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Summer Solstice

20th June 2012

By Kate “Bob” Addison

Sigh. My life is so stressful. I have to write a Captain’s log and there’s just nothing interesting happening to write about. Really just another day at sea in a big square-rigged sailing ship.

I mean here we are just sailing along in the glorious sunshine. Square sails all set. Siri’s watch trimming the fore braces. The new foresail we bent on in the Wicomico River is looking good, drawing well on this downwind run. It makes steering a bit more challenging for the helmsman heading straight downwind – rather like steering downhill in front wheel drive. But all good practice for our sailors.

A gang on the well deck are overhauling our sailmakers’ benches with new varnish so they will be ready for some serious stitching when we lay out sails at our introductory Bosun School in Bristol, Rhode Island next week. We will be working on new sails for Picton Castle and repairing older ones which is the best learning as that is what crew are called upon to do at sea in a ship. All cotton canvas, all hand stitched and finished.

Oh and a whale just swam past, didn’t hang around for too long, but we saw the hulk of her body and the powerful waterspout as she blew. Ho hum…

I suppose I could tell you about how we celebrated Donald’s birthday yesterday. Cook extraordinaire and all round ship’s-favourite-person, we showed our love with the day off, delicious Gabe-baked carrot cake with frosting to write home about, hundreds of birthday greetings sent to the ship from all around the world via satellite, a hand drawn card and ‘happy birthday’ sung in at least three different languages. That was good fun.

And George is being very entertaining as usual – he’s taken to hunting shadows on the quarterdeck at dusk, and can now manage the charthouse ladder fairly well so his world has expanded some more. It’s all the way from main deck hatch to quarterdeck now, especially anywhere with unattended food. I think altogether he rather likes being a ship’s cat. We have decided that he is a young scamp.

But that was all yesterday. Today we have nothing to celebrate except muffins for breakfast, beautiful sailing and the summer solstice. I guess we could have some pagan-style popcorn this evening to mark the sun reaching the furthest point North in its annual orbit of the Earth.* There might even be music and dancing and good times before dinner. But nothing unusual, it’s really just another day aboard the barque Picton Castle.

*I know, I know – don’t be so pedantic.

Elisabeth gives George his first lesson at the helm
New foresail
Sanding sail makers benches

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