Captain's Log

Archive for July, 2010

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Fresh Trade Winds

After only 12 hours motoring out of Galapagos the Picton Castle picked up fresh trade-winds. The usual destination for westward bound vessels from Galapagos is the Marquesas, just south of due west but not for us. We are steering SW for Pitcairn Island over 2,700 miles away deep in the South Pacific Ocean. Having these classic SE trade-winds kick in quickly is pretty nice for any windship and certainly for us. So, here at 03 South Latitude we are making a fine 7 to 8 knots in 10 foot seas under t’gallants. This morning the
breeze piped up to about 25 knots on the beam so we took in royals, flying jib and later the spanker. If the wind was further aft of the beam we might have kept the royals set. Our winds are cool and comfortable and so are we. Celestial navigation classes have started by the mates on the quarter-deck and rigging, sailmaking, carpenter and engineer daymen have been broken off too.

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July 4th!

Our multi-national (9 nations represented aboard) crew takes shipmately fun in celebrating everyone’s national day. The theme for this American Independence Day, just called the 4th of July, was a “Backyard BBQ”, with the main hatch being the “backyard”. Threads to the theme were “do your own thing” and “chillin like a villain” with an emphasis on not organizing anything really-just like a regular 4th in your back yard! No speeches.

Some of the crew came in costume too- we had the statue of liberty, Barbie and Ken, Marilyn Monroe, Barack Obama and a lot of people in red, white and blue. The main event of the afternoon was a “build your own bathing suit” competition – bathing suits could be made of anything other than standardbathing suit material. The eventual winners’ suits were made of duct tape and a shower curtain. Instead of softball or wiffle ball we had Turtle races…Yes, even the turtles we’re taking to Pitcairn got in on the fun-they are doing fine by the way. A track had been built, complete with starting gate, finish line, lanes and little canvas American flags. Anyone who bet on turtle #3 made a good choice because he won every race (turtle #2 slept through most of the event, coming out of his shell long enough to take a few steps backwards in his own lane). The big Dominican BBQ was pulled out of the hold and set up on the well-deck (on a platform, with water buckets standing by) and after the coals were glowing hot, the mates cooked up chicken and steaks all afternoon. As Sunday is Donald’s regular day off, Fred added to the BBQ with potato salad, bean salad and apple pie. Ollie shot all these goings on with his video camera and a beautiful curious little bird on a long voyage by air, maybe even to Russia, settled on the extended microphone of his camera when he wasn’t looking. Then she flew off.

The evening ended with shooting off some old flares while listening to Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock Star Spangled Banner virtuoso performance on guitar.

rsz jo in her 4th of july bbq outfit
rsz joh enjoys bbq on 4th of july
rsz paul grills chicken on the 4th of july - copy
rsz turtle races on the 4th of july
rsz turtle wrangler chris checks up on his charges

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Canada Day

July 1, Canada Day started by sailing off the hook from the harbour at Wreck Bay as we departed the Galapagos Islands, bound for Pitcairn Island, about 2800nm away. Shortly after Picton Castle got out to sea, the Canadians on board met to plan and organize an event to celebrate our national day. The crew are happy to have things to celebrate, so we hope to do something for the national day of each of the nine nationalities we have on board, and maybe a few nationalities we might not have…

The Canadian festivities began at 1630 with all of the crew dressed in Canadian outfits, which included lots of red and white, but also a few interesting costumes – we had Rick Mercer in attendance, along with Avril Lavigne, a couple of hockey players, a lumberjack or two and a Tim Hortons employee. We started with the singing of “O Canada” then moved on to a human bingo game where everyone had to go around to find out who has done the typically Canadian things on the bingo card. Once they found someone who had, that person signed the square. The first person to have their whole card filled won. It was funny to be asked if I had shot a moose, gone curling, lived in Nunavut, or driven a zamboni. Partway through the game, Tim Hortons opened up in the port breezeway. Meredith and Paula were giving out Timbits (donut holes, to you do not know Tim Hortons, the nationwide coffee shop chain, like Dunkin Donuts), coffee, hot chocolate and peach juice in exchange for answers to Canadian trivia questions. The next event on the main deck was a hockey game. Deck brushes were turned into hockey sticks, a crushed can was the puck and two crew members holding hands on each end were the goal posts. Goalies Davey and Jehle had pillows duct taped to their shins for padding. Rebecca refereed and the final score was 3-1.

The final event of the afternoon was curling. Like the hockey game, we had to make some small adjustments to play on the slanted deck of a moving ship in the tropics. The playing surface was marked with masking tape and wet down with salt water to be more slippery, the deck brushes stood in once again as curling brooms and we used little plastic jars of peanut butter and honey as stones. The celebration wrapped up with two Stan Rogers tunes – Northwest Passage and Barrett’s Privateers. With some help from the Canadians, dinner included poutine (a dish of french fries, cheese curds and gravy) along with beef, salad and Nanaimo bars for dessert.

rsz canada day dance party on the hatch - copy
rsz meredith and paula operate tim hortons in the breezeway - copy
rsz nadia and her moose hat on canada day
rsz playing hockey amidships on canada day - copy

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Returning to Galapagos

The Barque Picton Castle is returning to Galapagos due to a medical issue involving one of our crew members. The individual is being treated by the ship’s medical officer in consultation with Health Force Partners, the worldwide medical service to which we subscribe, for possible appendicitis. We have been in contact with her family. Expected ETA is Monday.

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Galapagos

From Panama the Picton Castle had mostly headwinds and we thus motored plenty more than we would have liked – must have been due to all the pollywogs aboard, now thankfully all gone – we did manage to sail across the Equator under full sail anyway.

Being in the Galapagos is a multileveled treat. First, we are in the “Enchanted Isles”, legendary islands of the Equator and Darwin, that’s pretty good; then being in Galapagos puts us at the jumping off point for a classic trade wind passage. At the edge of the South Pacific Ocean the delightful South East trade winds will draw us along for many thousands of miles to come.

But back to Galapagos. In addition to wandering among the many natural wonders for which these islands are so justly famous, our port, Baquerizo Moreno (aka-Wreck Bay), is also simply a delightful small, friendly and accommodating Latin American, Ecuadorian seaport town. Here we found lovely little hole-in-the-wall eateries, a remarkably well stocked hardware store, excellent inexpensive laundries, fruterias and pensiones for staying ashore – and any number of friendly guides and helpers willing to help us or show us around.

Of course, there are sea lions everywhere. I really mean ‘everywhere’. This is their town. They nap on the pier, or in your skiff, or anywhere else they have a mind to but they are just as likely to wander a bit into town if they find a reason. And marine iguanas have free reign of the rocks along the shore. If you get too close in their opinion, maybe 5 feet, they amble a bit away. Inland and in other bays and coves we found turtles to swim with, whales, big land tortoises and all that National Geographic stuff you would expect. We could shop for fresh provisions, top up our fuel and pick up last minute items for
Pitcairn as well. All in all, a very satisfying visit to the “Las Islas Encantadas”.

Each crew member had two days off and one day on duty, as we have done in every port. The on duty watches were busy with bending on more sail – we now have a flying jib, main t’gallant stays’l
and mizzen stays’l. We expect that these new sails will add some speed to our upcoming trade wind passage.

During their time off duty, the crew have been exploring San Cristobal and discovered for themselves the reasons these islands are famous – sea turtles, frigate birds, marine iguanas, giant tortoises, blue footed boobies and sea lions. The crew have toured the island by bike, scooter and truck taxi, going diving, snorkelling and surfing. One of the more interesting spots some of our crew found was a farm where we bought bamboo -they also grow all kinds of fruit (we provisioned the ship there for fruit) and are the official supplier of food to the Galapagos tortoise breeding sanctuary.

rsz lauren checks out a papaya in galapagos - copy
rsz loading fruit and bamboo aboard the ship in galapagos - copy
rsz lunchtime for tortoises in galapagos
rsz sea lions seek shade in leonards shadow
rsz skiff loading at the wharf behind sleeping sea lions

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