Friday, March 11th, 2011
The Picton Castle is six days and 730 miles out from Namibia, southern Africa. On a bright sunny day we sailed from Luderitz surrounded by the most barren of dusty desert with no sign of rain or green vegetation to be seen. And straight into a thick wet fog bank to rival the shores of Newfoundland. Sea lions followed us out. The wind was fair, double lookouts posted, radar spinning, on we sailed slowly into the murk. The next day the fog thinned and the ceiling got higher until after another spell skies broke blue and clear. Winds on the port quarter built to a sweet force 4-5. We are in the South Atlantic southeast tradewinds. The best, most reliable tradewinds on any ocean in the world. And the South Atlantic, tropical even though it may be, is delightfully cool.
With over 5,000 miles of sweet benign tradewinds carrying us to reach the enchanted “Isles of the Blest,” the islands of the eastern Caribbean Sea, a swift passage is desired. To this end, the crew of the Picton Castle are performing a number of tasks: they are bending all the extra sails we can find up on to royal stays and such. They are rigging up to set studding sails (stuns’ls), the canvas wings of clipper ships of the 19th century. The gang will be practicing and drilling in these sails so we can take them in rapidly with ease. And, of course, good steering makes a difference. Quite a bit of difference. That’s why America’s Cup had dedicated helmsmen, no?
We have some advanced workshops set up for the gang to work on. We have broken a lot of daymen out of watches in to carpentry, sailmaking, rigging and engineering and the new gang is catching up too.