Thursday, September 8th, 2011
Picton Castle‘s Chief Mate on the Atlantic Voyage and World Voyage 5, Michael Moreland, is now sailing aboard the Danmark, Denmark’s national sail training ship. He joined the vessel in Lisbon in July and the ship is bound across the Atlantic to Philadelphia with a full ship of cadets on a sail training voyage, before heading back across again to Europe. Mike has been keeping us up to date on his current adventure, which we share with you here.
September 1st, 2011
The healthy trade winds which have carried this old girl more than half way across the Atlantic Ocean have begun to ease up a bit. We found our southing end at about 25 north and have been making straight westing for the last 800nm or so. Tropical waves, depressions, and storms seem to be sprouting up all around us but not in our way, and we watched a potentially historic hurricane rip up the eastern seaboard from the safety of our weather charts. The only contact we have had so far is catching the top of a tropical wave a thousand miles ago. It was just as a surfer catches a wave, with the isobars building up right behind us which blessed us with steady 30 knots right on the starboard quarter for three days and 20-25 for another 3 days, with only grey skies and the occasional wave breaking on deck as a side effect. Now the seas and seaweed seem to indicate calmer winds upon us, a nice respite for all 100 souls aboard this old full-rigger, as well as the bosun to catch up with the painting and varnishing.
All sails are flying these days, with a devoted team of quartermasters and trainees bending the last of the kites and even throwing up the forgotten crossjack, which is just an old main topmast stay’sl, set like a triangle with the top down. We all agree it completes the mast. Lots of tarring aloft, splicing up new wire braces, knocking rust off here and there, scraping and sanding endless teak furniture and fixtures aboard, and the usual bracing, stowing and teaching all keeping this group of sailors content and happy. We have also had a run of luck with fishing off the stern, with a number of mahi mahi and one wahoo thrown onboard and onto our plates. The Danes say those names of fish are strange sounding, I tell them that the words they say sound strange too. But none the less, a good opportunity to teach proper fish cleaning and filleting techniques.
Seaman’s Sunday fell on a Monday this week, which meant no teaching or ship’s work, but instead time for the cadets to air out their hammocks, organize their lockers and a special treat this week, we inflated our training life raft and made a kiddie pool right on the main deck. Nice to have a day with no knock-a-rust noise and a little extra time to sit on the foc’sle or poop deck and have a chat. But the days are going by at a nice pace everyone agrees and this collection of cadets and crew keep learning and improving in all the countless tasks and jobs that keep this ship going forward.
And forward we go now, maybe with a bit more urgency as the next hurricane in line, Katia, is nipping at our heels a bit. Should be well ahead of it, as we are motor sailing west at good consistent clip, but a little close for comfort. Seems like we are in the midst of an active hurricane season. But all is well aboard the Skoleskibet, almost all aboard are serenely unaware of the potential maelstrom lurking over the horizon. But that’s fine, no need for extra grief. Just focus and attentiveness to our daily routine, classes, and ship’s work, and maybe enjoying the last light of day as the sun slips below the horizon just ahead off the starboard bow.