Captain's Log

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Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

September 30, 2013

After pushing pretty hard against stiff headwinds most of the day we picked up our pilot 2 miles off the breakwater to the entrance of Newcastle Harbour. I wanted to get in to spare the gang a night of being hove-to in 25 knot winds and 5 metre seas. At dusk our pilot boarded after seeing a Chinese Navy ship out. Pania took the wheel and we entered the harbour nicely and the wind dropped down just in time to turn the ship around and get her starboard side to the dock.

Newcastle is a small city with a fine fjord like harbour about 60 miles NNE up along the coast from Sydney to which we will be sailing in a couple days to join in a huge Naval Fleet Review and Tall Ship festival. Picton Castle enjoys the distinction of being both a lovely Class “A” Tall Ship as well as a Royal Navy veteran of the 2nd World War. Yes, Our barque was HMS Picton Castle from August 1939 through December 1945. She may well be that last and only Royal HMS Naval vessel of that war that is still in full time sea-going commission. I mean, apart from the HMS Victory, of course. Good company to keep anyway.

We are enjoying fine sunny weather here in Newcastle, giving us a good chance to get a little shined up after our almost 3,000 mile passage from the Cook Islands. Topsides always need painting. With all the spray and seas we have not done much in the way of varnish lately. We always want to oil the decks more. And tar the rig, and make sails, and this and that…

We have also had a particularly pleasant surprise here in Newcastle. As we were making fast to the quay, a family came down and gave us a picture of their grandfather, Alan Harries, who had sailed in the Picton Castle as a 12 year old boy in 1937 while fishing in the North Sea out of Swansea, Wales. We have run into former Picton Castle crew in Ireland, Wales, England and Norway, and now Australia! This is a great treat for us aboard to meet these former crew and their families and show them their ship again. Alan Harries as a 12 year old boy is in the bottom left corner of the photo that accompanies this log, which was taken aboard the Picton Castle in 1937

The lovely barkentine Spirit of New Zealand sailed in a day after us, looking good. She will be joining us on the sail into Sydney.

We are enjoying stretching our legs, getting laundry done and being moored in a superb and secure harbour after months and months of South Pacific adventure – which we will be returning to very soon when after about a month enjoying New Zealand we will sail east bound for Pitcairn Island in early December.

Swansea 1937 Alan Harries smaller

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