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The Morning Watch

16 October 2013

Coming on deck of our barque this morning for the morning watch of 4 to 8 we find the Picton Castle sailing along with fair winds just aft of the port beam. The ship is sailing east in the Tasman Sea along the 34th parallel south of the equator at about 163 degrees, 34 minutes east longitude. A large yellowing moon is setting in the west and a dazzling swath of stars reveals itself more and more and the belt of the Milky Way becomes clear as the moon descends. Seas are small, wind is cool, visibility is excellent, yards braced just so with all plain sail set and drawing. How quietly they do their work.

We are bound from Sydney for Opua around the North Cape of New Zealand. Our gang is getting the hang of things, and there is much to get the ‘hang’ of: steering, boxing the compass, the 205 pieces of running rigging and knowing what to do with them, safety procedures, even just standing up and walking takes on whole new dimensions for new crew – but they are doing it – and no amount of preparation ashore can replace the time at sea.

Our passing gale was an experience not to be forgotten, and they did well, as did the ship with not a line parting nor a sail damaged. Now, in as fine of conditions any sailing ship seafarer could hope for, our crew is getting a chance to take in why this going to sea under sail is so worth doing, sometimes just for the sheer beauty of it.

This is a beautiful morning at sea in the Picton Castle.

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