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Seamanship Derby in the Tasman Sea

By Cheri Davidson

October 22, 2013

Last Saturday we had the 8th Biennial Picton Castle Seamanship Derby to test the skills of our trainees and have bunches of fun. It’s best to do this kind of event on good weather days, and boy did we have it. Sunny skies, light winds and a temperature warm enough that we could take off our heavy sweaters. Hurrah! The watches compete against each other to show what they have learned so far on their voyage.

The first event was the pin rail chase. We name lines and parts of the ship to see who knows their stuff. The watches line up single file on the main deck and have to quickly walk, but never run, to the target. Fore topm’st stays’l weather sheet! Charlie noble! Port main upper tops’l downhaul! Inner jib halyard! Starboard windlass bar! All the watches did pretty well with this event, but the 12-4s squeaked into first place.

Next up is many a sailor’s favourite: knots! Everyone on the watch needs to correctly tie the knot before the time is up. You can help your team mates, but you cannot touch their piece of rope, they must do it themselves. You think you know your knots, especially the simplest ones, but once the clock is ticking it’s a different story. The 8-12s pulled into the lead, but only by a thread.

After the knot-bonanza it was time for Super Helm! Who can stay on course the longest? Each watch chose their top two helmsmen for the job. Since we were motoring and steering is much more manageable, we increased the difficulty to staying within two degrees of the given course. This event was very close and the 12-4s took the lead again with five points given just for having Spike on their watch. Five bonus Spike points are hard to compete with.

The final event of the day was boxing the compass. This one is near and dear to my heart after spending many a night watch on previous voyages boxing the compass forwards, backwards and even by the ¼ point. It’s important for a good sailor to know where they’re going. The 4-8s really had their stuff together for this event. They beat the other watches by boxing the compass anti-clockwise in less than half the time of the other watches!

With such a tight race the judges really had a hard decision to make on which watch would bring home the prize. Engineer Alex, Bosun Finn and myself had a long and difficult deliberation. Enthusiasm, style and pizzazz (not to mention delicious chocolate cookies) all came into play. It was down to the wire. But in the end it was the 4-8 watch that proved they deserved to win the prestigious first place prize of the Picton Castle Seamanship Derby. Glory!

Note from Captain Moreland: The gang did well in all areas. Good job.

Meg, Chris and Matt tie knots while judge Finn looks on at the Seamanship Derby
Nolan, Scott and Spike from the 12 to 4 watch, the moustache watch
the 4 to 8 watch are the winners of the Seamanship Derby!

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