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8 Days and 900 Nautical Miles From Cape Brett, New Zealand

By Chelsea McBroom

January 6th, 2014

Since the first day of the New Year in the Picton Castle, we have caught four very large fish. We have spoiled ourselves with ceviche (aka poisson cru, raw tuna with coconut milk), baked and fried fish that Donald has magically created.

The crew that were with us from Sydney to Auckland seem to be expecting the worst in terms of weather so they’re pleasantly surprised at how nice it is out here. Fine breezes, small seas. Bright blue sky now and then, dusted with sheer cloud and the usual endless body of water beneath us. The ship has been able to set all the square sails.

The past few days we have all gathered together at 1630 for workshops. Our first workshop was part of our abandon ship training. We sat around the hatch preparing emergency bags should we ever need to abandon ship. The Captain told us that in addition the food packs in the life rafts, should we need to abandon ship, it’s better to have real food along with us. So we cleared the shelves of a grocery store in Opua and Pahia of peanut butter, jam and biscuits to add to the bags of sharpened and tape-covered knives, fishing gear, rope, a block of wood for cutting fish, and small bags of water (among a lot of other things). We had three orientation and training sessions in all on this subject so far.

During another workshop the crew split into their watches to work on knots, whippings and eye splices, bringing the newer trainees up to speed and refreshing some of the older gang. Today the crew mustered for a long splice demonstration before attempting the easy and salty task themselves. We are lucky to have many experienced crew with so much to teach one another: tricks like remembering how to start the first three tucks of an eye splice or how to literally throw together a figure eight knot.

Outside of workshop hours the crew is prepping and maintaining the ship by tarring the shrouds (and anything else that will improve being covered in it such as the crew), chipping the main upper tops’l yard and coating it to prevent rust, and painting the storm covers for the chart house windows. Outside of all the activity, now and then a member of the crew will look up from the sail they are stowing aloft or out from the ship’s position on the horizon at the helm and their focused expression will change as they remember where they are and how amazing this all is.

crew examine emergency gear during an abandon ship drill

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