ship will be quite full. We could potentially still fit more things, it’s all a matter of using the available space wisely.

assembling provisions on the dock before stowing
Christian, chief engineer and chief turtle wrangler
lashing a load of wood on deck
Siri and Clark load bags of sugar into the hold

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