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Training Crew and Stowing For Sea

By Kate Addison

At 14:00 today Picton Castle is due to leave her dock here at Lunenburg and set sail bound for Bermuda. The ship and dock have been a buzz of activity over the last few days as we’ve all been working hard to get everything stowed, rigged and ready for sea.

We’ve been testing all of our kit and making sure it all does what it should, fixing or replacing things where necessary, getting spare parts stowed making sure we know where everything is. So much kit! Diesel engine, galley stove, satellite communication systems, navigation kit, radar, water maker, liferafts, fire systems… of course our main ‘engine’ is the set of sails, so we have spares of those too. All ordinary sails bent on now apart from the royals, but generally not too much need for royals in April in the North Atlantic…

And then there’s the stowing, making sure everything is neatly put away and lashed down so that it doesn’t become an unintentional flying object at sea and cause damage to anyone or anything. Ship shape and Bristol fashion as they say.

The other main thing we’ve been working on is getting the crew ready to go to sea. No good having all the safety kit in the world if the crew doesn’t know how to find it or use it. So we’ve been doing drills for every emergency you can think of. It’s sobering to think of the situations that would require us to do this for real, but this is balanced out by the pure comedy of watching the whole crew practicing donning their super-fancy immersion suits. Picture a bunch of sea lions in luminous yellow inflatable outfits flopping across the deck to help each other with their zippers… brilliant!

And then of course there’s the sail handling drills. The core of what we do, and the reason most of us joined the ship; climbing aloft to loose sails, sheeting home, hauling away on halyards, bracing round. There’s a whole lot to learn for the new crew, so many lines! It’s making my head spin and I knew them all once, not so long ago. We’re not the slick, polished machine we will be after a few months at sea, but the new crew are doing a great job, and we’re working through the sail evolutions steadily and safely with help and instructions from the mates and the experienced Picton Castle crew.

So after all the preparations, we’re just about ready to sail. It will be sad as always to say goodbye to Lunenburg and all of our friends here. Hopefully see lots of you on the dock at 2pm today, but until then thanks for having us, see you all soon!

Dan helps Cheri tighten her lifejacket
demonstrating heavy weather procedures
Drea looses the mains l
Elisabeth and Victor loose the spanker
pizza and turkey soup and salad for Sunday lunch
the mate demonstrates how to don an immersion suit
Wendy and Dan practice donning immersion suits

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