Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
The Picton Castle is serenely swinging to her starboard anchor at the mouth of Parua Bay here in New Zealand. We have a lovely warm late spring morning with soft sun and a gentle westerly breeze. Surrounded by low hills, the waters are as flat as can be. Yesterday in nice breezes the gang took turns sailing the longboat all around the waterways here. Good fun and good practice too. And nice for us onboard to see her sailing about so snappily against the turquoise waters and dark green hills.
The 24’ gaff-rigged long boat is fun and simple enough to grasp easily, yet challenging enough to be demanding of those sailing her. All the decisions that a captain needs to make sailing Picton Castle, the skipper of the long boat also must consider. Ballast, trim, wind strengths, depth of water, crew skills, supplies, condition of rig and sail, anchor and ground tackle, spares and any other supplies needed, routing and on and on. But if you go aground you just hop out and push her off. Consequences of goof-ups are both more immediate and less dire, and thus, a perfect craft to get seamanship practice in.
Today is Monomoy Day. Sunny and flat calm just now, the Mate Dirk is leading an overhaul of the boat’s rig, giving her new strops of tarred hemp for halyards, sheets and blocks. Cheeks and thumb-cleats are getting refastened and the spars are getting a lick of fresh varnish. It is hot enough for swim call. The waters are about 21C or 65F, so swimmable to all who come from higher latitudes. So, after lunch a swim call for all hands. In the evening we had a nice sit-down dinner made by Hannah; roast beef, peas, salad and for some reason, chocolate chip pancakes. And a nice quiet evening at anchor.