Friday, December 24th, 2010
When the Picton Castle headed out of Benoa Harbour the humidity still hung in the air like wet woolly blankets hang on the clothes line – low and heavy. Within a few days and after some squally weather, the humidity had dissipated and we turned off the rumbling diesel engine and set all sails. We had finally found the famous southeast trade winds of the Indian Ocean and they did not disappoint.
Now, at night, the waxing moon shines its milky glow on the deck and the stars play peek-a-boo between the sails as the masts sway gently to and fro in response to the swells lapping at her hull. During the day the sun warms our skin and the winds are fresh. As I write this we are sailing along at a comfortable 6 ½ knots. What a wonderful feeling to be sailing again.
When we left Bali the Mates once again changed the watch system and switched up the Daymen. Many of our trainees had demonstrated a natural talent for sailing and leadership skills and the Captain and the Mates decided it was time to bestow some of them with increased responsibility – thus allowing them to grow as mariners. Brad and Sean became the lead seamen on their watches. Mike, aka ‘Fred’ also became WT’s Bosun’s Mate and is overseeing the daytime work projects. This move also allowed some of our ABs and Deckhands to hone new skills. Nadja and Siri both became Assistant Watch Officers. Katelinn and Dan joined Logan up in the rigging; Meredith and Joani lead the sailmaking team with Lorraine and Frankie; Tammy joined Jan as Dayman carpenter; and Paula joined Chris to learn more about the engine room.
When the wind picks up and the ship starts pushing 8 or 9 knots we might take in the flying, inner or outer jib. We might take in the royals or ta’gallants or dump the spanker. If the wind shifts ever so slightly we might adjust the helm course or brace the yards – but in general with the winds as consistent as they are we needn’t do much sail-handling.
This allows us time to complete a lot of ships work. The riggers bent on a new fore royal and mainsail, replaced the foretopmast staysail sheets, the inner and outer jib downhauls and replaced chafe gear aloft. The carpenters fashioned heavy weather hatch boards and are continuously working on and aiding with ships projects. The sailmakers continue work on the new fore course. Since three sides of the sail have wire roping they have been busy wire rope splicing and sewing the wire rope to the leach and the foot of the sail. The Bosun team rust-busted, welded, primed and painted the aloha deck transom; sanded, varnished and re-installed the aloha deck benches; painted waterways and bulwarks; scraped the deck; and overhauled the aft coffee station cupboard.
A celestial navigation overview/review begins in a few minutes and there are already a few eager crew up on the quarter-deck with a sextant in one hand and a reference book in another. There is much to learn and so I must go!