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New Year’s Eve at Sea

By Chelsea McBroom

January 1, 2014

In our ongoing agenda in the Picton Castle to train crew up in safety thinking and emergency duties in a real and hands-on way, the Captain figured we could use some practice in flares. As it happened, we had a good supply of just out of date flares to try out.

Yesterday we brought out expired flame/rocket distress signals for the crew to experience what it was like to use them in an emergency, considering that one might be in a plastic/rubber (fire sensitive) life raft if ever having to use one. Everyone took turns firing them off the quarterdeck (after a security drill warning on the radio, of course, to let anyone in the area know there was no emergency) and out into the open water. We made sure to save some flares for our midnight New Year’s celebration that evening.

The 8-12 watch made a few preparations – they put up some strings of small Christmas lights and paper lanterns over the scuttle doors, made punch and brought out chips and crackers. Members of the other watches, if requested, were woken up twenty minutes to the hour to witness their efforts. It was a dark night; the sky was clear with a sprinkle of stars.

The flame torches, although hard to see from amidships when lighting off the quarterdeck, were dropped into the water and could be seen burning or would glow as they sank. The rockets were ignited two or three at a time by volunteers and when they descended made everything, including the sails, glow a rusty orange.

When the countdown to midnight was completed, hugs, sometimes two at a time, and words of thanks or appreciation were shared around the hatch. Soon after, the crew was ready again for sleep in their bunks, satisfied with the night’s events and excited about what the New Year of 2014 would bring.

By curious coincidence we are also about to cross the International Date Line. This will take us back into 2013 for a few hours and then a new New Year’s eve. Maybe one New Years is a enough and we will ignore the second one.

Beamy with orange smoke

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