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Workshops, Ship’s Work… and Sails!

By Kate Addison

We’ve been busy busy aboard the Picton Castle as we sail from Bermuda towards Savannah, Georgia. Current position is 29o35’N 69o34’W and course is West by South. At Savannah we will join the rest of the fleet of the Tall Ships Challenge 2012, organised by Tall Ships America, so we will be on show to the public, and of course to a whole bunch of salty sailors. So we’ve been working hard to spring clean the ship, rub the winter sleep from her eyes and put her lipstick on so she’s all shiny and pretty and ready to be admired.

The last couple of days has seen sanding and varnishing of all the teak bright work on the quarter deck – binnacle, steering gear box, deck boxes. Lots of painting too: green trim on the charthouse, ensign red for the waterways, tropical blue on the breezeway overheads. In port in Bermuda we took advantage of the nice weather to have cold lunches and barbeque dinners for a couple of days so we could take everything out of the galley and the scullery and clean them all up, paint them all nice. And now Donald’s moved back into his galley, and all is well with the universe; Donald is more cheerful than ever in his sparkly domain, the food just keeps getting more amazing. You won’t starve on this ship, as one of the trainees pointed out today.

There was some final decorating to do in the galley – extra coats of varnish, painting trim – so the night watches pitched in and between 10pm and 2am everythining was prepped, painted and cleaned up, ready to light the stove again in time for breakfast. Was like having a little party of midnight-galley-painting elves busy in there. Got to be a business model there somewhere, hiring out the elves…

We’ve been having afternoon seamanship workshops too, so the crew can practice some marlinspike seamanship as well as practicing painting and cleaning things. So far we’ve learned eye splice, long splice, short splice and some seizings. Everyone’s got their own length of 3 strand manilla to practice on, some of them look more like hairy hedgehogs than others. Nothing that can’t be fixed with a good whipping though.

And this log entry was going to stop right there, but I got up this morning and had barely finished my morning cinnamon bun before I was up aloft on the t’gallant yard taking gaskets off so we could set the sail. That’s right, SAIL! The wind is still pretty light, about a force 3, but we’re hoping it will fill in later. We’re braced up sharp on a port tack, square sails, spanker, staysails and jibs all set. Engine’s off, generator will go off too at noon. Whoop!

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