Captain's Log

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Life Aboard at Tedside-Pitcairn Island Log #5

When Picton Castle arrived at Pitcairn Island, we anchored just off Tedside. On previous visits, the ship has either anchored (the Captain says he is going to write a ‘cruising guide’ to the island having anchored all around it over the years – good holding, no shelter, huge seas) or hove-to offshore, drifting around and coming back toward the island to meet the longboat for crew changeovers. The weather for the first half of our visit was very good, with light winds and small swells. Partway through our stay the wind and swells picked up, causing the ship to roll at anchor. However, the holding was good, it was perfectly safe and it would have been rougher at sea so we
remained anchored for the full time.

With half the crew ashore and half the crew aboard at any given time, we were able to get lots of work done on board. Work continued on the sailing rig for the longboat, with a second layout of the new jib on board and a second layout of the new mainsail ashore in the Square. Tablings were done on both sails, and the grommets and roping were done on the jib. The inside of the longboat got a coat of paint, the spars made by the carpenters were varnished and the hardware required to rig the boat was built. The longboat can also be rowed, so the oars were sanded down and given coats of varnish. We’re trying to get the longboat ready so we can use it for overnight expeditions in Mangareva – at this rate, this is going to be one good looking boat by the time we get there!

One of the biggest projects was putting the hold and sole back together, after the cargo was emptied from those areas. The hold practically echoes now, and our considerable galley and deck supplies look like just a handful of things compared to the volume of cargo unloaded at Pitcairn. Having unlashed everything in order to get the Pitcairn cargo out, we took this time to reorganize and tidy things up before lashing them down again. With the weather as good as it was for the first part of our stay, we got a lot of varnish work done on the pin rails, on the door to the forward head and the small pin rail on the quarterdeck just outside the charthouse.

With Donald ashore for the full visit (the man works hard and needs a break from time to time), the crew took turns in the galley. It was fun for people to cook for a day, although they have a new appreciation for Donald who is always able turn out consistently good meals on time. And there was good fishing from the ship at Tedside, including a small shark which found its way to the barbeque. Our freezers are more full than when we arrived and Donald has a new supply of fish to work with for upcoming meals. Two Pitcairn goats may have also found their way into the freezers on board, much to Donald’s delight.

Our crew were aboard for a public fishing day, launching the two big longboats to go out to different spots around the island to catch some fish. While we don’t always have the best luck fishing from the ship, everyone did very well from the Pitcairn boats, catching two big wahoo and five tuna, 50 or so nanue, over 150 red snapper and some coral trout. Dennis was apparently kept so busy removing fish from hooks and killing them that he had no time at all to get his own line in the water. Many folks from the other watch also went fishing, but in small boats called “canoes” owned by individuals on the island. “Canoe” on Pitcairn means a small rectangular boat with a flat bottom and low freeboard, often built of plywood, powered by a small outboard engine (not what I traditionally think of when I hear the word canoe). These small boats can be launched and handled by one or two people, unlike the longboat which requires a crew. Massive wahoo and other large fish were hauled on these expeditions. Many of our crew really love fishing, so it was good experience for them to get out on the water to fish with people who are really good at it and fish regularly to make up part of their food supply. And anyway, maybe the freshest fish
in the world, from the hook to the pan in short hours…

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