Captain's Log

Archive for March, 2012

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Spring In Full Gear

By Chief Mate Michael Moreland

A true Nova Scotia Spring is in full effect here in Lunenburg with all the seasonal weather swings and general flurry of activity that accompanies the lead up to another Picton Castle voyage. The waterfront seems to get a little livelier each week as more crew and friends of the ship show up to join the effort of up-rig and voyage outfitting. The Picton Castle voyage crew showed up in Lunenburg about three weeks ago from all parts of the world with their seabags on their shoulders and knifes and spikes ready to go. Together, we have hit the ground running and have been getting a good deal of work done.

Heat is on in the warehouse and reggae music accompanies the crew as they varnish spars, overhaul wire running rigging, and sort and organize ship’s supplies during our random bouts with winter and snow. But every few days the sun comes out and heats up the wood on deck and aloft, allowing us to get as much coating on as possible before winter comes around again. We have several new crew and a few returning crew that we believe are shaping up nicely and working strong together. We will be posting full crew biographies on the website soon.

We also had a group of 6 students from the Maine Maritme Academy who chose to come and rig on Picton Castle in cold Lunenburg for their school Spring Break instead of say, sitting on the beach in Jamaica or Florida. Our kind of people. We had interesting projects lined up for this keen group of aspiring tall ship sailors, including sending down the mizzen topmast, setting up the fore t’gallant mast, oiling and tarring masts and rigging, as well as many other maintenance jobs that the ship was grateful for. They also had the opportunity to get a full tour of the Bluenose II, currently being rebuilt right here in Lunenburg, as well as a thorough tour of the Twin Schooners at the Dory Shop, and lastly a fully guided tour of the famous Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic by the head curator, Ralph Getson. We were very pleased the outcome of this week-long visit and are hoping to further the connection between Picton Castle and the Maine Maritime Academy.

We also have a contingent of former trainees from the Danish State Training Ship Danmark coming to sail and serve aboard the Picton Castle this summer during our Tall Ships tour of North America. We think this will be a good addition of aspiring mariners from Denmark who will bring with them three months of experience onboard a world class full-rigged square-rigger and add to our growing Danish contingent onboard.

Currently the Picton Castle is in drydock here at the great shipyard, Lunenburg Foundry. Our normal haul-out with the usual maintenance program is going along smoothly, including power washing the hull, sand-blasting the waterline, coats of epoxy paint on spots of the hull, two coats of strong anti-fouling paint to keep her clean below the waterline as we sit in tropical lagoons, audio gauging of the hull for our records and so on. The Picton Castle crew have been using this past week’s unseasonably warm, sunny weather to get lots and lots of varnish, paint, and oil on all parts of the ship that have been weathering the cold Lunenburg winter, all the while the Foundry gang goes at their work 30 feet below on the slip. It has truly been a flurry of activity and good work that the ship loves.

We plan to be off the slip this Wednesday and then we will switch into up-rig mode with yards to cross, manila running rigging to reeve off, cotton canvas sails to bend, and supplies to load. As well as safety drills and orientation, annual survey and checking of all systems. Our gang of crew and trainees will steadily grow until we cast off in the middle of April, bound for warm Savannah, Georgia to begin our summer voyage of the East Coast of North America.

MMA crew
sending down the mizzen topmast
Siri, Sam and Susie priming our starboard anchor
swaying down mizzen topmast
the gang working turnbuckles for the headstays
tour of Bluenose II
warm day at the shipyard

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Going Into Drydock

Getting into dry dock is an interesting process that started yesterday morning with heaving up the port anchor and four shots of chain. That anchor was set last June, so you can imagine the amount of muck we lifted as the anchor was raised. With just a small crew on hand and no substitutes on the windlass, let’s just say the crew got some exercise and slept well last night.

After a short trip down the waterfront, the Captain got the ship lined up in the cradle, lines were adjusted until the ship was dead centre, then the cradle was hauled out of the water by giant chains. After a check by the scuba divers to make sure everything was properly aligned, the blocks under the bilge were put in place and the cradle continued to be hauled up until it was on solid ground, and the ship completely out of the water.

We expect to have the ship out of the water for about a week for routine inspection and maintenance. Use the link below to see a short video of moving the ship into drydock.

Picton Castle Going Into Drydock

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The Countdown is On!

The countdown to the start of the Atlantic Voyage is on. By this date one month from now, trainee crew members will have gathered in Lunenburg to begin orientation, training and preparation before setting sail for Bermuda. That’s exciting! It also means that we have a lot of things to do in the next month to prepare for the start of the voyage. With most of the professional crew arriving last week and this week, we’re really going to see progress happen quickly.

Last week we were also been joined by a group of students from Maine Maritime Academy, here in Nova Scotia on a reading week field trip that has involved some hands-on adventures with Picton Castle. Yesterday they joined with our professional crew to learn how to send down the mizzen topmast so it can be properly inspected and overhauled.

Winter has been generally quite mild here in Lunenburg, with today being almost spring-like at 12 degrees Celsius and sun shining brightly. Weather like this allows us to work on some of the projects that are easier and more comfortable in warmer weather, things like scraping, sanding and varnishing the jibboom, scraping down and greasing the t’gallant masts.

Of course, we’re also working with the crew, including those who are new to Picton Castle and those who are returning, on training and orientation. There’s the ship herself with which to become familiar, and also all of our standard operating procedures and policies, emergency drills, training outlines and more.

The anticipation is certainly building – we’re getting excited about the voyage!

alongside with work happening aloft and no mizzen topmast
scraping the jibboom
scraping the main t gallant mast
the mizzen without the mizzen topmast

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