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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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